InterTradeIreland, the agency responsible for fostering cross border trade, investment and innovation has today announced that it is to invest £8.8million in 135 cross border technology transfer projects. The investment will be channelled into the agency’s technology transfer programme, FUSION. The programme enables science, engineering and technology graduates to gain access to vital industry skills. InterTradeIreland is now encouraging SMEs to benefit from the increased revenue and access to innovation that FUSION can offer.
One of InterTradeIreland’s most successful programmes to date, FUSION enables SMEs to employ science, engineering and technology graduates for a 12-18 month period to create and develop technologically innovative and commercially viable projects and services. The graduate benefits by gaining significant management experience and a fully funded Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management. The company is also partnered with a third level institution to gain access to the specialist expertise they need, facilitating a three way cross border partnership.
Speaking at a company visit to FUSION participant EMS Ltd in Killyman, Dungannon, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment Arlene Foster, welcomed InterTradeIreland’s announcement, “This is a significant investment designed to assist small to medium-sized businesses across Northern Ireland to innovate and grow, taking advantage of funding and expertise that could make a significant difference to their business potential and ultimately, to their profit margins. The potential for SMEs to explore new products, services and markets through increased access to universities and graduates through the innovation eco system is transforming opportunities for many companies.”
Arlene Foster concluded: “In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we encourage and support companies to put innovation at the heart of their business and the InterTradeIreland FUSION project does just that.”
More than 450 companies have already participated in the FUSION programme to date with over 85% of graduates offered long term employment with their host company after the initial phase of the project. On average, companies taking part benefit from over £1million in sales, efficiency saving and investments within 3 years of the project.
Commenting on the investment in FUSION, Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO of InterTradeIreland said, “We are encouraging SMEs to participate in the FUSION Programme, to improve their productivity, increase their revenue potential and to create real jobs for graduates. Our further investment in 135 cross border technology transfer projects is testament to the strength of this programme which delivers tangible outputs for SMEs. Through creating an innovation eco system North and South, we can offer SMEs the potential to externally source and connect with a wider variety of relevant expertise, while collaborating with graduates and universities to deliver product and service innovations. I hope that many more small businesses from Northern Ireland will consider FUSION to help keep their business ahead of the competition.”
EMS Ltd recently participated on the FUSION programme to develop a specialised waste sorter.
FUSION graduate, Paul McCann assisted EMS Ltd with developing this sorter and was mentored by academics, Tommy Gartlan and Kimmitt Sayers, both from the Department of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering at Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Paul has been kept on by EMS Ltd as a Design Engineer, where he will oversee ongoing future projects and developments in this particular field.
Discussing the benefits of FUSION, Harry McCourt, Managing Director at EMS Ltd explains, “The FUSION programme has enabled EMS to develop cutting edge technology for the automatic sorting and separation of a wide range of waste materials. It has allowed EMS to employ a key engineer with the skills and technological know-how to help further develop this type of technology. With Paul’s help, EMS have incorporated this Optical Sorting Technology into a complete Materials Recovery System. With this equipment in operation, it has widened the scope for existing and future customers to recover more materials from landfill.
“It is our intention that a separate division will be set up within EMS to manufacture and continually develop these Optical Sorting units, allowing us to incorporate them into our existing range of products, as well as offering them as stand-alone units. This will allow us to increase our workforce in the future. Without the assistance from the FUSION project, and the input of the engineers, from DkIT, EMS would have had to wait another three to five years to develop this technology. This has been a rewarding experience for both EMS and our latest recruit, Paul. We have no hesitation in recommending companies to join the FUSION programme and avail of the opportunities it offers.”
Companies can currently apply for InterTradeIreland’s FUSION Programme through the InterTradeIreland website atwww.intertradeireland.com/fusion. InterTradeIreland is offering up to £44,250 per project.