Are you an Irish SME looking for help with research and innovation? Have you a product or service that requires expertise currently outside of your existing R&D capacity? The Technology Gateway Network, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers, can help!
The Technology Gateway Network is composed of 15 specialist gateways, situated within 11 Institutes of Technology around Ireland. We focus on key technology areas which are aligned to industry needs in areas such as polymers, photonics, mobile, coatings, industrial design, mechatronics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, wireless technologies and precision engineering. Each centre works in conjunction with industry to aid the research and development of innovative products and services through a dedicated team of specialised engineers.
Technology Gateway Clusters
To boost the power and knowledge of the Gateways, three unique gateway clusters have been developed to enhance the delivery of research and innovation for Irish SMEs. These clusters are in the areas of Applied Internet of Things (A-IoT), Engineering, Materials and Design (EMD Ireland), and Food and Beverages. 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 upcoming Innovation Voucher call.
What is an Innovation Voucher call?
The Innovation Voucher scheme is run by Enterprise Ireland and opens approximately three/four times a year. Small and medium-sized companies can apply for a €5,000 voucher for the purpose of gaining academic support in research or innovation from a listed knowledge provider. Vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue and can be used throughout the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network. However, you must apply for a voucher during one of the open calls. The latest call for Innovation Vouchers opens today (26th April 2017) and closes on Wednesday 10th May. For more information about the vouchers, you can see the FAQs on the Enterprise Ireland site, or contact either the A-IoT or EMD Ireland support offices.
How can Technology Gateways and an Innovation Voucher help your company?
We strive to have a close connection with industry and this shows in our results. Since 2013, we have provided support to over 500 Innovation Voucher projects throughout the network. Last year alone we supported over 210 projects. We view each project as unique and as a result the assistance we provide is tailored to its specific needs. Our specialist gateway teams ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget, and provide a wide variety of support and assistance ranging from prototype production, business model development, process optimisation, customer interface, technical specification, new service development and technology audits. We can even help with the voucher application process itself.
But don’t just take our word for it! Irish companies such as Incereb, Bustard Heating and Kilkenny Cooling Systems have all collaborated with various gateways through the Innovation Vouchers scheme and experienced the benefits of the network.
Incereb has developed a novel EEG electrode scaffold, known as the butterfly device. This device will enable technicians to apply in minutes the internationally recognised montage for optimal neonatal EEG brain monitoring and seizure detection. Incereb collaborated with the MiCRA Gateway through a series of Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers, as well as 100% Incereb funded, projects to co-develop the electrode which will be incorporated into the butterfly device scaffold. The prototype arising from this investigation is a fully functional device suitable to be scaled up for production.
We have prototypes which work, and are very close to what we think will be the final product. The documentation and final report on the project was top class, and slotted immediately into our technical and design history file. We have absolutely no hesitation in recommending MiCRA to any interested party.
Jim Roche – CEO, Incereb
Bustard Heating is an SME based in Donegal that provides a range of heating and plumbing services to the domestic and commercial building markets. As an ancillary to their core heating and plumbing business, the company instalsl a range of renewable energy and heat saving products. One such product is their Mobile Heat Switch, used to autonomously control heating and hot water systems by SMS phone text activation. Through an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, the PEM Gateway in IT Sligo undertook an investigation to optimise the existing mobile heat switch device by re-designing the control box interface so that a manual time-clock activation device could be integrated, offering the end user both remote and manual setting functions. This included a 3D printed component to realise the design modifications and to test compatibility with the existing heat switch device.
Operating in a progressive and fast changing building services market it is important that we act on end user feedback to optimise our products. The R&D input supported by the Innovation Voucher initiative was invaluable in helping us realise necessary and further potential for our heat switch device.
Trevor Bustard – Bustard Heating
Kilkenny Cooling Systems is a leading manufacturer of refrigerated storage equipment for the dairy, brewing and food processing sectors. A sector where Kilkenny Cooling Systems is particularly prominent is the beverage cooling industry. Through an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher and Partnership Feasibility study, the TEC Gateway undertook a performance assessment of the company’s Kilkenny VS prototype beer cooler and bench-marked it against competitor cooling systems such as a conventional ice bank system and a full glycol system. The Kilkenny VS Beer Cooling System went on to be shortlisted for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Award for Innovation in 2015 and the 2016 IBEC Environment Award for best new product; winning the latter.
The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher scheme played a key role in the progress of our VS Beer Cooler R&D project. I would strongly encourage any business considering undertaking their own R&D to avail of an Innovation Voucher. Having expertise on hand such as that provided by Nimbus was extremely helpful and definitely contributed to this project’s successful outcome.
John Smee – Kilkenny Cooling Systems
Various Innovation Voucher clinics are also being held in regional centres to provide information and assistance with Innovation Voucher applications. Check out how they can help and register online.
This post was published in collaboration with the Technology Gateway Network
About the author
Gráinne is the Marketing Executive of EMD Ireland, a cluster group of six Technology Gateways operating within the engineering, materials and design sector. The cluster strives to provide companies nationwide with access to the wide range of expertise within the Gateway structure, who can support and aid the development of research and innovation in industry.