Launched in 2014 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is an Enterprise Ireland initiative connecting public sector bodies to organisations and companies with innovative ideas, aimed at solving prevalent issues across local communities nationwide.
Contracting authorities can approach Enterprise Ireland with a problem they can’t find solution to in the current market and raise the proposed problem as a ‘challenge’. A fund is made available to procure R&D; 50% Enterprise Ireland, 50% Contracting Authority to tackle the proposed challenge.
Since its formation, SBIR Ireland have run 2 calls and 21 challenges. Tomorrow’s launch, to be held in Engine, in Limerick, will be SBIR’s tenth challenge launched this year. Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with Limerick Council will host the event inviting innovators and relevant companies to attend, to find out more about the challenge. A briefing event will be held October 3rd following the launch, for interested companies to attend. This briefing event will talk about the challenge at length, Companies will be able to ask what the problem is, what the contracting authority are looking for, and to find out more about the SBIR process.
Limerick Council are looking for solutions to fire safety and universal access in historic buildings. Limerick is home to a collection of Georgian buildings and would like that this challenge will tackle the issue of making the inner-city more liveable; expanding dwellings to Georgian buildings. The problem with these dwellings is their compliance with fire safety and universal access laws.
Anybody, with any idea, as to how best to solve this problem is welcome to attend the launch and briefing event. SBIR and Limerick Council are happy to listen to anyone with an idea of how best to implement a solution to the proposed challenge. At the end of process, it is hoped that innovators and their ideas will use the funding provided to research and commercialise the solution, so it can be applied to the challenge on-hand.
‘We are open to any solution; SBIR is all about innovation. We encourage new ideas, and want to hear what ways innovative companies across the country propose to solve our national problems.’
From the engagement between SBIR Ireland and the Contracting Authorities to date, results have been positive. Dublin City Council have launched SBIR challenges in previous years, one of the most successful being their Cycling Challenge; leading to international commendation, as the innovation of one of the SBIR companies was adopted by an American municipality, who faced similar issues. SBIR Ireland are also hoping to launch a challenge with the HSE by the end of year; pending a final decision on what issue to tackle.
SBIR Ireland’s objective is to create a win-win situation for everybody; an initiative that will benefit the citizen, and the contracting authority. And hopefully inspire and aid other communities watching the collaborative innovation process.