InterTradeIreland is offering funding and support to cross-border business collaborations with innovative ideas for products or services that boast strong commercial potential, through the Co-Innovate programme.

As part of the programme, which was set up 2017, investment of up to €150,000 will be made available to qualifying projects, from a total fund of €1.5m. Applications for the programme will be open until 31 March.

To date, €1.5m has been invested in commercial projects by Co-Innovate, besides the €1.5m currently up for grabs. Firms taking part in the programme can also benefit from pooling their expertise and resources to speed up the pace at which they are able to bring innovations to market.

Previous recipients of Co-Innovate support
Fermanagh-based Devine and Associates, which is a multidisciplinary firm in the fields of civil and structural engineering, sustainable technology and project management, has benefitted from assistance from the Co-Innovate fund, and is encouraging other businesses to apply to the scheme.

Debra Devine commented: “Co-Innovate has given us support and investment to bring together expertise from a number of partners, aimed at producing a high quality, innovative product, which is set to make a positive contribution to reducing pollution of our waterways and create jobs in the growing bio-economy sector.

“I’d urge firms with their eye on innovation to look at Co-Innovate as a way of security not only the all-important funding, but also expertise and advice.”

During the programme, Devine and Associates collaborated with Strawchip, Moy Park and South West College in a project aimed at producing an organic fertiliser which, when applied to land, will improve water and soil quality through the reduction of chemical run-off. The environmentally friendly process uses chicken litter supplied by Moy Park.

The benefits of participation
Since Co-Innovate launched the initiative with the support of the European Union’s Interreg VA Programme, Co-Innovate has helped 1,200 companies through innovation workshops, mentoring and funding. Co-Innovate operates in Northern Ireland and in western Scotland.

Dianne Dundas, Co-Innovate’s innovation advisor, said: “So far, 11 companies and three academic institutes have secured funding to help push forward their cross-regional innovation partnerships.
“These include partnerships that are developing fully compostable plastics from renewable sources, creating new ways of producing small quantities of specialised asphalt products and technology that will help to monitor athletes, their performance and playing conditions, with the aim of reducing injuries.”

What Co-Innovate is looking for
Dundas continued: “Co-Innovate is currently looking for ambitious businesses that have a cutting-edge idea with strong commercial potential, to join forces with a partner to jointly develop innovative products and services. This is an exciting opportunity open to ambitious businesses for a limited time.”
To apply, all projects must have at least one partner based in the border counties of Ireland and one based in Northern Ireland or western Scotland. Companies participating on the programme must be in a position to support an 18 to 24-month project as well as having the financial capability to match fund the project costs.

This year, Co-Innovate is welcoming applications from all sectors, but has a particular interest in companies involved in manufacturing and tradable services, renewables, life and health sciences, agri-food, tech and ICT.

Kelly Earley

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