How can Innovation Vouchers help your business?
Need to improve something about the service you provide?
If you’re involved in the running of a business, the Innovation Vouchers scheme may be just the extra support you need to take your entrepreneurial goals to the next level. Enterprise Ireland offers Innovation Vouchers to eligible businesses interested in partnering with “registered knowledge providers”. These knowledge providers are a mix of colleges, institutes and public research bodies from all across the island of Ireland. They are listed here.
Read on if you think your business could benefit from Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 to explore a business opportunity with a registered knowledge provider.
What are Innovation Vouchers for?
Innovation Vouchers are for purchasing academic support and expertise from one of the 38 participating knowledge providers. This can be used to assist any kind of innovation for your company, including:
- Developing new products or services
- Developing a new business model
- Changing how a service is delivered
- Training in innovation management
- Running an innovation or technology audit.
The Vouchers can also be swapped for “knowledge transfer projects”. “Knowledge transfer projects” are where new scientific or technological information is passed from a knowledge provider to your business. You can then use that information to change and improve a product, process or service within your company. Remember that the vouchers don’t cover VAT costs - you’ll be responsible for making sure they’re paid in full.
Who can apply?
In order to qualify for Innovation Vouchers, your business will need to be small or medium sized. This means it should have less than 250 full-time employees, and either an annual turnover of less than €50 million or an annual balance sheet of less than €43 million.
Your company will also have to be limited, for-profit and registered in Ireland. You don’t need to be a client of Enterprise Ireland to apply. Certain enterprise types are not allowed to take part, including:
- Businesses that operate in the agricultural sector (who have other supports)
- Companies with charitable status
- Commercial semi-state companies
- “Not for profit” organisations
- Trade associations or representative bodies
- Sports Clubs and other non-commercial organisations.
How to apply for an Innovation Voucher
There are two ways to apply for vouchers:
Option 1: Standard Applications
You can only apply for a standard voucher during one of Enterprise Ireland’s “open calls”: two-week periods when applications will be accepted. The dates for upcoming open calls are available on the Enterprise Ireland website. At other times, a sample application form is available to help you prepare for your submission. You can access it here.
The Standard Innovation Vouchers are worth €5,000, last for 12 months and can be used with any of the registered knowledge providers.
Option 2: Co-funded Fast Track Applications
You can apply for a co-funded voucher at any time. You must work out a project plan with a knowledge provider before applying, and your business pays 50% of the total costs in cash. The value of the voucher is still €5,000, allowing for total project costs of up to €10,000. You can expect a response to your application within four weeks.
Using multiple vouchers
Your company will be able to use a total of three Innovation Vouchers. If you use the full three, one of them will have to be a 50-50 Co-funded Fast Track voucher. You must make sure your previous voucher has been redeemed and your account settled with your knowledge provider before applying for another. Keep in mind that this includes VAT costs, which are not covered by the voucher scheme.
If your company has already been getting more than €300,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland over the last five years, you will only be able to apply for Co-funded Vouchers. Bear that in mind when filling out your application.