Woman scientist in the lab in a lab coat

Knowledge Transfer Ireland: Turning cutting-edge research into profitable business

It is widely acknowledged that investing in research and development (R&D) is essential for every company in order to stay relevant and competitive in today’s fast-moving world. Us Irish thrive on exciting and innovative ideas, and our colleges and universities are producing some of the most exciting cutting-edge R&D. But while we have the ideas and the talent to develop them, R&D can be costly, in terms of both time and money, and many SMEs struggle in funding adequate R&D.

The Irish Government and Enterprise Ireland has long recognised that the key to ensuring that great ideas can evolve into new products and solutions is developing and strengthening links between public research opportunities and business. To help, in 2013, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment established Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) to help get technology, ideas and expertise from State-funded research into the hands of every business.

“We believe that our potential as a country can be unlimited when the forces of third level research and businesses are combined with a common goal and purpose to deliver more advanced solutions for industry and society,” explains Elizabeth Carvill, Senior Executive at KTI.

Essentially, KTI acts as a signpost for all businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, allowing them access to Ireland’s research system quickly, easily and effectively and allowing them to engage in the process of knowledge transfer.

“Knowledge transfer is an effective way to help companies build on key areas of innovation capability,” says Elizabeth. “Knowledge transfer is enabled through collaborative or contract research engagements between business and the third level. Outputs from these engagements, such as new technologies or intellectual property, can be used to develop new products, processes and services. This research also underpins the creation of spin-out companies.”

KTI is based in Enterprise Ireland’s headquarters in Dublin and acts as a national office making the knowledge transfer system more simple for business to access. “Part of this is to manage a funding programme on behalf of Enterprise Ireland to support Ireland’s network of Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), also known at Innovation Offices,” says Elizabeth. “These skilled teams based in universities and Institutes of Technology oversee the process of knowledge transfer and managing relationships with companies seeking to benefit from the access to skills, technology and intellectual property from within Ireland’s third level and other research organisations.’

 

Quantifiable success

The success of KTI can be seen in the Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey, which is produced every year by KTI. The latest report covered 2020, a challenging year for many thanks to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the statistics are impressive. “The 2020 Survey revealed that 3,681 new R&D and consultancy agreements were made between companies and non-commercial entities and higher education institutions during the year, an increase of 39% on the previous year,” says Elizabeth. “Three-quarters of these agreements involved Irish SMEs.

“The survey also revealed that 30 spin-out companies were formed in 2020, and that there are now 128 spin-out companies still active three-plus years after incorporation. The same year saw a record number of spin-out company acquisitions (nine) with a combined value of €7.9 million, proving how attractive Irish spin-outs are to external investment.”

Elizabeth explains that many of these spin-out companies go on to become High-Potential Start-Ups, supported by Enterprise Ireland. “Some recent examples include TU Dublin spin-out Ocumetra, UCD spin-out Sirius XT, NUI Galway spin-out Neurent Medical, and Dundalk IT spin-out Nova Leah. In fact, Ocumetra, which developed a pioneering eye monitoring tool that can identify abnormal (myopic) eye growth, became an HPSU just six months after its foundation.”

 

Exciting success stories

And when research bodies work with commercial enterprises, some really exciting products and solutions are produced. “For example, Inferneco Ltd and IT Carlow to bring to market a bottle-sanitising system for the hospitality industry using UV light,” says Elizabeth. “Another great example is the collaboration between Grian Water and Letterkenny IT, to develop a new prototype of its MyGug water treatment product, which turns organic matter into renewable fuel.”

To enable as many businesses as possible benefit from the innovative ideas produced by our research bodies, KTI has worked hard to ensure that companies can quickly and easily find the right support for them.

“Our website contains a range of downloadable materials and resources including a research map of Ireland, a downloadable national directory of research supports and an interactive funding finder tool,” Elizabeth finishes.

