INNOVATION for Competitive Enterprises, or ICE, is a radically new way of enabling companies to add value and build innovation capacity and capability by developing new business models, products, services and processes.
ICE is an intensive engaging in-company programme and is now open for applications from SMEs with 10 or more employees from the border counties, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.
Managing the project in Northern Ireland, Sean McCaul, University of Ulster, said: “The core aim of the ICE project is to encourage the development of an innovation culture that is focussed on creating commercial reward and is supported by an inter-regional network. The project is also particularly relevant in the current economic climate as SMEs have tremendous potential to help lay the foundations for economic recovery.”
In-house training is provided in the form of a dedicated ICE Innovation Learning Programme project team which will work on-site with the SMEs to generate new ideas, develop those ideas, test and bring to market new products and services over the course of twelve months. The support provided will be tailored to each individual business with access given to the relevant industry experts.
As part of this tailored in-house approach the ICE team will help to develop the core skills and knowledge needed to develop an innovation culture within participant companies. They will also identify licensing or technology transfer opportunities and encourage greater levels of mutually beneficial co-operation with potential sectoral partners and academic Institutes on a cross border cross regional basis.
“The support offered under the project touches upon all aspects of innovative product and service design from the initial ideas stage, straight through to development and market entry. We are also encouraging businesses to establish new and profitable partnerships possibly through technology transfer that will allow them to extend their market reach,” said Kieran Fegan who is based at Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Approximately 60 companies, across the eligible area, have completed or are currently working through the programme.
The ICE partners are again running a series of free Innovation Information Half Day Workshops to raise awareness and recruit for the final year of the programme.
A local workshop will be held in The Bushtown Hotel, Coleraine, on Tuesday, May 15 and Walsh’s Hotel, Maghera, on Tuesday, May 22 from 9am until lunch at 1pm.
Only SMEs (defined as businesses employing between 10 and 250 employees) which have moved past early stage development into the growth phase of their lifecycle can apply to the ICE project. They must also be located in Northern Ireland or the border counties of the Republic. The supported offered is free to all participating companies prepared to give of their time and commitment to the programme of activity.
For further information on ICE visit www.iceprogramme.com and if you would like to find out more or would like to register for one of the forthcoming free workshops, please contact Kieran Fegan based at Dundalk Institute of Technology on +353 (0) 87 417 4681 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sean McCaul based at the University of Ulster, Magee campus on +44 (0) 79 043 05337 (email@example.com)