Industry Bulletin – Opportunities and  Risks in the UK Construction Industry

Download the report here.

The instinct to survive always trumps the need to adapt, at least in the first iteration. This is a primal and ungovernable force, and is as prevalent in corporations as it is in human nature. Notwithstanding, the widespread return to business in June, presents an opportunity for the industry to re-set our ambition; an opportunity to re-build in the image of the businesses we would like to be, ‘future ready’.

This Enterprise Ireland report has set out to identify and analyse key opportunities and risks in the UK Construction Industry as we emerge from the strictest lockdown measures in modern times.

Inside Innovation Show – Hibergene

Inside Innovation brings you the stories of Ireland’s leading innovators and changemakers. Across the series we will cover a whole range of topics from innovating in a crisis, to looking at the future of many business areas. We go behind the stories, to understand what drives these innovators and what the innovation success factors are, from capability building, to culture and leadership.

The podcast is hosted by innovation expert Aidan McCullen.

The second episode is part of a series ‘Innovating in a Crisis’. In a rapid response to Covid-19, Hibergene Diagnostics launched a new Covid-19 test, that delivers positive results in just 30 minutes. Gary Keating, CTO of Hibergene talks capability building, agility, speed and collaboration, all important factors in the company’s success in innovation.

Patrick Torrekens, Head of the Enterprise Ireland BeNeLux

Market Watch – Benelux

 

Overview

  • The BeNeLux countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) are working hard to return to normal business practise.

  • Health and safety remain a prime concern so remote working and virtual meetings will continue to be in place for some time to come.

  • Continued communication with clients is vital.

  • Opportunities are available in the biopharma, digital connectivity, and biotech sectors.

Like the rest of Europe, the BeNeLux countries are working hard to return to some level of normality after Covid-19. And Patrick Torrekens, Head of the Enterprise Ireland BeNeLux team, says despite the fact that remote working remains in place, business is beginning to pick up in the region.

“Just like many people across the world, I have been working from home for the past few months and here in the BeNeLux countries, remote working, particularly for the services industry, is still the recommended norm as part of the three countries’ re-entry strategy,” he says.

“However, more and more production facilities, construction sites, engineering plants and office buildings are gearing towards full capacity and the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam are fully operational with authorities doing everything to maintain the flow of goods in and out of the three countries.”

Torrekens says health and safety remain the prime concern and the necessary measures have been taken to ensure social distancing on the work floor, on public transport and in public places. While industry heads and Government are doing everything they can to get everything up and running once more.

“Things are not back to normal as yet, but the Dutch, Belgians and Luxemburgish, are keen to see business pick up again as quickly as possible,” he says. “When we are talking to buyers in our markets, we still hear that their focus is on adapting to the new reality on making their supply chain, and other critical processes, Covid compliant.

“So any solution which helps them to achieve Covid compliance gets their full attention and that is why it’s so important to stay closely connected to your clients as they are also turning to their existing client base for inspiration and support at the moment. But BeNeLux decision makers are not currently looking at new investment projects so expect a delay in the sales cycle, be patient and stay connected with your in-market contacts.”

But despite the delay in returning to normal, he says business is definitely moving in certain sectors and some markets remain buoyant.

“There are opportunities and exceptions to be found, particularly in the sectors of high relevance for trade with Ireland,” says Torrekens. “The BeNeLux region is a hot spot for pharma and biotech research and innovation and it is expected that multinationals such as Johnson and Johnson, with research facilities in the Antwerp region, will invest in new laboratories for vaccine production and other virus related research.

“So it is encouraging to see that some Irish companies are already preparing to play a part in this by strengthening their teams in markets.”

The past few months have clearly pointed at the strategic need for digital infrastructure and the Netherlands, in particular, is a frontrunner in digital connectivity and continues to invest in its infrastructure.

The Enterprise Ireland regional manager says communication is vital during these strange times, so Irish companies must do all they can to stay in touch with their clients.

“An interesting fact to mention is that the Netherlands has witnessed the highest global growth rate of virtual meetings held over digital platforms in the past weeks,” he says.
“So rest assured that if your contacts are not available for face to face meetings, they are definitely open, and accustomed, to online sessions. And please remember that the travel restrictions which are currently in place in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg should not prevent you from reaching out to existing clients and new prospects.

