News & Events

Minister Humphreys announces 11 successful applicants to €17m Border Enterprise Development Fund 2020 administered by Enterprise Ireland

New Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk, Co Louth is among the winning border county projects

Today, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD named the 11 successful Border county projects from the North East and North West of the country approved to share in the €17m Border Enterprise Development Fund 2020, an initiative of the Government of Ireland administered by Enterprise Ireland.

The announcement took place at the proposed facility for a new Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk, Co Louth which will receive €4.5m funding through the Border Enterprise Development Fund.

Nineteen applications were received from project groups in Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth with 11 projects selected for funding following a rigorous evaluation process. Four of the approved projects will be based in Louth, two in Monaghan, two in Donegal, one in Cavan, one in Sligo and one in Leitrim.

The Border Enterprise Development Fund, which was launched in January, will provide support for collaborative, enterprise capability building projects, to advance entrepreneurship, productivity and innovation in the Border Region. The aim of the fund is to improve the international competitiveness of enterprise in the Border Region in the context of Brexit and other market challenges, which now also include COVID-19.

Winning projects range from an innovation-as-a-service project in Donegal which aims to accelerate the uptake of disruptive technology solutions by SMEs, to the establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Training Centre in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

The successful projects are closely aligned with the Strategic Objectives for enterprise development set out in the Regional Enterprise Plans for the North-East and the North West; particularly in relation to building on sectoral strengths in manufacturing and agri-food, strengthening SME resilience and innovation, growing entrepreneurship, and creating quality jobs across the Border region.

Minister Heather Humphreys TD said:

“I am delighted to announce the very impressive projects that have been successful in receiving funding under the Border Enterprise Development Fund.

“This fund is part of a €28m economic stimulus package, which I announced for the Border Region earlier this year. It’s designed to foster collaboration while helping to make businesses more resilient, more innovative and more competitive.

“All of the research shows that the Border region is most exposed to the impact of Brexit, and obviously the situation is even more difficult now with the COVID-19 challenge. That’s why I want to ensure that businesses in the region are supported by Government in responding to the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

“This is the first time that my Department has provided targeted, ringfenced funding to a specific region, which represents a strong statement of our commitment to the Border area. Through this Fund, I want to make businesses in the border region more resilient, more innovative and more competitive so that we can stimulate enhanced economic activity in the region.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland added:

“Enhancing collaboration is a central element to driving the innovative capabilities of indigenous enterprise and this is a key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Powering the Regions’ strategy. The 11 successful projects announced today illustrate the power of collaboration and will enhance productivity of SMEs to build scale at a regional level.

“Our aim is to augment the international competitiveness of Irish businesses, particularly in the context of Brexit, and to help increase the number of exporters, win business in global markets and provide sustainable employment opportunities in the Border Region.”

Martin O’Brien, CEO, Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) said:

“Brexit, and more recently COVID-19, has shone a light on manufacturing in Ireland which is reaching a critical point and needs to change. To successfully compete in the global market, Irish industry must employ Advanced Manufacturing techniques.

“This Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre of Excellence here in Dundalk will empower Irish industry to make that move and open up opportunities for higher paid employment. LMETB is delighted to lead this national initiative in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Education and skills and SOLAS.”


Notes to Editor:


Border Enterprise Development Fund Structure

The fund is comprised of two funding streams:

Stream 1: Projects will have funding requirements that range from €100k up to €500k, in eligible expenses, per project towards capital and current costs.

Stream 2: Under this stream projects will have funding requirements that range from €500k up to €5m, in eligible expenses, per project towards capital and current costs.

Applicant Name



ERNACT, Co.Donegal



Irish Wood and Furniture Manufacturing Network CLG, Co. Monaghan



Dundalk Institute of Technology, Co. Louth



Creative Spark CLG, Co. Louth



Donegal County Council, Co. Donegal



National Data Platform Designated Activity Company, Co. Monaghan



Louth County Council, Co. Louth



Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB), Co. Louth



Manorhamilton Innovation & Development CLG, Co. Leitrim



Sligo Leitrim ITS Regional Development Projects DAC, Co. Sligo



Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB)


Project Summaries

ERNACT – Donegal, North West Region

ERNACT is located in CoLab/LYIT, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. It is a public sector non-profit organisation and has been in existence for almost 30 years. Its purpose is to assist the North West cross border area, city-region and wider border area maximise its opportunities for successful transition to the digital economy.

