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The Innovation Voucher Programme was developed by Enterprise Ireland to build and develop links between Ireland’s public knowledge providers (i.e. higher education institutes, public research bodies) and Irish business. Creating an environment of research and innovation for companies and projects of all shapes and sizes. Since its introduction, businesses all across Ireland have ulitised the Innovation Voucher Programme to assist with an innovation problem or solution. Engaging in this way provides an array of benefits to many small Irish businesses, supplying them with the expertise, knowledge and guidance to meet their innovation needs. If you’re thinking about innovation or simply want to find out more about the programme, we’ve put together some of the many benefits available when accessing an Innovation Voucher.    

Explore a business opportunity or problem 

The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher Programme is an ideal opportunity for companies who may want to explore an Innovation problem or opportunity. The scheme is open to all small and medium-sized limited companies registered with the CRO in Ireland. Successful applications are provided with a €5000 Innovation Voucher to use in collaboration with a specialised knowledge provider. The voucher can be used for innovation such as: 

  • new product/process development; 
  • new business model development; 
  • new service delivery and customer interface; 
  • new service development; 
  • tailored training in innovation management; 
  • innovation/technology audit. 

For full information on programme details and application criteria check out the Enterprise Ireland website

Access to a range of knowledge providers across Ireland 

The Innovation Voucher programme provides access to a wide range of knowledge providers across the country. The voucher can be exchanged with your chosen provider for knowledge, advice and expertise. You can view the full listing here. Knowledge Providers are publicly funded research organisations such as Universities, Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities and other state research organisations.  

Easy process from application to project finish 

Applying for an Innovation Voucher couldn’t be easier! The programme runs on an open call, which means applications can currently be made all year round. Companies can apply via the Enterprise Ireland online application system. Your application will be assessed and a decision made. The voucher is then used to obtain the necessary advice and expertise.  

Talking in advance to your chosen knowledge provider is always best, as it helps to provide clarity around project expectations and timelines. But don’t worry if you’re unsure about the most suitable provider for you, you can always apply and decide later.  

If you are thinking about collaborating with a Technology Gateway, but are unsure on suitability, you can contact the support office or your regional Gateway centre. Our Technology Gateway managers will bring you through the application process, criteria and suitability. They can even help with the voucher application process itself.  We view each project as unique and as a result the assistance we provide is tailored to its specific needs. Our specialist Gateway teams ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget and provide a wide variety of support and assistance throughout the process.  

Avail of up to four vouchers 

There are two types of vouchers available under the programme, the fully funded €5,000 Standard voucher and the Co-funded €5,000 fast track voucher.  A company can apply for a maximum of four Innovation Vouchers, one of which must be a co-funded Fast Track voucher. It’s important to point out that a company may only have one ‘active’ voucher at any point in time. Each voucher is valid for 12 months from issue. You can view further information about each voucher type here

De-risk the project  

We understand that innovation can be a daunting thought. For many small businesses who may not have the time, expertise, funding or equipment to engage in the process, the programme can often de-risk the project for the company, by engaging a wider knowledge base that is committed to providing the best possible support and expertise for your project.  

Proof of Concept / Prototype  

Innovation Vouchers can be utilised in instances where a new product is being investigated and can include the development of a low-fidelity prototype which can demonstrate the proof of concept and aid in the raising of funding required to take the product through to commercialisation. 

Project Feasibility 

For projects that are in the very early stages of development (concept / idea stage), Innovation Vouchers are a great way to fund the initial research around the feasibility of the project prior to the development of a technology roadmap and detailed plan for progressing the project to the next steps. This process can sometimes highlight the need for a different approach than originally thought, in order for the project to reach a more successful outcome. 

Introduction to wider RD&I industry offerings  

For many companies the Innovation Voucher Programme will be their first contact with a knowledge provider. This interaction will often progress to a greater understanding of the availability of supports and expertise within the wider RD&I community. We often find that the Innovation Voucher Programme can become the catalysis for further company research and development, with the Gateway Network often becoming an extension of the companies RD&I capabilities.  

This article was updated on the 27th July 2021

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