Dec 16, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of initial meetings Enterprise Ireland has held with potential start-ups in Waterford city and county in each of the past five years; and the number of successful launches resulting from these contacts.
REPLY (Minister Richard Bruton):
There are almost 4,600 people employed in Enterprise Ireland (EI) client companies based in Waterford City and County according to the Forfas Employment Survey 2013 (an increase of 3.1% over 2012).
Between 2009 and 2014 (to date) EI approved around €24 million to support projects in Waterford based client companies. Over the same period, EI approved over €3.6 million to start-up companies including Innovative High Potential Start Up (HPSU) packages to 8 companies totalling €3.38 million.
EI engages with potential start-ups in a myriad of ways but always in conjunction with the following three key local stakeholders who are involved in the start-up space:
Waterford LEO: EI is a member of the Waterford Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Evaluation Committee. EI has visibility on all projects including those with the capability to scale and internationalise and which can be progressed quickly to Enterprise Ireland.
South East BIC: EI funds the four Business Innovation Centres (BICs) around the country including the South East Business Innovation Centre (SEBIC). EI is represented on the board of SEBIC. A core activity of the BICs is working one to one with start-ups seeking equity funding from the private sector. EI also funds Business Angel investor activity in all regions through the BICs.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) is an initiative of my Department and a component of the Action Plan for Jobs. The competition was conducted by all 31 LEO’s around the country and attracted over 1,100 entries between the ages of 18-30 in 3 different categories – Best New Idea, Best Start-Up and Best Established Business. IBYE has a €2million prize fund - €25,000 investment for 31 county level winners.
This was reduced to 24 national level finalists competing for an extra €50,000 investment for 1 national winner who was crowned “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur” on 7th December 2014. The IBYE competition within Waterford received a very healthy 47 entries, which reflects a significant entrepreneurial base within the County.
Following an initial assessment, most of the applicants were invited to take part in a County Bootcamp, where they received advice and mentoring on all aspects of starting and growing a business, as well as the opportunity to share ideas and experience with their peers.
The winners in the three categories received further Bootcamp training and guidance as they went forward to compete in the Regional Final of the competition against entrants from the LEOs in County Cork. The winner of the County Waterford Best Start-up category also won the Regional Final and competed against 7 other finalists in that category at the National Finals.
WIT New Frontiers Programme: EI runs the national New Frontiers Programme throughout the country in conjunction with the 14 Institutes of Technology. This is undertaken locally by Waterford Institute of Technology on EI’s behalf. As an EI Programme, EI liaises very closely with the local Programme Manager.
The programme is run in two phases. Phase 1 is the initial Programme and is run over a number of weeks. The second Phase runs for six months to allow entrepreneurs to work full time on their project to develop it to investor ready stage. Participants are chosen following detailed “pitch”/interview sessions which are always chaired by Enterprise Ireland.
Once selected, the entrepreneurs are incubated in ArcLabs over the six month period and provided with a stipend of €15,000. Between 2012 and 2014, 80 entrepreneurs participated in Phase 1 and EI presented to each on supports available. Almost 50 were called to the detailed pitch session over the same period. 27 participated on the six month programme and were provided with €15,000 each.
Enterprise Ireland launched a €200,000 South East Competitive Feasibility Fund on December 16th 2014 aimed at finding the next generation of innovation led start-ups. This is exclusively aimed at Start-ups in the South East.
The call will close on January 20th 2015. A competitive process will ensue. Companies approved will also be supported by assigned Mentors and a ‘Raising Investment Capital’ seminar. Entrepreneurs not supported under the call will be referred to the most relevant local support available whether LEO, SEBIC or WIT once the financial and capability supports required to progress the project are assessed.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of water meters that have been installed by local authorities, his Department, and Irish Water over the past two years; and the cost of the works involved.
REPLY (Sept 17, 2014)
Minister Alan Kelly:
The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the water metering programme.
The meter installation programme commenced in August 2013 and will be completed by mid-2016. There are now over 400,000 completed meter installations and Irish Water has confirmed that the cost for the supply and installation of meters is €539 million ex-VAT.
Four regional main contractors covering eight meter regions were appointed by Irish Water following a public tendering process in 2013. My Department does not have information to provide a breakdown of installations at county, constituency, district or parish level. However, a breakdown of the installations by region is set out in the table below.
In designing the technical specification for the metering programme, Irish Water has drawn both from international standards and from extensive local experience of the installation of both Grade B and Grade C meter box covers over the last 12 years. While it is a matter for Irish Water to comply with all national and European legislation in the discharge of its functions, the company has confirmed to my Department that it is satisfied that the selection and fitting of the boundary water meter boxes fully complies with international standards. Irish Water monitors the installations by its contractors and can require the installation of a Grade B meter box if it is deemed necessary, as has happened in the particular case highlighted. It is important to note that this was a matter agreed between Irish Water and the customer in question and there was no Court ruling on the matter.
Irish Water has informed my Department that it is carrying out a specific study in one DMA (District Metering Area) in Collinswood, Dublin 9 to assess the impact of the meter installation on flow and pressure. Meters used by Irish Water comply with the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) standard, OIML R49-1, which permits a pressure drop of 0.63 bars at the maximum flow rate of 2,500 litres per hour. This is considered to be higher than would ever be expected in a household supply. At most of the typical range of flows, 85% of which are up to 1,000 litres per hour to Irish homes, the drop in pressure across a water meter is less than 0.1 bar and is insignificant against a normal minimum target pressure of 1.5 bar. Therefore, the meters being used have been shown to result in a pressure drop which is not significant in terms of customer pressure at normal flows and well within the international standard for such meters.
Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives.