Offshore Wind

Offshore wind offers fertile market for Irish firms in Germany, France and Italy

Summary

  • EU member states are united in the push for a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, which requires huge investment in clean energy such as offshore wind.
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the offshore wind market in:

Renewable energy is the single most critical factor for Europe when it comes to achieving its Green Deal zero carbon target by 2050. While climate change has provided huge impetus for the sector, the war in Ukraine has underscored the

importance of independent, safe, reliable, affordable sources of energy.

Offshore wind is a key and growing element in the drive for carbon neutrality and energy security. Wind already meets 15% of Europe’s electricity demand, according to Wind Europe, and that figure should  top 50% by 2050. It’s already as high as 31% in Ireland and 44% in Denmark.

Most existing wind capacity is onshore, but governments and industry across Europe are now investing billions to develop and expedite scores of offshore wind projects, which are seen as key to large-scale renewable electricity  generation in future.

Furthermore, the European Union is pushing for smart, green innovation and development across Europe through the €806.9 billion Recovery and Resiliency Facility (RRF). Distributed through national plans, this funding aims to help Europe recover from the pandemic and future-proof its economy and society, with sustainable, clean energy a key goal.

An unmissable opportunity for Irish companies

The huge surge in planning and construction in the industry is causing massive demand, serious supply chain bottlenecks and skills shortages. Furthermore, port infrastructure across the region needs upgrading to facilitate the transport, storage and preassembly of the huge components needed to build offshore wind farms.

While challenging for the sector, these issues mean there are significant opportunities for Irish firms with digital, engineering and marine expertise.

“The large developers, Tier 1 contractors and OEMs in offshore wind are looking for innovation, sustainable solutions, flexibility and a strong safety culture,” says Liam Curran, Senior Technologist with Enterprise Ireland. “Irish companies can find opportunities across the windfarm lifecycle, from initial feasibility studies and planning applications right through to construction/installation and subsequent operation and maintenance over decades.

How to support the offshore wind sector

Curran says companies should seek to offer services or solutions that maximise efficiency and safety or cut costs or risk. Being open to collaboration is critical, as these  complex projects involve multiple stakeholders.

Enterprise Ireland sees particular opportunity for Ireland and Irish firms to lead when it comes to digital and data services. “The further projects go offshore, the more vital high-tech solutions become,” he explains.

“We want everyone involved in offshore wind in Europe to know the Irish are the people to go to when IoT, connectivity, communication systems or cyber security is needed,” he said, “and we want Irish firms with expertise in these areas to consider developing an offering for offshore wind if they haven’t already.”

In particular, the industry has significant need for support in the following areas:

  • data collection and analysis
  • cybersecurity
  • remote condition monitoring
  • telecoms and connectivity
  • artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT (internet of things)
  • automation and robotics.

He adds that offshore wind also offers clear opportunities for:

  • engineering companies
  • contractors experienced in oil, gas, electricity and civil projects.
  • specialists in energy infrastructure, power generation and grid management
  • marine and ports services companies.

Irish firms already leading the way

Many Irish companies already service the offshore wind market. These include Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions, for example, a specialist offshore and marine engineering firm operating in 15 international markets, high tech surveying companies such as XOCEAN and Green Rebel Marine, and marine services specialists such as Alpha Marine and Fastnet Marine.

Digital and connectivity specialists meeting the needs of offshore wind clients in Ireland and overseas include Vilicom, Druid Software, TechWorks Marine, BrightWind Analysis, Exceedence and EMR Integrated Solutions.

Other firms such as Combilift and Qubus Systems are also catering to the offshore wind sector in Europe.

Take the first steps

Companies keen to join the offshore wind supply chain should first work to get up (and stay up) to speed on market intelligence. Attend industry events to build both knowledge and networks, and consider joining clusters such as the Gael Offshore Network. This is a cluster of more than 85  Irish companies with relevant digital, engineering and other expertise.

Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of offices across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin can support you as you examine the offshore wind opportunity. This can include help with market research, market visits, making local introductions and tendering.

Market snapshots

France

Having been slow to start, France is strongly committed to offshore wind and offers a welcoming market for Irish specialist firms.

The offshore wind market in France

France has huge potential for offshore wind, given it has a maritime zone of 11m km2 and the second largest wind resource in the Europe after the UK. Furthermore, the French government is strongly committed to this form of energy, given the war in Ukraine and its national goal for carbon neutrality by 2050.

France is planning to operate 40GW of offshore wind turbines by 2050, with 18GW slated to be in operation by 2035 and 2GW of offshore attributed per year, from 2025 onwards. Most of this will be concentrated on the Atlantic coast.

Four wind farms are under currently under construction, with three other contracts awarded and five projects beginning or undergoing a tender process, including 750 MW of floating windfarms. While development has been slow in the past, all projects in that pipeline are expected to be completed within 10-12 years.

Three pilot floating windfarms in French waters are among the first seven floating windfarms in the world.

France’s multi-annual energy plan (2019-2028) includes its energy policy priorities, and another plan is in the works that will cover the period up to 2033. It is also updating its planning processes and marine and coastal strategy to reflect its ambitious offshore wind plans.

Understand the offshore wind opportunity in France

As Ireland’s nearest EU neighbour, France is an obvious and welcoming option for companies looking to diversify into Europe. Ireland is seen there as a strong player in the marine sector.

France and Ireland are already co-operating on the energy front with advanced plans for the Celtic Interconnector, a submarine power cable between Cork and Roscoff. Ireland’s first interconnector with mainland Europe, it will connect the electricity grids of both countries.

Enterprise Ireland has also been running market economic visits to French ports such as Brest, St Malo and Roscoff, for Irish firms to meet potential local partners and understand the local landscape.