“Finally Belgians and Dutch and Luxemburgish people have massively turned to online commerce and businesses have adapted their sales channels to accommodate this. This has given an extra boost to businesses in IT, and professional service but also in transport and logistics.

“Ultimately, your solution will stand out if you have a strong value proposition which gives you a good chance to win more business in this region. And our teams stand ready to support you with advice and hands on support, so do get in touch, virtually for now, but hopefully face to face soon.”

Get key insights on doing business in BeNeLux and the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

Garrett Murray

Horizon 2020 – An unmissable opportunity for ambitious Irish innovators

Significant levels of grant support and equity investment are up for grabs under the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot, and Ireland’s recent success shows that Irish companies have what it takes to win.

The EIC Accelerator Pilot supports high risk, high potential SMEs and innovators to help them develop and bring to market innovative products, services and business models that could drive economic growth.

In the most recent call, eight Irish companies secured a total of more than €31m placing Ireland second, jointly with France and Denmark, in terms of the number of companies awarded funding.

“The March call results have been particularly good for Irish companies,” says Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland. “The success is a testament to the research and innovation capability of Irish companies and the vibrancy of our high potential start-up and commercialisation eco-system.”

Among the successful Irish companies were five whose innovations related to coronavirus. One of these, Aquila Bioscience, has developed revolutionary decontamination technology that helps protect people from dangerous pathogens and other viral infections.

“We are delighted to receive funding from EIC which allows us to substantially scale up production and deliver this technology more quickly to workers in Ireland and across the globe,” says Lokesh Joshi.

 

Support for applicants

With multiple EIC calls during the year there are ongoing opportunities for companies to pitch for a slice of the lucrative support, but, says Murray, it’s important for companies to realise that it is a very competitive process.

“We recommend that companies considering applying for EIC Accelerator support contact Enterprise Ireland first. Our team of National Contact Points are experts on the programme and work with companies to bring them through the process step by step including reviewing drafts of their application before submission.

“Applicants need to think clearly about how they are going to articulate three things in their application: the excellence of their innovation; how their product or service is going to impact in the market; and how they are going to implement their strategy to scale their business. These are the three major criteria on which the applications are judged,” explains Murray.

If companies are successful at stage 1 they are called to interview in Brussels (currently via digital communications).

“Our team do mock interviews with the companies, putting them through their paces in exactly the same way as they will experience in Brussels, to give them the opportunity to refine their pitch.”

Companies can apply for grant support only, a mix of grant and equity, or initially a grant with the option for later discussion with the Commission in relation to equity.

“We always advise ambitious companies to seriously consider applying for equity particularly in the current environment where the availability of venture capital is reduced,” says Murray. “Getting equity from the Commission provides leverage to get more private sector funding.”

 

More than financial support

As well as financial support, successful EIC Accelerator applicants get coaching and mentoring, provided through the Enterprise Ireland team.

“The Commission regards that as a very important part of the process. It’s not just about awarding a grant or investing by way of equity but also helping companies develop their strategy.”

Kite Medical was awarded a grant in the most recent call. The company has developed a system for the detection of kidney reflux.

“This funding from the European Commission will allow Kite Medical to further develop the KITE system to progress into a clinical study. The funding will also support an additional six jobs at the company and establish our market launch strategy. The project outcomes will facilitate fund raising to support our commercialisation plan,” says Joan Fitzpatrick, Kite Medical’s CEO.

 

Future calls

There continues to be many opportunities for Irish enterprises and researchers under the EIC and across the Horizon 2020 Programme, including calls for proposals under the European Green Deal, worth around €1bn that will be issued in the autumn.

The next EIC Accelerator call for applications will be in October and will have a focus on female entrepreneurship where, should the first-round evaluation show that a minimum of 25 per cent of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will be planned.

“We are particularly encouraging female-led companies to apply for the call in October. There are a lot of great female entrepreneurs in Ireland and this is a great opportunity for female-led companies to get additional funding,” says Murray.

SMEs of all sizes are eligible to apply for EIC Accelerator funding including start-ups, which tend to form the majority of applicants.

