Belfast Telegraph

SMEs urged to harness the talent of graduates

Small firms are being given the chance to access support worth almost £30,000 to recruit talented graduates that will lead innovation projects for their business.

InterTradeIreland is offering the packages to local companies through its all-island technology transfer programme FUSION, to help businesses innovate and improve their products, processes, or services.

Through the award-winning programme, SMEs are partnered with a third-level institution with specialist expertise and a high-calibre science and technology graduate based in their company, who will lead a 12 month innovation project.

InterTradeIreland’s FUSION programme provides a package that includes assistance towards the graduate’s salary and associated costs, and a full consultancy package for the academic that the company will work with.

Up to £29,500 will be made available to each company, to fund 50% of the recruit’s employment costs, and 100% of other eligible costs. The company contributes a minimum of £11,000 per annum towards a graduate salary and support.

Intertrade said that over 85% of graduates are offered long-term employment with the company beyond the term of initial project, which is a testament to both the success of the projects undertaken as well as the quality of graduates that were recruited.

Each Fusion project generates on average in excess of £1m worth of sales and efficiency savings.

InterTradeIreland director of business programmes and services, Margaret Hearty said: “Our FUSION programme partners SMEs with the best ideas and expertise on the island to give businesses the edge by improving their capabilities, while at the same time making a tangible impact on their bottom line.”

Local company Actovation partnered together with the University College Dublin (UCD) and business graduate Lynsey Hughes to develop an innovative new product for the healthcare sector as part of the programme.

She has now secured a full-time position with inphoActive, the digital solutions company based in the Northern Ireland Science Park, Belfast.

Managing director Fergus Wallace said: “I have no hesitation in recommending InterTradeIreland’s FUSION programme to any graduate or any SME who wants to explore the best-practice steps in how to bring innovative ideas or projects into commercial reality. This programme works for all concerned.”

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