An Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk, Co Louth, is among the winning border county projects, it has been revealed.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD named the 11 successful border county projects from the northeast and northwest of the country approved to share in the €17 million Border Enterprise Development Fund 2020, an initiative of the government administered by Enterprise Ireland.

The announcement took place at the proposed facility for a new Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk, Co Louth, which will receive €4.5 million funding through the Border Enterprise Development Fund.

Rigorous evaluation process

Nineteen applications were received from project groups in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth with 11 projects selected for funding following a rigorous evaluation process.

Four of the approved projects will be based in Louth, two in Monaghan, two in Donegal, one in Cavan, one in Sligo and one in Leitrim.

The Border Enterprise Development Fund, which was launched in January, will provide support for collaborative, enterprise capability building projects, to advance entrepreneurship, productivity and innovation in the border region.

The aim of the fund is to improve the international competitiveness of enterprise in the Border Region in the context of Brexit and other market challenges, which now also include COVID-19.

Winning projects range from an innovation-as-a-service project in Donegal which aims to accelerate the uptake of disruptive technology solutions by SMEs, to the establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Training Centre in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Sectoral strengths in manufacturing and agrifood

The successful projects are closely aligned with the strategic objectives for enterprise development set out in the regional enterprise plans for the northeast and the northwest; particularly in relation to building on sectoral strengths in manufacturing and agrifood, strengthening SME resilience and innovation, growing entrepreneurship, and creating quality jobs across the border region.

Minister Heather Humphreys TD said: “I am delighted to announce the very impressive projects that have been successful in receiving funding under the Border Enterprise Development Fund.

“This fund is part of a €28 million economic stimulus package, which I announced for the border region earlier this year. It’s designed to foster collaboration while helping to make businesses more resilient, more innovative and more competitive.

“All of the research shows that the border region is most exposed to the impact of Brexit, and obviously the situation is even more difficult now with the COVID-19 challenge. That’s why I want to ensure that businesses in the region are supported by government in responding to the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

“This is the first time that my department has provided targeted, ring-fenced funding to a specific region, which represents a strong statement of our commitment to the border area. Through this fund, I want to make businesses in the border region more resilient, more innovative and more competitive so that we can stimulate enhanced economic activity in the region.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “Enhancing collaboration is a central element to driving the innovative capabilities of indigenous enterprise and this is a key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Powering the Regions’ strategy.

Power of collaboration

"The 11 successful projects announced today illustrate the power of collaboration and will enhance productivity of SMEs to build scale at a regional level.

“Our aim is to augment the international competitiveness of Irish businesses, particularly in the context of Brexit, and to help increase the number of exporters, win business in global markets and provide sustainable employment opportunities in the border region.”

Martin O’Brien, CEO, Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) said: “Brexit, and more recently COVID-19, has shone a light on manufacturing in Ireland which is reaching a critical point and needs to change. To successfully compete in the global market, Irish industry must employ advanced manufacturing techniques.

“This Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre of Excellence here in Dundalk will empower Irish industry to make that move and open up opportunities for higher paid employment. LMETB is delighted to lead this national initiative in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Education and skills and SOLAS.”