Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD today announced the results of the first round of the new €60m competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
Twenty-one successful applicants representing all regions of the country have secured up to €30.5m for their projects in the first competitive call. Over €14m has been approved for projects in the southern region, over €11m for projects in the eastern and midlands region and over €5m has been approved for the northern and western region, subject to grant conditions.
For counties, Leitrim, Cavan and Longford, the Leitrim Country Enterprise Fund has been approved for funding. This initiative will see the development of a network of three Digital and Innovation Hubs in Counties Leitrim, Cavan and Longford.
Of the 21 projects across all regions, 4 projects in the Northern and Western Region of the country (Monaghan, Cavan/Leitrim/Longford, Donegal and Galway) have been approved for funding of over €5 million, subject to grant conditions.
The Fund, which is an open national competitive call to support regional projects, is provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland and is a key action to support the Regional Action Plan for Jobs and the Action Plan for Rural Development.
Announcing the successful applicants of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, Minister Humphreys said: “In this year’s Action Plan for Jobs, we made the decision to place a specific focus on strengthening the rural and regional economy. To stimulate regional growth as we move towards 2020, we announced a €60 million competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund over two calls.
“Our aim was to provide financial support for organisations set up specifically to bring together stakeholders on projects that will benefit the local community, the region or nationally. The successful applicants include an exciting range of projects which will develop strong entrepreneurial or innovation ecosystems, encourage clusters of similar businesses, or develop specific sectors where there is the potential for competitive advantage.
“Twenty-one collaborative projects from all over the country will receive an offer of €30.5 million investment by Government. This Fund allows us to support the Regional Action Plan for Jobs, helping to drive growth in key sectors or geographies across the country, particularly in the context of Brexit. We are backing local and regional stakeholders to drive the future of their own communities by supporting their innovative proposals which will help to deliver job creation and sustainable employment.”
Welcoming the investment in Cavan, Leitrim and Longford, Minister Humphreys said “As part of this first funding round, I am very pleased to see that Cavan, Leitrim and Longford have been approved for funding with planned investment in the Leitrim County Enterprise Fund Food project. This project will see the development of a network of digital and innovation hubs which will serve as a focal point for the development of new businesses and creative activities within the Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy Region, supporting regeneration and economic growth. The Regional Enterprise Development Fund is key to facilitating these vital collaborations and unlocking important opportunities like right across Ireland.”
Under a competitive call process, Enterprise Ireland sought applications for funding under four streams with varying investment levels:
Stream 1. Major Change Projects - €2m up to €5m per project
Stream 2. Regionally Significant Projects - €250,000 up to €2m per project
Stream 3. Local & Community Enterprise Development Projects - €50,000 up to €250,000 per project
Stream 4. Industry Clusters - €50,000 up to €250,000 per project.
Following a rigorous evaluation process, 21 successful applicants are being offered funding of €30.5m. These include a spread of projects across the regions, with 14 funded in Streams 1 and 2, and 7 in Streams 3 and 4. The balance of the €60m fund will be made available in the second call which will open for applications in March 2018.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring T.D. said: “As a Government we need to continually challenge ourselves on how to create jobs outside of the main cities. That’s exactly what this fund does. It will directly support innovative projects in our regions and, in doing so, help to create rural jobs. By creating jobs in rural Ireland we can convince young people to live in rural areas. I wish the successful applicants every success and urge companies in our regions to consider applying for the second round of funding early next year.
“The jobs recovery is finally spreading into the regions. In the last twelve months, four out five jobs created were outside Dublin and the live register figures in all of our regions are heading in the right direction. But there’s still a long way to go and no room for complacency. I look forward to working with Minister Humphreys on more regional jobs initiatives.”
Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland added: “Supporting regional enterprise development and working with businesses to achieve their global ambition is a key focus of Enterprise Ireland. This competitive fund was launched at the end of May and attracted very strong interest. The winners were selected through a stringent evaluation process based on criteria which included impacts and value for money, collaboration and participation, viability and sustainability, building regional strengths and significance for innovation. The second call opens in March 2018 and we expect to see a similar level of interest from new applicants as well as applications from some first-round applicants who may wish to reapply. We look forward to supporting more regionally-based projects as they support business growth through this exciting, regionally-focused initiative.”