 

For more on KTI and the range of R&D supports available for companies, log on to www.knowledgetransferireland.com

Enter the Eurozone

How Enter the Eurozone is helping Irish companies just like yours to do just that

 

Companies all over Ireland are winning new business across Europe with the help of Enter the Eurozone, an innovative business development programme from Enterprise Ireland that provides tailored market entry support.

The five-month programme was launched in 2019 and is currently on its fifth intake.

To date 102 companies have come through it. Of these 37 have taken steps towards operating in European markets.

“When you consider that typical business to business cycles take 18-months to complete, and that the bulk of participants have been on the programme during Covid, that’s a remarkable success rate,” says Paul Browne, Programme Manager International Partnering at Enterprise Ireland, who runs Enter the Eurozone.

 

Opportunity on your doorstep

 

The programme is designed to help Irish companies take advantage of the fact that one of the most dynamic, prosperous and stable markets in the world is on their doorstep.

“As a region with a population in excess of 340 million, the opportunity the Eurozone presents to Irish business is enormous,” he adds.

“Yet we are still merely scratching the surface. Despite the fact that the Eurozone has five times the population of the UK, it has less than two thirds of the exports from Irish companies.”

Brexit has encouraged many businesses to see the Eurozone with fresh eyes, appreciative of the fact that it offers a single market, freedom of movement for people, goods and services, a single currency, regulatory alignment and zero customs barriers.

“The Eurozone offers significant and untapped opportunities for Irish companies and Enterprise Ireland has developed a unique programme to help you take advantage of them,” says Browne.

 

Market entry plan

 

The five-month programme opens Europe’s doors to ambitious Irish exporters. It is delivered by ESMT European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, Germany’s number one business school.

It is supported by IMS Marketing, seasoned providers of one-to-one business advice for those developing a European market entry plan.

“In developing the programme, we recognised that while management teams know training is great, what they really want to know is what will it mean for their business,” says Browne.

“So, at the end of this programme, each participant comes out with a clearly defined market entry plan bespoke to their business. It contains clear, practical steps which, if taken, will see them win contracts abroad.”

 

Enterprise Ireland’s Eurozone team, based in market, then works with the client to help them to execute that plan, backed by its network of in-market expertise.

 

Unique products and services sought

Irish companies have unique products and services in an array of areas, including software, data centre systems, medical devices, and ag-tech.

“We take for granted that our companies are exposed to US multinational companies without realising that it gives us enormous advantages in terms of experience, standards and service levels. Irish companies are already selling to the best in the world at home. That level of expertise and experience is sought all over Europe too,” he adds.

Campion Pumps in Tipperary used the Enter the Eurozone programme to develop a market entry strategy for Italy.

Its experience in pumping equipment led it to develop software that allows pumps to communicate with computers. It has hundreds of pumping station customers linked to its cloud-based server. What’s innovative about its solutions is that its software can work with anyone’s equipment, providing it with a valuable USP (unique selling point).

Having a unique solution is hugely compelling, in any market, says Browne. “If I go to a potential customer in, say, the Netherlands, the first thing he or she will say to me is ‘Why should I buy from you, when I’ve five guys down the road I could go to? But when you go in pitching something that is innovative and unique, why wouldn’t they talk to you?”

In Leitrim, Archway Products already had success working with local authorities in the UK, attracted by its highly innovative, cost effective and environmentally sound processes for fixing road defects.  The inventor of the Roadmaster Spray Injection Patching machine, which fixes all types of road defects, is now gaining traction in Germany too.

Shamrock Farm Enterprises, a maker of equine and agricultural supplements, also in Tipperary, recently secured a distributor in France.

Louth firm Aphix Software has developed an integrated suite of eCommerce and mobile ordering products.

“Any solution that helps with stock control, and whose software helps you move online, is a pitch to which a lot of companies across the Eurozone are very open to now,” says Browne.

Applied Concepts, Ireland’s sole manufacturer of CE approved blasting machines, has already developed an international presence, driven by innovations such as a compressed air machine that sits on a tractor and uses less carbon.

“Ireland is already renowned for food, so if you are going to Europe and say your farm equipment is terrific too, people will listen,” says Browne.

