Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Project Ireland 2040
53. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when the next round of the Project Ireland 2040 disruptive technologies innovation fund will open for applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20581/19]
My Department launched the €500 million disruptive technologies innovation fund in June 2018. Information on the fund and how to apply was provided by my Department with the support of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, SFI. Expressions of interest were sought for funding commencing in 2019. In December 2018, I was delighted to announce the 27 projects that were approved in principle for funding under the first call for proposals.
Each project is a collaborative partnership to develop, deploy and commercialise disruptive technologies to transform business and each is focused on industrial research. These projects can be funded for up to three years and will ultimately create the jobs of the future. These projects, representing the health, food, ICT and manufacturing sectors in Ireland, will receive over €70 million in Government funding between now and 2021. That they involve partners right across the country shows that excellence in collaborative research, development and innovation transcends county borders and that every part of Ireland is capable of participation in one of the most unique funds Ireland has developed. In fact, 18 of the successful projects involve partners based outside the capital. The projects, all of which are required to include at least one SME, are co-funded by the enterprise partners in each consortium. The disruptive technologies innovation fund is a competitive offer and all applications for funding under this first call were subject to the same assessment and selection criteria with an international panel scoring the eligible proposals to assist us in our deliberations. It is my intention that a second call for proposals will issue in June.
I hope to launch the next tranche in June. The projects which have been funded to date have been very successful. For example, I was at the Tyndall research centre only two weeks ago where I saw that a hand-held MRI machine was in development. That is something for the future. I also saw a tiny camera. It was smaller even than the head of a pin. The project will allow cameras to enter the body to look at the heart. What is going on out there is amazing, including in the area of photonics. It is important to make the public aware of these projects. For example, a needle has been developed which administers an injection painlessly. I said it would be very useful for the dentist's office. There is a great deal of excitement around what is happening in technology in Ireland. Over €1 billion worth of applications for the disruptive technology came forward and we made a point of writing back to every applicant to explain where their applications may have failed and whether there was any other funding on which the applicants could draw. We want to capture and maintain that real interest in new technology.