5 steps to coming up with that great idea

At times we all struggle to come up with that great idea, striving for that lightbulb moment when the fog clears and there is instant clarity. But sometimes the dots will just not connect no matter how hard we try! A frustrating but common problem in this busy and connected world. Life is hectic and taking or indeed finding the time is not always so easy. Keeping your business ideas and product lines fresh should and needs to be an essential part of your business strategy. Be that enhancing the development of new products, processes or simply engaging with a new target audience, the importance of sustained idea generation is paramount. So if you find yourself stuck in an idea rut, have a read of the 5 steps below to help unlock the idea process.

  1. Write everything down

It may seem like a simple idea, but keeping a record of your thoughts in a journal or notebook is an important way to jog the memory at a later stage. At the time, the idea may seem half thought out or nonsensical, but it could prove to be the start of a chain of thoughts which ignites a great idea. So, start to carry a small notebook around and jot down those thoughts that occur to you during the day or night… You never know, one of those may just be the spark you need!

  1. Research, Research, Research

The brain is like a sponge, it craves new information to soak up and evaluate. The importance of researching, reading and developing your inner thought process should not be underestimated. Get into the habit of reading books, industry blogs, white papers and newspaper articles. The more information you feed your brain, the more engaged and informed you will be on industry requirements. Taking 10 minutes a day to catch up on what’s happening in your industry or sector gives you that ‘insider’ knowledge on how to develop your own great idea.

  1. Talk to others outside your work/family circle

Getting opinions and talking to your closest family and friends is important, but it’s also essential to step out from that comfort zone and engage with those who you may have little/less contact with. Engaging in conversation with others such as suppliers, consumers and those within, and indeed outside, your industry can often focus the mind and allow you to form a different perspective.

  1. Change your routine

Do you engage in the same weekly routine? Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of it! Structure is good, but it can also be stifling to the creative process. Changing up your routine now and again can give you the freedom to clear your mind, develop a creative approach and spark that all important thought process. Changing your routine can be as simple as stepping away from your desk and getting 10 minutes of fresh air before lunch, working different hours than the normal nine to five (if your company permits) or even working remotely at times. Either way, change, no matter how small can often provide the clarity required.

  1. Look around you!

We are all to blame for getting too distracted by work, technology or life in general. Sometimes we just can’t see the wood for the trees. Taking the time to step back, put down the phone, laptop or tablet and enjoy life without the constant buzz of notifications, emails and phone calls can enhance our thought process, clear the mind and give our brain the space it needs to connect those dots.

Increase your R&D capacity in Applied IoT

Increase your R&D capacity with the Applied IoT Cluster and a €5,000 Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher

Are you a start-up in the process of developing a prototype (MVP) of your product, an SME that requires additional R&D supports for improvements to an existing process or simply have a problem that you would like a solution to? The Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network and its three clusters, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland’s €5,000 Innovation Voucher scheme, can help.

Innovation timeline

As Albert Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Indeed, our imaginations do drive innovation and given the rapid advancements in technology over recent years, it has never been so critical for companies to stay abreast, or more preferably ahead, of the innovation curve. Instrumental in staying ahead of the competition is applying your innovative ideas in a timely manner and getting them to the market place as quickly as possible. Not having an internal team that actively promotes and participates in R&D activities can slow down a company’s time to market with a new idea. The Technology Gateway Clusters are available to assist with greatly reducing this time to market by providing the necessary resources and equipment to develop new and innovative near-to market solutions in a timely manner.

What is the Innovation Voucher programme?

The Innovation Voucher scheme funded by Enterprise Ireland invites limited companies, registered in Ireland, to apply for a €5,000 voucher that can be utilised with a registered Knowledge Provider. Companies can engage with any of our 15 Gateways to gain academic support in research, development or innovation. Innovation Vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue and can be used throughout the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network. Staff at the Technology Gateways are available to assist you with the voucher application process if required. Recent reports show that every €1 of investment made by Enterprise Ireland has contributed to a €4.72 increase in Irish EVA (Economic Value Added), whilst each €1 of funding invested by Enterprise Ireland in Innovation Vouchers delivered €11.83 net additional sales at the company side.