 

Start your export journey

His message to innovative Irish businesses looking to start their export journey is clear.

“Enterprise Ireland is very open to helping companies that want to export. We have a range of programmes and workshops to help, including Enter the Eurozone. Remember, it’s companies like yours that are doing this, so get in touch,” he adds.

 

To find out how you could expand into the Eurozone, see our Enter the Eurozone Programme.

 

Net Zero UK GA Agriculture

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK agriculture sector – Jon Foot, AHDB

In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

In the fifth episode, Jon Foot, Head of Environment and Resource Management at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), discusses the latest sustainability trends in the UK agriculture sector.

 

Managing people, driving performance - Implementing successful performance management practices

Implementing successful performance management practices in the new workplace

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the way we work in Ireland. We were suddenly thrown into an emergency situation, during which many of us had to work remotely.

Thanks to the success of the vaccination rollout, we are now entering into the recovery phase of the pandemic. However, it’s clear that what’s normal in the world of work has shifted.

 

Changed working practices

 

Several surveys have indicated a strong preference by employees for continuing remote or hybrid working into the future, and many companies are now looking at how to make these new working practices sustainable into the future – both to attract and retain talent and to ensure that strategic goals are achieved. But with this change comes a number of challenges.

“One such concern is how to drive employee performance to continue to deliver business results as we move into the new world of work,” explains Lola Ade-Onojobi, People & Management Specialist at Enterprise Ireland.

“Pre-pandemic, performance management practices had already evolved significantly, and the pandemic only further accelerated this evolution. A sudden move to remote working, along with significant personal upheaval such as having childcare responsibilities during the day or looking after vulnerable family members, forced many employers to adjust their management and leadership practices to better support their employees during this time of uncertainty.”

“Now that we are moving into a period of recovery, it is essential for companies to focus their efforts on building sustainable practices to support employee engagement, performance and, ultimately, business growth.”

 

Implementing successful performance management

 

To help companies implement successful performance management in the new workplace, Enterprise Ireland has launched a new guide in partnership with performance management experts ‘Our Tandem’.

Entitled ‘Managing People, Driving Performance: A Good Practice Guide’, this is the latest in a series of guides for employers on navigating the post-Covid workplace and is free for all employers to download.

“While recognising that performance management requires a tailored approach by every company, this guide provides valuable information, based on best practice and latest business theory, that helps employers rethink their approach to performance management,” says Lola.

“The guide examines the evolution of performance management best practice over the years and how it has been affected by the pandemic. It also highlights the foundations of good performance management such as goal setting, check-in conversations, fluid feedback, performance reviews, and reward and recognition practices.”

“Crucially, the guide provides relevant tips on embedding a strong performance culture within a company, on how managers can become coaching leaders, and on building communication to ensure that the changes are implemented successfully.”

This is a practical guide, with templates that are useful for every company, regardless of sector, size or maturity, to identify the changes needed within their own performance management process and implement them successfully and sustainably.

 

Supports to complement our performance management guide

 

For Enterprise Ireland-supported companies, the guide complements a range of financial and non-financial supports currently available.

“Non-financial support includes access to our e-learning platform (eiLearn.ie), which contains many articles, podcasts, videos and downloadable content on people management,” Lola says.

“We also offer a range of financial supports such as business growth advisor and strategic consultancy grants, which contribute to the cost of engaging external consultants to help companies address business challenges. More details on these supports are available from your Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor.”

It’s clear that every company must carefully examine the way in which they operate and ensure that it’s suitable for the new world of work – and to do this as soon as possible in order to maintain optimal performance and retain and attract talent.

A key part of this, according to Lola, is enacting the right performance management framework, both for the company’s sake and to support employees during this time of change.

“The benefits of a performance management framework are clear – for employee engagement, retention, team spirit and ultimately positive bottom-line results for the business.”

 

Download Enterprise Ireland’s performance management guide here.

