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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D. joined Skillnet Ireland and Further (formerly known as Dublin Business Innovation Centre) today to launch The Innovation Exchange – a new enterprise-led initiative from Skillnet Ireland that connects Irish SMEs with large multinational organisations facing digital challenges.

Skillnet Ireland, in partnership with Furthr, has developed The Innovation Exchange to address the barriers that exist for SMEs engaging with large multinational organisations and government. Following a successful pilot in 2021, an investment of €5 million will now see The Innovation Exchange being rolled out to companies nationwide.

Supporting 300 companies in 2022, this multi-year initiative focuses on identifying challenges within the area of digital transformation and using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics across key sectors including energy, food, travel, health, education, human resources, logistics and compliance.

The collaboration between ambitious SMEs and established multinationals is creating opportunities for participating SMEs through access to new markets, new customers and industry expertise. Participating multinationals can, in turn, gain access to start-up creativity, new ways of working and ways to successfully harness emerging technologies.

Launching the initiative at Dublin’s Guinness Enterprise Centre, Minister Simon Harris. T.D. said, “I am delighted to launch this new initiative, which teams enterprise in Ireland with global organisations. This creates real business opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses while also seeking to address innovation challenges facing larger companies. We will support 300 companies in 2022 across many sectors including technology, agri-food and energy, and we will support this with a €5 million investment.”

Paul Healy, Chief Executive Skillnet Ireland said, “The Innovation Exchange perfectly captures the spirit of collaboration that lies within the Irish business ecosystem. As a talent development agency, Skillnet Ireland is committed to supporting businesses at both ends of the scale, be that our home-grown SME community to the major multinationals that are vital to our economic wellbeing. Through the Innovation Exchange, and in partnership with Furthr, we are connecting ambitious SME leaders with some of the leading global organisations based in Ireland with the common goal of boosting innovation and competitiveness.”

Michael Culligan, CEO, Furthr, said, “The Innovation Exchange is an ambitious initiative for ambitious businesses which accelerates innovation and drives real results. By developing the structures and processes to make innovation partnerships work, The Innovation Exchange will see Irish SMEs bring their ground-breaking solutions to some of the largest corporate businesses in Ireland. Not only does this relationship offer solutions to multinational businesses, but it has the ability to help SMEs in charting a course toward expansion, scale and success.”

Glanbia and IBM are two of the multinational corporations currently taking part in The Innovation Exchange. Current participating SMEs include Tigim, Empeal and Buymedia.

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