Technology Gateway Clusters

To enhance the delivery of research and innovation for Irish SMEs, the Technology Gateways have developed three unique clusters in the areas of Applied Internet of Things (Applied IoT), Engineering, Materials and Design (EMD Ireland), and Food and Beverage Technologies (Irish Food Tech). Each cluster consists of relevant specialised gateways and a dedicated support office, which can assist you with any questions you may have about the Technology Gateway network or the next Innovation Voucher call.

Applied IoT Cluster

Tom Fitzmaurice is Business Development Manager with the Applied IoT Technology Gateway Cluster. This cluster is a consortium of five Technology Gateways, COMAND, IMaR, Nimbus, TSSG and WiSAR. It provides companies looking for specialist technical capabilities for Internet of Things (IoT) research and development with access to over 250 full-time engineers and researchers. The Applied IoT cluster engages with a wide variety of sectors from agriculture to retail, buildings to transportation and energy to security and can provide you with the appropriate R&D tools and resources you may require. The cluster works with companies of all sizes including, start-ups, HPSUs, SMEs and multinationals.

How can the Applied IoT cluster and an Innovation Voucher help your company?

We continue to nourish and strengthen our already close connections with industry and this is visible in our results. Since 2013, the network has provided support on over 966 Innovation Voucher projects. In 2018 alone, our three clusters supported 195 innovative industry projects through the Innovation Voucher programme.

As each IoT project is different, the assistance provided is tailored to meet its specific needs. On time and within budget, delivery of projects is ensured by dedicated cluster teams who provide a wide variety of support and assistance ranging from MVP development, business model development, process optimisation, customer interface, technical specification, new service development and technology audits.

Innovation Vouchers are often the initial step for engagement between a company and a Gateway, with many progressing onto larger Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership projects. Here are some case studies from Irish companies – Smart Factory, TownApps and Fusion Payments – who share their experience of collaborating with the Applied IoT cluster Gateways.

Innovation Voucher case studies

The Smart Factory & Nimbus partnership

Smart Factory approached the Nimbus Technology Gateway to implement an IoT platform to collect, store and visualise data coming from a factory setting and control devices through the OPC-UA protocol. The platform needed to be flexible to accommodate future deployments, provision redundancy and high availability. An additional project provides for visual assistance by illuminating relevant inventory containers during component packaging procedures.

“The work being delivered by the Nimbus Technology Gateway is pivotal to Smart Factory’s Industry 4.0 services offering. The team have been very innovative and the whole experience to date has certainly been worthwhile, amazing value and rewarding. We are currently planning further projects with the Nimbus Technology Gateway for 2019 and beyond.”
Brendan Sheppard – CEO, Smart Factory Solutions

The TownApps & COMAND partnership

The final project resulted in a complete system for the configuration, build, and deployment of multiple mobile apps with an associated cloud-based website, database, and application functionality from a single template with minimal owner involvement. Online apps can now be produced from a single code-base in combination with a unique city configuration, reducing delivery time, maintenance time, and creating greater end-customer features.

“Townapps inherited an old platform to publish our original apps. This platform was built on unstable technology and wouldn’t allow us to scale our business internationally in a cost-effective, secure, flexible and future-proof way. Our clients wanted a host of new offerings including live trails and other critical user engagement techniques. We engaged the team at COMAND with the assistance of an Innovation Partnership to travel the journey with us and give us the necessary software development expertise and advice. The end result is a very balanced solution to roll out our much improved apps in faster time. There are now very few limitations on the many new commercial opportunities that we can bolt into our existing platform as and when these opportunities arise.”
Joe Connaughton – CEO, TownApps

The Fusion Payments & TSSG partnership

For the new wave of digital banking apps, the route to market has largely been to build a core, prepaid card-based account, integrating some budgeting and financial management – there has been little from an aggregation perspective. Fusion Payments wanted to be the only bank app that clients will ever need, with mobile features enabling customers to manage the breadth of their financial lives in the palm of their hand.

