A €1.7m pilot scheme to drive innovation within Welsh and Irish businesses in the life science and food and drink sectors will be announced by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, today (1 March 2018).

Backed with €1.3m of EU funding, the Catalyst project will bring together partners on both sides of the Irish Sea to develop new products and processes within their fields.

The scheme will work with 60 businesses to develop new specialist products, access new markets, and ensure packaging of products are sustainably sourced and minimised. 

The aim is to encourage business growth and create new employment opportunities.

Supported through the EU’s Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will lead the scheme alongside WRAP Cymru, the Institute of Technology Carlow, Tipperary County Council and Carlow County Council.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:

“It’s great to see how partners on both sides of the Irish Sea are collaborating to increase sustainability and drive design and innovation which, in turn, will help reduce waste, boost competitiveness, and enable businesses to diversify and reach new markets.”

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D. said: 

“I am delighted to see the launch of another project under the Ireland Wales programme.  The Catalyst project is a great example of how EU funding is being used to promote innovation and support research and development in the SME sector on a cross border basis.”

The scheme will address a range of challenges that may prevent businesses from developing their products and processes in areas such as designing medical devices and food for health and wellbeing.

Through the project businesses will have access to workshops where businesses from both sectors will jointly explore sustainable development opportunities. Participating businesses will then embark on an innovation residency programme to work alongside specialist academic staff and expert partners to create new, sustainable and innovative products and processes.

Catalyst Project Manager, Chris Holtom said: 

“Catalyst builds on previously successful Ireland Wales projects between the partners. We look forward to working with Welsh and Irish businesses to help them develop new and sustainable products, processes and services as well as create new jobs.”

Chief Executive of Carlow County Council, Kathleen Holohan, said: 

“Enabling job creation in innovative sectors is an essential role of the state-backed enterprise support system in Ireland. This new project will complement the range of support available from local authorities that support enterprises which have a sustainable business model to flourish and grow while also building international connections.”