The proposed Innovation-as-a-Service or IaaS is a new service that enables innovation hubs to effectively manage the delivery of customised technology transfer solutions to their client SMEs from universities, institutes of technology and private sector companies. The service is unique in that it leverages the power of sophisticated digital collaboration tools to form an effective innovation partnership between the SME, hub and solution provider, overcoming the challenge posed by lack of geographic proximity to effective solution implementation.

The Innovation-as-a-Service (IaaS) project will use sophisticated digital collaboration services to connect the Border region’s growing network of innovation hubs to technology providers (universities and institutes of technology) to accelerate the uptake of disruptive technology solutions by SMEs and accelerate their competitiveness and innovation levels.  Disruptive technology refers collectively to digital technologies embedded in Industry 4.0. This encompasses Internet of Things (IoT), 3D Printing, Robotics, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Big Data.

Irish Wood and Furniture Manufacturing Network CLG - Monaghan, North-East region

The Irish Wood and Furniture Manufacturing Network (IWFMN) is the national network of the wood-using industry, set up to initiate, promote and nurture collaboration across the wood, furniture and joinery manufacturing sector across Ireland.  The network is leading the sector in helping individual members increase their competitiveness and innovation capability.

The focus of this project is to set up the first regional network of IWFMN in the Border Region.  IWFMN is Industry led and committed to meeting Ireland’s wood industry sectoral needs.  Through this network, it will embed a dedicated Sectoral resource in the Border region to sustain and grow the border wood, furniture, joinery & associated industries in the region.

Dundalk Institute of Technology - Dundalk, North-East

The ATHENA STEM Project will support a marked change in the business development, entrepreneurial, and innovation landscape of the North East region by stimulating female led entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship through the launch of a Female STEM Entrepreneurship and STEM SME Management Excellence Capability focused programme. The project proposes to build a critical mass of female STEM entrepreneurs and business managers within the 3 years & engage a cohort of female role models (entrepreneurs and senior/c-Level managers) to act as Strategic Coaches to the programme participants.

The objectives for the ATHENA STEM Project include:

  • Increase number of female STEM Entrepreneur role models
  • Increase number of female senior managers and intrapreneurs in STEM related sectors
  • To create, validate and help commercialise a pipeline of innovations across products, services, business models and methods focused on enabling and nurturing Irish female led STEM Start-ups
  • To become a catalyst for female led innovation in indigenous companies, both start-ups and existing businesses, supporting job creation focusing on enhancing leadership and management development in STEM Industries
  • To support STEM career choice among second level female school leavers
  • To address the lower participation rate of female leaders at senior managerial and CEO level in STEM sector businesses.

Creative Spark - Dundalk, North-East

The Creative Spark Downtown project seeks to enhance the start-up and business support ecosystem in the region by creating a town centre co-working space in Dundalk, equidistant from Dublin and Belfast and aligned with the M1 Corridor. It will be animated through a collaborative programme supported by local shared infrastructure and sharing best practice learning with the main Creative Spark centre and its networks.

The aim is to create an exemplar remote working initiative which will position Dundalk, a Regional Growth Centre identified under Project Ireland 2040, and develop cross-border linkages to sustain attractive urban locations from which to drive enterprise activity in the region.

Donegal County Council - Donegal, North-West

Donegal County Council propose to develop and base this project within the Enterprise Quarter in Letterkenny. The envisioned Enterprise Quarter will be a European exemplar as a ‘Low Carbon Enterprise Campus’ in construction and energy efficiency called the Alpha Innovation Centre.

This project is a development of a purpose built, high tech workspace facility in Letterkenny which will include a bespoke pre-accelerator programme for early idea entrepreneurs along with a programme of wrap-around supports for businesses. This project will help transform Donegal’s entrepreneurial and innovation capacity leading to the creation of more jobs and new start-up’s while supporting established businesses to enhance and develop their innovative capabilities. 

National Data Platform - Monaghan, North-East

This project is a Digital Innovation Hub for the North East region, with a mission to deliver competitive advantage through partnership with local enterprise, and to build digital capability in the region, all achieved through a broad and diverse expert based collaborative model.

The economic base of the North-East Region is founded on agrifood and engineering, with 47.2% of the working population engaged in the agriculture and industry sectors (DBEI - Action Plan for Jobs, 2015).

The Hub will prioritise and drive cluster activity in the targeted sectors of agrifood and engineering and will host educational programmes to upskill staff from companies in domains such as Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Machine Learning and Edge Computing.

