The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, has launched a new €2 million programme to encourage groups of businesses to collaborate to achieve specific business objectives, improve competitive advantage, create mutual financial gain – and ultimately create jobs.
The programme, which is based on international best practice, is being supported jointly by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the City and County Enterprise Boards. The announcement marks the delivery of a key measure under the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, and represents a new departure in industrial policy by encouraging businesses to co-operate with each other to develop clusters of strength.
Projects must involve a minimum of five companies, and will be eligible for funding of up to €100,000. The initiative is aimed at a broad range of businesses serviced by the enterprise development agencies. Clusters will also be encouraged to seek to find members from other jurisdictions including Northern Ireland, global corporations with presences in Ireland, companies not clients of enterprise development agencies, trade/business associations, academic institutions and suppliers.
Launching the initiative Minister Bruton said: “If we are to see the jobs recovery we so badly need, we must be more innovative in the ways we seek to move the performance of our industries to the next level. Some of Ireland’s major success stories are based on clusters – for example, the medical devices cluster, which is recognised internationally as one of the best in the world. Part of the Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to seek to replicate this across the economy and ensure that Ireland can become a world leader in a range of sectors, whether it be digital games, cloud computing, or anything else.
Clusters like this cannot be created by Government – but must be led by businesses and people operating at the coalface. This initiative is about encouraging businesses to look past immediate concerns, and co-operate to lift the fortunes of the sector in which they operate, to the benefit of everyone. By encouraging businesses to co-operate on issues of mutual benefit, we can help to develop clusters of strength which can sustain strong companies and create the jobs we need.”
Applications and full details of the programme, including funding levels, can be found at www.enterprise-ireland.com/clusteringprogramme