North-South business development body InterTradeIreland has made a further €1.5 million in funding available through the Innova programme for cross-border collaborative innovation partnerships to develop new products, process or service development. To date, InterTradeIreland has released over €8 million to companies north and south of the border to commercialise partnerships, leading to the development of projects such as new treatments for cancer; a heart monitoring device; a compost raw material to improve mushroom production; and an IT solution for wastewater treatment compliance. The Innova programme in particular is looking for collaborative partnership projects in the life and health science, polymers and plastics, agri-food, advanced engineering and advanced materials, telecoms, ICT; and environment sectors. Partners can work in the same sector or come from complementary disciplines. InterTradeIreland’s key focus is to assist companies across the island to build innovative capability. Recent research, undertaken by InterTradeIreland has shown that businesses that engage in innovation are three times more successful than those that do not.It is also evident that companies both North and South could benefit from further collaboration and networking and programmes like Innova aim to exploit this potential.” One Innova Partnership delivering real benefits to both companies in a difficult economic environment is Dundalk-based Vennetics and Belfast-based Instil who came together to develop a new type of telephony service, Moozler, which provides services direct to customers through the Internet without using either mobile or VoIP service providers. The partnership is now working with a number of major global telecoms companies including 3 in Ireland, Bell in Canada and Telefonica in Spain (Movistar) and the UK (O2), providing them with a consumer brand for a new service they can offer their customers. Ivan Mc Shane, engineering director, Vennetics, said: “Innova was key to the success of our Moozler product. As a small company we had done all of the research and development of our concept, however, we were at too early a stage to start pitching to venture capitalists and other people who could help us fund the development of the product and that’s where Innova came in. With the help of InterTradeIreland, we identified Instil in Belfast as a good fit for Vennetics. Innova made it happen – together we mapped out a plan for getting our idea to actual production phase.” Tara Simpson, CEO, Instil, said: “The Innova programme works very well, it is an easy but extremely effective process. All-island trade is vital for Northern companies. It gives us access to a whole new market. Innova provided us with the platform to tap into these opportunities and to develop a partnership with Vennetics which has lasted over two years. It’s a partnership based on trust.” Innova enabled Instil to transform from a micro company into an SME. Prior to its collaboration with Vennetics, Instil employed only two people. Today, it employs eight, with plans to grow beyond that in the near future.