TSSG is the ICT research wing of Waterford Institute of Technology. IFACʼs Lorcan Bannon sat down with Carol Faughnan, Business Development Executive, to discuss how agribusinesses can use supports, especially Innovation Vouchers to best effect.
Lorcan: What supports are available to work with Universities on R&D projects?
Carol: For any agri business which has a Limited Company status there are plenty of supports available to scope out new and innovative technologies for Precision Agriculture.
The TSSG Gateway, is a one-stop-shop for industry and Agri projects to access cutting-edge knowledge and solutions in advanced mobiles services and service enablers such as:
- Distributed & cloud-based mobile services
- Next generation IP based voice and video
- Virtual and augmented reality services
- Location, context, smart space and social service enablers
- Data science, AI and mining
Some of the main support provided by Enterprise Ireland (EI) that we tend to leverage include Innovation Vouchers, and Innovation Partnerships. We also provide funding through Horizion Europe and the Science Foundation of Ireland, for targeted projects in relation to specific areas of research. As well as this, we provide contract R&D services for companies that want to innovate and access the expertise from TSSG researchers working on the many agri projects through the aforementioned programmes.
Lorcan: What type of companies are best suited for Innovation Voucher projects?
Carol: To qualify for an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher the company must have Limited Company status. We also accept applications from Co-ops that are registered with the CRO office in Dublin as an “Industrial and provident society”, rather than as a friendly society, provided they satisfy all the other eligibility criteria for the programme.
Enterprise Ireland supports businesses selling to the agricultural sector e.g. selling a service or product to the agricultural sector or a company involved in the agricultural sector who wishes to go down the road of value added products rather than simply primary production in the agriculture sector.
Applications from a company in scenarios such as the below are considered for funding:
1) A company wants to sell a product or service to the agricultural community and the project is about new product development, innovation etc.
2) A company which is considering sourcing raw material from the agricultural community and adding value to produce a new innovative product e.g. a new food product.
The full list of eligibility criteria for the programme can be found at www.innovationvouchers.ie
Lorcan: How does an Innovation Voucher process typically work?
Carol: The company applies directly to Enterprise Ireland for the Innovation Voucher. At TSSG we help companies with their application to EI by providing project scope and lining up resources to undertake project work. We recommend maximising all three vouchers to achieve a full project roadmap and demo prototype. A rough outline can be the following:
Voucher 1: (€5K) Can be used to create an outline Tech roadmap and will be conducted by an expert software developer at TSSG.
Voucher 2: (€5k) Can be used to explore the UX/UI strategy which, coupled with the tech-roadmap brings you to the stage where you can bring the outputs from Voucher 1 and 2 to create a prototype.
Voucher 3: (€10K) The final and third, matched voucher can be a click-through prototype or demo of the solution. This is a very handy tool to be able to showcase to investors.
Lorcan: What does the Innovation Voucher process cost participating companies?
Carol: The first two vouchers are worth €5K of R&D to the company which do not need to be match-funded by the company. The company simply pays the VAT which is returned to them at the end of the financial year. The third voucher is match-funded, so the company pays €5K and EI pays €5K. With all three vouchers, the company is getting €20K worth of R&D for a €5K investment.
Lorcan: Where can interested companies find out more about working with TSSG or other universities to develop their R&D credentials?
Carol: Contact us in the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway in TSSG. I am available to talk to Agribusinesses about scoping their bespoke project and offer domestic funding supports. As we are also working on many Horizion Europe projects, such as Demeter, Cybele, AgRobo Foods and SFI projects such as VistaMilk we work with the other teams allocated by Senior Business Partner for Agri, Hazel Williams to help companies find the right fit.
Source of Article IFAC Website – https://www.ifac.ie/tssg/