Enterprise Irelands 5k Innovation Vouchers Now Open for Application

The Innovation Voucher initiative was developed to build links between Ireland's public knowledge providers (i.e. higher education institutes, public research bodies) and small businesses. 
 
Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 are available to assist a company or companies to explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider.
 
Am I eligible?
The Innovation Vouchers initiative is open to all small and medium-sized limited companies registered in Ireland. Applications are not restricted to clients of Enterprise Ireland.
 
Exclusions
Small and medium-sized enterprises in the agricultural sector are excluded in line with State aid guidelines.
 
Companies with charitable status, commercial semi-state companies, “not for profit” organisations, trade associations, company representation bodies such as Chambers of Commerce, Sports Clubs and other non-commercial bodies or associations are not eligible to participate in the innovation voucher initiative.
 
Small and medium-sized company definition (SME):
For the purposes of the Innovation Voucher Initiative, a small and medium-sized enterprise is defined as a company or (if part of a group) a group of companies where the total number of full-time employees in the company (or the entire group) is less than 250 and has an annual turnover total not exceeding €50m and/or an annual Balance Sheet total not exceeding €43m. (Exclusions: small and medium-sized enterprises in the agricultural sector are excluded in line with State aid guidelines).
 
Eligibility Criteria and Conditions of Use
Small and medium-sized companies may make use of a maximum of three vouchers, one of which must be a 50-50 co-funded Fast Track voucher.
 
Companies that have been approved in excess of €300,000 (includes funding under the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership programme) funding from Enterprise Ireland in the previous 5 years are not eligible to apply for a fully funded 5k Standard Innovation Voucher, but are eligible to apply for a Co-Funded Innovation Voucher provided they satisfy all other eligibility criteria.
 
A company may have one ‘active’ voucher at any point in time. Companies should ensure that the voucher has been redeemed by the knowledge provider before applying for a subsequent voucher.
 
Companies will not be eligible for further vouchers until their accounts with the knowledge providers are settled in full (including the payment of VAT).
 
Your voucher will also be accepted by registered knowledge providers in Northern Ireland as part of Enterprise Ireland’s arrangement with Invest Northern Ireland.
 
Please note that Innovation Vouchers are EXCLUSIVE OF VAT. You will be charged VAT by the knowledge provider and this cost MUST be settled separately by the company.
 
If you wish to apply for an Innovation Voucher, there are two options:
 
Option 1:  Standard Applications
 
You may only apply for a Standard Voucher during one of our open calls and the option to apply for a Standard Voucher is only available within the Online Application System during an open call. Outside of the open calls, a Sample Standard Voucher application form  is available for download to help you prepare for submission in advance of the next call. Please note that this is available for information purposes only and should not be used to submit your application. All standard voucher applications must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System in the normal fashion during one of our open calls.  See Call Schedule below
 
Call Schedule - Open Calls for Standard Innovation Voucher Applications in 2017
Opening Date: Wednesday 18th January, 2017  
Closing Date: Wednesday 1st February, 2017 at 3pm 
 
Further calls will be announced during 2017
 
Option 2:  50-50 co-funded Fast Track Applications
 
50-50 co-funded Fast Track Applications - may be submitted anytime.
 
Available Voucher Types
 
1.Standard Voucher:
Standard €5k vouchers are available to assist a company explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider. You can only apply for one of these standard €5,000 vouchers during one of our open calls. You do not need to identify your knowledge provider in advance and they are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Please consult our schedule of calls when submitting your application. 
 
2.Co-funded Fast Track Application:
The value of the voucher is €5,000 and the company contributes 50% of the project costs in cash. Therefore, a company may use a Fast Track voucher to cover project costs up to €10,000 on a 50-50 co-funded basis. The company and the knowledge provider jointly agree on the work programme for the project in advance of submitting an application. Companies may wish to use this option when they are no longer eligible for a standard voucher (may have used two or more standard vouchers) or where time to market is critical and the schedule for the standard call is not suitable. This voucher application can be submitted at any time and a response may be expected within four weeks.
  
Permitted uses for a Voucher
 
Innovation Vouchers can be used for any kind of innovation such as:
new product/process development;
new business model development;
new service delivery and customer interface;
new service development;
tailored training in innovation management;
innovation/technology audit.
 
Vouchers can be exchanged for knowledge transfer projects from the knowledge provider.
 
For the purposes of this initiative, a knowledge transfer project is defined as one that transfers knowledge of a scientific, technological or innovative nature that it is new to the small enterprise. The small enterprise may then use the new knowledge to innovate a product, process or service.
 
Ineligible activities
 
The Innovation Voucher may not be used to cover the costs of:
1.achieving compliance with statutory regulations or legislation;
2.standard training courses;
3.software purchases and software development;
4.aid that would promote/subsidise the cost of exports;
5.internships for students of knowledge institutions;
6.design and production of advertising material; branding;
7.sales activities;
8.business plans, business strategies, economic appraisals, costs analysis, general business consultancy;
9.standard website development and online optimisation;
10.standard mobile applications development;
11.activities such as market research and market surveys that may be readily provided by the private sector;
12.calorie & nutritional analysis, recipe development etc for all Food Service Outlet menus;   
13.activities supported by the mainstream funding mechanisms available from other Development Agencies such as the Local Enterprise Offices;
14.activities unlikely to result in commercial enterprise or business capable of generating jobs and/or exports;
15.advice or assistance with the following areas; Legal
Commercial law
Patents
Taxation
16.Training and mentoring;
17.Marketing activities, digital marketing activities, marketing plans & strategies
 
If potential solutions to the knowledge question already exist in the marketplace, then Enterprise Ireland is likely to reject the application on the basis that the proposed activity may be undertaken by the private sector.
 
How do I apply? 
 
Enterprise Irelands Online Application System for Innovation Vouchers allows you to apply for both Standard 5K Innovation Vouchers and Co-funded Fast Track Innovation Vouchers. All voucher applications must be made via the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System. If you are a first-time applicant, you will have to register on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System and create your own account.
 
All applications for our Standard Voucher must be made during one of our open calls, and we strongly recommend that you commence your application well in advance of the call close date and time.
Please note that you do not have to be a client of Enterprise Ireland, nor have an Enterprise Ireland Development Adviser to apply for a voucher.
 
 
Information from Enterprise Ireland Website 18.01.17