The company’s approach is to start with aggregation, which will provide genuine integrated analysis and insight. Fusion will be a virtual banking dashboard where customers can do all their day-to-day bank errands, across any account in any bank, with a layer of real insight to help them get more out of their money.

“We have been really impressed with the TSSG team and the level of research that they have put in and their obvious technical experience. Very professional, proactive and great to work with.”
Richard Hartnett – Director, Fusion Payments

Further information

For more information visit the Applied IoT page and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and events.

Gateway Profile: APT Technology Gateway

The APT Technology Gateway is hosted within the Materials Research Institute (MRI) at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). Over the past 50 years, AIT has grown the polymer research area into an interdisciplinary hub, interfacing with the plastics industry across multiple platforms on thousands of projects. In recent years, AIT has invested heavily in the infrastructure of the research facilities with the completion (in 2020) of a €2 million, HEA co-funded, purpose-built research hub; while large-scale processing equipment is housed in the new €36 million Engineering and Informatics Building and in a dedicated APT polymer processing facility.

AIT is home to the Applied Polymer Technology (APT) Gateway, a national Technology Gateway centre focused on all aspects of polymer research funded by Enterprise Ireland. CISD (Centre for industrial services and design) is the contract design and analytical services section within the Applied Polymer Technologies Gateway.

What is APT Technology Gateway?

APT acts as an industry-led research hub supporting Irish-based plastics and polymer companies in creating solutions to overcome current challenges faced by industry. Delivering technology solutions close to their market needs and acting as an open access point for industry of all sizes, APT is a dedicated resource for the Irish polymer manufacturing industry and regularly provides training and information dissemination as well as production demonstration days for companies with a proven track record of delivering results.

APT Technology Gateway - Materials Research Institute (MRI) at Athlone Institute of Technology

What facilities and technologies are available at APT?

APT plays a key role in supporting the Irish polymer and plastics industry by providing expertise and access to a variety of equipment and technologies, such as:

  • Design, DFM and rapid prototyping – a design engineering team offering full expertise to produce prototypes quickly and efficiently
  • Pilot and production-scale injection moulding, micro-moulding, blow moulding, thermoforming, extrusion and compounding lines and 3D additive printing
  • Advanced Analytical Facilities for materials research, testing and troubleshooting

APT scientists, engineers, chemists, and technologists are highly qualified professionals with years of industry experience who use state-of-the-art instrumentation to provide a full range of quality, product safety, materials and research analysis and testing services.

What types of companies does APT work with?

APT Technology Gateway provides world-class solutions for SMEs and multinational companies using polymer materials across the medical, composite, recycling and pharmaceutical sectors.

How can APT help your company?

Using its suite of characterisation equipment and pilot polymer processing facilities, APT can cover all areas of the design and production lifecycle. This capacity ranges from concept design and prototype development towards commercial launch of a development product, production optimisation and troubleshooting for existing processes and end of life recycling. Using 3D additive printing, APT can fabricate customised injection mould tooling which, married with its pilot production facilities, can produce a limited run of bespoke prototypes.

APT engages with industry partners via several platforms:

  • Contract Research & Development
  • Short-term projects to develop solutions to specific problems or develop clearly identified technologies
  • Commercialisation of APT-developed technology offerings
  • Long-term development projects with industry partners to investigate innovative technologies or materials with identified industrial application

To find out more about the APT Technology Gateway check out their page and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and events!

6 habits of an innovative person

We live in a world surrounded by innovative people. In this fast-paced modern environment, everyone is tripping over each other in order to stay ahead and survive. Innovative people understand that, as Jim Butler put it, “You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.” 

Innovative people stand out. They all have the same habits, regardless of their field of work. Are you an innovative person? If so, you will be able to relate to the following…

  1. Living in the moment

Innovators live in the moment. They do not dwell on the past and cannot foresee the future of their work, therefore they take it one day at a time. Patience is key. They understand that it takes time to see success. They are programmed in a way where they are less concerned about success and more focused on progress.

