News & Events

Digitalisation of Irish SMEs and national research investment to benefit from European best-practice

  • European Investment Advisory Hub launches first programmes in Ireland

  • Development of new financing options to support research and innovation funding and digitalisation of Irish SME’s

  • Digitalisation and research highlighted as priority for Irish competitiveness


Crucial future investment to improve Ireland’s competitiveness will be strengthened by assessment of international best-practice in two key policy areas. EIB advisory experts will identify ways to ensure more effective funding to support research and innovation in Ireland and to accelerate digitalisation by Irish small businesses.

The two new advisory programmes were formally agreed in Dublin on 5th July by Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development and Andrew McDowell, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

“Strengthening public funding for innovation and digitalisation is crucial for long-term competitiveness and growth in Ireland. The first engagement between experts from the European Investment Advisory Hub and Irish partners will enhance future funding through identification of best-practice from across Europe and ways to make better use of scare public resources. This new initiative builds on the strong track record of support for crucial investment across the country by the European Investment Bank Group.” said Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President.

First advisory engagement in Ireland under EUR 500 billion Juncker Plan

The new initiatives represent the first engagement in Ireland by the European Investment Advisory Hub, a partnership between the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission under the Investment Plan for Europe or Juncker Plan. This reflects the crucial need to address structural challenges that hinder future investment alongside enabling increased future financing.

Strengthening public investment to accelerate innovation, economic growth and employment

Working in conjunction with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, international financing experts from the EIB Innovation Finance advisory team will seek to maximise use of public funding, develop new funding mechanisms and ensure future investment can benefit from new financing available under the Investment Plan for Europe.

Maximising public sector support for research and innovation

Under the new cooperation programme new mechanisms to leverage public funding for high-priority research and development by the Irish government through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will be proposed.

“I welcome very much the support that the European Investment Advisory Hub is providing through the study on financing models. With the launch of the National Development Plan, Project Ireland 2040, there are significant investment priorities in research and innovation to be addressed. This work will help to ensure we get the maximum impact from the investment that we can make.” said Minister Halligan.

At present the Irish government provides more than EUR 750 million to support research and development. The impact of this support could be strengthened through greater use of European Union funds or European Investment Bank financing. Successful examples of combined financing will be examined under the new initiative to identify models appropriate for the Irish environment.

Accelerating digitalisation of Irish business

Across Europe companies that embrace digitalisation benefit from access to new markets, increased innovation and improved competitiveness. Ireland’s new National ICT strategy has identified digitalisation of traditional SME’s as a key priority for the country.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister Breen said “I am delighted that my Department and the European Investment Bank are working together to help Irish SMEs in their digital transformation. I am aware that many SMEs face challenges in deciding when, and how best, to invest in technology and that their options may be limited in terms of accessing finance for technology-related investments. This study will identify the knowledge and funding gaps that are preventing digitalisation of Irish SMEs, both traditional and high-tech, and will identify and develop the targeted Financial Instruments needed to address these gaps”.

Working with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, experts will develop new dedicated funding mechanisms to reflect investment needs of Irish SMEs seeking to digitalise business and recommend key steps needed to accelerate digitalization.

In 2017 the European Investment Bank provided more than EUR 1 billion of new financing for public and private investment across Ireland. This includes support for new long-term investment to transform healthcare, education and transport infrastructure as well as business investment across our country.

Notes to editors

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

The Advisory Hub offers a single point of entry to advisory and technical assistance services for investment projects in the EU, building upon the expertise of the EIB Group, the European Commission, National Promotional Institutions (NPBs) and Member States’ Managing Authorities. The Advisory Hub offers tailored advisory support for the identification, preparation and development of investment projects across the European Union.

InnovFin Advisory was set up as a joint EIB-European Commission initiative under Horizon 2020 to assist eligible public and private counterparts to improve the bankability and investment-readiness of large, complex, innovative projects that need substantial long-term investments. InnovFin Advisory guides its clients on how to structure their R&I projects in order to improve their access to finance. InnovFin Advisory also provides advice to improve investment conditions through activities which are not project-specific.

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