3 Irish projects to boost Europe’s SME potential get €1.2m each

Research projects from IT Sligo, DCU and NUI Galway that will drive better support for SMEs and entrepreneurs are to receive funding from EIT.

EU-wide projects led by the Institute of Technology Sligo, Dublin City University and NUI Galway are to receive funding of up to €1.2m each to boost their capacity to support start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs.

The funding is being awarded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) following a Pilot Call for Proposals inviting higher education institutions to design activities that will enhance their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity.

“It is a great success for Ireland and is testament to the capability and talent within the Irish research and innovation system”

The call will fund 23 pilot projects to be implemented between 2021−2023. The total maximum budget per project is €1.2m, broken down as follows: €400,000 for Phase 1 (July−December 2021) and €800,000 for Phase 2 (January 2022−July 2023). In total, there is Irish participation in nine of the twenty-three consortia awarded funding.

Innovation on the Horizon

“Enterprise Ireland welcomes this announcement by EIT,” said Garrett Murray, national director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland.

“It is a great success for Ireland and is testament to the capability and talent within the Irish research and innovation system. Higher Education Institutions play a critical role in the development and growth of regional innovation ecosystems. The successful applicants, working with their partners and the EIT, will be able to enhance their entrepreneurial capability and support companies to innovate and scale.

“The EIT is an integral part of the Innovative Europe pillar of Horizon Europe, the €95.5bn EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. In line with their strategy to 2027, the EIT will be issuing a Call for a new EIT Culture and Creativity Knowledge and Innovation Community in October 2021. This will be another opportunity for Irish applicants to compete for EIT funding.


DCU’s project entitled SMART-2M will build innovation and entrepreneurial capacity in higher education institutions (HEIs).

Its vision is to become the leading European initiative that empowers innovators and entrepreneurs to develop world-class solutions to Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing challenges and create growth and skilled jobs. I

IT Sligo

IT Sligo’s Scale-up Academy proposes establishing a new Cross-European Scale Up Network which will work across six EU Member States and support 140 established SMEs to move to the next stage of growth over two years. The profile of participants to engage will be owner-managers of SMEs that have been established for at least three years, who have a clear ambition to internationalise and take their company to the next level.

“Our project with our RISEN alliance partners will support 120 SMEs to move to the next stage of growth over two years,” explained Chris O’Malley, vice-president of Research, Innovation & Engagement at the Institute of Technology Sligo.

“They will be supported by a peer mentor network and be given access to expertise from the EIT and the partner universities in developing their strategy to get there. An innovative feature of these is that they can submit their strategic plans for an academic award. By making this a network spanning six member states, the opportunities for these companies to grow internationally can be massively accelerated.”

NUI Galway

NUI Galway’s i2i project connects five higher education institutions (HEIs), three intermediary organisations, and eight associated partners in five entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The overall vision and ambition of the i2i consortium is to address its capacity and capability to foster entrepreneurial thinking, actions and institutions.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 16 July 2021