“There’s no disadvantage to being a very small company. The Commission considers how quickly a company is going to scale and whether EIC support will help accelerate that and get the innovation to market faster,” says Murray. 

“The only disadvantage that companies can have is if they’re not ambitious enough.”

 

For more information about support under Horizon 2020 please contact h2020support@enterprise-ireland.com

 

 

How the CSF supported PeachyLean’s growth

“The Competitive Start Fund enabled PeachyLean to make a significant hire and provided the strategy required to support our growth into new markets.

Sharon Keegan, Founder and CEO PeachyLean 

1. Describe your business

PeachyLean is an award-winning shapewear and active wear business instilling support, shape and confidence to women all around the world.

 

2. How did getting the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) progress your business?

CSF enabled me to make a significant hire within the Peachylean team as well as providing us with the mentoring and support, both from Enterprise Ireland and Innovate Dublin BIC, which has given our team the confidence and strategy for growth and scale into new markets.

 

3. What are your top tips to other businesses interested in applying for the CSF?

  • Take your time and use the application process to take a good look at your strategy for scale.
  • Research the cost implications around your plan and ask for advice from any previous CSF candidates.
  • Take feedback on applications as great advice and understand that if you’re not successful first time around there is always room for growth and progression.
  • Believe in yourself and keep going!

 

4. What are the next steps for PeachyLean?

This year we launch our new innovation in shapewear, working alongside our new distribution partners we will launch into the UK market. We continue to meet and work towards strategic partners in the US and South American Markets.

Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs opens on 7th July 2020 – See other founders discuss CSF or Click here to apply

    Padraig Neylon, CEO AddJust

    AddJust – Creating solutions for the construction sector

    “Getting the Competitive Start Fund gave AddJust the validation needed to support our growth trajectory.

    Pádraig Neylon, Co-Founder and CEO, AddJust

    1. Describe your business

    AddJust is a contract and financial management platform helping the construction industry to streamline its communications, payments, budget management and change requests.

     

    2. How did getting the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) progress your business?

    Being backed by Enterprise Ireland’s CSF gave AddJust the validation that helped us when introducing our service to public sector and established private sector clients.

     

    3. What are your top tips to other businesses interested in applying for the CSF?

    My advice would be to carefully plan how the CSF investment will progress your business and ensure you get to the next stage.

     

    4. What are the next steps for AddJust?

    The next step for AddJust is accelerating our growth across public sector and large scale clients.

     

    Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund – All Sectors opens on 7th July 2020 – See other founders discuss CSF or Click here to apply

       

      Wendy Oke, CEO TeachKloud

      TeachKloud – Enabling educators with support from the CSF

      “Getting the Competitive Start Fund helped TeachKloud to upgrade our product, hire key personnel and raise further funding.”

      Wendy Oke, Founder and CEO TeachKloud.

      1. Describe your business

      The TeachKloud Early Learning Management System is a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution accessible using internet browsers from any location, that enables educators to streamline all aspects related to managing their business, comply with regulations and communicate with parents.

       

      2. How did getting the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) progress your business?

      Getting CSF helped the team at TeachKloud upgrade the product, hire key personnel, onboard staff and raise further funding.

       

      3. What are your top tips to other businesses interested in applying for the CSF?

      Get in contact with Enterprise Ireland as soon as possible, they are incredibly helpful and will guide you through the process. That may be giving you advice on developing a solid plan, talking to customers or just on how to submit your CSF application.

       

      4. What are the next steps for TeachKloud?

      TeachKloud is hyper-focused on product development to ensure customer success, team growth and scaling into the UK market over the next six months.

       

      Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund – All Sectors opens on 7th July 2020 – See other founders discuss CSF or Click here to apply

         

        Ciara O'Toole, Country Manager, Italy

        Market Watch – Italy

        Overview

        • Italy was severely impacted by Covid-19 and had no protocol to follow as it was the first to experience a total lockdown.

        • It has started to recover and has begun to open up its borders

        • Construction sites are open and medical device companies are in production mode.

        • Opportunities are also available in the health, ICT agriculture and energy sectors.

          Europe and the rest of the world watched in horror as Italy succumbed to the ravages of Covid-19 and tried to figure out a way to keep its citizens safe and its economy from collapse.

