The Innovation Exchange, a programme that accelerates digital transformation for large multinational businesses (MNCs) by connecting them with indigenous Irish SMEs, is calling on innovative technology scale-ups to join the programme and collaborate with MNCs to help address their challenges.
Created by Furthr (formerly Dublin BIC) in partnership with Skillnet Ireland, the programme has announced additional funding to meet higher-than-expected demand. The new funding comes following a successful initial phase which enabled collaboration between 200 SMEs with some of Ireland’s leading corporations including Musgrave, Heineken, Ryanair, Glanbia, ESB and AXA.
At ‘Innovating for the Future’, an event held today to report its first six-month performance, The Innovation Exchange announced that it is to open its doors to an additional 100 digital transformation solutions providers to meet increasing demand from industry.
Discussing the programmes expansion at today’s event, Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins T.D. said: “I’m delighted to see The Innovation Exchange open its doors to a further 100 SMEs in 2022. With over 25 innovation challenges being published by some of Ireland’s leading multinationals this year alone, it offers ambitious tech SMEs great opportunities for growth.”
Conor Carmody, Programme Director, The Innovation Exchange, said: “The Innovation Exchange has had a strong start and the calibre of both corporates and SMEs participating has been very high. We are delighted to open applications for new technology SMEs to join the programme. We’re not only looking for tried and tested digital transformation solutions, but also for the ability to collaborate with large businesses who want to put their stamp on the end solution. If you’re a growing, solutions-focused SME then we would urge you to join The Innovation Exchange at a time when there are so many corporate challenges on the table.”
Mark Jordan, Chief Strategy Officer, Skillnet Ireland, said: “The Innovation Exchange has made great strides in its first six months, supporting the success of both large multinationals and indigenous SMEs. We are pleased to announce today’s expansion of the programme. The potential benefits to scaling companies extend way beyond signing a contract. By building the right capabilities, these firms are accessing a qualified sales pipeline and getting face time with prospective customers. I strongly encourage indigenous SMEs to consider the programme for a great opportunity to collaborate with leading multinational corporations.”
Launched in February 2022, The Innovation Exchange has had a number of successful outcomes to date, including 20 SMEs that have moved to a deeper engagement with a corporate partner, with one company announcing that it has signed a paid pilot. Several other SMEs are in proof-of-concept discussions with a view to establishing a longer-term collaboration. More than 30 innovation challenges are expected to be published by large corporates for participating SMEs in 2022.
The paid pilot involves Exertis, an IT services company of DCC, and The Éclair Group (now Digital Workforce), a technology scale-up that is developing innovative solutions in robotics process automation. Exertis published an innovation challenge via The Innovation Exchange in May and The Eclair Group responded proposing a solution. Following a pitch and a proof-of-concept phase, a deal was agreed to enter a paid pilot.
The Innovation Exchange offers participants a range of benefits including:
— A qualified sales pipeline and getting face time with prospective customers.
— Opportunity to pitch your solution to prospective customers.
— Gaining insights into markets and companies which helps SMEs pitch their solution more successfully.
— Tailor-made training designed to improve performance of SME members when selling to large corporates.
— One-to-one mentoring to companies around preparing proposals, pitching to corporates and negotiating terms.