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Regional Enterprise Plan Chairs welcome new €145m Scheme to promote economic growth across Regions

Smart Regions Funding will further build capacity and encourage innovation

At today’s meeting of the Regional Enterprise Plan National Oversight Group, the Steering Committee Chairs welcomed the new fund of €145 million which was recently announced by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney and Ministers Dara Calleary and Neale Richmond. The Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme is aimed at accelerating economic growth and sustainable job creation across all regions of the country.

The Scheme will be administered by Enterprise Ireland and is already open for applications. Co-funded by the Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the funding will capitalise on existing regional enterprise partnerships and complement priorities set out in the nine Regional Enterprise Plans.

Attending the Regional Enterprise Plan National Oversight Group, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney said: “I am delighted that the first call for the €145m ‘Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme’ is open for applications through Enterprise Ireland. There is €35 million available under this call which will support innovative clusters, local infrastructure projects and feasibility and priming funding for early-stage project development. This funding will further build capacity and encourage innovation in the regions and will ensure that we continue to create employment and opportunities all over the country.”

The overall objective of this Scheme is to drive job creation and enterprise development in each region throughout Ireland. In addition, Smart Regions funding will support the micro and SME client base in strategic regional locations by addressing deficits in key infrastructure. Successful projects will be collaborative in nature, innovative, financially viable, sustainable and will support existing regional infrastructure.

Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary added: “This Government is committed to fostering and delivering balanced regional development. The €35 million call under the Scheme will assist regionally based SMEs to collaborate with other partners to embrace digitisation, green economy and other new opportunities. This new Scheme, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will build on the €126 million in regional enterprise funding the Department has already provided to support innovative enterprise focused projects across all regions of the country.
I want to acknowledge, in particular, the Chairs, the Regional Programme Managers, and the steering groups who have driven the development and delivery of the nine Regional Enterprise Plans to 2024; they have done incredible work in their respective regions. This scheme will assist them in realising the ambitions in the Plans to unlock the potential of their region from the bottom up through collaboration. No doubt this will have major impact in all regions of the country.”

Neale Richmond, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail said: “This Scheme will be a great complement to our Regional Enterprise Plans which identify opportunities for growth, strengthen our regional enterprises and create jobs across the regions. This first call under the new Scheme will help to create jobs, support our Regional Enterprise Plans and deliver on their objectives. With applications now open and investment of up to €10 million available, this Scheme is a clear opportunity to promote regional development. Stakeholders in both the private and public sector can come together and support projects that build on the unique strengths of our regions.”

Carol Gibbons, Divisional Manager, Regions and Local Enterprise, Enterprise Ireland said: “The EU is committed to an innovation driven, green and digital transition. The Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme is co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund, reflecting the partnership principle for sustainable growth. Enterprise Ireland, in partnership with the Regional Assemblies, and other regional stakeholders, have developed a scheme that will support regionally based companies achieve their ambitions.”

The ERDF co-funded programmes have been prepared by the Regional Assemblies who are the ERDF ‘Managing Authorities’

Cathaoirleach of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Cllr John Naughten said:
“As the Managing Authority for ERDF in our region, we are delighted to play a role in securing these funds, both for Enterprise Ireland, and our regionally based companies. This scheme is a departure from other previous supports, and recognises the value in regional based planning, connecting policy and funding. The Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme will support investments in key areas identified through our Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.”

Cathaoirleach of the Southern Regional Assembly, Cllr Terry Shannon said:
“The Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme will make an important contribution towards job creation and economic growth in our regions. It will empower enterprises to work collaboratively to drive product and process innovation. This regional focus in particularly welcome, it allows us to build on regional strengths and to address key gaps in local infrastructure”.

The first call for the Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme is open for applications and closes on 31 March 2024. Under a competitive process, applications are now sought for funding under four streams, with varying investment levels, up to €10m in:

  1. Local infrastructure projects
  2. Innovation clusters and consortia
  3. Services to SMEs to drive Innovative Solutions
  4. Feasibility & Priming Grants.

For further information and to apply visit Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme

Back: Richard Hanlon, North-East Regional Enterprise Plan (REP), Seamus Hughes, North-West REP, Owen Brennan, Mid-East REP, Evelyn O’Toole, West REP, Prof. Eamonn Murphy, Mid-West REP, Middle: David Minton Enterprise Ireland (EI), Carol Gibbons, EI, Patricia Quane, South-West REP, Pauline Mulligan, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Jerry Moloney, EI. Front: Susan Spence, Dublin REP, Minister Dara Calleary, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, Minister Neale Richmond, Dr. Anne Cusack, Midlands REP.

John Costello, Midlands Regional Skills Forum Manager, Dr. Anne Cusack, Chair of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan, Minister Dara Calleary, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Sarah Morgan, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan Programme Manager


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