Across the offshore value chain, from site assessment through to operations and maintenance, Irish firms will find opportunity in France. This is especially true for areas such as:

  • Marine services
  • Geotechnical and geophysical monitoring
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Consultation, planning and advisory, including financial consulting
  • Developing ports and other infrastructure
  • Digitalisation of ports and other services
  • Addressing the significant dearth of data around some maritime areas and the impact of windfarms on local ecosystems, tourism, shipping, fishing and aquaculture
  • Installation security, especially given France’s large maritime zone and current geopolitical risks

Selling into France

Irish companies need time and patience to engage with the long tendering cycle, but this also means there are strong opportunities now to discover the market and tender successfully for upcoming projects. Approached correctly, France can be a significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.

Key players in the market include:

  • RTE [transmission system operator (TSO)]
  • France Énergie Éolienne (industry association)
  • Ministère de la Transition Écologique and Ministère de la Mare (government departments)
  • EDF Renewables (Global leader in renewable energy)
  • Main Developer firms ENGIE, Iberdrola, WPD Energy, EOLFI, Total and QAIR
  • Blade and Cable Manufacturers such as Siemens and Prysmian
  • Construction contractors, including Eiffage and Bouygues, Navantia.
  • Technology developers such as SBM Offshore, BW Ideol, and Principal Power.

Top tip

Being part of a local, on-the-ground network is important in the French market. It’s vital to have a sense of local adoption and to have a local partner to support with tendering and market integration. Bear in mind that Tier 1 and OEMs typically require suppliers to be pre-approved.

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Germany

Within eight years, Germany has become a global leader in offshore wind and welcomes collaboration and partnership with innovative suppliers.

The offshore wind market in Germany

While Germany is now the second largest market for offshore wind in Europe after the UK, this is a recent development as it had no commercial-scale projects until 2014.

It now has 27 operational offshore wind energy projects and installed offshore capacity of almost 8GW in the German Baltic and North Seas, and has ambitious growth targets of 30GW by 2030, 40GW by 2035 and 70GW by 2045.

The government is accelerating the expansion of its renewable energy production to achieve climate goals and to reduce dependence on Russian energy. There are six more offshore wind projects either in construction or due to start between 2022 and 2024.

Many in the industry have criticised Germany’s recent amendment of the Wind Energy at Sea Act, however, as they are concerned the revised tender process could ultimately lead to higher energy costs for consumers and businesses.

Understand the offshore wind opportunity in Germany

Of Germany’s total €28 billion national Recovery and Resilience Plan or Deutscher Aufbau- und Resilienzplan (DARP), 42% has been allocated to support climate objectives.

Germany sees green hydrogen, which is produced from wind energy, as a key route to decarbonisation. This recently led to the establishment of the German-Irish Hydrogen Council, which is expected to open up a new era of energy co-operation between the two countries.

Among the key market stakeholders in Germany are:

  • Deutsche WindGuard (service provider which publishes development statistics)
  • Industry associations such as Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE), Bundesverband der Windparkbetreiber Offshore (BWO), WAB and OWIA (Offshore-Wind-Industrie-Allianz)
  • Stiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE (non-partisan industry foundation)
  • VDMA Power Systems (trade association)

Selling into Germany

At a minimum, you’ll find a strong local partner to help you with language skills and making the most of their existing relationships on the ground.

German business culture is usually risk-averse and new entrants need to show strong commitment to the market. Networking and getting involved with local trade associations is also vital, as these are strong in Germany and influential in this sector.

It’s also crucial to be fully aware of and compliant with Germany legislation and any processes and regulations relating to state bodies operating in the sector.

Top tip

Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and regular visits to the market will mean you can take advantage of the long-lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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Italy

Italy has been relatively slow to develop offshore wind, but interest is growing rapidly in the market, with urgent geopolitical and climate reasons to drive action.

The offshore wind market in Italy

Italy not only wants to become carbon neutral by 2050, but is also keen to accelerate this work to address energy sovereignty issues. Up to now, Russia has supplied 40% of Italy’s gas, representing 16% of its total energy needs, with Algeria supplying 29% of its gas.

Change is afoot. The government is prioritising the integration and management of renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid digitalisation and storage systems. Moreover, the national renewable energy development plan (PNIEC) aims to power 55% of national electricity consumption from renewable sources in 2030, up from 39% in 2022.

Onshore wind produces 5% of Italy’s energy, but a lack of space on land and the absence of sites suitable for fixed-bottom wind mean there’s an increasing focus on floating offshore wind. Italy aims to increase wind power from the current 10.5 GW to 18.4 GW by 2030, with 900MW slated to come from offshore.

Despite this relatively low target for offshore wind, there is strong developer interest in the market. At the moment, only the 30MW fixed-bottom site at Taranto is operating, but Terna (Italy’s TSO) saw 39 grid connection applications for offshore wind in 2021.

Understand the offshore wind opportunity in Italy

Italy’s strategic maritime location and long coastline offers strong potential for offshore wind. This is especially true in the south, and around Sicily and Sardinia, where wind speeds are higher,

Within Italy’s €191 billion National Resilience and Recovery Plan or Piano Nazionale di Represa e Resilienza (PNRR), which is funded by the EU, €59.46 billion is devoted to the circular economy and introducing green initiatives. The government is adding a further €30 billion in grants.

Furthermore, the PNRR also includes significant commitments around infrastructure with:

  • A commitment to reform and simplify the planning process for both onshore and offshore sites
  • €31bn allocated to upgrade railways and ports

The lack of developed supply chain in Italy offers significant opportunity for Irish companies, but they will have to contend with challenges in the market. These include complex RFPs, bureaucracy and planning processes, along with local competition and local objections.

Key stakeholders include:

  • Terna (TSO)
  • Elettricità Futura (National Association for organizations in the energy sector)
  • ANEV (Italian National Wind Energy Association)
  • ERG (Italy’s leading wind energy producer)
  • WEMES (R&D Association for OSW)
  • Eni (Italian energy multinational)
  • Renexia (renewable energy firm)

Irish firms will find opportunity in Italy around:

  • Surveying for the feasability and development stages
  • Supporting the upgrade of ports and other infrastructure
  • Digitalisation and smart energy solutions

Operations and maintenance.

