Innovation Exchange is set to expand across the country, with Galway Technology Centre signing on as its first regional partner.
The initiative, which is a partnership between Skillnet Ireland and Furthr, connects large companies with digital transformation challenges and technology companies that can offer solutions.
“This nationwide expansion will foster growth and development in all regions of Ireland. Our indigenous SMEs have plenty to offer when it comes to digital innovation,” said Liz Thomas, head of strategic projects, Skillnet Ireland. “This is a great opportunity for them to easily access the benefits of the Innovation Exchange and collaborate with leading Irish and global corporates throughout the country.”
Under the partnership, small and medium sized businesses in the digital transformation space located in the west of Ireland will have opportunity to pitch to large corporates.
“Galway Technology Centre has always had a regional perspective on how we work with innovative, scaling businesses across the west of Ireland and those involved promoting tech enterprise. We have strived to build a strong spirit of collaboration in our dealings throughout the region,” said Oliver Daniels, chief executive of Galway Technology Centre. “This new association will allow us to provide even more support to those businesses and the wider scaling ecosystem in the west.”
The move is part of the Innovation Exchange’s plan to add up to 10 partners around the country this year. Two others are expected to be added to the network by the end of the quarter, with discussions ongoing with hubs in Cork and Kerry.
Programme director Conor Carmody said the regional partner approach made sense, and the Galway Technology Centre was a good first step.
“There’s a great thriving ecosystem in Galway, they are well plugged into it and are helping us to navigate that region,” he said.
Plans to expand could see the Innovation Exchange become an all-island project. “We have ambitions to be all island. We don’t have anyone lined up, but we think it could and should be an all Ireland project,” said Mr Carmody. “As we get into the year, we’ll start to look at some of the hubs up north. “.
Government agency Skillnet Ireland has committed €5 million to fund The Innovation Exchange. The programme is aiming to support more than 1,000 companies by 2025. Five deals have already been concluded.
Since its inception, five deals have been concluded since the start of the programme, and 20 more are said to be in the pipeline.