Transport & Logistics Industry Update – Webinar


The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the re-shaping of transport routes brought a very turbulent start to 2021. Logistics and transportation companies involved in the movement, storage and flow of goods have been directly impacted and had to rapidly adapt to changing business landscape. Irish companies exporting their products or importing components or raw materials need to follow and understand these trends to stay competitive.

This Enterprise Ireland webinar identifies these challenges and examines current developments with a panel of industry experts.

The webinar is chaired by Enterprise Ireland’s Director UK & Northern Europe Marina Donohoe with insights from:

 • Gopal R, Global Leader, Supply Chain & Logistics, Frost & Sullivan

• John Ward, Managing Director, Maurice Ward & Co. Ltd Ireland

• Richard Nolan, CEO, Nolan Transport – Nolan Group

 

Register now to attend the webinar.

New Frontiers: Turning great ideas into promising businesses

Great ideas are in the Irish DNA, but turning these ideas into viable businesses takes time, ambition, hard work and support.

To help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into promising businesses, Ireland has built up a solid network of supports for early stage start-ups, with a high level of connectivity to ensure that businesses can access the right support at the right time.

Many entrepreneurs begin their business journey at the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which offers a wide range of experience, skills and services.

Typical supports offered by the LEOs include training and mentoring programmes, access to financial support and microfinance loans, general business advice and help with business planning.  and with 31 LEOs nationwide, entrepreneurs don’t have to travel far to find business support.

The LEOs are also the front door into other support services such as the local authorities, Enterprise Ireland and State agencies, including the Department of Social Protection, Skillnets, Education and Training Boards, Microfinance Ireland, Revenue and Fáilte Ireland.

The beauty of the structure is that it’s inter-connected,” explains Teri Smith, manager at Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) division. 

“At the HPSU, we would communicate with the LEOs and other starter programmes like New Frontiers, so a suitable business can very readily come onto our radar if they’re going through those channels, which allows us to transition them at the right time.” 

“From an Enterprise Ireland point of view, a lot of entrepreneurs would have started out with LEO supports or New Frontiers; when they have their business plan, their prototype and their market opportunities mapped out, and ready to raise seed investment, that’s generally when they transition to Enterprise Ireland.”

 

New Frontiers

The highly regarded New Frontiers programme is a popular starting point for many entrepreneurs. Like the LEO supports, New Frontiers is available nationwide and is delivered on behalf of Enterprise Ireland by Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities in 16 locations around Ireland. Since Enterprise Ireland began managing the programme in 2012, 4,700 individuals have participated in New Frontiers, with 1,430 going on to the immersive Phase 2 of the programme.

“New Frontiers is a good starting point,” says Teri. “Phase 1 can be done while you’re still in your day job, so you don’t have to go ‘all in’ to progress your idea and see if it has the potential to turn into a business.” 

The programme is aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs with business ideas from across all sectors including food & consumer products; information & communication technology; engineering & electronics; medical devices; biotechnology; pharma, digital media; cleantech/renewable energy;

They could also be developing new solutions that would have export potential, or an innovative alternative to what is mainstream in the marketplace. Entrepreneurs would have to have qualified that there is market potential for their product in order to be eligible for a place on the programme.

New Frontiers is delivered in three phases. Currently offered online due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, Phase I consists of weekend and evening workshops to research and test the market potential of the idea. By the end of this phase, participants should have a good idea as to whether their idea can become a viable business – and be confident enough to leave their job or take a career break to immerse themselves in their fledgling business.

Entrepreneurs who have successfully completed Phase 1 can apply for Phase 2, which is a full-time intensive programme that focuses on developing and validating the business proposition. Participants are supported throughout this phase with workshops, mentoring, regular milestone reviews, a free co-working space and guidance from the programme team.

In addition, a tax-free stipend of €15,000 is paid directly to the entrepreneur over a six-month period, along with web hosting and support worth $15,000 from Amazon.  No equity is taken in your business in exchange for this support package.