GA Bringing Irish healthcare innovation to the world - Minister Stephen Donnelly attends Arab Health expo

Bringing Irish healthcare innovation to the world

 

There have been many headlines about the strength of the Irish medtech sector, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of our indigenous life sciences companies are making waves in every corner of the world, and big economies such as the US are looking to Ireland for innovative solutions for every aspect of healthcare.

 

The Arab Health exhibition

 

This strength was demonstrated at this year’s Arab Health, the leading exhibition in the MENA region for the healthcare industry. The 2022 event took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 January and was followed by an online event from 31 January – 10 February.

Enterprise Ireland had a significant presence at the event, showcasing the work of 14 companies. An additional six client companies also attended the show.

The influence of Arab Health cannot be underestimated. For many years, it has been a major event for connecting clinicians, procurement professionals, dealers and distributors from all over the world. This year, more than 3,500 exhibitors took part and over 56,000 healthcare professionals attended, all eager to see the latest innovations.

 

The changing healthcare landscape

 

The theme of this year’s event was ‘United by Business, Forging Ahead’, which reflected the importance that new technologies and innovation have in today’s rapidly changing global healthcare industry. According to Eamon Sikafi, Commercial Counsellor – Middle East & North Africa at Enterprise Ireland, this means plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

“The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a prosperous region with plenty of opportunities for Irish healthcare innovators,” Eamon explains.

“For example, digitalisation is very much at a pilot stage in most GCC countries, offering significant opportunities for Irish companies working in this sector.”

“Another trend is the move to domestic drug production. Currently, over 90% of the market is driven by imported drugs, but a rising number of collaborations between multinational companies and domestic manufacturing looks set to change this.”

“A third area in which Irish companies are particularly strong is medical technologies. The GCC medical technologies market accounts for 2.7% of global revenues, but currently the sector is dominated by imports. Domestic manufacturing is still in its early stages and accounts for less than 20% of market revenues.”

 

Opportunities for Irish companies in healthcare innovation

 

Enterprise Ireland market advisors have identified areas in the region that are filled with opportunities for Irish companies between now and 2030.

Electronic Health Records (EHR), artificial intelligence for radiology, robotic surgeries and patient engagement platforms for pharmaceutical companies are predicted to become a $2 billion market by 2030,” Eamon says.

“The number of hospitals across the GCC is expected to triple by 2030. Primary care clinics, e-clinics and micro hospitals will represent new areas of investment focus over the next decade.”

Public Private Partnership (PPP) opportunities will support growth across the region, with at least 40% of private sector healthcare growth driven by PPP. Investment in cancer treatment technologies will surge as early diagnosis of cancer is likely to increase by 10% by 2030.”

“Collaboration between hospitals and companies to develop corporate wellness programs will become a $2 billion market by 2030. And, medical consumables manufacturing is likely to emerge as a $30 billion market by end of 2030, with Saudi Arabia poised to become a regional hub by 2023.”

 

Irish success stories in healthcare innovation

 

AceTech

Irish company AceTech has built up business in the region worth €10 million, working in the areas of safety, patient care and AI software for several ambulance services in GCC countries and cities.

 

Aerogen

Galway-based Aerogen, a leader in aerosol medication delivery systems, opened an office in Dubai in 2018 and has grown significantly in the region since the start of the pandemic. Most recently, the company announced a major deal with Gulf Medical, a market leader in medical device distribution in Saudi Arabia.

 

Fleming Medical

Fleming Medical began operating in the region in 2014 and currently services several GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman. This year, the company plans to expand operations into Iraq and North Africa, growing business by 25% by the end of 2023.

 

Contact Eamon Sikafi to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you explore healthcare innovation opportunities in the Middle East.

 

A man and woman wearing headsets for immersive entertainment purposes

The Irish businesses making waves in the immersive entertainment sector

 

Irish people have a long and proud history of storytelling. From the ancient seanchaí to poets, musicians and novelists, the Irish ability to tell a story in an unforgettable and imaginative way is famous across the world.

With storytelling at the core of today’s artificial reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and immersive experiences, combined with Ireland’s reputation for excellence in technological innovation, it should come as no surprise that several Irish companies are making waves in this sector.