Selling into Italy

Take your time and be prepared. Invest in validating the market opportunity and building the right market entry strategy. Italian customers value strong relationships so it is worth spending time investing in building your network.

Irish firms typically find it useful to have a strong local partner in this competitive market, as this can help shorten the sales cycle, deal with the language barrier and navigate local bureaucracy.

Top tip

Direct relationships matter. Invest time in coming to the market and meeting your counterparts in person.

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medical devices

Irish medical devices firms look to crucial Italian market

For the medical devices industry, there are few places on the planet as important as the Mirandola Biomedical District. North of the Italian city of Modena in the Emilia Romagna region, Mirandola is home to a significant cluster of more than 300 related companies.

In fact, it’s the largest biomedical district in Europe and third in the world after Minneapolis and Los Angeles in the United States, making it an incredibly important and fertile market for Irish medical device and medical technology (medtech) businesses.

Italy is also the third largest market for medical equipment in the EU, after Germany and France.

Irish firms bringing innovation to Italy

In September, 12 Irish medtech companies visited Mirandola to meet local business leaders as part of an Enterprise Ireland trade delegation aimed at driving further trade and collaboration.

This visit was incredibly valuable in bilateral terms, explains Alessio Nori is Senior Market Adviser, Life Sciences, Enterprise Ireland.

“Ireland is also of strategic importance in this sector,” he says, “as it is one of the top five global medtech hubs, along with Massachusetts, Minnesota, California and Israel. This was an ideal opportunity for Irish firms to showcase their innovative products and solutions to Italian buyers.”

During the visit, the Irish companies participated in more than 40 meetings with representatives of 16 Italian companies. “This proved an incredibly useful and significant opportunity for the Enterprise Ireland client companies who participated in the visit,” says Alessio.

The group also made site visits to some of the most important medical device manufacturers in the Emilia-Romagna region.

Among these visits was a factory tour of Orthofix, a US orthopaedics company which has a significant presence in Italy.

Marking the strategic importance of the trade visit, the Ambassador of Ireland to Italy, Patricia O’Brien, hosted a gala dinner for C-level Irish and Italian medical devices executives while the Irish delegation was in Italy.

Irish export confidence remains high

Despite the challenging economic environment, there was a buoyancy among our client companies about future business sentiment and optimism.

 

Nine-in-ten (91%) said they expect their exports to increase next year. Almost two-thirds (59%) said their export sales have increased so far this year when compared to last year, and almost one-third (32%) said they have remained stable.

 

Most of the exporters we surveyed (84%) plan to enter new markets in 2023, with North America highest on the list, followed by Europe and the UK. Two thirds (62%) of those planning to enter new markets told us that expanding their overseas market presence is their biggest priority for the next year.

A crucial, cutting-edge Italian cluster

Mirandola created €1.6bn in added value for the Italian economy in 2020. Companies in the cluster specialise in disposable plastic products for medical and healthcare use.

They are also looking ahead, and investing in regenerative medicine, for example. This looks to break down the boundaries between biomedical and pharma, medical devices and therapies.

This signposts particular opportunity for Irish firms. There are about 450 medtech, and medtech-related, companies in Ireland.

They design and produce products across a swathe of medicine and healthcare, including infusion solutions, haemodialysis, anaesthesia, continuous renal replacement therapies, cardiovascular and more.

“About 60 percent of these are Irish firms, with the remainder being multinationals,” explains Conor Byrne, Market Executive at Enterprise Ireland. “Many of the local companies are young, start-up companies that are developing advanced innovative medical technologies for global markets.”

Sales from these businesses account for about €2.1bn of the almost €13bn in annual exports of medical technologies from Ireland.

Medical Devices sector vital to Ireland and globally

Overall, the medical devices sector employs more than 40,000 people in Ireland and companies here lead the way on multiple fronts.

Firms located in Ireland manufacture 80pc of cardiovascular stents used globally, along with 75pc of knee implants, 50pc of ventilators used in acute hospital wards and 25pc of injection devices for diabetics.

“Site visits such as those during our recent trade event in Italy are vitally important for Irish companies to understand the needs of Italian companies,” explains Alessio. “They allow these businesses to discover how they might tailor their offerings to enable them to enter or grow within the Italian market. That in turn boosts their international expansion efforts.”

Appreciate the long-term opportunity

While the sales cycle can be long in this sector, it’s worth bearing in mind that medical device companies typically develop stable products that remain on the market for a decade or more, and rely on a strong, stable supply chain to keep products flowing to the market.

That means once companies are approved as suppliers, they typically enjoy long-standing relationships, often getting orders spanning five to 10 years.

Enterprise Ireland client companies interested in exporting into the Italian medical devices sector should contact the Enterprise Ireland office in Milan, which has extensive connections in Mirandola and beyond.

Whether you need to connect with decision-makers in production, or insights around logistics or any other department, Enterprise Ireland can offer support and help make the introductions you need.

 

Learn more about exporting to Italy and gain valuable market insights here.

Discover more about Ireland’s life sciences and medical devices sector here.

 

 

 

 

exports

German-speaking countries a valuable market for Irish firms

These days, Ireland is thriving when it comes to exports. In 2021, Irish exports topped €29 billion and included everything from high-tech construction solutions to industry-leading dairy products. It wasn’t always like that, however.

 

When Enterprise Ireland’s predecessor, Corás Tráchtála, first opened an office in Dusseldorf in 1962, live cattle and sewing machines were Ireland’s main exports to Germany with total exports amounting to £5m in Irish punts.

 

As the office marks its 60th anniversary in 2022, things have changed somewhat. Indigenous Irish companies exported almost €2 billion to the German-speaking region of which €1.4 billion went to Germany in 2021, despite the pandemic.

 

“This German result represented an increase of 17% on the previous year and was driven primarily by sales in high-tech construction, ICT, life sciences and industrial products and services,” says Manus Rooney, Germany/Austria/Switzerland Country Manager, Enterprise Ireland.

 

“We have really seen an incredible performance by Irish companies in Germany in the past 12 to 18 months, particularly given the pandemic and supply chain issues.”

