Government launch Call 6 of Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Government launch Call 6 of Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Government seeking to invest in disruptive technologies that will alter markets and the way business operates

Wednesday, 8 March 2022

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, T.D.; the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, T.D.; and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary, T.D., today launched Call 6 of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The aim of the Fund is to encourage collaborations by the industry and research sector into the development and commercialisation of ground-breaking technologies.

The launch took place at DCU Alpha in Glasnevin, where Minister Coveney and Minister Calleary were able to see at first-hand the positive impact of DTIF funding for a Call 2 project. The project which operates in a successful consortium of Exergyn Ltd, DCU and Fort Wayne Metals Ireland Ltd is Nextgen Heat – a zero-emission, refrigerant-free heat pump which will enable Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy, that was awarded €2.4m in DTIF funding in December 2019.

Call 6 is an open call and, in a change from the previous open calls, the type of eligible research is broadened to include both “industrial research” and/or “experimental development”.

To drive enterprise collaborations, each project must have at least one SME and one other enterprise in a consortium of three or more project partners. Collaborations with the Irish research sector are encouraged. All partners must be based in Ireland and be a client of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta or Science Foundation Ireland.

The Fund targets industrial research projects of scale and impact. The minimum funding request must be €1.5m for projects of up to three years’ duration. SME partners must provide matched funding while large companies must provide 60% project funding.

All eligible applications received by the deadline of 3pm on 31 May 2023, will undergo rigorous assessment by panels of independent international experts.

The call for funding will be administered for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment by Enterprise Ireland.

The Government has already allocated €288m to 86 successful projects approved under the previous four DTIF calls, with further funding under DTIF Calls 4 and 5 to be announced in the coming weeks. These projects cover areas such as life sciences, medical devices, ICT, artificial intelligence, manufacturing and environmental sustainability.

When launching Call 6 today, Minister Coveney said:

“Last year, the White Paper on Enterprise set out a vision for Irish-based enterprise to succeed through competitive advantage founded on sustainability, innovation and productivity, delivering rewarding jobs and livelihoods. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is an important tool for making that vision a reality.

“The Fund has already demonstrated its value in facilitating high quality, high-value industrial research projects across our six national research priority areas.  The launch of Call 6 today demonstrates this Government’s commitment to leveraging the excellent research base in Ireland and partnering with enterprise, so that we can continue to improve our economic competitiveness and societal needs.

“This Call will provide an opportunity for our enterprise and research sectors to demonstrate their ability to respond to the twin green and digital transitions. These two major global transformations will provide major opportunities for new firms to emerge and for existing Irish firms to gain market share in new technologies and industries. Investment in areas like decarbonisation and digitalisation is crucial to meeting our commitments under the EU Green Deal and facilitating our transition to a low carbon, sustainable economic model which is why I was delighted to see today the Call 2 project funded by DTIF to deliver a next generation heat pump.”

Projects must be geared towards commercialisation over a 3-7 year timeframe. They must also align with Ireland’s six Research Priority Areas, namely ICT; Health and Wellbeing; Food; Energy, Climate Action and Sustainability; Manufacturing and Materials; and Business Services and Processes.

We would particularly encourage projects that complement the priority enterprise policy objectives on digital transformation and integrating decarbonisation and net zero commitments, as set out in the White Paper on Enterprise. Projects that help to drive the innovation and transformation opportunities that are needed in sectors such as construction are also encouraged. However, all projects will be expected to demonstrate a positive contribution to the sustainability targets in the Climate Action Plan.

Simon Harris, TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science said:

“The Disruptive Technologies Fund is an essential tool in ensuring we have enterprise driven research. Our research strategy – Impact 2030 – clearly sets out the need for collaboration between enterprises and the research sector.

“The DTIF investments will utilise the Irish research community to develop a cohesive research and innovation ecosystem that will boost Ireland’s competitiveness and societal needs. Collaboration between our research base, indigenous SMEs and our multinational corporations in developing new and novel technologies is key to continuing to strengthen the research and innovation system in Ireland.

“The investment in research and innovation through this fund will help us to achieve our ambition for Ireland to be a world innovation leader. Therefore, I would encourage our research performing organisations to explore opportunities to build strong consortia with enterprise to capitalise on the funding available under this Call.”

Dara Calleary, TD, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation also welcomed the DTIF funding:

“The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a key tool for meeting the ambitions outlined in the White Paper on Enterprise. The Fund contributes to six of the seven priority enterprise policy objectives set out in the White Paper. It is especially important for stepping up our enterprise innovation by deepening innovation capability across the enterprise sector and embedding a culture of continuous innovation among our SMEs.