Upon successful completed of Phase 2, participants can also apply For Phase 3, which focuses on bringing the product/service to market and preparing to acquire further funding.

Many New Frontiers participants have progressed on to Enterprise Ireland supports such as the Competitive Start Fund and the High Potential Start-Up Fund; these include Wellola, Video Sherpa, Swyft Energy, Snapfix, Examfly, LiveCosts, Positive Carbon and Safecility. And from there, great things can be achieved.

For instance, Immersive VR Education in Waterford, one of the 2016 participants, raised €6.75 million following a successful IPO in 2018. In 2020, Cork ed-tech company and New Frontiers graduate TeachKloud raised €750,000, with investment led by Frontline Ventures and ed-tech investor Sean Tai. And in terms of creating employment, 2017 participants Xerotech has established an R&D centre in Claregalway with space for 40 engineers.

The highly connected nature of Ireland’s supports for early-stage entrepreneurs means that the sky really is the limit for ambitious innovators. Great ideas with huge potential are quickly identified and given the right support to bring them as far as possible, furthering our island’s reputation as a hotbed of promising start-ups.

For more information on New Frontiers, including a calendar of starting dates in institutes across the country, log on to www.newfrontiers.ie

Evolve UK Webinar – UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook

Enterprise Ireland UK’s webinar: UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook provided attendees with an update on the UK water sector and discussed the Net Zero 2030 Routemap.

Experts from across the industry gave their perspective on key issues, including the AMP 7 investment cycle, the sector’s plan to deliver upon a net zero strategy and the role that supply chain companies will play in achieving the sector’s carbon reduction targets.

Watch the webinar to hear expert insights from

–             Lee Horrocks, Director, LCH Executive

–             Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

–             Samuel Larsen, Programme Lead, Water UK

–             David Riley, Head of Carbon Neutrality, Anglian Water

 

It’s never too soon – and a business never too small – to plan for export success

 Mark Christal, Manager Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland outlines why developing export activity is of critical importance to Ireland.

That includes export activity for businesses of all sizes, including small and medium ones as well as micro businesses which employ fewer than 10 people. It includes businesses already in operation and start-ups too because, put simply, Ireland needs to export more.

An OECD report in 2019 found that just 6.3% of Irish businesses exported and suggested that it needs to be closer to 10% if Ireland is to have the resilience we require in our enterprise base. That was before Covid-19 which has greatly increased our exposure to risk.

 

Export Compass webinar series

Being a small business is no impediment to export success but preparation is key. Because developing exports is an important strategic objective of Enterprise Ireland, it has partnered with the Local Enterprise Office network to launch a new webinar series called Export Compass.

This online series is completely free and is open to all companies.  As well as expert advice it features small business owners willing to share the benefit of their experience in terms of tips for success and pitfalls to avoid.  

The webinars are tailored to suit micro and SME businesses who are either just starting out or who wish to grow an existing business through export sales.

There are five webinars in the series, with each covering practical advice on specific issues including assessing your reasons for exporting – or not, choosing the right market and identifying customers within it.  

Understanding business culture in your priority markets is vital too and the series includes representatives from some of Enterprise Ireland’s 40 overseas offices.

While the pandemic has created massive challenges, it has also accelerated the adoption of digital business practices. It is now the norm to seek and win new business overseas entirely online, a fact which presents Irish businesses with enormous opportunities. 

The Export Compass webinar series outlines tools and techniques to help win export customers in a digital world. It also provides information about the funding and finance options available as you prepare and execute your export plan.

Research is vital. Developing exports has never been less about jumping on a plane, but about developing a strategy and putting the necessary structures in place first, including management capacity.

Businesses are already mindful of how, as a result of Brexit, there are now additional costs involved in trading with the UK, the Irish exporter’s traditional first port of call.

Some 31% of export sales by Enterprise Ireland clients still go to the UK and it will remain an important trading partner, but the webinar series also looks at the opportunities that exist across the Eurozone. It is a market to which we still have unfettered access and which, at a population of almost 450m, is still huge.