  1. Thinking outside the box

True innovators can spot patterns, connections and relationships others cannot. They pay attention to minor details and can link these together quite easily. This allows them to predict gaps in the market and seize an opportunity for an innovation before others are even aware it is a possibility. They see a problem and turn it into an opportunity. As Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

  1. Being time-efficient

‘Time is money’ as some might say, therefore innovators will be efficient with their time. They may have figured out what the ‘next big thing’ could be, but they are all aware that they must act fast before others make the same links and spot the same patterns that they can see.

  1. Taking risks

Innovative individuals take risks. They are curious and follow through with this inclination for knowledge, never to wonder, What if? They are not afraid of failure and, in fact, see mistakes as learning curves. Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.” This is a perfect example of the mindset one must have in order to succeed. These individuals are intrinsically motivated, which means that they are driven by their own desire, hence the willingness to take risks.

  1. Writing everything down

Innovative people have a habit of writing everything down; ideas, thoughts, journals to read, contacts, interesting facts. They think onto paper so that they have a hardcopy to refer to. Even the brightest people can forget. Most would make to-do lists along their innovation journey in order to track their progress.

  1. Creative thinking

These people can’t help but be creative; it is simply how their minds are programmed. Cecil B. DeMille said, “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.”  They use their experiences and their knowledge to invent new possibilities and get huge satisfaction from doing so.

 

Water Technology Limited and their Innovation Journey

Enterprise Ireland Innovation vouchers are an excellent way for Irish SMEs to venture into an innovation project. The Innovation Voucher Scheme was developed to build links between Ireland’s public knowledge providers and small businesses. It provides a €5,000 voucher to explore an innovation opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider. There are a large number of knowledge providers based throughout Ireland and you can find a complete list here. The Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network has 15 such providers, each with their own specialisation. The network is available to companies of all sizes but especially SMEs. We work closely with each company to provide help, advice and expertise every step of the way.

One such company who availed of help and support from the network is Water Technology Limited (WTL Ireland) based in Cork. Through the Innovation Voucher scheme, WTL collaborated with CAPPA Technology Gateway in Cork Institute of Technology to commence an innovation project and in this blog post, Joseph Harrington, the company’s Development/Formulation Chemist talks to us about their innovation journey and the benefits of the voucher scheme to their company.

Tell us a little about your company

Water Technology Ltd was formed in 1976 by Bernard and Margaret Creedon. Since 1968, Dr Bernard Creedon had amassed experience in the field of industrial water treatment. In 1975, Brendan Cronin and Michael O’Grada founded a Detergents and Process Aids business trading independently.

In 1985, both businesses entered into a collaboration agreement, combining to trade jointly under the Water Technology Ltd brand. The synergistic benefits of the combined expertise and operational cost-efficiency has allowed us to develop and continue to grow exponentially ever since then. This vast experience, in conjunction with our dynamic, forward-thinking teams, has remained the driving force behind our success to date. As such, we are proud to be the first choice for some of the world’s leading dairy, food and beverage, industrial and pharmaceutical companies, who entrust us to deliver on their quality, efficiency and sustainability needs.

When/why did you start your innovation journey

We initiated our innovation journey in June 2018. Our reason for doing this was that we currently blend formulated industrial detergents and process aids. We regularly develop new products. This often requires reverse engineering products currently on the market. A key group of identifying ingredients contained in many of these formulations is surface active agents (surfactants). The analysis of these chemicals often requires the use of sophisticated equipment and procedures. We do not have the in-house facilities to carry out these analyses. This is why we have decided to join forces with the CAPPA Technology Gateway, who are satisfied they have the necessary equipment and expertise to assist us. It is our long term goal to foster a closer relationship with CIT in the future.

What prompted you to apply for an Innovation Voucher?

We aimed to harness the technical expertise of our local Institute of Technology (CIT) to enhance our R&D capabilities.

How did you find the Innovation Voucher process?

We found the process very straight forward as CAPPA and CIT assisted us in every aspect of application and implementation of the voucher.