 

Overview of the immersive entertainment sector

 

“The immersive entertainment sector actually grew during the Covid-19 pandemic,” notes Bartosz Siepracki, Senior ICT Market Advisor, Poland and Baltics, and Global Digital Entertainment Sector Lead at Enterprise Ireland.

Cinema restrictions resulted in more people looking for immersive entertainment experiences at home. As a result, consumers worldwide spent $9.9 billion on AR and VR during 2020.”

“During the same period, just $7 billion was spent on cinema attendance. Investors are recognising this growth and responding accordingly. This means there are plenty of opportunities for Irish companies looking to enter the sector.”

These opportunities become even more significant when the impressive long-term predictions are taken into account.

A report on Statistica predicts that the global immersive market will grow to almost $300 billion by 2024. This means that immersive media will be as significant to us as mobile apps are today.”

“There is another piece to this fast growth,” notes Bartosz. “With this being such a rapidly growing and developing industry, companies entering the sector today will play a valuable role in shaping the world of immersive entertainment over the coming decades.”

 

Opportunities for Irish companies in immersive entertainment

 

Recognising the massive potential of this growing sector, Enterprise Ireland is supporting Irish companies that wish to enter or increase their presence in the industry.

As part of this, a new guide, ‘Opportunities in Immersive Media Entertainment’, has been developed by the UK-based Limina Immersive consultancy in partnership with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish entertainment companies recognise, prepare for and take advantage of these opportunities globally.

Headed by globally recognised expert Catherine Allen, Limina is also currently working with several Irish SMEs branching out into the sector.

“The guide looks at the current immersive entertainment market and the areas of growth over the coming years, along with the digital technology trends, investment opportunities and advice on getting your immersive entertainment projects off the ground.”

 

Irish businesses that found success in the sector

 

Engage XR

“Many Irish companies are already finding success in the area,” says Bartosz. “For example, Engage XR (previously known as Immersive VR Education) launched a VR documentary in April 2016, ‘Apollo 11’, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s based on NASA’s original material from the first lunar expedition in 1969. It allows the user to fly the command module, operate the lunar lander and carry out experiments on the moon.”

“Since then, the company has developed its ENGAGE platform, which enables VR education, collaboration and events. This is now used by over 130 commercial customers including Fortune 500 companies Meta and 3M.”

 

Volograms

Another area of growth is in volumetric filmmaking, most notably how to make it easy and affordable for both professional headsets and mobile experiences. “Volograms has developed state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms powering 3D reconstruction, multi-view texture mapping and many more important features,” says Bartosz. “Its mobile app allows anyone to capture volumetric video of someone, resize it and place it in a different context.”

 

Pink Kong Studio

Ireland’s animation industry has long been admired for its carefully crafted stories for both adults and children. Naturally, this sector is playing a big role in advancing the world of immersive entertainment too. “Most famous of all is Aurora, developed by Pink Kong Studio in 2018,” says Bartosz. “Aurora is an emotional story about a family of three living in a forest and has received multiple accolades around the world. These include the 2018 Monolith Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Immersive VR’ from Infinity Film Festival Beverly Hills.”

 

Algorithm

Irish companies are taking the technology to the outdoors too, for everyone to enjoy. “Living Canvas was developed by Algorithm and is noted for bringing technology into the cultural sphere,” explains Bartosz. “It’s one of the world’s first outdoor digital screens used exclusively for artistic and cultural content. It’s currently located in Wilton Park where it operates as an exciting open-air gallery. Anyone living in or visiting Dublin can experience this wonderful new technology for themselves.”

“People don’t need a complicated entertainment system or even a top-of-the-range phone to experience this new world.”

 

Contact Bartosz Siepracki to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you explore opportunities in the immersive entertainment sector.

Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry - Image of space and galaxies

How Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry

 

Ireland may not be the first country to spring to mind when you talk about space travel or exploration, but recently this industry has proved itself to have plenty of opportunities for Irish innovation, both from companies and research bodies.

