SBIR is a mechanism which enables public sector bodies to connect with innovative ideas and technology businesses, to provide innovative solutions for specific public sector challenges and needs.
SBIR falls under the category of pre-commercial procurement (PCP). PCP as defined by the European Union, involves the purchase of research by a Government entity, which is undertaken with the objective of stimulating innovation that the contracting authority or some other party may benefit from at a later stage, when goods or services are not currently available or developed from the outcomes of the research.
Through SBIR, the public sector can:
- Identify innovative solutions by reaching out to organisations from different sectors including small and emerging businesses.
- Create new technical solutions through accelerated technology development, whilst risk is reduced through a phased development programme.
- Provide applicants with a transparent, competitive and reliable source of early-stage funding.
Through SBIR, SMEs can:
- Compete for each demand driven project in a transparent manner
- Demonstrate a route to market for their solution (SBIR is particularly suited to small and medium-sized business, as contracts are of relatively low value and operate in short timescales)
- Focus on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation as developments are 100% funded – it is not a government grant
- Retain the intellectual property generated from the project (with certain rights of use retained by the contracting department)
Limerick City and County Council are working in partnership with Enterprise Ireland who have established a dedicated fund to co-support innovative and competitive challenges. The first SBIR was based around Fire Safety and Accessibility of Historic Buildings and was launched in October 2018 – the contracts for this have now been awarded. A second SBIR is planned for 2019 and further details of this will be provided on Limerick.ie in due course.
Further information in relation to SBIRs within Ireland can be found on the SBIR section of the Enterprise Ireland website.