Everyone and every business is being impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. We are in unchartered territory, facing many challenges ahead. The business landscape will change. People’s lives will change. Industry research, development & innovation (RD&I) has been fundamental to our economy’s recovery following previous recessions. It will be just as vital as we come out of Covid-19. As Ireland’s only independent, industry organisation 100% focused on RD&I, IRDG is actively engaged with members and Government at this time.
The purpose of this page is to share key information with you and we will keep it up to date as time progresses.
1. Individual Member Business and RD&I Support
Throughout this crisis, IRDG is continuing to work with member companies to ensure that businesses are up to date with the diverse array of supports available. IRDG is sensitive to the challenges that lie ahead and we remain at your disposal to assist with advice and guidance.
A wide variety of one-to-one queries are also being supported and followed up, and we invite members to contact us at any time. We have compiled a number of Members Question Time requests, such as this one included here from 19th March 2020. Members are welcome to leverage the network expertise if they are experiencing challenges which would benefit from a collective wisdom.
A time for emphasis on RD&I?
For some companies, a time of lower customer demand may allow for greater emphasis on RD&I. By actively engaging in Research & Innovation during this crisis, companies may utilise their RD&I staff to prepare themselves for the recovery phase. Product, process, service and business innovation will be critical in a much changed post-crisis market place.
The fast-track Agile Innovation Fund and Business Innovation Initiative have particular relevance for Enterprise Ireland client companies. IRDG can assist both Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland companies to understand the relevant schemes and assist with RD&I grant application preparation. Please find our contact details at bottom of this page.
Aids to Cash Flow – RD&I Grants and R&D Tax Credits
For companies with existing RD&I grants, the agencies are, in general, encouraging clients to apply for all outstanding grants to maximise their cash flow position. There is no restriction on how early a client can apply for an approved grant. In addition, there is scope to re-profile R&D activity to accelerate project completion. This should be discussed with your relevant advisor.
Also, in the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and subject to appropriate checks in selected cases, Revenue will expedite the payment of any instalment of excess R&D tax credit that is due to be paid in 2020, bringing forward payment in advance of the date provided by Section 766. Payable Tax Credit Communication by Revenue.
The payment of any instalment of excess R&D tax credit that is due to be paid in 2020 (that is, the 2nd and 3rd cash instalments from 2017 and 2018, but also potentially the 1st instalment of 2019), will be expedited subject to ‘appropriate checks’ by Revenue. To avail of this, companies need to immediately commence the preparation of their FY19 R&D tax credit claim and submit their Form CT1 / Corporation Tax return for 2019 as soon as possible.
2. Engagement with Government
Working with Stakeholders
IRDG has direct lines of communication into the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Revenue, HSE, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. At the outset of this crisis, we offered the support of the IRDG Innovation Network to all these organisations and have been working with them since.
We are working closely with all government stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of government-industry expertise to support the national effort in the short term. Our longer-term focus is on ensuring policy responses provide the necessary supports and stimulus for business continuity and research, development & innovation into the future. Inputs welcome from members at any time in this regard.
Industry Call for PPE
On 25th March, we issued a call on behalf of DBEI, HSE and the Chief Medical Officer across industry to seek 1) any PPE companies could donate, 2) any capabilities companies have to make required PPE, and 3) any sources of supply companies would know or could leverage to support the national effort. The response was phenomenal, and all information gathered has been sent to DBEI. Any future replies are now being directed to the online facility where companies can make offers to the Office of Government Procurement. Huge thanks to all who responded.
3. Helping Business Through Covid-19
The following are a number of measures available to industry:
- Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. An update to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was announced on 15th April. The changes will be effective from 4th May 2020. The maximum state subsidy for workers earning below €24,400 will rise from 70% to 85% of net take home pay. Those earning between €412 to €500 per week will receive a maximum subsidy of €350 – with the employer permitted to top up to €350 without the subsidy being tapered back. Workers earning between €38,000 and €76,000 can get up to €350, but subject to a tiered approach. And higher earners whose pay drops below €76,000 may get some subsidy, again subject to tiered arrangements. Revenue have (16th April) updated their Frequently Asked Questions on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme Revenue FAQ’s on Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
- The COVID 19 Working Capital Scheme – SBCI – This can be used for future working capital requirements or to fund innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. Note that two SBCI Loan Schemes have been expanded by €450m to provide an extra €250m for working capital and €200m for longer-term loans, bringing the total allocation to support liquidity in companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis to €650m.
- Sustaining Enterprise Fund is a fund, announced on 8th April, administered by Enterprise Ireland and available to assist companies in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors who have suffered, or expect to suffer, a 15% or more reduction in turnover or profits or an increase in costs as a direct result of Covid-19. Funding of up to €800,000 will allow eligible businesses to access the necessary liquidity and funding to sustain their businesses in the short to medium term and contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy. The Sustaining Enterprise Fund will be available to companies who are unable to access adequate funding from the market, financial institutions or the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).
- The Credit Guarantee Scheme is a government supported product from the banks for small and medium businesses who have difficulty borrowing from their bank. Businesses can apply for loans of up to €1 million at AIB, Bank of Ireland or Ulster Bank. Loans can be for terms of up to 7 years. The scheme provides an 80% guarantee to participating banks which are AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.