 

The James Webb Space Telescope

 

Many businesses based in Ireland are already working in the area, thanks to our involvement with the European Space Agency (ESA). What’s more, several Irish companies are now playing a pivotal role in some of the most thrilling and high-profile space missions.

One such mission was the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or simply Webb), the next great space science observatory following the famous Hubble Telescope.

The Webb was launched from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Christmas Day 2021. It now resides one-and-a-half million kilometres from Earth, hovering in line with our planet as it orbits the sun.

Over 25 years in development, the Webb telescope has the ability to look back 13.5 billion years in time to observe the birth of the first galaxies and the lifecycle of stars and exoplanets.

Webb follows the Hubble Telescope in the line of great space observatories. Both have different scientific capabilities and will operate together, complementing each other, for several years.

In fact, according to Bryan Rodgers, Senior Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland and a member of the Irish delegation to the ESA, Webb has the capacity to do far more than the Hubble.

“The Webb has over six times the light-gathering capacity and is a hundred times more sensitive, with the ability to peer through clouds of dust by capturing light in the infrared part of the spectrum.”

“By looking back to the early universe using infrared detectors, Webb hopes to answer some vital questions about the formation of our universe, the make-up of so-called dark matter, and what the development of galaxies can tell us about the future of the universe.”

 

How Irish companies contributed to the development and launch of the JWST

 

Webb is the result of an international project led by NASA with the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Within the ESA’s contribution, two Irish companies and an Irish research institute played significant roles in the development of the Webb’s scientific instruments and in its launch into space.

“Firstly, there was significant Irish input into the development of the infrared detector technology,” comments Bryan. “Professor Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) was Co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on Webb, which will produce images and spectra with unprecedented sharpness and sensitivity.”

“Professor Tom Ray and his team from DIAS also provided MIRI’s infrared filters, which breaks up the light into its various components, and imaging software that will analyse the instrument data sent back to Earth and produce scientific images.”

An Irish company also played an important role in Webb’s launch into space via an Ariane 5 launcher.

Réaltra Space Systems Engineering designed and manufactured the video imaging system onboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, which gave us impressive high-definition video images of the separation of the launcher’s fairing and separation of the telescope itself,” says Bryan.

“The final images of Webb moving into space on Christmas Day in 2021 came from Réaltra’s technology.”

Interestingly, Réaltra’s system was originally designed for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which is due its first flight in the second half of 2022.

“In addition, a second Irish company, Nammo Ireland, provided structural supports for the Vulcain engine that powers Ariane 5 – and will be involved in producing components for both the Vulcain and Vinci engines on the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle.”

 

Opportunities for Irish businesses in the space industry

 

The involvement of these Irish entities came about as a result of Ireland’s membership of the ESA, which is managed through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Enterprise Ireland plays a huge role in enabling this work, by supporting and guiding Irish companies and research institutes in developing technologies through ESA programmes, and in commercialising these technologies in the worldwide space market, with over 100 companies supported to date.

“The success of the Irish entities involved in the ground-breaking JWST project underlines the growth in opportunities in the commercial space market for innovative Irish companies with exciting technologies that can be used in many different sectors, such as automotive and medical,” notes Bryan.

“These opportunities will only become more plentiful as our understanding of space grows and develops. We are confident that more Irish companies will be involved in such thrilling projects in the future.”

 

Contact Bryan Rodgers to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you successfully bid for European Space Agency contracts or explore other opportunities in the space industry.

 

People working at a co-working hub in the National Hub Network

National Hub Network: Bringing Irish workplaces into a new era

 

There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. While we’re not out of the woods just yet, slowly but surely we are all looking to recovery and what work might look like post-pandemic. And it’s looking like a whole new world for many.

 

Designing a workplace for the future

In 2021, Enterprise Ireland released a new guide, ‘Designing a workplace for the future’, which was written to help employers navigate their way into the new world of work, including remote/hybrid working and other more flexible forms of work.