Over the past 12 months we have all seen a dramatic digital shift in the way consumers and businesses buy. Despite the challenges, the pace at which the global digital economy is opening up is generating enormous opportunities.

Helping businesses to realise their export potential is the cornerstone of both Enterprise Ireland’s and the wider government’s strategy. Last month’s report of the SME Taskforce reiterated this, highlighting the need to support all potential exporters, including micro businesses.

That is because our resilience – and our growth – will come from an ability to achieve export success, both as companies and as a country.  Global exports hold the key to growing our economy and our employment levels.

We need to encourage as many companies as possible on the road to export success. The Export Compass webinars is a good place to start.

The 5-part series will look at:

  1. What is the basis of your export plan? Where in the world you might export?
  2. Who is your ideal customer? Culture and doing business in other countries
  3. How to prepare for export. Sales and marketing to win export customers in a digital world
  4. How to finance your export plan. Finance management through funding and pricing
  5. Bringing it all together. Q&A session

 

A version of this article was previously published in the Sunday Independent

 

Cutting costs and reducing food waste: Positive Carbon’s solution for the hotel industry

We are all becoming more and more aware of our impact on the world, yet when it comes to business, profit often takes precedence. But if you can form a business that makes profit and helps the environment – then you’re onto a winner.

This year, Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF) is encouraging applications from eligible companies that address the challenges and opportunities relating to climate change. “It’s really exciting to see more environmentally focused businesses coming through,” says Aisling Kirwan, co-founder and Director of Operations at Positive Carbon, a recent recipient of funding through the CSF. “If you can bring together a business model while answering environmental concerns, it’s a win-win. And people are becoming more aware of the consequences of their actions and their impact on the world around them.”

Positive Carbon is a great example of a business looking to have a positive impact on the environment with a product that saves money for their customers. Aimed at the hotel market, Positive Carbon manufactures a solution to reduce food waste in as simple a way as possible.

“From research, we found that hotels were the biggest wasters of food by far,” Aisling explains. “From talking to chefs and getting feedback from general managers, we came up with a solution that we thought would work the best in a busy kitchen, with the aim of halving food waste. A hotel, on average, spends €200,000 a year on food that ends up in the bin; if we can halve this, we can help the hotel save money while reducing the environmental impact of the waste.

“Our solution is a fully automated food waste monitoring system. A weighing scales fits under any bin in any kitchen and sitting alongside that is a camera that looks directly into the bin. When waste is thrown into the bin, the scales weighs it while the camera takes a picture for identification. All of that information is collected and displayed for the client, so they can see exactly what is being thrown away. For instance, the information might reveal that 13 kilos of chicken was thrown away today – this clearly needs addressing. Avoidable food waste accounts for 66% of the waste in hotels, and with functions, that number shoots up to 87% – it’s an absolutely massive amount of waste, both food and money.

The United Nations has said that if we can reduce food waste, this is the single most effective thing we can do to reduce CO2 – and it’s such a quick and easy and achievable fix.says Kirwan.

 

CSF applications – a demanding, but rewarding process

With a background in the food waste industry working with innovative companies such as FoodCloud, Aisling and her co-founder Mark Kirwan first applied to Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme to see if their solution to reduce food waste could become a viable business; Positive Carbon then opened for business in May 2020.

“The CSF felt like the logical next step for us,” says Aisling. 

“We used the funds mostly for product development, to bring out a new version of the product, and then to upscale manufacturing as we are bringing onboard a number of new hotels over the next few months.

“I’m also taking part in the Innovate programme as part of that, the three-month accelerator programme for women entrepreneurs delivered by Dublin Business Innovation Centre in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, which has been really great. It’s good to be in an environment where you can talk about any issues or thrash out solutions.”

Like many other CSF recipients, Aisling says the application process was a rewarding exercise. “I definitely wouldn’t say it was easy! There are a lot of different stages to it, but it was also very enjoyable. It made us really think what we were trying to achieve in our business, get that down on paper and then be able to pitch our plan to a panel as well – and to be confident enough to answer questions. It’s definitely a demanding process but you get a lot out of it as well.”

