- Fostering innovation
- Support of companies' growth
- Support of SMEs
Small and medium-sized companies may make use of a maximum of three vouchers, one of which must be a 50-50 co-funded fast track voucher.
Companies that have been approved funding from Enterprise Ireland in excess of €300,000 in the previous five years (includes funding under the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership programme) are not eligible to apply for a fully funded €5,000 Standard Innovation Voucher, but are eligible to apply for a co-funded Innovation Voucher, provided they satisfy all other eligibility criteria.
A company may have one ‘active’ voucher at any point in time. Companies should ensure that the voucher has been redeemed by the knowledge provider before applying for a subsequent voucher.
Innovation Vouchers can be used for any kind of 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; and
- Innovation/technology audit.
A standard voucher is worth €5,000. It is available to assist a company explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider (a list of the registered providers can be found here) . Applicants can apply for just one of these standard €5,000 vouchers during one of the open calls. Applicants do not need to identify their knowledge provider in advance and the vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Co-funded fast track voucher: the value is €5,000 and the company contributes to 50% of the project costs in cash. Therefore, a company may use a fast track voucher to cover project costs up to €10,000 on a 50-50 co-funded basis. The company and the knowledge provider jointly agree on the work programme for the project in advance of submitting an application. Companies may wish to use this option when they are no longer eligible for a standard voucher (they may have used two or more standard vouchers) or where they do not have enough time and the schedule for the standard call is not suitable. This voucher application can be submitted at any time and a response may be expected within four weeks.
- National funds
Funded and organised by Enterprise Ireland.
Knowledge providers from various universities.
A 2014 Forfas evaluation of the initiative found that by the end of 2011 it helped small businesses to achieve an estimated €87,424,000 of cumulative net additional sales present value (PV) equivalent to sales of €8.29 per €1.00 of Enterprise Ireland (EI) investment; supported an estimated cumulative net additional EVA impact of €31,141,000 (PV), equivalent to an impact of €2.95 per €1.00 of EI investment; and supported 806 net full time equivalent jobs.
An independent survey of companies that participated in the Innovation Voucher Programme found an increase in company turnover of €11.83 per €1.00 of Enterprise Ireland investment (per the Voucher Programme). Some 97% of respondents were willing to recommend the programme to other businesses.
The voucher offers significant support to struggling small companies that would otherwise find it difficult to access the knowledge providers. Enterprise Ireland has encouraged the knowledge providers to be proactive in engaging with the companies and to facilitate this engagement where possible. A 2014 Forfas evaluation found the voucher initiative was largely successful, detailing the following benefits: 'straightforward and cost effective to manage for Enterprise Ireland; accessible and utilised by a broad range of small businesses; beneficial to companies in many ways, including increasing competitiveness; and beneficial to knowledge providers in building new client partnerships, developing market relevant knowledge for academic staff and raising teaching levels.'
The initial €5,000 voucher is quite small, but it is accessible.