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Ministers Humphreys, Donohoe and O’Donovan announce over €100m under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund as they launch Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland

  • Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland is about staying ahead of the game in an age of rapid technological change.
  • The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund – one of the first funds of its type in the world – is a key driver of this Pillar.
  • Over €100m available for projects that will have a transformative impact on how we work or live.
  • Projects must involve partnerships between enterprises, SMEs and researchers with a minimum ask of €1.5m per application. 

University of Limerick - Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with Paschal Donohoe, TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform and Patrick O’Donovan, TD, Minister of State for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, today (5 July) held a flagship event on the impact of technological change on Irish businesses.

At the event, they launched Pillar 1 of the new whole-of-Government plan, Future Jobs Ireland, which focuses on positioning Ireland as a leader in innovation and technology adoption. They also announced that another €100m was being made available under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund for 3-year projects to 2022. It is one of the first funds of its type in the world and a key driver of Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland.

Minister Humphreys said: “Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland is about ensuring that Ireland can stay ahead of the game. We are currently experiencing a technological revolution, which will have a profound impact on our world for decades to come, and we need to keep up to speed.

Ministers O’Donovan, Donohoe and Humphreys at the launch of Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland in UL“Technological change is already impacting on several sectors, such as manufacturing, finance, retail and transport. Taking the workforce as an example, according to a recent study by the OECD, Irish workers face a 46% chance that their job will be automated by the 2030s. This presents challenges but also new possibilities - certain job roles will disappear or be redefined, and brand-new job roles will appear requiring new and different skillsets. Against this backdrop, it’s crucial that we position Ireland to respond to changes ahead.

“The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a key part of our efforts to prepare now for tomorrow’s world. The successful projects will be rooted in collaboration between industry and academia, with a clear focus on commercialisation. Crucially, they will have a transformative impact on how we work or live.”

The Fund is competitive and will be assessed by an independent international panel of experts. It will drive enterprise collaborations involving firms of all sizes including a requirement for at least one SME in every consortium. It also encourages collaboration with Ireland’s world-class research base including universities and colleges.

€75m was allocated to 27 ground-breaking projects under the first round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund following 300 expressions of interest. Successful projects covered areas like household electricity generation, sepsis treatments, coastal flooding supports and medical 3D printing.

Minister Donohoe said: The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will provide opportunities for our most dynamic companies to translate their research into a commercial reality by working in partnership with Higher Education Institutions. Ireland needs to maintain its position as a technological leader in a modern, global economy. The investment that I and the Government have made available through this initiative for co-funded projects will help us to achieve that objective in the coming years.”

Projects must be geared towards commercialisation and are required to align with Ireland’s Research Priority Areas of ICT; Health and Wellbeing; Food; Energy; Climate Action and Sustainability; Manufacturing and Materials; and Business Services and Processes.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The University of Limerick is an ideal venue for this flagship events on the impact of technological change on Irish businesses. It is already at the forefront of research to develop disruptive technologies related to health, energy and the environment that will create a legacy of scientific achievement in structured materials research that benefits future generations. The significant investments associated with the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Future Jobs Ireland programme demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Ireland remains among the global leaders in innovation”.

In order to ensure that projects of scale and impact are funded, the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is available to applicants requesting funding of €1.5 million or more for projects of up to 3 years duration. Enterprise partners must provide matched funding.

The call for funding will be administered for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation by Enterprise Ireland. Prospective applicants can obtain detailed information on the Fund and on the application process through the dbei.gov.ie/DTIF webpage. The application deadline is 15.00 Irish time on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

 -Ends-

 Notes to the Editor

The €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a Project Ireland 2040 fund, operated through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The Fund has a resource allocation of €0.5bn over the period 2018-2027 consisting of an initial Exchequer allocation of €180 million to 2022. The purpose of the Fund is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies. The aim is to support investment in the development and deployment of disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis.