 

Covid – time to prepare

Launching a new business during the Covid-19 pandemic certainly brings its challenges but for Positive Carbon it also gave them time to prepare. “With Covid-19 limiting hotel business, we’ve had the chance to sit down with general managers for a chat about our product,” says Aisling. “People are so generous with their time; it’s nerve-wracking to call up someone out of the blue but people are happy to talk to you and give you really valuable advice and feedback.”

Aisling says that the reaction from the industry has been positive – and no wonder, as this product has the potential to save businesses a massive amount of money, something that the beleaguered hotel industry will welcome. “After such a difficult year, hotels are excited to try new things. Food waste is such an unnecessary cost – and it’s not just the cost of the food itself, it’s the cost of the staff time in prepping, cooking and storing the food. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that when you take in all the factors involved in food waste, the true cost is €5,000 a ton.”

Looking to the future, the team at Positive Carbon is gearing up for a busy year. “We have our first product live in the Grand Hotel in Malahide; once everything is back open, that will be fully operational. We also have four independent hotels and a hotel group interested in starting in the next couple of weeks. So we’ll be busy!

“We’ve come a long way in the last few months, and that’s with the support of Enterprise Ireland and the CSF.” says Kirwan.

Apply for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund – find the application form and eligibility criteria here.

 

LiveCosts: Revolutionising the construction software sector with the Competitive Start Fund

Innovation often comes from personal need – and for construction software company LiveCosts, this was certainly the case. A spell in Australia running their own small construction business gave brothers Ciaran and Niall Brennan an insight into one of the major issues for smaller construction companies today. “We really struggled to see where we won and lost money on our projects,” he explains. “We essentially decided to design our own system to overcome this issue; we built this quite well and ended up selling the construction business, with the intention of pursuing what we perceived as a bigger opportunity in the industry.”

With the help of Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF), Ciaran and Niall developed their cost-tracking software into a real solution for small and medium-sized businesses in the sector. “Ninety per cent of the companies that we first meet are using Excel spreadsheets to track costs,” says Ciaran. “The top end of the industry uses very sophisticated technology to track costs; these systems are expensive but they can afford them. Coins is a great example of a construction software company that has been around for a very long time. The smaller end of the sector simply can’t afford these systems, and they end up using accounting systems and Excel. These require a lot of manual entry, which is open to error. There also tends to be some duplication of information. 

Our system streamlines that whole process and give the company a clear idea of where they stand at any given time on a project”. says Ciaran.

“In essence, we’ve made sophisticated technology available to small and medium-sized businesses. We offer an affordable alternative to costly solutions like Coins.”

 

Availing of help

When the brothers recognised that their system had the potential to disrupt the construction software industry in Ireland, their first port of call was Enterprise Ireland and their New Frontiers programme, which led into their application for the CSF. Interestingly, they were the first company to embark on Phase 1 of the New Frontiers programme remotely, as they were still in Australia when they began the programme.

“The New Frontiers scheme gave us our first taste of the Irish start-up scene,” says Ciaran. “It gave us six months to evaluate if we had something or not. The programme really challenged us to ask those questions and see if the idea could become a viable business. The business was then officially launched in January 2018.”

From then on, plans for the business accelerated. “We applied for the CSF in April 2018. We had actually applied for it twice before, but the feedback we got was to complete the New Frontiers programme first. 

Applying really makes you think about what milestones are important to you, and what you are likely to achieve with the resources available to you.

The questions asked help you focus on what you want to achieve over the next 12 months and further, and how you’re going to achieve this with or without CSF funding.”

The funding from the CSF, alongside another investment, allowed LiveCosts to develop their software, and turn their fledgling prototype into a real business. In essence, the CSF allowed LiveCosts to become an ambitious and viable company. LiveCosts now have clients in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. “The funding also allowed Niall to come onboard to work alongside me, so we could develop the business side further too.”