          And while the effects of the pandemic definitely left its mark on the country, it has started to open up and the recovery plan has been put into action.

          Country manager, Ciara O’Toole says it was a very difficult period for Italy, but the situation now seems to be under control and while there are still some challenges ahead, plans are underway to open up the country in stages.

          “Italy was the original global epicentre of the pandemic and it quickly became a country of unwelcome firsts,” she says. “As Italians saw the healthcare emergency escalate, they also had to process the shock of being the first country in the world to be put on a full lockdown.

          “There was no frame of reference to follow so Italy quickly became the global frame of reference. However, after a couple of months of hardship, it is now preparing to open its borders to the rest of Europe and from June 3rd, entry into Europe from the countries of the European Union, including countries in the Schengen region and Switzerland, will be permissible without a two week quarantine.

          “And the plan is to open borders fully to global travel from 15th of June with flight and medical protocols in place.”

          O’Toole, who is responsible for leading the Milan based Enterprise Ireland team to support sales activities for Irish companies in Italy, says although the country is still working within in some restrictions, it is beginning to open up and there are opportunities to be had.

          “Remote working will remain in place in the country for the foreseeable future across sectors which have this possibility,” she says. “But with respect to logistics, the supply chain to Italy was not severely interrupted.”

          “Construction sites have been open since early May and medical device companies are back to work. Tourism is also starting to open up, including in the hard hit north and airlines are returning to flight with medical protocols being adapted by EU airlines.”

          “Also the ecommerce sector is extremely active and there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon in various sectors including construction, health, ICT agriculture and energy.”

          Like the rest of the world, remote working is still on the agenda for the foreseeable future, but O’Toole says there is plenty of business happening in Italy and things will continue to improve in the coming weeks and months.

          “Virtual client meetings are the modus operandi at the moment which will ensure progression of business,” she says. “But we have had many positive news stories in recent weeks from client companies.”

          “Italy is a world leader in the construction of major infrastructures, and it is home to leading aerospace technologies as well as being a leading producer in many significant global sectors.”

          “So, although the country has endured a lot of trauma in the last few months, it is a resilient nation with an indomitable spirit and while commerce has undoubtedly been interrupted, there is a real determination to get back to business.”

          Get key insights on doing business in Italy and the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

          Inside Innovation Show – Combilift

          Inside Innovation brings you the stories of Ireland’s leading innovators and changemakers. Across the series we will cover a whole range of topics from innovating in a crisis, to looking at the future of many business areas. We go behind the stories, to understand what drives these innovators and what the innovation success factors are, from capability building, to culture and leadership.

          The podcast is hosted by innovation expert Aidan McCullen.

          Episode 1 – Interview with Martin McVicar, CEO & Founder of Combilift

          The first episode is part of a series ‘Innovating in a Crisis’. An Irish innovator who innovated in the Covid-19 crisis is CEO and Founder of Combilift, Martin McVicar. The Irish engineering firm leveraged the innovation skills that make it a world leader in forklift trucks, to solve a global shortage of the ventilators required to fight Covid-19.

          Market Watch Industry Bulletin – Automotive

          The spread of the coronavirus led to an unprecedented collapse of many important car markets in terms of producers, their suppliers and the distribution channels across the globe . Work came to a standstill in almost all countries. But as severe as the slump was initially, the return of production is currently giving the industry hope. A large number of vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers were able to resume operations, albeit only to a limited extent. In addition, stabilization strategies and aid packages have been developed in recent months.

          In this latest industry bulletin, Enterprise Ireland has primarily surveyed leading market experts and industry leaders, and collected their views, gathering specific recommendations for companies, to stabilize, reset and recover from the current situation.

          Read the full report here.

          Industry Bulletin – Agritech & Machinery Dealership view


          Reporting from across world markets, Enterprise Ireland’s Agritech Market Advisors have compiled this buyer sentiment update consisting of case studies from importers, distributors and leading dealerships of agricultural equipment.

          As part of our Market Watch series, we have interviewed 23 companies to provide first-hand updates of the situation on the ground in key regions across the world.

          Read the full report.