What was your experience of working with a Technology Gateway?

Very beneficial to our company for both the initial project and also in developing a longer term relationship. CAPPA has been extremely helpful along the way with prompt advice whenever it was required.

How has the Innovation Voucher benefitted your company?

It has allowed us to expand our research and development capabilities. This has enabled us to develop new and improved products for the detergent industry.

How important is the role of innovation to Irish companies like yours?

Water Technology is an SME, so innovation opportunities such as this are extremely valuable to us. As mentioned previously, we do not have the in-house capabilities to undergo extensive R&D so the availability of knowledge and sophisticated equipment was crucial to meeting customer demand and remaining competitive in today’s fast passed environment.

Further information

  • Further information on Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers is available at Innovation Vouchers.
  • For more information about the Technology Gateways, follow us on Twitter or Linkedin to keep up with the latest network and cluster news!

 

Top tips to consider before sending your funding application

Most people perceive funding applications as an onerous task. This shouldn’t be the case. We have compiled a list of 6 simple tips to consider before sending your funding application that will make the process more manageable.

1. Get advice at an early stage

Rather than launching straight into your application, reach out to those in support roles for guidance and advice. For example, the staff in Enterprise Ireland and the Technology Gateways are there to help. Keep in mind they want to work with you and to see Irish businesses succeed so don’t be hesitant to look for their assistance. They will be able to guide and advise you on how to fill out your application correctly. It is much better to know exactly what is required the first time around.

2. Preparation and research

Ensure you are prepared and have done extensive research on your idea before applying. The application will take time and it is important that you can stand behind what you submit. Important areas to research are the innovative quality of your idea, prospective target markets, funding eligibility and project cost analysis

3. Set your goals

It is hugely important to set goals for yourself with a timeline attached. This will allow you to track your progress and stop you from procrastinating. Some people find it hard to set aside the time to go through the application processes, but, if you break down the process into manageable steps, it will be done before you know it.

4. Allow sufficient time to draft and make changes

As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Don’t rush the application as this will show. Set aside the time to draft a copy of the application but also allow yourself enough time to make changes if necessary. It is also always a good idea to have someone else take a look at the draft in case you missed something.

5. Make each funding proposal unique

You want to stand out. Bear in mind that there are numerous applications sent into funding agencies every day, so ensure yours will stand out to the reader.

6. Double check everything before sending

Make sure all your work has been double checked by yourself and if possible ask a third party, be it your DA (Development Advisor, if an Enterprise Ireland Client), a member of staff from one of the funding agencies, or someone from your business, to have a read of it as well. It is amazing what you might miss when you have been working on it for a long period of time, so it is always best to double and even triple check to ensure that it is perfect the first time around. At the end of the day you will have an application you can be proud of.

Find out about the various funding opportunities Technology Gateways are involved in on our ‘Supports’ page.

Gateway Profile: Design+ Technology Gateway

The Design+ Technology Gateway, based at Institute of Technology Carlow, is a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in design, engineering, ICT and bioscience. The centre champions the application of the design thinking process within the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network, with a focus on the engineering, ICT and bioscience sectors.

What is Design+ Technology Gateway?

The Design+ Technology Gateway was established in 2016 to support innovation for industry utilising a design approach. The technology offerings to industry include:

  • Design: design strategy, visual communication and product design capabilities
  • Prototyping: 3D printing, machining and modelling
  • Engineering: smart energy systems, embedded circuits & systems technologies and surface and coating engineering

Design+ provides businesses with opportunities to increase productivity and create value in products and services in both traditional and emerging sectors. Through R&D, companies are supported in creating intuitive products and sustainable solutions providing differentiation and strengthening competitiveness, new product and service development and business solutions that lead to long-term commercial viability and growth, and maximises return on investment. The Design+ team will enable your company to define and develop new products and concepts in a highly creative manner, drawing on a broad spectrum of technical, business and marketing expertise available within the Gateway at IT Carlow.