German customers prize innovation

In large part, that is due to the highly innovative products and services on offer from Irish firms. German customers appreciate and put value on innovation, so are willing to pay for it. This approach, combined with the size of the German market, makes it a stable, resilient and reliable place to do business.

 

Among the Irish firms thriving in Germany are medical device firm Aerogen, in-car connectivity leaders Cubic Telecom and the food ordering software company Flipdish, along with Ireland’s Eye knitwear and EI Electronics, a market leader in smoke alarms here.

 

“Not only are Irish firms doing great business in Germany, but they employ approximately 30,000 people there, showing that Irish firms are not just exporting to this market, but also creating true partnership and value here,” says Rooney.

European funding offers a further boost

Of course, the skyrocketing success of Irish exporters in Germany over recent decades is also due to the dismantling of trade barriers. Back in 1962, ambitious Irish firms had to contend with import quotas and currency risks, whereas free trade and a shared currency has eased cross-border sales.

 

The EU is also enabling even further opportunity across Europe with its €750 billion NextGenerationEU plan, which seeks to build a more resilient Europe.

 

Making use of its share of this funding, Germany has committed €25.6 billion in grants for recovery and resilience projects, with 42 percent going to climate initiatives and 52 percent funding digital transformation. It is funding the digitalisation of hospitals to the tune of €3 billion, for example.

 

“Irish companies can directly and indirectly access this funding, by tendering directly for projects, by partnering with German companies or by supplying German companies that are carrying out funded projects,” says Rooney. “This is really an exceptional opportunity.”

Construction firms look to Germany

There is also significant opportunity for Irish firms in Germany when it comes to high-tech construction, such as that of pharmaceutical facilities and data centres, especially when it comes to specialisms such as energy management, design and planning services, and construction.

 

Ireland has huge expertise and reputation in this area and our track record offers the chance to be involved in large German capital projects. Intel, for example, is investing €17 billion in the construction of a new plant in Magdeburg, which is set to get underway in 2023.

Understand the Germany market

Companies that take a strategic approach and spend time to research a market are more likely to thrive as exporters, says Rooney.

 

Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales, however, he adds. German customers like to deal with suppliers who are committed to the market, which means staff with German-language skills and cultural appreciation, regular visits and a physical presence if possible.

 

While sales cycles can be long, the process is worthwhile given the opportunity of long-term value offered to those selling into Germany.

 

“Remember that Germany is an export champion,” says Rooney, “so exports to Germany mean global exports.”

Consider Austria and Switzerland

Enterprise Ireland’s office in Germany covers the German-speaking region, which includes Austria and Switzerland, markets which have their own particular characteristics.

 

Many of those have found Switzerland an excellent export market, both in its own right and to act as a springboard into Germany. Swiss clients are more likely to look externally for suppliers initially and Irish companies have built a strong reputation there for quality, reliability and value, especially in ICT, engineering and life sciences.

 

“That credibility then stands to Irish firms when they seek to expand in the other German-speaking markets,” explains Rooney.

 

“Austria, meanwhile, provides specific opportunities in certain industrial sectors and construction,” he adds. “Overall, the region offers a number of options and routes to start or scale your export business.”

Data Centres

Data Centres in Southern Europe: significant growth means great opportunities for Irish construction companies

 

Ireland has been a major destination for data centre development since the 90s, when US tech giants all started to base their data centres on the island, attracted by skilled workforce, climate, advanced infrastructure, and a low tax rate. This also created a platform for Irish construction companies to work on major data centre projects both domestically and abroad.

 

All European markets have experienced a boom in data centre ventures. Today this is particularly apparent in Spain and Italy, with both Madrid and Milan fast becoming major destinations in Europe for the development of data centres.

 

“Milan and Madrid have been considered part of the so-called European data centre secondary market, but nowadays this definition should be considered somehow dated, due to the faster growth in terms of capacity of these two markets compared the FLAP-D (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, and Dublin)”, says Roberto Bettuzzi, Senior Market Advisor, Italy, at Enterprise Ireland. “It’s also worth noting that the two markets are complementing each other rather than competing”.

 

Growth in Spain

Currently, there are 80 active data centres in Spain, with a total of 113MW. The largest area of capacity is in Madrid and its surrounds; and current pipeline predicts capacity to increase fivefold across 14 projects. Barcelona is also experiencing growth in the sector, with projects totalling 110MW capacity in the pipeline.

 

According to Spanish business newspaper Cinco Días, the expected investment in the data centre sector in Spain is $6.837 billion until 2026. Reflecting the growing relevance of the local market, the Spanish Data Centre Association (SPAINDC) was set up in October 2021.

 

Several hyperscale and co-location operators are developing centre centres in Spain – or planning to. The list includes Amazon, Microsoft, Meta & IBM, Digital Realty and Equinix. Google has launched a cloud region in Spain with Telefonica. This led several Irish general contractors and subcontractors to bid and win contracts to work in many of these projects.

 

Growth in Italy

Italy is also enjoying strong growth. Lombardy is the most developed Italian region in the data centre sector, sustained by the strong financial sector located in Milan and high demand for cloud services from business and consumer sectors.

 

Currently, there are approximately 120 data centres in Italy, with a capacity of 151MW, and an additional 33MW under construction that should cover the growing demand. New developments are set to boost the capacity by more than 60%.

 

The area around Milan sees a higher concentration. Microsoft, AWS, Data4, Equinix and Vantage all have data centre projects either announced or under completion. The latest to join was Google, who recently announced the launch of Milano Cloud Region, in partnership with national telco operator TIM. Among local players, the company Aruba is expanding its 200,000sqm campus near Bergamo, while RaiWay announced their plan to build a network of 20 edge data centres across the country.

 

Many large Irish companies are already operating in Italy, including General Contractors like Mercury and Kirby Engineering, and suppliers like Brodeen Fabrication. “Irish companies have long-term experience in working with tech giants in the design, build, and fit out of data centres,” says Roberto, “and therefore when those clients enter into a new market like Italy, they tend to bring that cluster of successful Irish companies in too.”

