BUCANIER to Boost Irish SMEs with €2.9 million Innovation Support Package


EU-funded initiative launched to provide specialist support to 120 small businesses

A €2.9million EU-funded initiative was today launched in Wexford to provide specialist support to 120 small businesses in the food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy sectors.  The ICT, manufacturing, business services and creative industries will also benefit from the initiative which is designed to help Irish and Welsh SMEs boost trade through the design and development of new products and services.

BUCANIER (Building Cluster and Networks in Innovation Enterprise and Research) will see Institute of Technology Carlow, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Wexford County Council work as a collective with Pembrokeshire County Council, Carmarthenshire County Council and Swansea University Medical School in Wales for the benefit of 120 small businesses in Ireland and Wales. The rationale behind BUCANIER is the successful partnering of higher education institutions and public bodies to bring about innovation and greater productivity for small businesses along the Irish seaboard.

Small businesses, individuals and researchers in the food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy sectors in counties Wicklow, Kildare, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Tipperary and Kerry will benefit from the initiative in addition to their counterparts along the west coast of Wales. BUCANIER is funded through the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Ireland-Wales cooperation programme.

By August 2020, the BUCANIER programme aims to see: 120 SMEs supported; 15% full-time equivalent employment increase in supported enterprises; 60 new-to-firm products introduced amongst supported enterprises; six new-to-market products introduced amongst supported enterprises and two new or enhanced cross-border networks delivered.

BUCANIER plans on delivering on its objectives through: applying design-based innovation to bring new products and service ideas close to the commercial market; business mentoring; innovation master classes and special events; and creating new networks between Wales and Ireland for the benefit of same sector enterprises. BUCANIER also intends to increase the number of cross-border collaborative research, development and innovation (RD&I) clusters and networks between research institutions and SMEs. 

The launch of BUCANIER, which took place at Wexford County Council offices, was attended by all the project partners.

Tom Banville, Head of Enterprise at Wexford County Council, commented during the BUCANIER launch, “Wexford County Council is delighted to be involved as a partner in the BUCANIER project as it links with the Local Enterprise Offices’ mission to promote entrepreneurship and develop existing small business to drive job creation and to provide accessible high quality supports for business ideas.”

Speaking at the BUCANIER launch, Brian Ogilvie, Head of Research and Commercialisation Support at Institute of Technology Carlow commented, “Institute of Technology Carlow is excited to be involved in this Ireland Wales project which will deliver supports to 120 enterprises.  The importance of BUCANIER to regional development stems from the opportunities which cross-border collaborations facilitate to address shared challenges in both countries. It is through these valuable relationships, connections and the sharing of expertise that sustainable solutions, through innovation, are built to assist economic and societal development”.

Commenting on the BUCANIER launch, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) CEO, Jim O’Toole said: “As Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, BIM is delighted to partner on BUCANIER, a project that links with our focus on driving innovation across Ireland’s €1.15 billion seafood industry. The seafood sector employs over 14,000 men and women, many of whom work in or support small to medium seafood enterprises. This extensive project allows these businesses access to a variety of expertise and financial supports that will drive innovative opportunities and support to coastal communities and the wider industry”.