Design+ is also a member of two unique Technology Gateway Clusters: Engineering, Materials and Design (EMD Ireland) and Food and Beverage Technologies (Irish Food Tech). Each cluster provides a range of expertise for companies looking to access research and development. Connecting with over 300 industry researchers throughout the network.

What Facilities are available at Design+?

Facilities at Design+ are housed in the state-of-the-art, purpose-built research building, the Dargan Centre.

Facilities in Design+ are housed in our new state-of-the-art purpose built, multi-million, research building, the Dargan Centre

The Dargan Centre is a 2,500 sq. metre, three storey facility which provides a focused, vibrant, supportive and nurturing environment for enabling and expanding RDI activities. The centre is comprised of the Research & Commercialisation Support Centre, Postgraduate Studies, meeting rooms, specialist science and design laboratories, project rooms and incubation facilities, along with designated areas for each of the Institute’s Centres of Research and Enterprise (CORE) research groups.

There are 6 Centres of Research and Enterprise (COREs): designCORE, engCORE, healthCORE, enviroCORE, socialCORE, and gameCORE with designated CORE Directors. There are currently over 100 postgraduate researchers pursuing advanced research programmes across these COREs.

What technology is available in Design+?

Design as a driver of innovation

Design Strategy

The design strategy offering facilitates SMEs in scoping and framing the existing capacity and resources of their company. This is done through visual mapping of key activities, user needs and experiences with a focus on seeking new opportunities.

Visual Communication

Visual communication solutions through packaging, Info-graphics, user interface, user experience and visual identity.

Product Design

The product design offering explores and communicates an idea creating a number of product concepts. This is delivered through sketching, 3D CAD modelling and photorealistic rendering. Concepts can be tested through prototyping and 3D printing.

Prototyping: validate and test your ideas

Prototyping

Design+ can support a wide range of prototyping projects. Prototyping enables proof of concept and user testing throughout the design process.

3D Printing

MJP 5600: MultiJet. Large format multi-material. 5 different materials that can be digitally mixed resulting in thousands of combinations. Build size is 518mm x 381mm x 300mm
SLA: Stereolithography. Plastic-like material. Build size is 250mm x 250mm x 125mm Laser cutting: Laser Pro Spirit GLS. For use with Acrylic, Anodized metal, tile, wood, cardboard and leather. Work area is 960mm x 610mm.

Machining

5 Axis CNC: HURCO VM30i. CNC vertical milling machine. X, Y, Z Axis 1, 270 x 508 x 508mm. 20 CAT 40 tools.
Metal Fabrication: the cutting, bending and joining of metals for building test rigs etc. Laser cutting: Laser Pro Spirit GLS. For use with Acrylic, Anodized metal, tile, wood, cardboard and leather. Work area is 960mm x 610mm.

Modelling

Foam modelling: Using hand and machine crafted polystyrene to explore form, scale and ergonomics.

Vacuum casting: This is a casting process for elastomer using a vacuum to draw the liquid material into the mould.

Vacuum Forming: The process involves heating a plastic sheet until soft and then draping it over a mould. A vacuum is applied sucking the sheet into the mould.

Engineering: delivering technology for your business

Smart Energy Systems

Through integrating smart technologies and techniques into new and existing energy systems we are bringing increased efficiencies in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing, Biomedical and Process engineering.

Embedded Circuits & Systems Technologies

By adopting new transformative technologies and processes we are developing new and novel disruptive solutions that drive advances in the areas of IoT, Smart Factories and Healthcare.

Surface and Coating Engineering

Incorporating the next generation of surface coating advances to drive new innovations in the Water & Waste Water, Biomedical and Aerospace sectors.

What types of companies does Design+ work with?

Design+ can offer support on projects of all sizes to all types of company such as start-ups, HPSUs, SMEs, large indigenous and multinationals.

How can Design+ help your company?

DESIGN+ believes that approaching a product or service with the user in mind is key to successful product development. During the development process, Design+ uses end-user insights to make informed decisions that drive strategic and tactical progress. The greater the meaning of the final experience, the greater the authenticity and level of user engagement – regardless of the product, service or system being designed.