 

A prosperous future

With such growth forecasted over the next few years in both countries, there’s plenty of room for more ambitious Irish businesses to enter the sector.

 

“For over two decades, thanks to their expertise, Irish construction companies continuously won significant contracts outside Ireland. Now, with the adoption of cloud services booming in both Italy and Spain and operators investing to meet the increasing demand, Irish companies are here to seize the opportunities,” explains Roberto.”


“2020 saw a boom in projects and 2021 confirmed the trend. 2022 sees a consolidation of the ecosystem, with the creation of local data centre associations and the hosting of prominent events related to the sector.

 

Enterprise Ireland’s active role

In May 2022, Enterprise Ireland led a trade mission to Madrid, bringing 13 companies in the high-tech construction sector to participate in the Madrid Platform, where the client had one-to-one meetings with Spanish and Latin American buyers in the construction sector. Besides, on the same days, EI Madrid co-hosted a networking event together with SPAINDC Association.

 

“The event was extremely successful,” says María Jiménez, Market Advisor for Spain and Portugal at Enterprise Ireland. “During the week the Irish client companies had the opportunity to network with all major players in the sector. We are already seeing real results from the event.”

 

Similar events are coming to Italy too. In May 2022, Milan hosted DCN – Data Centre Nation, the first business-oriented data centre event of its kind in the country. The huge success of the event proved how needed was such a platform where the players can meet, network, and build relationships. “In 2023 the event is set to get be even bigger” commented Roberto “and EI Milan is in a dialogue with the DCN organizers to get a more active role in this valuable networking event”.

 

Southern Europe is a location that Irish tech-construction companies should keep on their radar.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about the data centre opportunities in Italy and Spain, please contact Roberto Bettuzzi, Senior Market Advisor in Italy roberto.bettuzzi@enterprise-ireland.com, or María Jiménez, Market Advisor in Spain and Portugal Maria.Jimenez@enterprise-ireland.com

Construction

EU initiatives helps Europe’s construction sector build a sustainable future

Summary

  • NextGenerationEUrepresents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets.
  • EU member states are united in the push for a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, which requires huge investment in sustainable construction and retrofitting.
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the sustainable construction market in:

Sustainability is the future of construction. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement (or COP 21), countries around the world have been striving to change how they operate with a view to keeping global warming at 2C or lower. In many countries, the decarbonisation of construction comes second only to renewable energy as the sector where most impact can be had.

Concrete and cement alone account for as much as 8 percent of global CO2 emissions, while the construction industry is also a heavy consumer of energy and other resources and generates huge levels of waste. Furthermore, existing building stocks across the region emit carbon and need to be retrofitted to operate sustainably.

The push for a carbon neutral 2050

Through the €806.9 billion Recovery and Resiliency Facility (RRF), which aims to help Europe recover from the pandemic and future-proof its economy and society, the European Union also hopes to achieve its Green Deal target of climate neutrality by 2050.

“We are all on the same page in Europe,” says Alix Derigny, Market Advisor Construction & Sustainable Build at Enterprise Ireland in France, “because every state has set greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets. The EU and national governments are putting in place grants to raise ambitions, and consumers are expecting day-to-day life to be greener.”

“Similarly, the real estate and retail sectors are putting pressure on the construction sector to accelerate the ecological transition. This issue is driving all businesses in the sector, from sub-contractors to suppliers and materials manufacturers.”

In fact, at least 37% of spending in the national plans funded by the RRF must relate to climate goals. Much of that, in turn, is going to construction and infrastructure projects.

In the effort to build a truly climate-friendly, circular economy, where waste and carbon emissions are minimised or eliminated, building and renovation methods are crucial. Prefabrication, for example, can enhance efficiency and build speed, while minimising waste.

Across the board in Europe, governments are making use of this funding to enable the Green transition. From a construction perspective, this includes work around:

  • energy retrofitting of public and private buildings, including homes and business premises
  • enabling the circular economy, through the modernisation of recycling centres and other projects
  • building green infrastructure, such as rail and other transport infrastructure.

Where the opportunity lies for Irish construction firms

As the whole industry evolves to embrace innovation, be more flexible, efficient and sustainable, many opportunities are opening up for contractors, engineering and advisory companies. It’s worth bearing in mind that large contractors are now seeking to reduce emissions across their entire value chain and will seek vendors who can meet those standards.

Irish firms are already delivering demanding construction and related projects in more than 100 countries. Ireland has particular strength in sought-after capabilities such as:

  • designing and delivering advanced infrastructure across the data, pharma and energy sectors
  • developing and implementing innovative digital and data-driven solutions, such as digital twins
  • improving resource efficiencies

There are a number of key areas in which the construction sector across Europe, and indeed globally, will welcome the solutions Irish firms can provide. “Markets like France and Germany are mature markets with an engineering culture,” says Derigny.

“You need to be innovative or have something to reduce the customer’s carbon footprint, if you want to compete with domestic suppliers,” she adds. “If you can bring those solutions, you’ll find customers with a huge appetite for them.”

Specific areas of interest to European construction customers include:

  • energy efficiency
  • sustainable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • LEED certification
  • smart building solutions, including sensors, security and maintenance
  • 5G Technology (for IoT solutions)
  • technologies and material to reduce CO2 emissions
  • solar panels
  • AI-powered solutions
  • any other product or service that can help lead to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings

Partners and planning vital to success

Typically, says Derigny, it makes sense for Irish firms to find partners in export markets, because it increases speed to market and reduces risk, but Enterprise Ireland can advise on a case-by-case basis.

Across Europe, as for any market at present, this sector is grappling with commodity price inflation, supply chain disruption and labour shortages. None of the markets below varies from that perspective, so it’s best to be prepared and consider how you can surmount these challenges so your market entry is not derailed by external factors.

