InterTradeIreland, the business agency responsible for fostering cross-border trade and innovation, has today announced that it is to invest £16.5 million in more than 300 cross border technology transfer projects over the next five years, creating additional local economic benefits.
The investment will be channelled into the business agency’s hugely successful innovation technology transfer programme, FUSION. One of InterTradeIreland’s most successful programmes to date, FUSION enables SMEs to employ science, engineering and technology graduates for a 12-18 month period to create and develop technologically innovative and commercially viable projects and services. The graduate benefits by gaining significant management experience and a fully funded Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management. The company is also partnered with a third level institution to gain access to the specialist expertise they need, facilitating a three way cross-border partnership.
InterTradeIreland is now looking for eligible SMEs to apply for the innovation support on offer and the opportunity of increased revenue that FUSION can generate.
Whilst visiting FUSION participant, Tyrone Fabrication Ltd in Ballygawley, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, welcomed InterTradeIreland’s announcement, “This is a significant investment designed to assist small to medium-sized businesses across Northern Ireland to innovate and grow, enabling them to take advantage of funding and expertise that could make a significant difference to their business.
“The potential for SMEs to explore new products, services and markets through access to expertise from universities and skills from talented graduates is helping to promote a dynamic innovative economy. On average each company taking part in the FUSION programme benefits from approximately £1million worth of sales or efficiency savings in the three years following their participation. Of the 550 graduates who successfully completed the FUSION programme, 80% of them have been offered full-time employment at the end of the project, with the initiativeproviding our talented graduates with vital industry experience helping them to develop the skills needed to succeed.”
Commenting on the investment in FUSION, Margaret Hearty, director of business programmes and services at InterTradeIreland, said, “We are encouraging SMEs to participate in the FUSION Programme, to improve their productivity, increase their revenue potential and to create real jobs for graduates.
“Our further investment in 300 cross border technology transfer projects is testament to the strength of this programme which delivers tangible outputs for SMEs. Through creating an innovation eco-system in Northern Ireland and Ireland, we can offer SMEs the potential to externally source and connect with a wider variety of relevant expertise, while collaborating with graduates and universities to deliver product and service innovations. I hope that many more small businesses from Northern Ireland will consider FUSION to help keep their business ahead of the competition.”
Tyrone Fabrication Ltd, which produces a wide range of advanced steel equipment enclosures for the transportation, communications and power supply industries, recently participated in the FUSION programme to develop a new hybrid power unit for the telecoms industry.
FUSION graduate, Dominic Mullins, assisted Tyrone Fabrication Ltd with developing the equipment and was mentored by academic Fergal O’Rourke from the Department of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Dominic has been kept on by Tyrone Fabrication Ltd as a Renewable Energy Engineer, where he will oversee ongoing future projects and developments in this particular field.
Discussing the benefits of FUSION, Michael Montague, general manager at Tyrone Fabrication Ltd, explains, “The FUSION programme has enabled Tyrone Fabrication Ltd to develop a renewable energy based power solution for control panels for the telecommunications market. This new hybrid power unit integrates solar PV, wind turbine, diesel generator and battery storage capabilities to ensure a constant supply to telecoms base stations.
“Without the assistance from the FUSION project, Tyrone Fabrication Ltd would not have had the time or resources to be able to dedicate a full time member of staff to R&D and successfully bring this project to market. In addition, we simply didn’t have the necessary skills or in-house expertise to turn the initial idea into reality.
“This has been a rewarding experience for Tyrone Fabrication Ltd and generated a significant increase in revenue for us, along with additional efficiency savings for our business. In addition, by employing Dominic on a full-time basis, it created another new and vitally important job role within the company. We have no hesitation in encouraging other local companies to apply for the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme and avail of the opportunities it offers.”
Companies can currently apply for InterTradeIreland’s FUSION Programme through the InterTradeIreland website at www.intertradeireland.com/fusion. InterTradeIreland is offering up to £31,000 for a 12 month project (typically in the area of process improvement) and up to £44,250 for an 18 month project (typically in the area of new product or service development).
For graduates interested in the FUSION programme and in viewing the current job opportunities, more information can be found at www.intertradeireland.com/graduates.