The guide recognised that company owners are now aware that offering a degree of flexibility has many advantages for their business in attracting and retaining talent, as well as for the Irish economy overall.

However, most are still in the early stages of working out how these can be optimised within their own companies.

 

The right to request remote work

What’s more, the matter is becoming more urgent, thanks to the upcoming legislation on the right to request remote work. When enacted, it will act as a lynchpin for HR strategy and implementation.

This legislation is due to come into effect in 2022, so it’s essential that every employer considers the best solution for their company sooner rather than later.

 

The National Hub Network

An integral part of the new world of work is the growth of the National Hub Network, which enables workers to carry out their jobs in a social space with excellent amenities.

The networks also play a valuable role in driving vibrant regional economies across Ireland, as Clare Power, Enterprise Ireland’s lead on Regional Remote Working, explains.

“These hubs are far more than just buildings for workers,” Clare explains.

“They are part of the regional ecosystem, a go-to place for local start-ups through to established SMEs looking to grow and scale their businesses.”

“These co-working hubs are a valuable contributor to a vibrant local economy, a wonderful opportunity for employees from diverse backgrounds who want to progress their careers outside of the big cities, and an important enabler for collaboration and networking across sectors and disciplines.”

“In short, these hubs will play a crucial role in Ireland’s future of work landscape.”

 

The evolution of co-working hubs in Ireland

Co-working hubs existed before the pandemic. In fact, they were highlighted in Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 ‘Powering the regions’ plan.

However, they’ve taken on a new level of significance since Covid-19 hit in March 2020.

“There have been examples of successful co-working hubs already,” says Clare. “These include Dogpatch Labs and Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin, The Mill in Drogheda, Wexford Enterprise Centre, Merits in Naas, PorterShed in Galway and Ludgate in Skibbereen.”

“Their success is down to their excellent facilities, including reliable wi-fi, excellent cybersecurity, access to the latest digital tools, meeting spaces and 24-hour access.”

 

The Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network

Recognising the importance of these hub networks to both regional development and Irish SMEs, Enterprise Ireland has led significant infrastructural investments initiatives on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

“We have a relationship with the Community Enterprise Association Ireland (CEAI) spanning two decades, and have supported CEAI as the co-ordinator of a world first, the development of the Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network, known as QHubs,” explains Clare.

“The Quality Standards Framework aims to provide a world-class facility and service for enterprise at all stages of growth, enable hub owners and managers deliver excellent service to their users, and help the National Hub Network to work collectively towards future self-sustainability.”

To help embed QHubs, CEAI launched a free preparatory development programme for enterprise hub owners and managers, delivered in partnership with Skillnet Ireland.

 

Supporting co-working and remote working

“Enterprise Ireland is also involved in many other initiatives to support the National Hub Network.”

“These include Grow Remote, a not-for-profit agency working in the fields of networking, job market connection, community development and free nationwide remote training. Grow Remote has published a playbook to equip SMEs with the tools to successfully implement remote work permanently. We also point employers to the Western Development Commission-led ConnectedHubs portal in searching and sourcing for their ideal co-working spaces.”

According to Clare, “it’s clear that regional hubs have a vital role to play as we slowly get back to ‘the new normal’.

Perhaps the growth and development of these hubs – and the subsequent positive effect on our lifestyles, families and rural areas – will emerge as something positive to come out of the last two years of upheaval and change.”

 

Download Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Designing the workplace of the future’ guide here.

UK financial services buildings in London, England

UK financial services: A lucrative market for Irish companies looking for growth

 

Consumers and companies are still coming to terms with the new restrictions, rules and regulations in the post-Brexit world. The added disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic added even more change into Ireland’s economic relationship with the UK.

Slowly, things are beginning to settle down. We can see more clearly how our relationship with our most important trading partner has altered since their withdrawal from the EU.

One industry that has attracted many headlines is financial services, especially in London, which has long been seen as one of the most important financial hubs in the world.

 

Overview of the UK financial services market

In the run-up to Brexit, there was much talk of London losing its dominance in financial services as Brexit played out, but this has certainly not been the case.