 

Creating opportunities from challenges

Receiving the funding from the CSF came just before a challenging time for every industry – Covid-19 and Brexit. Being able to build their business just before these two issues allowed the company to overcome the obstacles and even see the opportunities that come from such huge challenges.

Thankfully for LiveCosts, the impact of Covid-19 was not as hard as for other companies. “Essential construction continued during lockdown so our customers were still operating,” says Ciaran. “Our role is to tell companies if they are making money or not. A lot of companies in the current climate are very worried about their projects given the current uncertainty; we help to give them clarity around this issue, so interest levels and new customers have stayed high during the pandemic.

Our system takes away the manual effort and creates savings – we’re selling efficiency, and this is what people want. We also work through cloud-based systems. A lot of people got caught when lockdown hit as they couldn’t access on-site systems, so our system is a solution for them.”

Brexit, however, was another story. “Brexit has created a problem around the supply of materials. There’s also issues around the fluctuation of prices for materials on projects that have already been awarded. In addition, there are delays in the supply of materials, particularly those coming from Asia. Any impact on construction projects is going to have an impact on us. If it slows down projects, it slows down decision times on getting us involved on projects. I see these as big challenges for the business and the sector in the future.”

But out of issues come new opportunities, and Ciaran sees a big future for the company. “We’ve seen a huge shift in procurement and how we buy materials in the construction industry. Covid-19 has accelerated this; we’ve been looking at ecommerce and how it can work in construction. Our biggest opportunity is to capitalise on the work we’ve done to date, and the head start we have in that particular area, to make this happen. We’ve started to connect some of the big brands to make buying materials a far more efficient process.

“Construction is quite a complicated industry, it relies heavily on credit, so something like Amazon would not work. Specifications would be another complexity. Someone will eventually come along and figure this out, and we believe that this will happen from someone within the industry who understands these complexities. We believe the answer is a digital procurement system, and this is what we are working to achieve.”

 

Apply for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund – find the application form and eligibility criteria here.

 

UKCA/CE Marking & How It Will Impact Your Business

Enterprise Ireland UK will be hosting a webinar: UKCA/CE Marking & How It Will Impact Your Business on Thursday the 25th of February.  

This webinar will discuss the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessment) mark – the new UK product marking that will be required for certain products being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most products that previously required the CE mark and will be relevant to many of our clients that export products to the UK. 

The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, you will still be able to use the CE marking until 1 January 2022.

This webinar will be helpful to anyone who wants to understand the complex requirements for UKCA marking and will focus on: 

  • Accreditation and Designation of Approved Bodies including UKAS’s role 

  • UKCA marking and the law: what you need to know

  • The marking and requirements for Northern Ireland

  • Trading with the UK: Product Regulatory Requirements and implications for the supply chain

 Register today

 

 

 

Navigating the US Healthcare Landscape – webinar

The healthcare regulation and reimbursement landscape in the US is fraught with complexities. Lengthy processes and nuanced pathways mean companies seeking to enter the US face significant hurdles to bring their technology to market.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has only added to these challenges. Companies seeking to enter this industry must not only understand the challenges relating to market entry, but also how to navigate this landscape and develop a strategy for long-term success.

In this webinar we will:

  • Gain a better understanding of the US regulatory and reimbursement challenges within the healthcare industry

  • Outline and discuss issues regarding access to the US market

  • Identify and discuss the nuances between FDA regulatory processes and EUA authorization pathways

  • Recognize the regulatory requirements for digital-health/tele-health products in the US

  • Discuss the process regarding evidence generation for FDA submissions, payment, and purchasing decisions

  • Develop effective strategies for a pre-submission meeting with the FDA

  •  Consider all major aspects of healthcare coding, billing, and reimbursement

From idea to ambitious business: How the Competitive Start Fund helped Examfly take off  

 Turning a good idea into a viable business takes time, hard work and support – this is what Deirdre Lyons, founder and CEO, discovered on her two-year journey with online teaching tool start-up, Examfly. As one of the recent recipients of Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF), Examfly has grown from a good idea into a promising business with big ambitions.

