Innovate Together fund

Rethink Ireland has funding of €5.5 million available to support social innovation projects from across Ireland who are acting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Innovate Together fund was established by Rethink Ireland with support from government and private organisations to support emerging innovations that address the current and long-term social, economic and environmental challenges arising out of the COVID-19 crisis. Z Zurich Foundation is the latest private donator to the fund, pledging €500,000 to support the fund and its mission of helping social innovators to continue the essential work they’re currently carrying out for individuals and communities across Ireland.

The Z Zurich Foundation is a private foundation, funded by the Zurich Insurance Group, and the main initiative by which the Group delivers on its global community investment strategy.

Through targeting funding support models, the Foundation empowers vulnerable people within various communities to better protect themselves from risk, and to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. The fund is also supported by a commitment of €5 million from the Department of Rural and Community Development through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund, along with additional funding contributions from Medtronic, Twitter and Oakfield Trust.

Rethink Ireland are now accepting applications from social innovation not-for-profit organisations and are urging organisations to get their application in without delay.

Over 480 applications were received when Round 1 funding was disbursed in May, pointing to the real need for support among organisations at the frontline of Ireland’s social response to Covid-19.

Rethink Ireland has pledged to raise additional significant philanthropic funds and is calling on companies, foundations, families and individuals to donate to the initiative.

Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands stated: “It’s my pleasure to officially launch the second round of the Innovate Together Fund in partnership with Rethink Ireland and the Z Zurich Foundation, which will continue to help organisations across the country who contribute so much to our society.

My department has provided €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.” Further commenting, Anthony Brennan, CEO of Zurich Ireland, the latest donors to the fund, said: “This is a hugely proud day for Zurich in Ireland. We have a unique and powerful opportunity thanks to the Z Zurich Foundation to deliver on our global community investment strategy and empower vulnerable Irish communities to better protect themselves from risk, and to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world, particularly to deal with changes caused or accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through our engagement with Rethink Ireland we are confident this fund will help to create a fairer, more open and sustainable society across Ireland. Together, by embracing innovation, we can find new ways to meet today’s challenges head-on with solutions that better serve and protect people across our communities.”

Terence O’Rourke, the chair of Rethink Ireland says: “There is a huge need for support amongst Ireland’s social innovation sector. We have been really impressed with the quality and innovation of the proposals we got from every county in Ireland when we disbursed funding in May. While we’ll be able to support up to 50 of these 480 organisations thanks to this fund and its donors, we urgently need more philanthropic donations.

“This fund’s goal is to not only support these projects through the immediate issues and difficulties they face, but to also ensure their needs are addressed in a sustainable and long-term manner. The size of the Round 2 fund will depend on the donations that we can secure between now and the end of August.

“I know that many companies have been busy managing their own issues during COVID-19, but as the country begins to open up again, I am asking companies and individuals who are able to do so to consider donating to the Innovate Together Fund – your donation will be matched by Government.”

The Innovate Together Fund is seeking applications from projects countrywide achieving impact in the below categories:

Sustainable Ireland: seeks innovative solutions to make Ireland a more sustainable place including projects which work in areas of food provision, circular economy, climate action and biodiversity.

Economic Recovery: seeks innovative solutions that will aid the economic recovery through reskilling the workforce, youth employability and identifying new and innovative ways of working

Community Outreach: seeks innovative solutions to address the challenges COVID-19 has created on the most marginalised and vulnerable of society.

The Innovate Together Fund is open for applications now and you can learn more at