The Hub will focus on 3 core and transformative technologies, with a strong emphasis on data driven technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing and Autonomous Things.

Louth County Council - Louth, North-East

Louth County Council’s primary partner in this project is Drogheda Enterprise Centre CLG t/a The Mill Enterprise Hub (The Mill).

This project, titled Drogheda Digital Innovation Hub (DDIH) is designed to encourage high-potential future oriented tech projects seeking to start and grow, to locate in the greater Drogheda/ North East region.

The project aims to foster an environment to facilitate these businesses, to succeed in the region, through the provision of a bespoke and affordable co-working space in Drogheda town centre complemented with tailored management and mentoring support to facilitate their growth and export potential.

This project is an opportunity to target ‘post-Covid’ commuters, those seeking a career change from employee (commuter) to entrepreneur (in the region) and the ‘Brexit opportunity’ to target UK businesses seeking an EU home will add to the project’s success. It is also an opportunity to attract many technology start-ups located outside the region due to the lack of viable property solutions in the Border/NE/Dundalk region.

Louth and Meath ETB - Meath, North-East

This project is the establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk, Co Louth

The Project will:

  • Play a key role in developing curricula and innovative delivery models that address the skills needs in the high value manufacturing and technology sectors.
  • Provide more modular and flexible training courses that can be used to upskill and reskill the existing workforce, sometimes alongside full-time learners.
  • Support companies in multiple sectors to be more intelligent, agile and swift in re-scaling their operations, optimising their supply chains, adopting new business models and embrace new technologies like:
    • Collaborative Robotics
    • Augmented and Virtual Reality
    • Automated Visual Inspection Systems
    • Additive Manufacturing
    • Metallurgy
  • Address the impact of advanced manufacturing techniques and methods that require current and future workers to develop skills that are primarily technology based in:
    • Digital Techniques
    • Computing
    • Analytical
    • Machine Ergonomics
  • Assist companies and employees in understanding manufacturing methodologies including 3D design for Manufacture, Design for assembly of robotics etc.

Manorhamilton Innovation & Development CLG - Leitrim, North East

This project is an Innovation and R&D Centre for the Quarry and Construction industry under Industry 4.0 focusing on robotics and cobotics, artificial intelligence and smart data, virtual reality, augmented reality, 3 D industry Printing, software development to develop new prototypes or products and upskill staff, within both industries.

The Quarry and Construction industries are the fastest growing industries in value-added products within Ireland and globally.  This project will focus on educating companies in the area of Robotic manufacturing which will help companies to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and increase profitability.  This project proposes to develop six different consortiums and tailor solutions and programmes to each sector.

Sligo Leitrim ITS Regional Development Projects DAC - Sligo, North-West

Sligo Leitrim Development DAC wishes to set up a Digital Futures Manufacturing Centre, (DFMC) based in Sligo, serving the northwest and border regions.  With the emergence of advanced ICT technologies this is creating a radical transformation across the manufacturing sector. Such is the scale of this transformation that it is often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0.

Digital Futures Manufacturing Centre (DFMC) will promote knowledge and implementation of cutting-edge innovation to stimulate intercompany and industry collaboration and third level institutions across the northwest region.  

The proposed centre will have a primary focus on supporting industry with developing capability in automation of manufacturing supply chain technology and creating an environment to allow companies focus on developing and implementing Industry 4.0 strategies

Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) -Cavan, North-East

CMETB proposes to establish in Cavan Town the first ever dedicated Further Education Training Centre of Excellence to serve training and development of Supply Chain, Logistics and Procurement sectors, addressing the current and future skills needs of enterprises. This project will deliver in-demand enterprise supports and training activities with regard to the adoption and business application of emerging Industry 4.0 technologies as enablers of competitiveness, increased productivity and enhanced growth.

The Training Centre of Excellence for Supply Chain, Logistics and Procurement (SCL&P) will build resilience, address skills gaps and innovation requirements, provide a stimulus for north/south trade and assist companies to overcome the imminent challenges of Brexit and to support Ireland’s international trade capacity post Covid-19.  SCL&P activities and operators have been important enablers of Ireland’s economic growth.

This project will focus training on a wide range of activities including Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Wearable Technology, Internet of Things and Blockchain Technology, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for Digital Warehousing, 3D Printing Technology, Drone technology and more.