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Ministers Humphreys and McHugh announce €4.6m in Government funding through the Regional Technology Clustering Fund

Twelve successful applicants representing Academic Institutions from across all regions have secured funding for their projects

Speaking ahead of a special Cabinet meeting on jobs in Trim, Co. Meath, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD today announced the results of the Regional Technology Clustering Fund, the first annual competitive fund of its kind.

The €4.6 million fund provides a platform for engagement between enterprise and regionally-based academic institutions – the Institutes of Technology (IoT) and Technological Universities (TU) – in order to drive productivity and competitiveness in and across the regions.

The fund aligns with the Future Jobs Ireland framework and the Regional Enterprise Plans by building on regional strengths and supporting the expansion of Irish exporting businesses.

Twelve successful applicants to the Regional Technology Clustering Fund have been selected through a rigorous evaluation process which was based on criteria including a project’s significance for innovation.

The clustering activity will enable IoTs and TUs to connect and engage with SMEs and multinational corporations in a strategic way on common areas of interest, while providing a means to increase their educational and research remit as knowledge providers in their region. IOTs and TUs have an important role to play in helping companies to respond to the skills challenges faced by SMEs and to assist companies to enhance their capability to win business in international markets.

The projects will support and activate clustering in several sectors - Furniture Manufacturing, Marine, Connected Health, Industry 4.0, Construction, Advanced Manufacturing, Cyber Security, Engineering, BioEconomy, MedTech and AgriTech.

The applicants that have secured funding under the competitive fund include:

  • Dundalk Institute of Technology
  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology
  • Institute of Technology Tralee
  • Sligo Institute of Technology 

Announcing the successful applicants of the fund in Trim, Co Meath, Minister Heather Humphreys TD said: “Strengthening collaboration between industry leaders and Higher Education Institutions is a key priority for Government as we work to ensure we have balanced regional development.

“The funding very much complements the core ambitions of Future Jobs Ireland, which in 2020 will have clustering as a key theme. It includes projects that embrace innovation and technological change, improve SME productivity, help to build our skills base and assist with our transition to a low carbon economy.  It is this kind of innovative funding that will ensure we remain competitive and well-placed to grow and prosper in a rapidly changing global economy.’”

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD said: “I am extremely keen to see more regional options being opened to school leavers. There is a huge pool of talented, knowledgeable and experienced people in our enterprises and they are willing to bring on the next generation. Funding these clusters is essential to get the partnerships to bed down and create opportunities for students to plot a career path and enterprise and industry to grow.”

Jerry Moloney, Regional Director, Enterprise Ireland, who administer the Fund for the Department, said: “When Enterprise Ireland published its ‘Powering the Regions’ strategy earlier this year, we placed a major emphasis on attracting high quality, collaborative projects that had the potential to form successful clusters.

“This has been a competitive process that attracted many interesting project proposals from Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities nationwide. Our nine Regional Response Teams are confident that the twelve successful projects announced today will go on to ignite innovation in their regions and enhance the capabilities of indigenous businesses to win business in global markets and drive the creation of cluster entities in these key sectors.”



Note to Editors:

Please see a brief outline of successful projects below.


Applicant   Name (Correct Legal Entity Name)


Project Summary

Fund   awarded (€)

Dundalk IT


Development of a Connected Health & Wellbeing Industry Cluster in the North East, capitalising on internationally recognised research, innovation and   business development strengths and expertise at DKIT.


Sligo IT


A Border Regions Manufacturing Cluster initiative will   increase the engagement and connectivity of the three border IoTs – Sligo, Dundalk and Letterkenny. – with the economy and industry overall, and with manufacturing SMEs and micro/small companies throughout Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. It will help to strengthen productivity, competitiveness and  internationalisation tin this exposed manufacturing sector, which is facing the urgent issues of Brexit, internationalisation, automation/industry 4.0 and digitalisation, new technologies   and the low carbon economy.


TU Dublin


Construction is a strategically important sector for economic growth and employment in Ireland. The proposed project seeks to address current fragmentation with the   development of the first national Construction Sector Cluster (positioned as part of the Design & Construct at Broombridge). It will place an emphasis on skills development, technology enhancement, productivity and process improvement, sustainable development, knowledge transfer and internationalisation for SMEs.


