SMEs across the island that are keen to innovate and potentially bring a new product or service to market, are being urged to apply for InterTradeIreland’s FUSION programme.
Over the next five years, InterTradeIreland, the business agency responsible for fostering cross-border trade and innovation, will invest £16.5m to allow more than 300 SMEs to take part in a cross-border technology transfer project.
Graduate and third-level support
As part of FUSION, eligible SMEs receive funding from InterTradeIreland to employ a science, engineering and technology graduate for a 12-18 month period to create and develop technologically innovative and commercially viable projects and services. The company is also partnered with a third level institution to gain access to the specialist expertise they need, facilitating a three way cross-border partnership.
SMEs are encouraged to take part in the FUSION programme, to improve their productivity, increase their revenue potential and to create real jobs for graduates.
FUSION delivers tangible outputs for SMEs. On average, each company taking part benefits from approximately £1million worth of sales or efficiency savings in the three years following their participation – so it is no surprise that it is one of InterTradeIreland’s most popular programmes.
It is also extremely beneficial for graduates. They gain significant management experience and a fully funded Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management which enhances their employment prospects. In fact, of the 550 graduates who have successfully completed the FUSION programme, 80% of them have been offered full time employment at the end of the project.
Experience of an SME
Ballygawley company, Tyrone Fabrication Ltd, is one business that has benefited from FUSION. The project enabled the company to develop a renewable energy based power solution for control panels for the telecommunications market and also resulted in their graduate gaining a full-time role within the firm.
In discussing the benefits of the programme, Michael Montague, general manager at Tyrone Fabrication Ltd, said, “Without the assistance from the FUSION project, we would not have had the time or resources to be able to dedicate a full time member of staff to R&D and successfully bring this project to market. In addition, we simply didn’t have the necessary skills or in-house expertise to turn the initial idea into reality.
“This has been a rewarding experience for us and has generated a significant increase in revenue, along with additional efficiency savings for our business. In addition, in taking on Dominic on a full-time basis it created another new and vitally important job role within the company. We have no hesitation in encouraging other local companies to apply for the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme and take advantage of the opportunities it offers.”
How to apply
Companies can currently apply for InterTradeIreland’s FUSION Programme through the InterTradeIreland website at www.intertradeireland.com/fusion. InterTradeIreland is offering up to £31,000 for a 12 month project (typically in the area of process improvement) and up to £44,250 for an 18 month project (typically in the area of new product or service development).
For graduates interested in the FUSION programme and in viewing the current job opportunities, more information can be found at www.intertradeireland.com/graduates.