R&D and innovation key to success, Enterprise Ireland says
Firms availing of RD&I supports do better in exports, turnover and employment
Enterprise Ireland is seeking to make it easier for industry and academia to work together.
The latest research carried out by Enterprise Ireland shows that companies engaging in research and development and innovation (RD&I) perform significantly better than those who do not. Furthermore, the research also reveals that companies that avail of the Enterprise Ireland RD&I supports perform better still in terms of exports, turnover and employment.
The research was carried out as part of Enterprise Ireland’s Annual Business Review (ABR) survey, which is done by an independent external consultant and measures the performance of the organisation’s clients. This includes sales and exports as well as RD&I-related measures.
The analysis of the ABR results showed that companies which are RD&I-active have more than three times the export sales than those that are not. In addition, RD&I-active companies which have availed of Enterprise Ireland in-company supports such as the RD&I Fund and the Agile Innovation Fund perform better on average than their RD&I active peers who have not availed of this support.
The multipliers involved were quite startling. The firms availing of the Enterprise Ireland supports performed 2.59 times better in terms of export sales, 2.21 times in terms of turnover and 1.65 times in terms of domestic sales. The multiplier for employment performance was 2.05.
“Research, development and innovation is globally recognised as the key economic differentiator,” says Enterprise Ireland research & innovation executive Jennifer Malone. “Put simply, RD&I enables companies to make products and services that are better, cheaper or more novel than those in global markets. Thus, in order to export, our companies must innovate. One of the key pillars of Enterprise Ireland’s Strategy 2017-2020 is to ‘Place Innovation at Centre Stage’. This will help increase the level of innovation among client companies, increase connections between clients and international innovation ecosystem and encourage more client company investment in R&D to help reach a target of €1.25 billion per annum by 2020.”
Performance improved further still when the companies availed of Enterprise Ireland collaboration supports.
For Irish businesses to remain sustainable and competitive, they need to ensure that their products and processes are leading edge, Malone points out. “Enterprise Ireland can help support this important activity every step of the way and make it easier for industry and academia to work together. We provide funding for company-academic collaborations so that academics are encouraged and supported to work on specific company projects. We also support and de-risk research, development and innovation by supporting companies to do RD&I.”
The collaboration supports include the Innovation Voucher initiative which provides vouchers worth €5,000 to small businesses to introduce them to innovation, linking them with a network of knowledge providers, north and south of the Border; the Innovation Partnership programme, which helps industry to engage in collaborative research projects with Irish universities and Institutes of Technology to develop new products and services; the Technology Gateway Programme which helps the Institutes of Technology interact with industry; and the Technology Centres which respond rapidly to industry-defined needs and conduct market-relevant R&D in partnership with collaborating groups of companies.
Firms which availed of these perform better on average than those RD&I-active companies which did not. The multipliers being 1.75 in respect of exports, 1.52 in terms of turnover, 1.14 in respect of domestic sales, and 1.54 in terms of employment.
Those companies which availed of both of these types of supports perform even better again. In this case, the multipliers are 2.80 for export sales, 2.29 turnover, 1.42 for domestic sales, and 2.07 for employment.
And that level of performance is improving. “We have carried out the Annual Business Review for the past three years and the results are slightly better than the previous year,” says Malone.
Progress is also being made on overall RD&I spend. “The 2017 spend was €919 million,” she notes. “That’s 20 per cent up on the 2013 level. It’s been increasing year on year, but we do need a push to reach the €1.25 billion target.”
The supports have been specifically designed to bring companies through the innovation journey. “It starts off with the innovation vouchers, which give them a taster with a €5,000 voucher. They can then move on to innovation partnerships.”
The Agile Innovation Fund was designed for smaller in-company R&D projects. It offers faster approval times than the RD&I funds and is suited to firms with short product cycles.
To access these supports, companies can go through their development adviser or contact the programme manager directly, Malone adds.
“The clear message is that if you do R&D you do better, and if you avail of the supports available from Enterprise Ireland you do better again,” she concludes.