“Ideas on their own only have a limited value; you need the business apparatus to wrap around the idea, and that requires focus, time and help,” explains Deirdre.

Support through Enterprise Ireland’s CSF was a real turning point for the company as it allowed us to refine the product and gave us the time to research and develop the market.” 

Within six to eight months we had a major client signed up and will be launching our platform with a second client this month.

 

Small beginnings to big ambitions

The story of Examfly began, like many start-ups, when Deirdre spotted a gap in the market for a teaching resource to help students with professional tax and accountancy exams. A former lecturer and grinds teacher with the Tax Institute of Ireland, Deirdre could see how people were struggling with the material and how it was taught.

“The people who are studying these subjects are working full-time, generally as trainees of big firms, and they find it hard to fit in study and to test themselves on their knowledge. These are dense and technical areas; we’re also in a time of diminishing attention span, so it’s harder to settle down to this sort of material.

“Our solution is a set of interactive online tools that teach the material using animated videos which provides a punchy, fun and visual way to learn the material. Then we use game-based tools for testing your knowledge, building your confidence in the subject and understanding where you might be struggling.

“These subjects are not just about learning but they’re also about skill acquisition. In other words, unlike school exams where you’d just spit out knowledge that you have taken in, with these exams you have to apply the knowledge in context. Our tools recognise this: they are are quick, interactive, fun and backed by insights from education psychology and technology that furthers the student’s progress rather than diminishing their attention span even further.

“Covid-19 accelerated the move to online learning, but it also revealed that not all online learning is created equally, so we’ve had a lot of engagement from big firms recently. The failure rate in these subjects is as much as 50%. The feedback on Examfly is that it’s more enjoyable, painless and effective to study using our tools than the traditional book and/or talking-head PowerPoint.”

Another advantage is the data that this software gathers. “We use the data we get on progress and potential pain points to give the firms insights about how the students are doing, where their strengths lie and what they might be struggling with. This allows us to adapt the learning journey for the student too, and on a collective basis it helps us improve the learning experience.”

And for Examfly, the sky really is the limit – this software has potential for many other subjects as well as updating skill sets and professional development.

 

The power of support

Deirdre began to develop her idea through research, looking at the psychology of education, and the difference between learning and skill acquisition. Then, to get the time and the support to see if her idea could turn into a viable business, she embarked on Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme in November 2018; this is an early start-up programme that gives innovators six months to explore their idea.

“By the time I finished New Frontiers, I had the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) ready, I received a lot of good feedback and I really felt that the idea had potential. I had left my job so I needed either a big customer or some sort of investment to continue with the idea, as well as the sort of supports offered in the Enterprise Ireland ecosystem.”

“I felt the CSF was a great fit for us, and winning it allowed us to develop the product and the business further. In essence, it gave us time.

While the money and support offered by the CSF was beneficial, Deirdre felt that the application process also helped advance her business. “The application process is very rigorous but it’s also a great exercise in working out your business model. It really interrogates both the idea and the business, and your plan for execution. It forces you to think very ambitiously. The pitching process is hard, because it comes down to being able to express everything you want for your business in a concise but exciting way. You also need to stand over it for the follow-up questions. It’s very good practice for speaking to angel investors, or any other investors further down the line.

“The CSF is a great way to take that next step; the value that you get from this is far more than just the money, it’ll change your confidence level, your ambition. Even if you don’t get it the first time around, your business and your idea will be a lot stronger for having gone through the process.”

Apply for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund – find the application form and eligibility criteria here.

 

 

 

Read how Flynn built its international presence

This time last year, none of us were aware of the disaster which was about to unfold across the globe. But 12 months on, industry across every sector is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic which continues to make its presence felt.

But while some businesses were affected more than others, the construction sector in many areas of the world, has continued to carry out essential works and this, according to Cormac McKenna of Flynn, a Dublin based international construction company, has been beneficial for many companies which have expanded outside Ireland.

