Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Enterprise Support Services

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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83. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment the extent to which he foresees the availability of sufficient resources to ensure adequate investment and activity in the manufacturing and services sectors; the extent to which investment has fluctuated in each in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30875/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Enterprise Ireland is working with manufacturing and internationally traded services companies throughout the country to build scale, innovate and expand reach. These are key attributes required to be resilient to economic shocks. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of the agency’s overall engagement with client companies, the agency is working intensively with companies to support them stabilise their business, thereby enabling them to undertake a development programme focused on recovery and growth. In addition, the agency is actively working with client company to ensure they are prepared for a "no-deal" Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland also provides support to start-up companies to assist with business planning, mentoring and development advice. The agency also provides feasibility funding and finance, often in the form of equity investment, as appropriate to the founder’s ambitions and the company’s potential and stage of growth.

Access to appropriate forms of external equity finance is also vital for the development of indigenous enterprises. As part of the July Stimulus package, I announced an increase of €10 million in funding for the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme, which supports venture capital funds to invest in early-stage innovative Irish companies. The €10 million funding is in addition to the €175 million, that my Department has made available, through Enterprise Ireland, through the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme (2019 – 2024). The additional €10 million provides a new tranche of funding for Irish venture capital funds to invest in their portfolio of companies who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and where significant unforeseen additional investment is required. Enterprise Ireland’s direct equity investments in start-ups in 2019 resulted in 226 new investments in 197 companies totalling €26.14 million. Enterprise Ireland’s investment in private equity funds in 2019 was €46.7 million.

As part of Budget 2021 I am allocating €45 million to Enterprise Ireland to continue funding a number of initiatives including:

- €15 million for the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.

- €15 million to support the Get Ready for Customs Initiative.

- €10 million to provide supports under the Sustaining Enterprise Fund.

- An additional €5 million in funding for the Online Retail Scheme.

My Department will be providing funding to support advanced manufacturing, food industry transformation, investment in seed & venture capital, commercialisation and digital hubs. The further investment in the food processing industry transformation willstrengthen and improve the resilience of primary food processing companies, through supporting long term transformative capital investment projects, and achieving higher value add by implementing new product and/or market diversification strategies.

Significant investments have also been made in the unique strengths of each region in the drive to maximise employment and value add to the Irish economy. That is why the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) is important. Through Enterprise Ireland, we invest in projects with the greatest potential to create brand new jobs, to support existing jobs and strengthen the individual region’s economy. It will strengthen each region’s capacity to innovate in ways that help our homegrown companies develop into globally competitive successes.

The capital investment increase in Budget 2021 of €12.4 million for the RDI programme in Enterprise Ireland will provide for the implementation of a number of impactful measures for 2021 including Increasing In-Company R&D funding available to companies through the R&D Fund, Exploring Innovation Grant and Agile Innovation Fund. This additional investment will provide SMEs and industry with access to critical, leading edge equipment and infrastructure through the Technology Gateways and Technology Centres under the Capital Equipment Programme.

Access to finance will continue to be a challenge for businesses and so €20 million of the €100 million Brexit fund will be for the Future Growth Loan Scheme and Microfinance Ireland to allow them to meet increasing demand for their products. The contingency fund will also allow for additional tranches of supports and investments to be provided to meet the needs of business as required due to COVID- 19 and the impacts of a "No Deal" Brexit .

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