Future Jobs Pillar One and €100m in Disruptive Technologies funding launched at UL

Prof Edmond Magner, Heather Humphreys, TD, Paschal Donohoe, TD, Patrick O’Donovan, TD and Dr Ann Ledwith

Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with Paschal Donohoe, TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform and Patrick O’Donovan, TD, Minister of State for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, held a flagship event at the Kemmy Business School in UL on the impact of technological change on Irish businesses.

At the event, they launched Pillar 1 of the new whole-of-Government plan, Future Jobs Ireland, which focuses on positioning Ireland as a leader in innovation and technology adoption. They also announced that another €100m was being made available under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund for 3-year projects to 2022. It is one of the first funds of its type in the world and a key driver of Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland.

Minister Humphreys said: “Pillar 1 of Future Jobs Ireland is about ensuring that Ireland can stay ahead of the game. We are currently experiencing a technological revolution, which will have a profound impact on our world for decades to come, and we need to keep up to speed.

“Technological change is already impacting on several sectors, such as manufacturing, finance, retail and transport. Taking the workforce as an example, according to a recent study by the OECD, Irish workers face a 46% chance that their job will be automated by the 2030s. This presents challenges but also new possibilities - certain job roles will disappear or be redefined, and brand-new job roles will appear requiring new and different skillsets. Against this backdrop, it’s crucial that we position Ireland to respond to changes ahead.

“The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a key part of our efforts to prepare now for tomorrow’s world. The successful projects will be rooted in collaboration between industry and academia, with a clear focus on commercialisation. Crucially, they will have a transformative impact on how we work or live.”

The Fund is competitive and will be assessed by an independent international panel of experts. It will drive enterprise collaborations involving firms of all sizes including a requirement for at least one SME in every consortium. It also encourages collaboration with Ireland’s world-class research base including universities and colleges.

€75m was allocated to 27 ground-breaking projects under the first round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund following 300 expressions of interest. Successful projects covered areas like household electricity generation, sepsis treatments, coastal flooding supports and medical 3D printing.

Minister Donohoe said: “The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will provide opportunities for our most dynamic companies to translate their research into a commercial reality by working in partnership with Higher Education Institutions. Ireland needs to maintain its position as a technological leader in a modern, global economy. The investment that I and the Government have made available through this initiative for co-funded projects will help us to achieve that objective in the coming years.”

Projects must be geared towards commercialisation and are required to align with Ireland’s Research Priority Areas of ICT; Health and Wellbeing; Food; Energy; Climate Action and Sustainability; Manufacturing and Materials; and Business Services and Processes.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The University of Limerick is an ideal venue for this flagship events on the impact of technological change on Irish businesses. It is already at the forefront of research to develop disruptive technologies related to health, energy and the environment that will create a legacy of scientific achievement in structured materials research that benefits future generations. The significant investments associated with the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Future Jobs Ireland programme demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Ireland remains among the global leaders in innovation”.

The Ministers also visited the Bernal Institute where they had tour of the Biological Labs and the JAMIR (Joining Advanced Materials for Industry fouR) which is used by Industry partners to develop future smart manufacturing technologies. The Ministers were presented with the Bernal Institute Strategic Plan “Structures Matter”. 

In order to ensure that projects of scale and impact are funded, the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is available to applicants requesting funding of €1.5 million or more for projects of up to 3 years duration. Enterprise partners must provide matched funding.

The call for funding will be administered for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation by Enterprise Ireland. Prospective applicants can obtain detailed information on the Fund and on the application process through the www.dbei.gov.ie/DTIF webpage. The application deadline is 15.00 Irish time on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.