“We have been active in mainland Europe for four years and have branches in Denmark and Germany,” says McKenna, who has been with the company for 12 years. “We are predominantly in the data centre sector in mainland Europe and our offices have a blend of both Irish and local staff.

“We have also been active in the UK for nearly three years and have a regional office in London, servicing this market in the general contracting, fit-out and data centre markets.”

McKenna, a director with Flynn, oversees operations in Dublin and mainland Europe and says the move outside Ireland came about as a result of building on existing relationships and pitching the expertise the firm was confident would add value to European and UK projects.

“Our network of clients, design teams and traditional contactor partners have brought us data centre opportunities in Denmark initially – and these led to further operations in Northern Europe, the Nordics and the Benelux regions,” he says. “We are fortunate to have been able to continue working in Europe during the pandemic as it affected Irish business badly because the sector has been shut down twice during national lockdowns.

“Construction has continued in both the UK and Germany and because we have been working on data centres, which are deemed essential.

The main difficulty has been getting workforce to and from sites as every jurisdiction has its own restrictions – so in some places there are quarantine regulations and in other countries, there is a requirement to provide a negative PCR test. Everywhere is different, but you just have to roll with the punches, be nimble and able to change approach as and when is necessary. And we have relied heavily on our workforce to be flexible in their approach.”

Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing as operating in different countries can be challenging, even without a global pandemic.

“Apart from the obvious challenges to be overcome such as supply chain, logistics, legislative issues, taxation, industrial relations and nuances in the construction regulations in any new jurisdiction we enter, working overseas also raises the additional challenge of ensuring that operations in remote locations are delivered with same culture and quality that we insist on,” says McKenna.

 

Building an international presence

“The main issues we have faced were around sourcing supply chain and getting to grips with local legislation from an industrial relations perspective and contract law perspective. But our auditors and accountants are Grant Thornton who have an international presence, which gives us a lot of satisfaction and comfort in knowing that our approach is correct.

“We have opened offices in London, Copenhagen and Frankfurt. And Enterprise Ireland and our international auditors and accountants have been key to the successful establishment of a foothold in these markets.  The key to success has also been leaning heavily on our network and ensuring we asked plenty of questions of the right people.”

Along with keeping its European interests ticking over, Flynn has also been looking after its clients here at home – but the various lockdowns have made this difficult at times.

“Like all businesses in construction, Covid 19 has affected our operations,” says McKenna. “We, like many companies, have faced difficulties and have faced additional costs for control measures and also to cover for staff who either contracted Covid or were close contacts of someone with the virus.  But we managed to get through the past year by investing in people and systems along with physical controls on our sites to ensure we have industry leading controls and management systems in place.

“Our business had well tested systems for remote working and collaboration to allow our project teams and regional offices to communicate effectively.  And as working restrictions were imposed, these existing systems have paid real dividends and we feel we are working as effectively as possible while keeping our teams safe.

The Dublin based firm has been in business for over 16 years and prides itself in the quality of its people and the prestige of its clients.  And according to McKenna, Enterprise Ireland has helped with this success.

“Flynn is predominantly a main contractor but over the past five years we have brought our main contracting experience to package contracting in the Hyperscale Data Centre Market,” says the company director. “And we feel the expertise in bringing teams of trusted trade contractors together and managing the entire CSA solution for our clients, brings tangible added value to any Hyperscale DC we have been involved in.

“Enterprise Ireland has been a key partner in our international growth. Their representatives are always at the end of the phone for advice and have provided key introductions in local authorities, supply chain parties and in some instances leads for new business.  They have also provided tangible supports from a training and marketing perspective.

“In addition, we found the Market Discovery Fund and some of the supports we got in the marketing field to be very effective. Some of the introductions they made for us in both Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK was a great help. And also, just having someone at the other end of the phone to bounce ideas off, has been invaluable.”

