Ireland needs to embrace innovation-led opportunities that will support a stronger and more resilient economy says Bank of Ireland head of Technology, Telecoms and Media sector Paul Swift.
A key focus of the recent budget was planning for post-pandemic recovery and embracing innovation-led opportunities that will support a stronger and more resilient economy.
Digital transformation is at the core of this innovation-led recovery with the Government committing to a €10m Digital Transition Fund to help SMEs with their transformation journeys.
“There was good news for Ireland’s start-up community with the announcement of a new €90m Innovation Equity Fund, which will focus on investment into predominantly seed-stage Irish SMEs that are high growth and potential to scale-up”
A further allocation of €3 million is also committed to support the establishment of several European Digital Innovation hubs that will play a vital role in facilitating the digitalisation of Irish SMEs across sectors and regions.
These hubs are essentially a one-stop-shop that help companies respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by all things digital and adopt best practices in areas such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and emerging technologies.
Sound and vision
Other key measures worth noting:
- There was good news for Ireland’s start-up community with the announcement of a new €90m Innovation Equity Fund, which will focus on investment into predominantly seed-stage Irish SMEs that are high growth and potential to scale-up. This fund is expected to be launched in early 2022 and will be warmly received by start-ups.
- Changes to the Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS) was also announced with the scheme being extended for a further three years, with some changes included to make the scheme more attractive to investors. It is now planned to open the scheme up to a broader set of investment funds. It will also allow greater capacity for investors to redeem their capital without penalty and remove the rule that 30pc of an investment in an employment investment scheme company must be spent before relief can be claimed.
- Ireland is gaining a global reputation for gaming and to support further growth, a new tax credit for the digital gaming industry, up to 32pc of eligible expenditure, of up to a limit of €25 million per project was announced. This incentive is welcomed and will help Ireland access a bigger portion of the global gaming industry by giving companies a refundable corporation tax credit for spending on the design, production and testing of a game. It will also help to attract world-class talent from the industry to Ireland, expand the skills base/talent pool while also providing synergistic opportunities with Ireland’s film and animation sectors.
- Screen Ireland (Ireland’s state development agency for the film, television, and animation industry) saw its funding increase by €6.65m from its initial 2021 allocation to over €36.7m. This increase in funding is in response to the success of Ireland’s audio-visual, industry over the last 18 months. Training and skills development will continue to be a strong focus in the sector in 2022. Other key initiatives for Screen Ireland include the expansion of more regional production in the Irish language, supporting Irish production companies and a funding stream to support production of documentary series. Screen Ireland are also seeking to expand market activity to further enhance Ireland’s profile as a filming destination.
- Catherine Martin, TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media announced €5.5m funding for the establishment of a new Media Commission, this new regulator will support the provision of quality public service broadcasting, while also tasked with overseeing effective regulation of online safety. The establishment of the Media Commission is currently at pre-legislative scrutiny. The funding announced in the budget is aimed at building regulatory capacity and expertise in Online Safety and other matters that will fall under the Commission’s remit, once enacted.