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Guest blog: Could your Irish company benefit from a non-repayable (generous) R&D grant?

Has your company taken on a project that’s required R&D to solve a technical or scientific uncertainty? R&D grants can be a vital source of funding to help meet the costs and doesn’t have to be paid back.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


7 minute read

As seen on Biz Dispatch.

Has your company taken on a project that’s required R&D to solve a technical or scientific uncertainty? R&D grants can be a vital source of funding to help meet the costs and doesn’t have to be paid back. Millions of euros are regularly up for grabs so you’ll want to give your project the very best chance of success.

R&D grants are typically awarded to projects that private investors deem too risky. This is usually because the concept is extremely bold or disruptive. Having said that, proposed R&D projects still need to be realistic, with a clear commercial opportunity. This is about really bringing something new and explosive to the market that will bring significant growth.

What R&D grant funding is available for Irish businesses?

There’s a broad range of Irish-based government grants and European grant funding on offer with new competitions being launched all the time. The real trick however lies in knowing what funding rounds are available, when, and whether your company/project is eligible.

The government’s innovation agency, Enterprise Ireland, is the main port of call for all Irish R&D grant funding. It runs competitions that mean you can:

  • Carry out one or more feasibility studies to make sure your concept will work
  • Collaborate with other research organisations and businesses on new R&D projects
  • Build a new product, service or process, or use intensive R&D to drastically upgrade something that already exists.

Horizon Europe and EUREKA Eurostars

Horizon Europe is another key funding source for Irish companies looking to fund innovative R&D projects. Irish companies can also benefit from European grant funding via Horizon Europe, created to bolster technological and scientific excellence EU-wide. It also aims to tackle policy priorities including Sustainable Development Goals and green and digital transitions whilst boosting Europe’s innovative capabilities, jobs, growth and competitiveness.

Horizon Europe offers R&D grants to cover a huge range of areas with cut-off dates throughout the year, including the dedicated SME Instrument.

EUREKA Eurostars is also designed specifically for innovative SMEs consisting of less than 250 employees. Eligible SMEs must be looking to carry out collaborative research with other organisations across Europe as well as other partner countries.

Again, various funding opportunities come up throughout the year - but as always, working out exactly when these opportunities arise and whether you’re even eligible is no mean feat. It’s for this reason that many companies in Ireland use the services of an R&D grant specialist, rather than simply going it alone and hoping for the best.

What are the stages of an R&D grant application?

R&D grants can be worth millions of euros which could make a massive difference to your innovation plans. But as you’re probably starting to realise, there’s a large (and very baffling) array of R&D grants out there, all with their own eligibility criteria.

The right combination of people need to contribute to the application in order to have all bases covered: market knowledge, the technology, financial details and what the strategy is for commercialisation. Preparing an application for an R&D grant can take around 200 hours of work, so it’s well worth having everything to hand before beginning the application process.

Once your application is complete and has been submitted, the grant funding organisation will begin its evaluation. What this process looks like depends on the specific competition, with certain ones revolving around a ‘portfolio’ approach. This helps to make sure that funding is allocated across all the strategic areas in the competition scope.

Bear in mind this isn’t a particularly quick process to go through. Often it can take as long as three months (or even more) to find out the funding decision following submission.

What types of digital innovation projects will be eligible for R&D grants?

R&D grant funding applications are most likely to be successful if they:

  • Can provide a convincing company description explaining why the innovation is more cutting edge than anything a competitor can offer.
  • Has global opportunities, drawing on Ireland’s unique strengths.
  • Include a detailed, clear description of the business opportunity rather than merely a description of the project.
  • Demonstrate how the project brings about a real innovation without replicating anything that’s on the market already.
  • Show a demonstrable awareness of the target market. This includes commercialisation and information about current competitors.

Could an R&D grant bring your company’s innovative plans to life?

A sensible place to start is with a specialist R&D grant funding consultancy who will be able to match you to any grants calls you’re eligible for at the time. Any that are worth their salt will then work with you to create a watertight grant funding application that stands the very best chance of winning against the competition. They will also be able to provide feedback, regardless of whether you obtain the funding or not, and point you in the direction of additional funding opportunities.

An injection of potentially millions of euros of non-repayable cash could make a huge difference in getting your R&D project off the ground. Don’t miss out.

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