- €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme – available for viable but vulnerable firms that need to restructure or transform their businesses, details of these supports are being finalised.
- The Enterprise Ireland Business Response Plan highlights a number of planning supports to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19. These include supports to access consultancy expertise on matters including contingency planning, strategic plans, financial management, sourcing, transport and logistics.
- Taxation Measures to alleviate short-term difficulties: Revenue has also posted specific advice for businesses experiencing trading difficulties as a result of Covid-19 including information on tax returns, the application of late payment interest, debt enforcement, tax clearance and customs.
- Private Funding – Working Capital Solutions for cashflow challenges relating to Covid-19. Companies are creatively solving the problems caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. If your company is in a position to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators or hand sanitisers for example, Invoice Fair can fund contracts immediately to enable you to ramp up production without delay. More details on this link.
4. Funding for Innovators Fighting Covid-19
Companies who are involved in Innovation to deliver a timely impact for Ireland may be interested in the following:
- SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have launched a joint Rapid Response Research and Innovation programme to fund RD&I activities that will deliver significant and timely impact for Ireland in the context of the current emergency.
- Some of the potential areas the call identifies include new technologies for contact tracing; better supply of frontline healthcare services through ventilators and personal protective equipment; rapid Covid-19 testing kits; and mitigation measures for disruption to essential services and supply chains. The call is open to any research organisation, EI/IDA client or a combination of both. The application deadline has not been set and will remain open until further notice.
- A second Rapid Response Call was also launched by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council. The scope of this funding call covers medical countermeasures, health service readiness, and social and policy countermeasures to COVID-19. This is open to academic researchers only.
5. Other RD&I News
Covid-19 related Technologies for Licence
New technologies that may be relevant to the current situation are being made available to license by universities such as UCC and DCU. Further details on these and other technologies available to licence can be found on the Knowledge Transfer Ireland website.
(Call now closed) Are calling for start-ups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of Covid-19 outbreak to apply urgently to the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council. The deadline for applications to the EIC Accelerator has been extended to 17:00 on Friday 20th March (Brussels local time). With a budget of €164M. More details here.
Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI)
Confirm that in response to Covid-19 concerns the IPOI (formerly The Patent Office) is closed to the public from 13 March 2020 to 19 April 2020. More info
European Patent Office
ALL oral proceedings before the European Patent Office scheduled up to 27 March 2020 will be postponed unless they have already been confirmed to take place by videoconferencing. For further info and other areas, see here.
Responses from IP offices around the world – here
Start at Best Programme
The Start at Best programme is awarding grants on a competitive basis to SMEs for workplace innovation. This is an EU funded H2020 programme involving Cork City Council as a key partner. There is a specific national call for Ireland which will see grants of €7,500 awarded to SMEs for projects up to 9 months in duration that address one of the following topics:
- Action 1. Jobs, Teams and Technology
- Action 2. Organisational Structures, Management and Processes
- Action 3. Employee-Driven Improvement and Innovation
- Action 4. Co-Created Leadership and Employee Voice
Call for proposal details are available here. Call closes May 6th 2020.
6. Selection of Useful Links & Documents
McKinsey & Company – Global Health & Crisis Response published on 3rd April 2020 – looking at The Situation Now, Scenarios & Path Forward, Sector-specific Impact and Planning & Managing Covid-19 Responses
Here’s a document which contains a wide selection of Smarter Meetings tips, design ideas and software tools which companies can explore to suit their business style. These are particularly helpful in the context of remote working.
The Health & Safety Authority has information including FAQs, Guidance for Employers around Working From Home and other Workplace considerations.
The Data Protection Commission has a range of useful documents available online including Staying Safe Online during the Pandemic, Covid-19 and Subject Access Requests, Protecting Personal Data while Working Remotely, and Data Protection and Covid-19.
The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has produced a guide on managing business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further information and ongoing updates are available from:
- Government of Ireland
- Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation (DBEI)
- World Health Organization(WHO)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control(ECDC)
- Health Protection Surveillance Centre(HPSC)
- Health Service Executive (HSE)
7. Correspondence with Members
- 16th April – Update from Denis Hayes, MD IRDG
- 14th April – 2 Helpful Opportunities
- 8th April – Aids to Cash Flow & Wage Subsidy Scheme
- 7th April – Members Question Time: PPE for HSE
- 3rd April – Update from Denis Hayes, MD IRDG
- 3rd April – Thank you from DBEI
- 31st March – RDI Funding Brief
- 25th March – Urgent Request from DBEI, HSE & CMO
- 18th March – Members Question Time: Covid Responses / Preparation in Manufacturing
- 16th March – Update from Denis Hayes, MD IRDG
8. IRDG Team Contact Details
- Denis Hayes, Managing Director – firstname.lastname@example.org ¦ 086-2544473
- Bernadette McGahon, Research & Innovation Services Manager – email@example.com ¦ 083-8213177
- Darragh Gaffney, Research & Innovation Services Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org ¦ 087-347 3222
- Mary Byrne, Membership Development & Communications Manager – email@example.com ¦ 087-6501215