The ultimate goal is twofold: on the one hand, it helps SMEs to develop R&D capacities and get started on the knowledge-based market, and on the other, it supports the alignment between public research institutions and local business development.
The Innovation Vouchers scheme is a low-resource initiative that provides SMEs with vouchers worth €5,000 that allow them to procure the services of academic researchers. The aim is to improve companies' innovation capability and to build links between Ireland’s public sector knowledge providers and the small business community.
The voucher can be used to purchase academic support from one of the 38 registered knowledge providers. When awarded an innovation voucher, the beneficiary can use it to purchase leading-edge academic expertise to meet innovation requirements.
For the purposes of the Innovation Voucher Initiative, a small and medium-sized enterprise is defined as a company or (if part of a group) a group of companies where the total number of full-time employees in the company (or the entire group) is less than 250 and has an annual turnover total not exceeding €50m and/or an annual Balance Sheet total not exceeding €43m. (Exclusions: small and medium-sized enterprises in the agricultural sector are excluded in line with State aid guidelines).
About collaborative research and consultancy (excerpt from Nesta's ‘Idea Bank’ for Local Policymakers):
Many universities now have well-structured mechanisms for collaborative research and consultancy, which may benefit startups that need business advice or technical input. In this instance, the aim of policymakers and university officials should be to smooth and simplify the process of collaboration wherever possible, reducing the search costs and transaction costs for entrepreneurs.