Disruptive technologies are taken to mean technologies that have the potential to significantly alter markets and their functioning and significantly alter the way that businesses operate. While they may involve new products or processes, they can also involve the emergence of new business models. DTIF is about investing in projects that develop and deploy disruptive technologies to deliver new solutions for the Irish economy – projects funded will help to create the jobs of the future.

DTIF projects are required to align with Ireland’s Research Priority areas. Themes under Research Prioritisation include Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Health and Wellbeing, Advanced and Smart Manufacturing and Smart and Sustainable Food Production and Processing.

Eligibility criteria are broadly similar to those in Call 1 but there are some changes and improvements to the DTIF rules based on learnings in Call 1, i.e., Call 2 will require a minimum of 3 partners with at least 1 SME and one other enterprise partner, and a minimum funding request of €1.5 million.

To be eligible for funding, applicants have to be a client or potential client of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta or an eligible Research Performing Organisation (RPO). Further details are available on the Department’s DTIF webpage.

Future Jobs Ireland

Future Jobs Ireland is a Government of Ireland initiative with deliverables assigned across a range of Government Departments and agencies. Future Jobs Ireland incorporates five pillars as set out below (along with some illustrative examples): 

  1. Embracing innovation and technological change – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that promote and enable RD&I among enterprise; encourage digitalisation; and support the development and adoption of technology.
  2. Improving SME productivity – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance productivity, especially among SMEs; promote indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and assist businesses to move up the value chain.
  3. Enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance Ireland’s human capital offering, including in areas such as ICT and management skills; develop Irelands’ vocational and third level institutions; improve Lifelong Learning rates, and ETB initiatives that enable disadvantaged groups to return to the workforce.
  4. Increasing participation in the labour force – this includes supports, policies or initiatives focused on improving labour market participation, especially among young people, older workers, women and people with disabilities; improving the supply and cost of childcare; enabling more flexible working arrangements; and streamlining immigration procedures.
  5. Transitioning to a low carbon economy – this includes supports, policies or initiatives aimed at expanding renewable energy generation; retrofitting of buildings to improve energy efficiency; roll-out of electric vehicles; and enterprise / employment opportunities in the green/circular/bio economy. 

Each Pillar sets high level targets for 2025. Overall, Future Jobs Ireland 2019 includes 26 meaningful and impactful ambitions supported by 127 deliverables for completion in 2019. 

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a deliverable under Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland. 

Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland - Embracing Innovation and Technological Change 

The following are a selection of the deliverables under Pillar 1 for 2019: 

I.   Issue a call under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and develop further incentives to innovate.

II.  Publish and implement an Industry 4.0 strategy.

III. Finalise and publish the National Digital strategy.

IV. Deliver a National Artificial Intelligence strategy.

V.  Develop new and existing demonstrator sites and test beds to trial new technologies and business solutions including:

a)  Expanding supports for advanced manufacturing including through extending the EI/IDA IMR Technology Centre in Mullingar to accommodate Cobotics and AR/VR and the planned establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing Centre.

b)  Further expanding the Tyndall National Institute to provide greater engagement with industry in areas such as micro/nano-electronics, photonics, Internet of Things, energy systems, and advanced materials.

VI. Develop a National Centre of Excellence on High Performance and Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB).

a)  Establish a National Steering Group

b)  Deliver NZEB Fundamentals training to over 500 people

c)  Government to consider the future development of the Centre.

VII. Develop plans for a National Design Centre to support the potential of the design sector to drive innovation and competitiveness.

VIII.  Drive the development of the Connected and Autonomous Mobility sector in Ireland including through delivery of guidelines for testing, a strategic roadmap for Ireland and an administrative review of the current road traffic legislation.

IX. Establish Top Teams to realise opportunities presented by technological changes and the move to a low carbon economy. The Teams will work to accelerate sectoral growth and remove barriers to development, encouraging collaboration between SMEs and MNCs. The following sectors have been selected on a pilot basis:

a)  Artificial Intelligence

b)  GovTech

c)  Offshore renewables

 X. Convene a major GovTech Summit to explore the opportunities that GovTech could bring to the Irish Economy and set out an  Action Plan for moving forward. 

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