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Minister Coveney launches four programmes under the €28 million Innovators Initiative

Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, and Enterprise Ireland (EI) are pleased to announce the launch of the four programmes under the Innovators’ Initiative, which is co-funded by the EU under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Innovators’ Initiative comprises four education and training programmes hosted in Irish publicly funded Research Performing Organisations (RPOs), each aimed at a different sector of importance to the Irish economy. 

Each of the four education and training programmes will receive €7 million in funding over the 7-year Initiative and will create cohorts of highly skilled innovators who can observe and identify unmet market needs within specific sectors of growth in Ireland. Upon completion of a programme, the participants can form new enterprises or return to their sectors, bringing their new skills and education and training back to the sector thereby raising the absorptive capacity for innovation in their company.

The four successful programmes under the Innovators’ Initiative are: 

  • BioInnovate, (MedTech) hosted by the University of Galway
  • Sustainable Food Systems and AgTech, will be hosted by University College Dublin and supported by Teagasc
  • Cyber-Innovate, (cybersecurity) hosted by the Munster Technological University Cork
  • DigiBio, (digital health) hosted by Dundalk Institute of Technology, in association with the Royal College of Surgeons, Tyndall Institute, Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin 

On completion of the programme participants can also access further funding and training through Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund, which may then lead to the formation of a High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) directly contributing to job creation.  It is expected that the programme will increase the levels of regional development and activity in the establishment of new enterprises.

Speaking about the four Innovators’ Initiative programmes Minister Coveney said:

“I am delighted to announce the 4 successful programmes under the Innovators’ Initiative. These four programmes, co-funded by the EU through the ERDF, will play an important role identifying and addressing real market needs and opportunities, supported by immersive education and training.  It presents a real opportunity to capitalise on the combination of academic excellence in the sectors with industry focused innovation. “

The Minister added:

“The Innovators’ Initiative is a critical new component that will boost Ireland’s overall innovation ecosystem. It will build on existing national and international best practice programmes, such as the BioInnovate Ireland programme hosted by the University of Galway. It will deliver a comprehensive programme to create a strong cohort of high-calibre leaders, future entrepreneurs and innovation champions across the regions, with all the necessary skills and capability to drive and leverage innovation in sectors of strategic economic importance to Ireland such as cybersecurity, sustainable food and AgTech, digital health and MedTech.”

Marina Donohoe, Head of Research and Innovation at Enterprise Ireland said:

“The four new education and training programmes launched under the Innovators’ Initiative will accelerate the development of innovation capability in Irish enterprise across all regions. Each of the programmes are focused on a specific sector of national or regional importance and will leverage the industrial strength and research capability of the region in which the programmes are based. On completion of a programme, the new cohort of highly skilled innovators will return to their sectors with the accrued benefits of their new skills and training, or can form new enterprises."

She added:

“The four programmes should be capable of producing hundreds of ideas over the seven-year initiative. If an idea addresses an unmet market need, the innovators can apply for support from the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. That is the next step on the journey and we look forward to supporting the projects involved.” 


Notes for Editors

About the Innovators’ Initiative

Enterprise Ireland has developed the Innovators’ Initiative to establish needs-led innovation education and training programmes in sectors of critical importance to Ireland. Its purpose is to deliver a strong cohort of high-calibre leaders and entrepreneurs across all regions, with the necessary skills, ambition, and capability to build Ireland’s next generation of High Potential Start-Up companies.

The Innovators’ Initiative will fund the 4 successful programmes with a total of €28 million, co-funded through European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), over seven years and approved by the EU Commission.

Following an open competitive call to Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) four programmes encompassing the medical device sector, digital healthcare, cybersecurity, and sustainable food systems and AgTech are being funded to circa €7 million each over the 7 year Initiative.

Contacts for the 4 programmes 

About the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The programmes are administered by Enterprise Ireland, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Government of Ireland, through the Northern and Western Regional Programme 2021-2027 and the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027. These regional programmes aim to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion across all European regions. The Managing Authorities for the ERDF Regional Programmes in Ireland are the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and the Southern Regional Assembly.