“The collaborations arising from DTIF are cutting edge. Some projects are utilising digital technologies to develop innovative solutions to challenges in areas such as cancer treatments while other are exploring methods for decarbonising heating systems. All of the projects have the potential to develop market-leading products and services, which would further boost Ireland’s exports and create jobs.”

Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, said:

“Enterprise Ireland is pleased to continue to support the latest call under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. We are beginning to see ground-breaking technologies and business advancement from earlier participants of the DTIF programme and I expect similar cutting-edge developments from companies availing of this new call, in particular within priority sectors for development such as construction, climate and sustainability.”

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) is a €500m fund established under the National Development Plan (NDP) in 2018. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment manages the DTIF with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. The purpose of the Fund is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies. The aim is to support investment in the development and deployment of disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis.

Call 6 applications to DTIF will be assessed by panels of international experts against four criteria – quality of the disruptive technology, excellence of overall approach, economic impact and sustainability, and strength of the collaboration.

Prospective applicants can obtain detailed information on the Fund and on the application process through the webpage.

Nextgen Heat Project summary

Heat pumps (HPs) are the leading alternative to fossil fuel boilers. The dominant HP technology is vapour compression (VC). VC HPs are at the top of their innovation curve, with little scope for further efficiency or cost improvements. Leakage of VC refrigerants is a large contributor to global warming. The leading next-generation technology is solid state, which does away with refrigerants completely, instead using the latent heat of transformation of shape memory alloys (SMAs). This can be released upon mechanical strain. The effect is currently used at small scale in biomedical devices.

Exergyn Ltd, a High Potential Start-up, has been developing an SMA-based platform technology for low-carbon energy products for seven years, first for a heat-to-power system and now for its reverse, a heat pump for heating and cooling. The aim is to develop a product that will significantly outcompete both natural gas boilers and VC HPs on purchase price, operating cost and carbon emissions, due to higher efficiency, no use of a refrigerant, and a simpler system. After a long life, SMAs can be recycled back to HP use. Exergyn is the only commercially focused, non-academic entity amongst several groups worldwide developing practical solid-state systems for heating and cooling.

Examples of other previously funded digitalisation and decarbonisation projects are outlined below:

TRIDENT – University of Limerick (UL); Analog Devices International Unlimited Company; mSemicon Teoranta; ICERGi Ltd; Glantreo Ltd; TisaLabs Ltd; Smart M Power Company Ltd; Tyndall National Institute are collaborating on a low-cost, high-performance sodium-ion smart battery system using entirely sustainable materials and processes.

PerPET – Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT); AvonCourt Packaging Ltd; Novel Plast Teoranta; and the National University of Ireland, Cork (UCC) are working on a project to transform the plastics industry by drastically reducing the amount of fresh petroleum extracted virgin material used and positioning PET recyclate as a valuable, perpetually reusable resource.

A-EYE Control Tower – Evercam Ltd; GagaMuller Technology Ltd; and Technological University Dublin (TUD) are working on a control tower for developers and contractors operating large and complex construction sites that provides full visibility of the project and enables the most natural, visual communication.

TRANSPIRE – Corlytics Ltd; CeADAR UCD; and Singlepoint Solutions Ltd is collaborating on a project that combines human expertise with artificial intelligence to demystify laws and regulations making it easier to do business while protecting consumers.

S-BREW – NVP Energy Ltd; Ashleigh Environmental Ltd; and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) are collaborating on a project to convert wastewater from the agri-food industry to clean water, using a unique, patented low temperature anaerobic digestion technology to break down organic by-products to create renewable energy in the form of biogas, while minimising waste.

CILTER – Cilter Technologies Ltd; O’Neill Amarach Consultants Ltd; and Dublin City University (DCU) are developing child-protection software for smartphones that detects/blocks cyberbullying, grooming and suicide/self-harm content.

XBat+ – University of Limerick; Peregrine Technologies (Holdings) Ltd; Somex Automation Teoranta; and Helgen Technologies Ltd are utilising advanced robotics and artificial intelligence to develop highly innovative automated battery detection, filtering and sorting technology for critical raw materials recycling in the circular economy.

NutriLoop – Glasport Bio Ltd; Devenish RD&I Ltd; National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG); and National University of Ireland, Cork (UCC) are taking a closed-loop, whole-cycle approach to optimised nutrient and carbon recycling which would reduce the carbon footprint of livestock, while increasing the profitability of the Irish pig production sector.