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How innovation and collaborative partnerships can mean success for your business in 2022

11 Feb 2022

In today’s world, being innovative is more important than ever before. We’re facing new challenges that could never have been predicted and as a result, the success of SMEs across the island relies on dynamic employees who can quickly adapt to these challenges.

Effective collaboration can support this drive to succeed, offering the facilitation and transfer of crucial skills, knowledge, expertise, as well as supporting growth capability. One way this knowledge transfer can be supported is at the interface between universities and businesses.

Collaboration with academia can enable businesses to access in-depth knowledge within their industry. Not to mention, many academics employed in technology transfer already have backgrounds working within businesses - from start-ups and SMEs to multi-nationals – meaning they understand the real issues that firms face when seeking to innovate.

Moving towards growth and recovery

Collaborative partnerships between businesses and academia can be utilised to create numerous opportunities to support growth and recovery in firms across the island. Most importantly it gives firm access to in-depth industry knowledge that they may not have the time or resources to explore, often resulting in new or improved processes, or the creation of new products or services.

It’s important to think about people as well. Hiring a new Project Manager can have a real and positive effect on your company, as not only can it lead to increased levels of production but also idea generation and problem solving solutions.

How can this lead to success?

The benefits of innovative and collaborative partnerships are three fold, and can lead to success for all parties involved.

An innovative, ambitious Project Manager will fuel innovative thinking and practice within your company, as well as providing a unique, exciting and challenging opportunity to boost the Project Manager’s skills, experience and knowledge.

The outputs the Project Manager has been recruited to deliver will be critical to your company’s growth and future capability.

Completing the partnership with an academic with the specific expertise required helps to embed their knowledge into your company and ensure the success of the project.

Where do I start?

If you’re wondering how you can get involved, InterTradeIreland supports business innovation in a number of ways, including through the Innovation Boost programme.

The Innovation Boost programme is the only all-island collaborative technology transfer programme, that can support your company by helping to fund a high calibre science, engineering or technology graduate and partner you with a third level institution with specific expertise.

How does it work?

As part of InterTradeIreland’s Innovation Boost programme, you can choose an 18-month project - typically for new product or service development - or a 12-month project - for process improvement - depending on your business needs. Funding is available up to £56,000/€67,900 for 18 month projects and up to £39,000/€47,400 for 12 month projects. On average each company taking part in the Innovation Boost programme benefits from over £1 million worth of sales or efficiency savings in the three years following the project.

The benefits of Innovation Boost can be further seen through its 2022 Exemplar winners. This award recognises exceptionally high levels of innovation and collaboration between a company, a graduate and an academic institution as part of the programme.

Loughview Timber Ireland Ltd, are amongst this year’s companies receiving ‘exemplar status’ from InterTradeIreland. The Northern Ireland firm partnered with a graduate and the University of Limerick to develop an innovative range of security and fire doors in line with pending legislation. During their 18-month project the company reported increased sales and predicted that the project would have a massive impact on their bottom line going forward.

Co. Cork business, Mid Cork Pallets & Packaging are also amongst the awarded companies. In partnership with a graduate and South Eastern Regional College, the project focused on improving the internal processes of the company from paper based to automation. Through increased efficiency, the firm has made significant savings throughout the partnership and predicted that this will continue, for the next three years.

The value of collaboration

Companies across the island have remained incredibly resilient despite recent challenges but to remain successful they must continue to innovate and collaborate. This is particularly relevant in STEM industries where businesses are looking for skilled and motivated individuals to help take them into the ‘new’ future. Those small businesses who recognise and value the contribution that graduates and partners have to offer can deliver within not just their business but the all-island economy.

If you want to find out how innovation and collaboration could help your business in 2022, reach out to InterTradeIreland today.

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