          Resetting your business model

          Resetting your business model in response to Covid-19

          In preparing for tomorrow’s world, businesses need to reset their business model to remain relevant to their customers in the new environment

          The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world and transformed the environment and operating rules for business. Last year’s winning formulas have become failed propositions almost overnight, and many of yesterday’s compelling products and services are obsolete in the context of tomorrow’s needs.

          This requires businesses to take a long, hard look at their business models in order to remain relevant to their customers in the new environment. They will need to reassess what they sell, who they sell it to, and how they make money from that. They will also have to examine why people buy from them and how that translates into profitability.

          According to Business Financial Consultant Brendan Binchy, companies need to focus on four key areas when seeking to reset their business models:

          • Their current product offering and how can it be developed, changed, or delivered differently
          • Who their customers will be in future, both current and new, and if there is a need to drop some existing ones
          • The reasons customers buy from them, their new value proposition, and how they will do something unique; and
          • How they will make money – lower input costs, production efficiencies, premium price or volume increases.

          When looking at the product offering, Binchy advises companies to ask the hard questions. “Have you got any inherent future proofing protection for your product or service? What is unique about it? What is its lifecycle in the market? How much of your revenue is dependent on it? What are most profitable products?”

          The answers to these questions will help decide what products to retain or drop, as well as inform new product development efforts.

          Customers should be subject to a similar analysis, he advises. “Who uses your products? What are their demographics? Who are your most profitable customers? Where are they? What defines your ideal customer and where can you find more of them? Why are you still dealing with unprofitable customers?”

          This will assist in defining target customers. “Businesses should categorise customers into groups according to their profitability and different attributes, and then select which ones they want to deal with in future. This may lead them to stop dealing with some of them. Companies shouldn’t be afraid to fire customers who don’t value what you do.”

          The next step is to establish why these customers will buy from the business. “Go out and ask your customers,” Binchy advises. “Bring them in and talk to them about it. Find out the defining attributes of your most important customers and find ways of meeting their expectations. This will help you pick the right people to work for; people who value what you do. If a multinational has been buying from you for the past 10 years, you must be doing something right. Find out what that is and build on it.”

          Making money is the other and perhaps most critically important part of the jigsaw. This will require the business to look at the key business model drivers of products and services, marketing and sales, and finance, in terms of profitability, cashflow and return on investment. “They are the what, the who and the how of the business model,” Binchy explains. 

          “The enablers are your people and systems and processes that support the business. You can’t grow a business without all three drivers, being robust and in balance with each other. You can have great customers and products, but you won’t have a business if you’re not making money.” says Binchy

          An analysis of those drivers, along with the enablers, will give you a clear view of the revenue and cost bases of the business, and will help identify how the pathway to profitability can be bridged. “A business might look at reducing materials, labour or other operational costs. It can also look at production efficiencies or seek to increase prices if it can be positioned in a premium segment of the market.”

          The remaining question is how to finance the transition between the old and the reset business models. “The money and support are there to help companies bridge between the two. We just have to hope the transition period between them is going to be as short as possible,” Binchy adds. “The Enterprise Ireland Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant is there to help businesses start the journey. It offers a 100% grant up to the value of €5,000 to fund the cost of a financial consultant to prepare a financial plan that shows exactly how the company intends to reset and adapt its business model as it emerges from lockdown. The Lean Business Continuity scheme offers vouchers worth up to €2,500 to fund the cost of training and advisory services.”

          He points to the €450 million Covid-19 Working Capital Loan scheme and the €200 million Future Growth Loan Scheme available through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland as potential sources of loan finance for companies.

          In addition, there are the Enterprise Ireland Sustaining Enterprise Funds which offer funding up to €800,000 to fund the implementation of stabilisation and viability plans. Smaller businesses can also apply for funding of up to €25,000 or €50,000, depending on the size of the business.

          Both schemes feature repayment moratoriums for the first three years, a very important consideration according to Binchy. “That is very attractive when the company doesn’t have repayment capacity for the moment. They can’t go to the banks if they are in that position. Businesses have to dance very carefully when seeking funding, and these schemes certainly help with that.”

          Learn more about the Enterprise Ireland supports available in our Accessing Liquidity & Managing Cashflow webinar