Increased Funding For Business, Enterprise and Innovation
The Government has announced an increase in funding in Budget 2019 totalling €950.2m (+9.1%) for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. This allocation is €79.2m above the 2018 allocation of €871m for the Department and includes a record Capital budget increase of €65m (+11.7%) on the existing ceiling of €555m and an additional €14.2m (+4.5%) in Current funding.
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said: “My Department is currently developing a new cross-Government strategy for the next phase of Ireland’s economic development, the Future Jobs Initiative, together with the Department of the Taoiseach. The Programme, which focuses on quality jobs, improving productivity and building resilience in our changing world, was foremost in my mind when allocating funding within my Department for 2019.”
“In prioritising three key areas of Brexit, regional growth and innovation, I am confident that our business community will be best placed to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.”
Getting Business Brexit Ready
€300m Future Growth Loan Scheme
Speaking about the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s Budget 2019 allocation Minister Humphreys said: “The Government has laid a solid foundation for businesses, allowing for jobs and growth to flourish while safeguarding against global challenges including Brexit Budget 2019 recognises that, within the next six months, Ireland’s trading relationship with the UK will change. Brexit brings much uncertainty, but what we do know is that we need a combination of short, medium and longer-term strategies to best prepare for the challenges ahead.”
“Earlier this year, I launched the working capital €300m Brexit Loan Scheme with Ministers Creed and Donohoe to provide affordable financing to Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or will be in the future. We are now announcing a longer term €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme for loans of up to 10 years,” she added.
The Scheme has been developed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with the European Investment Bank Group, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Finance together with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).”
Minister Humphreys said: “This Scheme is crucial as it will provide businesses the opportunity to borrow for up to ten years to support capital investment. It addresses the lack of availability of loans in the marketplace for loan-terms of longer than five-to-seven years.”
€8m extra for DBEI’s Brexit Response and Global Footprint
The Budget 2019 allocation also provides €8m extra for DBEI’s Brexit Response and Global Footprint. Minister Humphreys said: “My Department and its enterprise agencies will play a significant role in enhancing Ireland’s presence overseas. To support that, I am allocating €3m in additional resources to Enterprise Ireland and €2m to IDA Ireland.” Additional funding will also be provided to the Department, its regulatory offices and agencies, including the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to support businesses in meeting the challenge of Brexit.
Minister Humphreys also announced an extra €1m in capital funding for InterTrade Ireland (ITI), an increase of 17.5%. “ITI has a major role to play as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and is facing increased demand for their services particularly from companies in the Border region. This additional funding will enable the body to meet demand in existing programmes, develop initiatives and support firms affected by Brexit,” she said.
Local Enterprise Offices
In addition, Minister Humphreys allocated an extra €5m to the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), up 22% on 2018, which have a presence in every county, to support start-ups and growth and in particular to support businesses to prepare for Brexit. Welcoming the increased funding, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD said: “The LEOs will work with the broad range of indigenous enterprises across sectors to ensure that they are informed and have plans in place to manage the new trading relationships on the island and with the UK more generally. This will include a new customs training programme for all businesses, exporters and importers, to be rolled out in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.”
Driving Indigenous Enterprise and Regional Growth
The Department is also announcing a range of measures in Budget 2019 to further drive indigenous enterprise and regional growth, in line with the objectives of the Regional Action Plans. Minister Humphreys said the €10m extra for IDA’s Regional Property Programme is crucial for regional enterprise development and job creation.
“This extra funding is critical to winning investments into regional locations. In 2015 the Government unveiled a five-year IDA Plan aimed at accelerating the jobs recovery in every part of the country. Project Ireland 2040 names the Border and Midlands regions as priority areas for the Programme, and so the funding will be used to start building advanced facilities in Dundalk, Monaghan, Sligo and Athlone, as well as Limerick, Waterford and Galway where the IDA has also identified a need,” she pointed out.
€2.75m will also be allocated to Enterprise Ireland to fund a support programme of Regional Innovation and Technology Clusters. Minister Breen said: “Building enterprise capability in the regions is a key driver of productivity growth and resilience. With this support Enterprise Ireland will progress a number of regionally focused initiatives linking SMEs and Institutes of Technology, and deliver new Project Ireland 2040 commitments to build regional sectoral clusters to scale and internationalise enterprise in all regions.”
Given the importance of SMEs to our economy, Minister Humphreys welcomed the measures announced in the Budget which will enhance a number of the taxation supports specifically targeted at our businesses. “The redesign of the Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS) and enhancements to the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) share option scheme show the level of commitment from this Government to indigenous enterprise,” the Minister added.
“I fully support these measures which will assist our SMEs by providing them with the tools and incentives to grow their businesses in Ireland. Such measures allow our SMEs to attract and retain talented individuals and encourage investment in their ideas in order for the businesses to scale and internationalise.”
“The extension of the Section 481 Relief for the Film Sector and in particular the uplift for productions being made in the regions is also very welcome and will further enhance Ireland’s reputation as a location for major film and TV productions,” the Minister added.
Minister Humphreys also commented on the €20m allocated in funding for Phase 1 of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), a key element of Project 2040. “This call for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will see investment in the development and deployment of disruptive innovative technologies and applications, on a commercial basis, targeted at tackling national and global challenges.”
Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan TD welcomed the €5m additional capital to support the next phase of work for the initial six Science Foundation Ireland world-class research centres. “This additional funding for SFI’s research centres, along with an additional €1m for SFI’s Strategic Partnership programmes, the €2.75m additional funding for Ireland’s membership of the European Southern Observatory, €500k additional monies for the European Space Agency, and €1m in funding to the Tyndall National Institute will help position Ireland as a global innovation leader of the future.”
“In addition, I very much welcome the €10m allocated to the ongoing roll out of the new PhD Graduate Programme. This is an essential element of meeting the demands of industry for high-skilled workers, and will address a key action of Innovation 2020 to increase the enrolment and output of postgraduate researchers,” he added.
As part of Budget 2019, the Department also allocated an initial €1m to establish the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as a statutory agency. This delivers on the Government’s commitment to tackling white collar crime. In addition, a further €1m is being allocated to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to provide for the extension of its remit in 2019 to cover the Garda Síochána and the Civil Service.