How to work with the team

Work with Design+

To find out more about DESIGN+, check out their page and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and events!

Top 5 reasons your company should actively embrace innovation

Innovation can be an important step in a company’s continued success and development. If you’re a start-up, SME, large indigenous or multinational company in Ireland, it should be at the forefront of your thinking. Innovation provides a range of positive advantages which in these uncertain times could provide stability and growth for many Irish companies.

We’ve put together the 5 top reasons why your company should consider including innovation in your business practices.

  1. Competitive Advantage

It’s imperative that in an increasingly busy, connected and technological world you gain an edge over your competitors. By including innovation as a natural part of your company’s structure, it allows you to stay ahead, stand out from the crowd and create much-needed differentiation in what can sometimes be a very crowded market place.

  1. Meeting consumer needs

Recognising the current needs of your consumer, predicting change and developing your product or service to provide a solution is a critical factor in the success of business today. In today’s fast-paced world, technology and consumer demand change so rapidly that keeping in step with what is required calls for continued research and development of your service, process or product line. Maintaining innovation development in line with your consumer needs will ensure continued success.

  1. Development of new and existing markets

Growth is a key factor in the development of any business; in fact, it is an essential element for survival and success. The introduction of innovation practices allows for the continued development of new or existing products or services into markets which may previously have otherwise been limited or closed.

  1. Availability of funding

There are many different types of innovation funding available depending on your particular company circumstances. Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland have a range of innovation funding to suit many different circumstances, ranging from €5,000 Innovation Vouchers, Innovation Feasibility studies, Agile Innovation grant right through to larger Innovation Partnerships. Depending on your company’s current status and eligibility, these types of funding have proven to be extremely valuable for many Irish companies.

  1. Economic growth

There is no doubt that successful and continued innovation could increase revenue streams and boost company profitability. As your product or service matures in the market, Innovation can play a key role in the continued creation of new opportunities, expansion and growth for your company.

Take a look at our Supports page for more information about available Enterprise Ireland Innovation supports.

Internet of Things (IoT) trends to watch in 2019

As 2018 draws to a close, Tom Fitzmaurice, Business Development Manager of the Applied IoT cluster, looks forward to what promises to be yet another year of rapid evolution in the world of IoT. In fact, 2019 is shaping up to be no different from its predecessor when it comes to exponential growth for the Internet of Things and in this blog post, Tom looks at some potential hot topics for the year ahead.

Cybersecurity

Thus far, IoT device manufacturers have remained behind the curve when it comes to in-built security measures in their product lines. When you purchase a wearable or temperature controlling IoT device for your home, it is not advisable to assume it is secure. On the contrary, unless specifically stated by the manufacturer it would be safer to assume it is NOT secure.

It’s predicted that 2019 will see manufacturers place more emphasis on providing solutions that are designed to protect their IoT devices from data loss/intrusion with wider acceptance being afforded to biometric-infused and other innovative security measures. As in all aspects of life, there will always be new digital threats emerging that will require re-active and more importantly, pro-active solutions to combat as the IoT industry strives for a safer and more secure environment into 2019 and beyond.

Connected vehicles

Advances in the world of the connected vehicle are continuing to transform society as we know it and are changing the way we will use transportation in the future. In addition to the strides being made in powering new vehicles with electricity, increased connectivity capabilities will enable vehicles to communicate with everything around it, including road signs, traffic indicators, other vehicles and pedestrians.

4G, and eventually 5G, networks will allow for higher speed communication, facilitating much greater control over these vehicles. Once again, the development of stringent security measures will be required to ensure the safe use and operation of these more environmentally safer and cost-effective vehicles of the future.

Smart communities

Smart cities have been evolving steadily over the last number of years. Data streaming from thousands of IoT devices around some of the major metropolitan areas is being digitally analysed and used to improve the quality of life for inhabitants. This is achieved by monitoring and enhancing air quality, providing better traffic management systems and implementing smart energy management technologies.

