€3m Govt. Funding For SME Productivity

15 Jul 2019 | 09.37 am

€3m Govt. Funding For SME Productivity

LEOs will channel the funding

15 Jul 2019 | 09.37 am

Business minister Heather Humphreys (pictured) has announced two new funds to enhance the productivity of firms in every region of the country.

Both funds will be operated through the network of Local Enterprise Offices.

The first is the €2.5m Competitive Fund. The LEOs will compete for this on behalf of their clients, whether individually or through collaborating with other LEOs.

Applications will be through an online application process. A prerequisite for proposals is the need to demonstrate innovative solutions to fostering and creating employment. In line with the national remit of LEOs, the specific objectives of this fund are to deliver projects aligned with the Future Jobs Strategy:

• Pillar 1. Embracing Innovation and Technological Change
• Pillar 2. Improving SME Productivity
• Pillar 3. Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent
• Pillar 4. Increasing Participation in The Labour Force
• Pillar 5. Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

The second fund is the Productivity Challenge Fund worth €500,000. This is for businesses who are not currently LEO clients. The funding will be used to address productivity gaps, including through the adoption of lean business practices. It will also incorporate business opportunities in the green economy.

Productivity Vouchers will support the engagement of a consultant to embed Lean practices and improve processes, green your business and reduce waste. Vounchers will also be available for Training and Capability Development enhancing customer experience, time and performance management. The scheme will open for applications in October.

Meanwhile, the government has turned to the OECD for guidance on developing new official policies relating to SMEs and entrepreneurship.

The review, to be published in October, will provide comprehensive analysis and recommendations to inform the development of the new policy. It will include comparisons with international best practice.

Some of the emerging OECD recommendations include:

  • Draft an SME and entrepreneurship strategy document, which will take in entrepreneurship, startups and SMEs
  • Scale up current initiatives to support SME exports, such as Trading Online Vouchers, Enterprise Ireland’s Exporter Development Department and InterTrade Ireland’s grants and funding Advisory Service
  • Scale up the policy focus of LEOs to include SMEs, and incentivise them to reach out to local SMEs in their activities
  • Establish an interdepartmental committee on SMEs and entrepreneurship
  • Simplify the process for applying for Research and Development tax credits, to reduce uncertainty and encourage more take-up by SMEs
  • Encourage a wider take-up of Skillnet Ireland programmes to develop management capabilities in Irish SMEs, with a particular focus on technology skills
  • Implement a simple online diagnostic assessment tool for micro and small enterprises by the LEOs to better match the enterprise with advisory and mentoring services
  • Promote the role of standards to drive enterprise competitiveness, enhance productivity in SMEs, facilitate supply chain linkages and international collaborations, and enhance spill-overs from multinationals to SMEs.

The government has also published the first Future Jobs Ireland 2019 Progress Report, which provides a summary of progress towards meeting the targets set. The full report is available here.

 

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