In this busy, connected and technological world, innovation can often provide an edge over your competitors. For many companies, new idea generation and problem-solving are seen as an integral part of strategic planning, a natural step in their long-term plan; for others, it may be something which they have given some thought to but haven’t yet acted on, whilst others may simply not know where to start. Companies who include innovation often find that it allows them to stay ahead, stand out from the crowd and create much-needed differentiation in what can sometimes be a very crowded marketplace. 

Innovation can take many forms, it can be a new idea, product, method or process, you can innovate to meet your customers’ needs, adapt to change or to grow your business. There are numerous supports available to Irish companies in this area. Agencies like Enterprise Ireland provide programmes, funding, advice and expertise which will assist you on your journey. 

Programmes like Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways, provides Irish companies with a means to develop new or enhanced products or services by providing access to over 300 industry focused researchers and engineers, specialist equipment and facilities, through their 17 Gateways situated in Technological Universities and Institutes of Technology. Companies can access these through various Enterprise Ireland supports or by directly funding the project. 

So, what can you expect when collaborating with Technology Gateways? Read our innovation guide below outlining the process, support and advice available to you when connecting with the network.  

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Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Innovation roadmap

Step 1: Innovation idea/problem to be solved 

Each innovation journey starts with the creation of a new idea or the acknowledgement of an existing problem within a product or process. From the outset, some companies may have a clear vision of what they need, whilst others are only at the beginning and may require additional time and support. What is important however is that no matter how far along the road you are, you’ve started your innovation journey. 

Step 2: Contact a Technology Gateway team 

You may already know which Gateway is the most suitable for your needs, but if you don’t, your regional gateway is a good starting point, and our experienced Gateway team will guide you in the right direction. Each Gateway has a dedicated manager, business development staff and a team of researchers and engineers who act as key contact points for industry. 

Step 3: Outline company need 

Once you have contacted your Gateway team, the Gateway Manager will work with you to outline your company’s needs. This is essential as it is important to clarify at this early stage the product or problem, what technologies are required, how it will aid the company and what stage the project is currently at. 

Step 4: Discuss funding options 

At this stage, the Gateway Manager will outline and discuss various funding options open to you, going through in detail the application process and eligibility for funding. Enterprise Ireland has a range of innovation funding supports available for Irish businesses. All offering various means of support to companies in a wide range of sectors. Companies can also directly fund projects undertaken with Gateways. The Gateway Manager will explain what to expect from the funding options most suitable for you. More information on all three funding models and eligibility can be found at www.enterprise-ireland.com

Step 5: Agree on project deliverables 

Ensuring everyone is agreed on the task at hand is of vital importance. It ensures the project runs smoothly on time and on budget. Agreeing on deliverables at this stage means there will be no unexpected surprises further along the road. Please note, if the project is directly funded, steps 6 & 7 will be skipped. 

Step 6: Apply for funding 

Companies often find funding applications stressful, don’t worry our Gateway teams are here to help every step of the way with support, guidance and advice on submitting your application. Please note that depending on the type of funding you are applying for, there may be strict application calls or deadlines in place. 

Step 7: Funding awarded 

Once you have applied to Enterprise Ireland for your funding and it has been considered, you will receive an answer confirming your funding status. If you have been successful with your application, you’re ready to move to the next stage! 

Step 8: Contract signed 

Once you receive confirmation of funding, contact your Gateway Manager and inform them of your successful application. They will arrange a meeting to sign contracts for the agreed work package and confirm a start date. 

Step 9: Project start & updates 

Once everything is in place, your project will commence on the start date agreed and will be managed throughout by your Gateway team, which will also update you on how your project is progressing. These are important as this allows you to plan for the next stage of your innovation journey. 

Step 10: Project delivered 

You will be informed by your Gateway team when your project has been completed. The team will provide you with the agreed outcome as laid out in the project deliverables. 

Remember that innovation is an ongoing process, no matter how big or small your project is, there is always scope for improving, redeveloping or advancing. Talk to your Gateway manager about the next steps in moving your project forward. 

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