The success of smart cities is leading to the testing and commissioning of such technologies on a smaller scale in towns, villages and individual communities around the globe. Attracting increased interest is the concept of localised communities, serviced by microgrid power stations and comprising high-performance homes kitted out with energy-efficient systems, appliances and other connected devices. Expectations are high for such developments to integrate into a larger ecosystem of connected devices, creating more comfortable living conditions and delivering huge energy savings.

Connectivity

Finally, we’ll glance at the world of connectivity – one of, if not the, most important ingredients when it comes to IoT. In the absence of a strong connection between them, the billions of connected devices deployed around the world would be rendered useless. Having outlined the boundless opportunities for development in cybersecurity, connected vehicles and smart cities, the reality is none of these would be possible without strong and reliable connectivity.

5G is being earmarked as the means to connect all things digital and transform the world we live in. Promoted as being up to 10 times faster, with 50 times less latency and 1,000 times the capacity of 4G, 5G is set to bring billions more connected devices online making way for further disruptive technologies and the creation of new business and financial opportunities.

Tom Fitzmaurice is the Business Development Manager for the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Applied IoT cluster. The cluster is a consortium of five of Enterprise Ireland’s Technology Gateways, providing a single point of contact for companies looking to access technical capabilities for Internet of Things (IoT) research and development. Visit the A IoT page and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and events.

Looking to innovate? Apply to the Agile Innovation Fund!

Are you falling behind your competitors? Do you need a quick solution for your product? Are you keen to innovate?

Being innovative and acting fast certainly are key to survival these days. Enterprise Ireland understands the need for rapid change and that is why the new Agile Innovation Fund was introduced.

What is the Agile Innovation Fund?

Enterprise Ireland’s new Agile Innovation Fund was created in response to the threats and opportunities posed by Brexit. It allows companies in sectors with rapid design cycles to keep their advantage by offering an online application and fast-track approval process, so you can quickly engage in the innovation activity necessary to make your international growth ambitions reality.

It is called the ‘Agile’ Innovation Fund as it offers faster turnaround times from application to approval than the RD&I funds. This fund allows companies to access up to 50% in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

Collaborate with a Technology Gateway - apply for the Agile Innovation Fund

Can this fund be used to collaborate with a Technology Gateway?

Yes, the Agile Innovation Fund is one of three ways in which Enterprise Ireland can fund your collaboration with one of our Technology Gateways. Once you receive funding, you can contact your chosen Gateway, or if you are unsure of which one best suits your needs you can contact the Gateway Team on +353 (01) 708 2954 for guidance.

Who can apply for the Agile Innovation Fund?

The fund is open to everyone; both Enterprise Ireland clients and non-Enterprise Ireland clients can apply.

Am I eligible for the fund?

You are eligible to apply for Agile Innovation Funding, if:

  • Your company is an Irish-based manufacturing or internationally traded services company.
  • You can show adequate cash resources to implement the proposed RD&I project.

Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) client companies are eligible to apply if:

  • Sustainable revenues of €500,000 have been achieved.
  • The company is EBITDA + in the previous accounting period (or previous 9 months prior to application) and can demonstrate future EBITDA + status.
  • No external finance in the form of equity (subject to no double funding) has been raised in the previous six months.

How do I apply?

The application process has been made as easy and as straightforward as possible for applicants.

You can apply online at any time. Full guidance for completing each section can be found within the system. If you are an EI client, you are advised to speak to your Development Adviser (DA) before submitting an application.

Along with the application, you must submit a Project Plan. The Project Plan should be completed by the Technical Lead for the project. Details on submitting the Project Plan separately are included in the confirmation email you will receive when your online application has been completed and submitted to Enterprise Ireland.

If you are a non-EI client, there is a simple expression of interest (Outline Proposal) form that consists of one A4 sheet of questions where you will outline the basic details of the project. This allows an EI staff member to review the proposed project and follow up with recommendations.

If you are reluctant to innovate remember that,

“Innovation does not always mean developing new products. More often it means enhancing offerings with incremental tweaks.”

– Joe Madden (In-Company Research, Development and Innovation Supports Manager at Enterprise Ireland)

Further information