Covid-19 had little effect on the sector too. A 3% reduction in output, 2% of eligible staff furloughed – is negligible when compared to other industries such as hospitality.

The UK remains one of the biggest financial services markets in the sector globally, and there are many exciting opportunities there for ambitious Irish companies.

 

Areas of opportunity in the UK financial services market

“One of the biggest areas of opportunity is in technology, as the financial services industry in the UK is undergoing a rapid and wide-ranging modernisation cycle,” explains Jack Finucane Clarke, Senior Market Advisor, UK Financial Services/Fintech.

“This is partly driven by the pandemic as companies grapple with remote working, retaining or attracting good staff and partly driven by exponential operability offered by AI, natural language processing and API connections.

“This is great news for Ireland, as we have a strong reputation for innovative technology solutions, especially in fintech and cybersecurity.”

“The UK financial services industry is looking for a wide range of technology solutions including HR technology, compliance and regtech, payments, bionic underwriting in insurance, process optimisation and especially technology that can open up new revenue streams.”

Insurance is a sector that is really starting to embrace digitalisation. With more MGAs coming to the market that are entirely technology-based, there are plenty of opportunities.”

“Irish companies – such as CodeEast, who recently announced a partnership with WTW and Unitek, an early-stage company based out of Malahide – are getting lucrative deals in the space. The reputation of Irish insurtech is growing in the city, and we hope to see more entrepreneurs developing scalable solutions in the future.”

The growing influence of technology in financial services can be seen in the make-up of financial services boards of management. Previously, these boards were dominated by accountants, lawyers and bankers. Now, there is strong representation from experts in technology, often coming from other industries.

“This gives a strong indication of the way in which the industry is going,” says Jack.

“Technology companies should always be careful to focus on the ‘fin’ rather than the ‘tech’ to ensure the solutions are suitable for financial services.”

 

Remote working in the UK financial services market

According to Jack, remote working in the industry has also produced plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

“While remote working, project managing remotely, and communicating and selling remotely were considered ‘nice to haves’ before the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s now becoming clear that they are here to stay and are now considered essential to compete within the industry and to attract talent.”

“At Enterprise Ireland, we are working with financial services clients on adjusting their products and processes to suit remote selling.”

This is still an area with plenty of opportunities for Irish companies with innovative solutions.

 

Sustainability in the UK financial services market

Sustainability is also an important area for innovation,” Jack continues. “The market is ripe with opportunities for Irish businesses to take advantage of this development.”

At a number of recent events in the UK, Enterprise Ireland executives noted that this is a consistent topic of conversation among the most senior personnel in the industry.

“There is clearly a strong and increasingly urgent need for solutions in the areas of sustainability and environmental, social and corporate governance.”

 

Entering the UK financial services market

A growing trend – and one that underlines once again the growing importance of the market for Irish companies – is the move by some Irish companies to set up a presence in the UK.

This is generally done either to be regulated in the market or to keep a close proximity to their buyers. Most recently, Global Shares and CurrencyFair have established offices in the UK.

 

Contact Enterprise Ireland’s Jack Finucane Clarke to learn more about the opportunities for Irish companies in the UK financial services market.

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction industry – Tim Chapman, Arup

In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

In the fourth episode, Tim Chapman, Director of Infrastructure Design at Arup, speaks about what Arup is doing to lower its emissions, changes in the UK construction industry and how supply chain companies can get to the start line of the journey to net zero.

 

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector – Lara Young, Costain

In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

In the third episode, Lara Young, Group Climate Change Director at Costain, speaks about Costain’s climate ambitions, the journey to net zero in the construction sector and the role of the supply chain moving forward.

 

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK ports sector

Net Zero UK podcast – The UK ports sector – Lewis McIntyre, Peel Ports

In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

In the second episode, Lewis McIntyre, Managing Director of Port Services at Peel Ports, speaks about Peel Ports’ journey to net zero, the UK ports sector’s net zero ambitions and the role that the supply chain has to play as the sector works to reduce its emissions.