Understand the 5G market opportunity for Irish firms

The strong Irish cluster of cybersecurity firms, for example, has clear opportunities across key European markets as do Irish firms specialising in Open RAN, a technology that facilitates the deployment of 5G. Other thriving areas where Enterprise Ireland has identified significant opportunities for Irish firms include IoT and smart cities.

Among the Irish firms specialising in 5G and connectivity products and services, and thriving in EU markets, are Open RAN radio infrastructure specialists Benetel or Aspire and core cellular network software company Druid Software.

Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of offices across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin, can support your business as it investigates market opportunities, including by making local introductions and helping you to build your network.

If you are not sure where to start your export journey, get in touch.

Market snapshots

France

The renovation sector is thriving in France as established building and energy firms seek innovative solutions to incorporate into their offerings.

The sustainable construction landscape in France

France aims to reduce energy consumption in the building sector by 28% by 2030 and to achieve a carbon-neutral building stock by 2050.

The building sector is a priority target for France’s Energy Transition Law, which came into force in 2015, and legislation also mandates high energy performance from any renovation works. Furthermore, any new building has had to be energy-efficient since 2012, with construction of ‘energy-plus’ homes expected to become the norm.

Major players such as GA Smart Building, Bouygues and Vinci have a strong culture of innovation. They are eager to scout and integrate innovative solutions into their products, so they can offer smart building solutions to their customers.

 Energy providers such as EDF, Engie and Total Direct Energie are always looking for innovative start-ups to develop partnerships.

Understand the construction opportunityin France

Overall, the booming housing renovation market is worth €40 billion in France or about a third of the overall construction sector.

France Relance, the national recovery and resilience plan provides substantial additional public funding for energy-saving works, with €5.8 billion allocated to energy retrofitting works. A further €7.0 billion is earmarked for green infrastructure and mobility, which will require significant building work.

President Macron has set the goal of renovating at least 700,000 homes a year for five years, relying on his flagship MaPrimeRénov’ grant. This covers works related to insulation, ventilation, heating and heating control systems.

The construction activity is now in total evolution towards energy renovation and the construction of more efficient buildings – BIM, sensors, maintenance, energy efficiency, safety & security.

Selling into France

Time and patience are needed to manage lengthy sales cycles and due diligence processes. If it is approached correctly, however, France can be a significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.

Irish companies thriving in France include:

  • Kingspan, which anticipates turning over half a billion euro in France in 2022
  • Ecocem France, a concrete products joint venture with a French firm
  • Tricel, a wastewater treatment manufacturer
  • LED Group, which makes lighting fittings
  • Robeau, which makes water-saving systems

Key players in the market include:

  • material manufacturers
  • general contractors
  • wholesalers and DIY stores
  • Specialised distributors

Top tip

Being part of a local, on-the-ground network is important in the French market. Recruiting an in-market business developer or partnering with a local company will improve chances of success.

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Germany

Huge drive for energy-efficient building and renovation represents a significant opportunity for Irish firms prepared to commit to the German market.

The sustainable construction landscape in Germany

Germany is aiming to have a completely climate-neutral building stock by 2050, but as it stands, buildings there still account for a significant proportion of its total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

In total, there are nearly 22 million buildings in Germany, and three quarters of them were built before the first energy efficiency standards were introduced in 1978. That means despite Germany’s long-standing commitment to energy efficiency, there is still ample opportunity for companies who can support with retrofitting and refurbishment, or the construction of new low- or zero-carbon developments

Understand the sustainable construction opportunity in Germany

Of Germany’s total €28 billion national Recovery and Resilience Plan or Deutscher Aufbau- und Resilienzplan (DARP), 42% has been allocated to support climate objectives

It includes €2.5 billion for a large-scale renovation programme to radically improve the energy efficiency in residential buildings, while the government is making a further €6 billion available for the Federal Funding for Efficient Buildings Program.

Irish firms will find particular opportunity in the German market around:

  • energy management
  • HVAC systems
  • insulation
  • timber construction.

Customers for Irish firms would most typically be large companies in the residential construction sector, such as Vonovia SE, Strabag AG, Ed. Zublin AG and Bauer AG.

Selling into Germany

While the main opportunities and funding lie in the residential construction sector, this is a competitive market with numerous well-established domestic competitors. At a minimum, you’ll find a strong local partner to help you with language skills and making the most of their existing relationships on the ground.

Irish companies have not had notable success in residential construction, but have gained far more ground in the specialist high-tech construction market, where their expertise in building data centres and pharmaceutical facility is valued.

 

German business culture is usually risk-averse and new entrants need to show a strong commitment to the market.

Top tip

Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and regular visits to the market will mean you can take advantage of the long-lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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Italy

Opportunities abound for construction firms in Italy, where the government is committed to upgrading its building stock and overhauling its infrastructure.

The sustainable construction landscape in Italy

As Italy seeks to become carbon neutral by 2050, it is undertaking a huge public-private regeneration effort, largely driven by EU funding. With 30% of buildings in the country having historic or cultural value, there is extensive funding for sustainable restorations.

Urban regeneration projects alone are valued at €3.4bn, with €300m already spent in 2022.

Milan is a front runner, with 320 green buildings already certified and 4 ongoing major large-scale urban regeneration projects (Porta Nuova, Citylife, Uptown and MIND, the zero-carbon Milan Innovation District), where sustainability is a key driver of the projects.

 

Legislative changes and ongoing reform of the public administration will also help the country achieve its sustainability goals, especially as they should enable the construction industry to operate more efficiently.

Understand the sustainable construction opportunity in Italy

Within Italy’s €191 billion National Resilience and Recovery Plan or Piano Nazionale di Represa e Resilienza (PNRR), which is funded by the EU, €59.46 billion is devoted to the circular economy and introducing green initiatives. The government is adding a further €30 billion in grants.

Together, this spend will include:

  • €5bn on social housing, including the refurbishment of a fifth of public apartment buildings
  • €412m to refurbish judicial buildings
  • €800m to make 40,000 schools more energy efficient.

