€5 million announced for social innovation non-profits acting in response to the covid 19 crisis

Rethink Ireland, in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development, today launched the Innovate Together Fund.

This new fund, which starts as a €5 Million Fund, will focus on supporting emerging innovations that address the current and long-term social, economic and environmental challenges. The Innovate Together Fund is supported by a commitment of €5 million from the Department of Rural and Community Development through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Rethink Ireland pledges to raise additional significant philanthropic funds and is calling on companies, foundations, families and individuals to donate to this initiative. Medtronic Foundation — a charitable foundation, funded solely by medical technology company Medtronic, dedicated to improving health among underserved populations and supporting communities worldwide, has set an example for the philanthropic community through a €70,000 donation.

Minister Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural & Community Development said: “I’m delighted to launch the Innovate Together Fund in partnership with Rethink Ireland to help organisations across the country who contribute so much to our society. 

The Government has pledged to provide €5 million via the Dormant Accounts Fund so that as many organisations as possible can get the help they need to help to continue to support those affected most by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We know this pandemic is disproportionately affecting underserved populations around the world, including in Ireland where Medtronic is headquartered”,” said Paurvi Bhatt, President of the Medtronic Foundation. “We are proud to support the Innovate Together Fund to help fund local organizations delivering critical services to those in need.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland said: “I believe that social innovation holds the key to addressing emerging social and economic needs in a sustainable manner and will be essential to creating an inclusive, and sustainable recovery in a post-Covid-19 world.

With the launch of this new fund, we are looking to support innovative community-based organisations across the country who are coming up with impactful solutions to the problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that will become the ‘new normal.’’

Terence O’Rourke, Chairman Rethink Ireland and Enterprise Ireland added: “Just as we need to invest in innovation for our economic recovery and for job creation, we must invest in social innovation to address critical social issues. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Medtronic for their leadership in donating to this fund’’

“We now call on the business community to come together and back the unprecedented response of the charity sector to this crisis. Whether big or small, multinational or indigenous, we are asking you to donate to this initiative and to build on the Government commitment of €5 million. Now is our chance to collaborate and invest in the social innovations contributing to a recovery that can and must be inclusive, equal and sustainable.’’

The Innovate Together Fund will seek applications from projects countrywide achieving impact in: 

  • Enabling online education: providing primary and post-primary school students with access to technology and other supports such as study spaces in the home, and mentoring for parents, students and teachers  
  • Youth mental health interventions: delivering services in new ways or offering new types of services (intervention and prevention).
  • Circular Economy: solutions for the efficient re-use and recycling of materials.
  • Improving food security: increasing independent food production for Ireland and ways to reduce food imports.
  • New ways of working remotely: our new ways of working are here to stay and innovators are needed to smooth the transition from office to working at home.
  • Community outreach: finding new ways to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised groups. 
  • Re-skilling our workforce: with the shift in our economy and the potential closure of businesses, there is a need for re-training and re-education of workers.
  • Physical Health: Online medical and physical health innovations.