Local Enterprise Office Laois projects secure allocation from €2.5 Million competitive fund

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD announced the results of the new €2.5 million Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Competitive Fund. Sixteen projects have received funding.  Among those receiving funding was Local Enterprise Office Laois who is leading and collaborating on a number of projects with the Local Enterprise Offices from Offaly, Longford and Westmeath.

Local Enterprise Office Laois is the lead on ‘The Midlands Artisan Food & Drinks Producers project’ which aims to strengthen the capacity of the sector to create additional employment and support the progress of some of the participants to become client businesses of Enterprise Ireland. It will encourage networking and collaboration between businesses on a regional basis and encourage business expansion through a process of innovation. This project was successful in obtaining approved funding of €143,000.

Local Enterprise Office Laois is also collaborating with its neighbouring County LEOs – Longford, Offaly and Westmeath on the following projects:

The Going Green project aims to educate, advise and support small businesses in the Midland’s region in their adoption of environmentally positive actions and demonstrate the commitment of small firms to sustainability. By becoming exemplar businesses, they can act as positive role models to other small firms and gain competitive advantage as the consumer becomes more discerning in relation to dealing with environmentally conscious firms. This project has achieved funding of €222,000 and is run collaboratively with the 4 Midlands Local Authorities.

The Engenuity Engineering Midlands project will power the next level of development for a cluster of engineering companies in the midland’s region. It aims to

a)       enhance the competitiveness and resilience of member companies to respond to changing market challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit.

(b)  To deliver business development and marketing research and subsequent collaboration to identify and capitalise on domestic and international opportunities, B2B and supply chain opportunities within the network including joint tendering and enhancing competitive advantage within the region through the network co-ordinator and the proposed steering group members .

(c)  To deliver R&D collaboration between cluster members, education institutions and support agencies in the region, utilising the advantage of the Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) and Athlone IT.

This project has achieved funding of €250,000.

The First Time Exporters project aims to assist high potential micro enterprises expand into international markets for the first time. Through a specially designed programme of expert advice and support, practical workshops and masterclasses, exporting clinics with specialists and networking opportunities; micro businesses will be equipped to maximise their full potential in appropriate international markets.

This project has achieved funding of €150,000.

Applications were open to individual LEOs; collaborative projects between two or more LEOs; and LEOs working with other local groups like Chambers, Community Enterprise Centres, Education or Training bodies, Local Authorities or colleges.

Evelyn Reddin, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Laois said: “LEO  Laois is delighted to have been successful in securing funding under the LEO Competitive Fund and looks forward to collaborating with LEOs Westmeath, Longford and Offaly on these exciting projects to further strengthen the Midlands Region.”

Announcing the successful applicants at a special event in the Council Chamber of Monaghan County Council, Minister Humphreys said: “The successful applicants demonstrated a real intent to collaborate, not only with neighbouring County LEOs but also with other stakeholders such as ITs, Innovation Centres, Local Authorities and others. So, while sixteen of the LEOs will lead on the projects, the vast majority of the LEOs throughout the country will also be part of these projects through collaboration.”

There is a wonderful array of projects in the winning sixteen and they are spread right across the country.  I am particularly pleased to see projects in areas like digital technologies; green and environmental activities; e-commerce; and e-hubs and remote working. This is proof that our LEOs are looking to the future, and tackling the challenges of tomorrow, today.”

The successful applications were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on criteria, which included economic impacts and value for money, collaboration and participation, Future Jobs orientation, collaboration and building regional strengths and viability and sustainability.  

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD said: “I very much welcome Minister Humphreys’ announcement and want to commend all those who have participated in the competitive process. These successful projects will be rolled out through the Local Enterprise Offices, which are very well-placed to reach companies and entrepreneurs in even the most rural areas.  I particularly welcome the focus on collaboration and networking in support of regional and local micro-enterprise capability building, growth and job creation.

Through this funding and other funding initiatives such as the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, the Government is, even with Brexit and other international challenges on the horizon, determined to plan ahead and to prepare for the future jobs of tomorrow.”

Mark Christal, Manager, Regions and Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland, said; “This is a significant investment by the Minister and her Department in the ideas and ability of the Local Enterprise Offices to deliver results across the country.  This will hugely benefit companies and the enterprise eco-system in all regions, an investment that will help to drive enterprise and support the business objectives of entrepreneurs and small businesses.  It shows that Local Enterprise Offices across the country are committed to improving the business environment and supports for their client companies and the entrepreneurs of the future and Enterprise Ireland will continue to work with them to support this aim.”   

Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “This announcement by Minister Humphreys is a great boost to Local Enterprise Offices across the country.  They have shown their creativity and innovation in proposing a range of projects that will solve a number of issues in their regions, whether it’s moving businesses towards a low carbon economy, boosting smart e-hub usage, increasing innovation or helping companies target new markets, they will all make a significant impact.  This funding highlights the impact that Local Enterprise Offices are making and shows that they continue to be best placed in driving innovation and enterprise in towns and villages across the country.”