A new scheme to support small businesses in Wales and Ireland has been given the go-ahead following a €2.3m EU funding boost.
The funding will create cross-border networks to help boost trade and specialist support to help small businesses design and develop new products and services.
Around 120 Welsh and Irish businesses will benefit from the new BUCANIER project over the next three years. The project will work in key growth sectors of the Welsh and Irish economies, including food and drink, life sciences and renewable energy.
BUCANIER is being funded through the EU’s Ireland-Wales cooperation programme, which is helping to strengthen economic links and collaboration between the two countries.
Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said:
“This funding will create opportunities for small businesses to tap into the different resources and expertise available in Wales and Ireland.
“It’s an excellent approach to growing sectors that share similar characteristics in both countries and another example of the advantages of continued access to EU cooperation programmes.”
Small businesses will benefit from support and expertise from universities, local authorities and specialist organisations on both sides of the Irish Sea to design, test and launch new business ideas.
The project will also offer innovation master-classes, business mentoring and create new networks between Wales and Ireland which are aimed at helping businesses in the same sectors share knowledge, increase cross-border trade and create new jobs.
BUCANIER is being led by Pembrokeshire County Council in partnership with Carmarthenshire Council, Swansea University, Wexford County Council and Institute of Technology Carlow, and Ireland seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
Councillor Keith Lewis, deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and communities at Pembrokeshire County Council, said:
“As lead partner, Pembrokeshire County Council is delighted to have secured EU funding for the BUCANIER project through the Ireland-Wales programme.
“Innovation is a key economic development priority for both Wales and Ireland and we are very much looking forward to working with our project partners in both countries.
“Developing innovation in a cross border context is a positive opportunity for advancing and developing business growth in both regions.”