Letterkenny   IT


The establishment of the Killybegs Marine Cluster will help boost productivity, increase market share, enhance innovation, and harness the opportunities that the bountiful renewable energy resource off the North West coast presents.


Cork IT


The proposed Cyber Security SME Cluster will drive the development of indigenous cyber security SMEs and digitally-dependent SMEs with a need for cyber security solutions. It will include a start-up ecosystem, and will foster productivity, drive competitiveness and support internationalisation. It will leverage the   connections with industry through the national cyber security cluster organisation, Cyber Ireland.


Galway-Mayo   IT (A)


The Wood and Furniture Manufacturing Cluster with help the sector to scale rapidly and sustainably. It will help businesses to improve competitiveness,   productivity and collaboration; develop and adopt innovative technologies; efficiently create novel products and services; and enhance access to talent, R&D capacities and international supports.


Limerick IT  


The Irish Digital Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing Cluster (IDEAM) will bring together and support the growth of three individual networks, namely Limerick for Engineering, Limerick for IT and the Precision and Turned Parts Manufacturing Association (PTMA) through an overarching cluster. It will become a one-stop-shop for Manufacturing SMEs for all aspects of digital transformation.


Institute of Technology Tralee   (A)


The AgriTech Cluster aims to build, develop and maintain a cluster of companies from across Ireland to drive AgriTech SME productivity, competitiveness and internationalisation.


Galway-Mayo   IT (B)


The MedTech and Life Sciences Cluster will enable SMEs to scale rapidly through increased engagement in research, development and innovation   activities and the efficient creation of novel products and services. It will help them to capitalising on future trends, especially in Digital Health, and to adopt innovative technologies.


Athlone IT


An Industry 4.0 Cluster will support SMEs to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0, maximising their productivity, competitiveness, internationalisation and growth potential.


Institute of Technology Tralee   (B)


Circular BioEconomy Cluster South West will work to enhance the knowledge, technology, skills, networking and innovation to help deliver the transition to a low carbon economy.


Carlow IT


Development of an industry-led Engineering Cluster to expand capability and competitiveness in the South East of Ireland.



Link to Department of Education and Skills announcement on STEM school/business/industry partnerships below

14 November, 2019 - Minister for Education and Skills launches Guidelines for developing STEM School – Business/Industry Partnerships

STEM Education Policy

Future Jobs Ireland

Future Jobs Ireland is a Government of Ireland initiative with deliverables assigned across a range of Government Departments and agencies. Future Jobs Ireland incorporates five pillars as set out below (along with some illustrative examples): 

  • Embracing innovation and technological change – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that promote and enable RD&I among enterprise; encourage digitalisation; and support the development and adoption of technology. 
  • Improving SME productivity – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance productivity, especially among SMEs; promote indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; encourage clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and assist businesses to move up the value chain. 
  • Enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent – This includes supports, policies and initiatives that enhance Ireland’s human capital offering, including in areas such as ICT and management skills; develop Irelands’ vocational and third level institutions; improve Lifelong Learning rates, and ETB initiatives that enable disadvantaged groups to return to the workforce. 
  • Increasing participation in the labour force – this includes supports, policies or initiatives focused on improving labour market participation, especially among young people, older workers, women and people with disabilities; improving the supply and cost of childcare; enabling more  flexible working arrangements; and streamlining immigration procedures. 
  • Transitioning to a low carbon economy – this includes supports, policies or initiatives aimed at expanding renewable energy generation; retrofitting of buildings to improve energy efficiency; roll-out of electric vehicles; and enterprise / employment opportunities in the green/circular/bio economy. 

Each Pillar sets high level targets for 2025. Overall, Future Jobs Ireland 2019 includes 26 meaningful and impactful ambitions supported by 127 deliverables for completion in 2019.

Central to Future Jobs Ireland is a re-orientation of policy from the numbers of gross jobs created in the economy, to the creation of more productive and sustainable jobs. It will focus on the challenges ahead in terms of ensuring we have skilled people working in quality jobs in sustainable sectors. Future Jobs Ireland will also ensure our enterprises and workers are well positioned to adapt to the technological and other transformational changes our economy and society will face in the years ahead.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631 2200.