Initiative aims to link Govt with Irish companies to provide innovative solutions to public sector needs

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Wednesday) published an invitation to tender, seeking innovative ways to facilitate and enable greater access to and use of Government online services, in particular the primary Government website www.gov.ie.

This initiative seeks to establish the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning to help those who may need additional forms of assistance to find and use relevant, digital public services.  This is in line with the eGovernment Strategy 2017-2020, which recognises the importance of inclusion and the need to cater for a broad range of needs, abilities and  capabilities.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published this call in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, through the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO).  The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, administered by Enterprise Ireland, enables public sector bodies to connect with innovative ideas and technology businesses to provide innovative solutions for specific public sector challenges and needs.

Commenting on the launch of the tendering process, Minister Donohoe said: “I’m delighted to work with Enterprise Ireland on this innovative project to enable the widest level of participation in digital government by our people.  I am aware that previous SBIR programmes, in particular by local authorities, including SmartDublin, have helped Irish start-ups to become established and develop products that are ready to be commercialised.”

Patrick O’Donovan TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment said: “We are looking forward to engaging with the Irish start-up community and other providers on this project.  This project offers an attractive opportunity for Irish companies, of any size, to access some initial funding to support the development of products in the potentially very lucrative artificial intelligence arena.”

Barry Lowry, Government Chief Information Officer said: “This SBIR project will allow us to evaluate ways that the public service can deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable more of our citizens and customers engage in digital government, regardless of age, location, or ability. We believe the public service can use this opportunity to showcase real customer-driven service development and underpin Ireland’s leading position as an exemplar for eGovernment participation.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR initiative connects SMEs to opportunities within public bodies. This particular SBIR Challenge is about harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to develop innovative solutions to meet the needs and challenges of service delivery, and to improve accessibility of services within the public sector.  This innovative Challenge will provide a platform for Irish SMEs to develop expertise and capability which can then be marketed wider, to enhance service delivery for public bodies.  We are delighted to partner with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and look forward to seeing the solutions arising from this challenge applied to enhance service delivery for public bodies in Ireland and further afield.”

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