Furthermore, the PNRR also includes significant commitments around the refurbishment of infrastructure with:

  • €87bn going to construction (of which 30% will go to Lombardy, Sicily and Campania)
  • €31bn allocated to upgrade railways and ports

To encourage 50,000 or more building owners to refurbish and retrofit existing properties, the Italian government has also introduced the EcoBonus scheme. This is a €14 billion fiscal incentive aimed at improving the energy rating and efficiency of existing buildings. The scheme covers the full cost of green renovations and also incentivises homeowners by offering an extra 10% (through a tax deduction of up to €100,000 per home).

Selling into Italy

Take your time and be prepared. Invest in validating the market opportunity and building the right market entry strategy. Italian customers value strong relationships so it is worth spending time investing in building your network.

Typical customers include private construction consortiums, local contractor companies, local councils and suppliers.

Competition from local companies can be a challenge, especially if you are a first time exporter in the market. Irish firms typically find it useful to have a strong local partner in this competitive market, as this can help shorten the sales cycle, deal with the language barrier and navigate local bureaucracy.

Top tip

Direct relationships matter. Invest time in coming to the market and meeting your counterparts in person.

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EU initiatives enable Europe to get connected and harness the power of 5G

Summary

  • NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
  • EU member states as part of their national priorities are supporting the rollout of high-speed 5G networks, which in turn is enabling extraordinary growth in cloud computing and other innovative products and services
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the 5G market in:

As digitalisation and technological innovation rapidly become both more complex and more widespread, it’s increasingly critical for Europe to have reliable, superfast connectivity. The 5G mobile telecommunications standard not only enables real-time data transmission at scale, but also intelligent real-time networking of products, processes and industrial value creation chains

And that is where opportunity lies, both around products and services that facilitate the rollout of 5G, but also in the more or less endless universe of products and services made possible by these hyperfast mobile networks.

“In the end, 5G is only the connection,” says Raul Marigorta, a Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland in Spain, who specialises in telecoms and digital technologies. “It’s what we do with 5G that will prove most interesting, whether that is eHealth and remote healthcare, VR and AR in education, smart cities, private network, Internet of Things (IoT) or many other innovations.”

The rapid rollout of 5G across European markets

Following the auction of relevant spectrum, the rollout of 5G has kicked off in most EU markets. While there are more distinct differences between markets when it comes to other aspects of technological innovation, Marigorta explains that 5G is somewhat different.

“Europe in general is quite homogeneous in the development of 5G. We don’t see many differences in the 5G rollout across countries like Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. That is because most telecom operators in Europe are mature providers such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Orange and/ or Telecom Italia, who are well in sync when it comes to 5G.”

How the EU is facilitating digital transformation

Through the Next Generation funds administered through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the European Commission is actively enabling EU member states to accelerate their digital transitions, including the rollout of 5G, which is a key area for investment.

Of the €723.8 billion in loans and grants it is giving, at least 20% must be spent by member states on digitalisation, although in reality the Commission reports that at least 26% of this funding is going to digital transformation projects.

Much of that funding, in turn, is going to 5G. In April 2022, for example, the European Commission approved €2 billion in funding for Italy’s 5G rollout.

Driving SME digitalisation through cloud services

In 2022, the growth of cloud services will outpace the growth of traditional IT solutions, says Gartner. This makes cloud computing one of the most influential changes in the IT market since the early days of digitisation.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or cloud infrastructure services will grow tremendously in the coming years, as will platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud computing services. It’s the ongoing rollout of high speed 5G networks that makes this skyrocketing growth possible.

“Enabling SMEs to benefit from cloud technology is a key focus of the Next Generation funding, and it’s an area where Irish firms have strong capabilities,” says Marigorta.

“While Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud dominate the cloud market, there is ample opportunity for Irish firms that can offer products and services to customise and facilitate access to the cloud for SMEs who may have thought they couldn’t use cloud technology,” he explains.

SMEs are not interested in 5G as such, Marigorta points out, but in what this high speed connectivity can enable them to do. “5G is the highway that we need to facilitate cloud adoption by SMEs. If I am an SME owner, I don’t care what the underlying technology is as long as it works. I need to manage my accounting and my clients. I need to develop my operation quickly but in a quality way, and I need to do proper customer service.

“Technology is a key enabler for these classic SME needs, so there is huge space for agile new start-ups that can come up with smart ideas that make the most of fast connectivity and new technology. Irish companies are fantastic at doing this.”

Understand the 5G market opportunity for Irish firms

The strong Irish cluster of cybersecurity firms, for example, has clear opportunities across key European markets as do Irish firms specialising in Open RAN, a technology that facilitates the deployment of 5G. Other thriving areas where Enterprise Ireland has identified significant opportunities for Irish firms include IoT and smart cities.

Among the Irish firms specialising in 5G and connectivity products and services, and thriving in EU markets, are Open RAN radio infrastructure specialists Benetel or Aspire and core cellular network software company Druid Software.

Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of offices across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin, can support your business as it investigates market opportunities, including by making local introductions and helping you to build your network.

If you are not sure where to start your export journey, get in touch.

Market snapshots

Belgium

While Belgium has lagged in 5G connectivity, that is set to change completely by 2025. Meanwhile, uptake of private cloud and data services is strong.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in Belgium

Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet are the main mobile network operators (MNOs), with local private network provider CityMesh expected to become the fourth, following a recent auction of 5G spectrum band. There is limited 5G availability currently, with Proximus offering some pockets of coverage, but that is set to transform following the auction.

The Belgian national strategy for broadband kicked off in April 2021 with full coverage planned for 2025. At present, 65% of the market has access to fibre broadband, with Proximus aiming to cover 70% of premises by 2028.

Private cloud and data services are readily available in Belgium from providers such as Combell, with the country’s wide broadband coverage, fast download speeds and reliable networks making them possible.

According to Statista, 64% of Belgian organisations used cloud solutions in 2018, while 43% of the Belgian population used cloud services in 2019. Both figures have likely grown since.

