Good track record of nurturing innovation

14 October, 2009

Supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s four EC Business and innovations Centres (BICs) have been established on an international best practice basis since 1987.

Globally connected and regionally based, the centre are lean, politically neutral, private sector-supported, flexible and, importantly, offer a quick turnaround time and zero bureaucracy.

“We are celebrating 21 years of service this year and are very proud of our achievements in helping so many successful Irish start-ups during that time,” said Joe Greaney, WestBIC director and vice-president of the 250+ European BIC Network.

“It is generally agreed that the key to recovery in the current economic climate is through the creation of employment that is sustainable on the basis of added value for the economy, globally competitive innovation and the exploitation of the clean and green sectors where we have some natural advantages.

“The next generation of start-ups needs to belong to internationally benchmarked R and TD communities and will require a low threshold of access to connectivity infrastructure with timely start-up capital and private sector networks.”

Greaney believes that the challenge and the focus of Irish BICs are to fast-track the next generation of start-ups.

“Many start-ups working with the Irish BICs already belong to internationally benchmarked R and TD communities, have connectivity infrastructure on a “low-to-no” threshold of access and avail of timely start-up capital accompanied with financial engineering knowhow and a “connectedness” to innovative state support packages.

“The supports we have in place range from modern incubation systems to business angel funding through the National Business Angel Partnership in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland and InterTrade Ireland.

“They also enjoy private sector networks and mentoring support from experienced practitioners and belong to transnational collaborative marketing networks through our 250-strong international network. The healthy survival rate of 80 per cent + of BIC assisted companies since 1987 is not an accident.”

Greaney is confident that the Irish BICs’support of small, agile and innovative Irish companies will contribute significantly to government policy on the smart economy, market needs and challenges over the five to ten years.

“BICs delivered 34 knowledge-based, trading start-up onto EI and other agency books in 2008,” Greaney said.

“Our collective challenge now is to increase this cohort and bring more start-ups on to this higher level of performance and international exposure.”

Published in The Sunday Business Post
October 11 2009

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