The company has over 140 employees across Ireland and Europe and is currently looking to further its portfolio with opportunities in Ireland, UK and Mainland Europe. and McKenna says while 2021 may be a difficult time for construction firms to be thinking of expanding abroad, once the current crisis is over, there could be plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

“There is a definite advantage to being an Irish company overseas, particularly one with Irish employees as we are known for having the mindset of getting things done,” he says. “In the high tech and data centre world, schedule is key and the Irish work ethic of doing what you say you will do and doing it on time, is a great advantage as we can be trusted to get the job done.

“Our aim so to grow our client base across Europe, to grow our team and to bring added value to future data centre projects.  My advice to firms thinking of doing the same, would be to complete extensive research in the jurisdiction you are targeting and use the Enterprise Ireland team as they provide a lot of useful information and contacts.”

The Future of Digital Transformation in US Dairy – webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic, price volatility, and the drive towards sustainability in dairy farming means that farmers, processers, and haulers now have different needs and challenges. In a time when digital solutions are in increasing demand in the US dairy sector, innovative Irish companies have proven that they have the answers.

Building on our strong reputation in dairy, Irish companies have developed products that are trusted by a wide range of end users in the US, from individual farms and haulers to large multinationals like Danone North America and Agrimark. Digital innovation has played a central role, as the US dairy industry seeks to modernise and automate, smoothing out processing inefficiencies and safety concerns. In leveraging digital, Irish companies can win in the space, by delivering scalable solutions that offer improvements across the entire value chain.

One example is Piper Systems, which recently won FDA approval for their Dynastream product – the only system approved by the NCWM authority as a legal for-payment device across the USA. Piper’s ability to deliver accurate weights and temperatures, fully representative samples, and real time product data and traceability results in a streamlined milk collection process, making it safer, easier, and more efficient.

Click below for a discussion on the US Dairy sector and its increased need for digital solutions with insights from:

  • Robert Troy TD, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation
  • Director of Milk Quality for Danone North America, Jennifer Walker DVM, Ph.D.
  • Leigh Hamilton, CEO of Piper Systems

Our webinar reflects on:

  • Opportunities and priorities for Irish companies entering the US agri/dairy sector
  • Trends and macro issues affecting US dairy
  • Importance of traceability in supply chains
  • US Demand for increased technology solutions in food safety and the impact of this along the entire value chain

For key discussion points see the below timings:

 

1:05 : Introduction from Minister Troy

13:40: How has the US Dairy sector has changed in recent years?

16:55: Dr. Walker on how digitisation has transformed ‘troubleshooting’ on-farm issues

19:25: What makes the milk collection process a great fit for digitisation?

23:30: What is more important to US customers – improving milk quality or process efficiency?

27:10: Digitising the dairy value chain and the importance of traceability to build consumer trust

34:00: The rise of automation and future data applications in Dairytech

37:50: How better data will change dairy forecasting and logistics

40:45: The importance of sustainability in dairy – how to ‘make sure consumers feel good about choosing dairy’

43:50: How industry will act as a catalyst for positive change in dairy

46:30: Q&A – How should Irish companies approach US dairy companies?

49:00: Q&A – What is holding back the adoption of technology in US dairy?

The New UK – Succeeding in a Changing Market

The UK Market is evolving. Irish companies are demonstrating incredible resilience in adapting to a changing landscape and are now looking to the future. Join our webinar on February 11th at 9am ‘The New UK: Succeeding in a Changing Market’.

During this webinar we will be joined by a panel of guests to explore changes underway in the UK and Ireland’s unique relationship with this major market on our doorstep. Panellists include:

  • Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland
  • Adrian O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom
  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

The CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners, a leading global consultancy specialising in top-line growth strategies, will share his insights on how to succeed in this new world and profit levers to consider.

The webinar will also see CEOs from a range of Irish companies including Dublin AerospaceEI ElectronicsVRAIEPS, and Gifts Direct/The Irish Store, sharing their UK growth strategies – inspiring others with growth ambition.

Register to view our on-demand webinar.