Barrie Dowsett, CEO of Myriad Associates, outlines the financial supports and incentives available for Irish businesses

Financial support and incentives for businesses in the Republic of Ireland are substantial and varied. 

With the coronavirus wreaking economic havoc across the country, research and development (R&D) grants are proving to be a lifeline for many Irish businesses looking to innovate.

Speaking to The Irish Times recently, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that the Covid-19 economic outlook is “very bad” and that Ireland is headed towards a deep recession.

He said: “We are facing a public health emergency, which in turn is leading to an economic recession. The economy is ‘in hibernation’ but the Government is working on plans for an economic recovery.”

With this in mind, now more than ever the Irish government is keen to support R&D due to its positive impact on economic growth. Some grants are offered specifically by the Irish Government, while others are wider EU grants.

For many Irish businesses, this process will be entirely new and for those that pursue it, the question they will be asking is, how do I produce a successful grant funding application?

There are many aspects and finer details to consider and Myriad Associates, Ireland’s R&D tax credit and grant funding experts, have taken a look at exactly what business owners need to know when making such an application.

1. What makes a good grant application?

Firstly, a high-quality grant application should clearly describe the R&D project and what benefits it will bring. It should discuss the project’s resulting products, processes, or services and how it will bring about a significant return on investment (ROI). An in-depth understanding of the target markets should also be evidenced, including potentially competing products and your strategies for commercialisation.

Secondly, the application should explain why the business is more likely than its competitors to succeed with this innovation. It should also describe why the proposed product, process, or service is radically new and how it will make an impact on both the business and the economy.

2. Factors to consider even before beginning a funding application

Myriad Associates strongly recommends considering the following:

Has the right type of grant funding been chosen to support the project/wider business? Some examples of previous EU funded projects may be helpful here.

Is there time and the resources within the company to make a successful application?

Is match funding available?

Are the business plan and projections watertight and would they hold-up under scrutiny?

3. Points to cover when writing an R&D grant application

There are certain practical elements that are critical for consideration and inclusion when putting a successful R&D grant application together. Applicants should ask themselves:

Is my idea unique, or does it at least have a unique edge over any competition?

Have I given a logical summary of the key points?

Have I included a strong and measurable plan for the implementation of my R&D project?

Have I sourced the right people for my R&D project, or do I at least know where to find them?

Have I included a strong and measurable plan for post-project commercialisation?

Have I made it clear that I’m willing to put my own cash towards the project, and if so, how much?

Does my business have access to the operational and technical equipment it needs?

These are all vital pieces of information that need to be present in an application to give it any decent chance of success. If you’re unsure about anything don’t try and go it alone. There are several R&D grant specialists, like Myriad Associates, that are available to offer expert advice.

4. Be aware of the different types of grant funding available

There are several avenues that Irish businesses can go down with regard to grant funding for R&D projects. Briefly, they include:

Enterprise Ireland grant funding

EI’s RD&I fund supports Irish businesses in creating new products, processes or services, or appreciably improving existing ones. The focus is on companies with high export potential and whose market share is growing, ultimately creating high-worth jobs. EI has also put together its guidelines for making a claim, which we recommend reading through. 

Further details are also available on the Enterprise Ireland website.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is a European programme that offers large-scale grant funding over seven years (2014 to the end of 2020). Its aim is in keeping Europe ahead of the game in world-class scientific investment, removing barriers to innovation, and encouraging the public and private sectors to innovate collaboratively. You can find out more on the Horizon 2020 website (after this year, Horizon 2020 will be replaced by Horizon Europe).

EUREKA Eurostars

EUREKA Eurostars is a European programme that gives innovative SMEs the chance to work together with partners across Europe on innovative projects. A very popular and generous funding scheme, more information can be found on the EUREKA Eurostars website.

Other noteworthy EU funds and programmes

There are many other funding options besides these that are well worth considering too. They include:

The EIC pilot programme — specifically for SMEs with dynamic, breakthrough ideas.

The Connecting Europe Facility — supporting the development of sustainable, high-performing and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks across the energy, digital services and transport sectors.

COST — which offers research funding for cross-border European networks that involve five or more countries.

The LIFE programme — designed to provide funding for large-scale climate change, sustainability, and environmental projects.

To conclude…

With the backdrop of Covid-19 economic uncertainty, now is an excellent time for innovative Irish businesses to put their plans in action via an R&D grant. 

By getting the application right and answering all the above points, companies, potentially, could be many thousands of euros better off — as long as all the key elements are included and professional advice is taken where needed.

As a final side-note, be sure to also check out Techfunding.eu for a full list of funding schemes by industry.

This article was issued on behalf of Myriad Associates by Hallam. For more information, please contact Tom Bestwick on tom.bestwick@hallam.co.uk.