Ireland to revamp its SME and start-up policy

Ireland is developing a major new policy on SMEs and entrepreneurship which the Government will publish in October.

The policy review is in response to OECD recommendations that were published today.

Some of the OECD recommendations include the scale-up of current initiatives such as Trading Online vouchers, Enterprise Ireland’s Exporter Development Department and InterTrade Ireland’s grants and funding Advisory Service.

They also include creation of an interdepartmental committee on SMEs and entrepreneurship and simplifying the process of applying for R&D tax credits.

Another recommendation is the implementation of a simple online diagnostic assessment tool for micro and small enterprises by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) to better match the enterprise with advisory and mentoring services.

Boosting productivity

“Ultimately we want to increase the living standards and quality of life of our people and increasing productivity levels is necessary to achieve this goal,” said the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“Typically, our foreign-owned firms are highly productive, however, in recent years we have seen a decline in productivity in indigenous SMEs. We want to close this gap and our new SME policy will help us to do that.”

Minister Humphreys also took the opportunity to announce two new funds worth a combined €3m, which will enhance the productivity of firms in every region. Both funds will be operated through the network of Local Enterprise Offices, which means that they will reach our smallest indigenous businesses.

The first is the €2.5m Competitive Fund. The LEOs will compete for this on behalf of their clients, whether individually or through collaborating with other LEOs. Projects should focus on the priority areas identified in Future Jobs Ireland, and the Regional Enterprise Plans. For example, they could look at themes like innovation, Brexit readiness or market diversification.

The second is the Productivity Challenge Fund worth €500,000. This is for businesses who are not currently LEO clients. The funding will be used to address productivity gaps, including through the adoption of lean business practices. It will also incorporate business opportunities in the green economy.