The Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, has launched two new regional development initiatives in Newry today (Monday 2nd March) aimed at strengthening SMEs and assisting unemployed graduates become entrepreneurs.
The new programmes are being led by the Louth Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and are aimed at significantly strengthening regional development in Ireland, across the border and in the EU. The Louth LEO won the funding for the projects following competition against other initiatives from the European Commission’s Eramsus + programme.
The first project, SHIP (SMEs and HEIs in Innovation Partnerships), will see collaborations between higher education institutions, small and medium sized enterprises and innovation support organisations. It is aimed at establishing how SMEs can access research and training from universities to benefit their bottom line.
The programme aims to enable SMEs access and utilise academic research in order to boost their innovation capacity and competiveness; while universities will be able to find new outlets to generate direct economic benefit from their research.
The second project, REAL (Regional Education and Employment Alliances), aims to assist unemployed humanities graduates to become innovators, entrepreneurs and high value employees. Through the establishment of working alliances between universities, training and business development organisations and local authorities, this project aims to address the skills mismatch that can occur between university graduates and the labour market.
Minister Nash said, “The two initiatives that I am launching today are excellent examples of the sort of regional development that this Government is determined to deliver as we focus attention on ensuring that the economic recovery is felt in every town and village in Ireland.”
“The Louth LEO is also to be commended for competing with other organisations across the EU for funding of more than €900,000 for these two projects. It is leading the way in demonstrating how innovation at a local level can translate into significant gains not only for the Louth community but across the border and EU through strategic partnerships it is developing with universities from Spain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Romania.”
“These projects are also in keeping with what my Department is doing rolling out eight regional enterprise strategies this year as part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015.”
The SHIP and REAL projects will also see the Louth LEO partnering a number of organisations and universities across the EU.
Acting head of enterprise in Louth, Joe English said, “The new collaborative alliances are a direct follow on from the 20 years of successful cross border collaboration with the Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency and it is a testament that such work is now being recognised and promoted across the Union.”
“The objectives of these projects dovetail perfectly with the recently announced framework from the Minister’s Department on the development of Regional Enterprise Strategies.”