Key stakeholders in Belgium

  • The Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, particularly the new Broadband Unit in the Telecom department, which will implement the national broadband plan
  • The Broadband Competence Office, which oversees all competences in this area and supervises the implementation of the EU Connectivity Toolbox
  • Mobile network operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet (and CityMesh once it becomes one)

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Belgium

The EU is providing Belgium with €5.9 billion in recovery and resilience funding, and €480m of that is going towards supporting the digital transition. Quality goes a long way in Belgium and Irish companies have a solid reputation in the telecoms space.

Both factors contribute to this market offering solid opportunities around 5G and connectivity for Irish firms with innovative or best-in-class solutions, especially around:

  • Open RAN
  • private networks
  • Internet of Things (IoT) services.

Partnership with local firms or providing infrastructure, network or IoT services to incumbents may prove the best routes forward for many Irish firms. Cloud or data services providers should look to sell to systems integrators, solutions providers or value-added resellers in particular.

Selling into Belgium

Broadly speaking, Belgium ranks highly in innovation and is a good test market for companies looking to grow into the broader European markets by establishing a local presence or through trade.

With high levels of English fluency, language is not necessarily a barrier to entry here, although it can be useful to have a local partner who speaks French and Flemish. Belgium is an open economy, but business relationships are based on trust, meaning sales cycles take longer than in the UK or the US.

Committing to the market and finding the right market entry strategy can be the biggest challenge for Irish firms. Druid Software, for example, has found success in the market through partnering with Belgian MNO Proximus and others on a number of collaborative initiatives, including an AI-powered safety app for motorcyclists.

Top tip

Come to the market, attend the relevant trade shows, meet the right partners and establish strong relationships. Belgian partners are willing to engage, but in person works best!

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France

As France demands a cloud-first approach, 5G sites and antennas are multiplying rapidly there. That represents real opportunity for Irish firms.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in France

France Relance, the French government’s economic recovery plan, emphasises a cloud-first strategy for the public sector, while the government also announced a €1.8 billion support plan for cloud computing firms in 2021. Many French companies are also embracing the public cloud, despite lingering concerns over data privacy and sovereignty.

Most people in France support the implementation of 5G, with around half of the population expecting to get a subscription, especially to download and swap large files or to use telehealth devices.

Since the deployment of 5G in November 2020, sites and antennas have multiplied, and telcos have initiated the transition to the new generation of mobile phone standards. Marseille and Paris lead in terms of antennas, while 5G coverage remains unevenly distributed nationally.

In March 2022, the French government announced new measures aimed at promoting access to 5G for manufacturers and vertical sectors. The government also wants to simplify access to the 2.6GHz spectrum to stimulate industrial 5G projects, while exploring potential access to the 3.8GHz and 4GHz bands.

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in France

Having already funded 31 research and development (R&D) projects to the tune of €478m under the national 5G acceleration plan (launched in July 2021), the government is set to provide a further €47m to seven new projects under the plan.

Irish firms can find particular opportunity in France around:

  • Private networks
  • Open RAN
  • IoT
  • Smart cities
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • eHealth

Likewise, it’s worth targeting businesses engaged in:

  • Industry 4.0 or 5.0
  • 5G use cases
  • Health
  • Data centres.

Selling into France

There are opportunities for innovative products and services. Irish firm Benetel, for example, is providing French telco Orange with radio units for Open RAN development and testing.

Flexibility in product development and collaboration is a real advantage for Irish firms, but be aware of the challenge around access to the 2.6GHz spectrum and enabling 5G private networks.

The French market can be a long sales cycle and requires trust and reliability. It usually helps to have a base in-market, visit regularly, or work with a local partner. No matter what, patience and persistence is key.

Top tip

Work with French experts to overcome complexity around tech harmonisation and spectrum access in France. Alternatively, look to work with systems integrators and operators at the forefront of 5G private network deployment.

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Germany

Leading the way in spectrum allocation, Germany is focusing on the connectivity needs of industry, while also seeking to make 5G available to everyone.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in Germany

Germany leads Europe when it comes to 5G readiness, or the proportion of relevant spectrum already allocated. Industry needs are the priority, as Germany seeks to modernise production processes through broadband, wireless real-time communications.

The Federal Republic has taken on a pioneering role in networks for local 5G applications (or campus networks), representing an important milestone for German industry

Germany has also pushed to make sure the general population has access to 5G. Telekom says 40m people have been able to benefit from the 5G network since July 2020 and providers are aiming to offer 99% of the population a connection to 5G by 2025.

Providers such as Telekom and Vodafone have already set up many 5G mobile base stations, meaning 5G is already available in some large German cities.

To achieve high coverage with 5G, Telekom and Vodafone are also using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which makes use of existing 4G infrastructure for 5G, depending on demand and particularly outside of cities, where the 3.6GHz frequencies used exclusively for 5G are being used first.

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Germany

Any innovative or value-adding product or service that helps to enable industrial applications, products and services that harness 5G is likely to be of interest to German customers.

Particular opportunities for Irish companies include:

Selling into Germany

German business culture is usually risk-averse and new entrants need to show strong commitment to the market. As the market is still fragmented, any company seeking to sell in Germany needs to build a clear go-to-market plan and to identify in-market partners.

This is a competitive market, so it’s vital to articulate a strong USP and be able to show how your offer brings significant commercial benefit.

Bray-based Druid Software, for example, has brought its 5G Raemis platform to Germany where it is partnering with others on cutting-edge 5G projects, including one relating to smart factory research at the University of Kaiserslautern.

Top tip

Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and constant visits to the market for trade shows and direct prospect visits are key for success. This ensures you can take advantage of the long-lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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Italy

Italy is vigorously pursuing digitalisation and cloud adoption, with significant funding for extensive infrastructure and service development.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in Italy

Italy was a front runner in the EU for the commercial launch of 5G services. All four MNOs (TIM, Vodafone Italia, Wind3 and Iliad) launched 5G networks between June 2019 and December 2020 and have since expanded their 5G services, offering aggressive pricing to capture share in this competitive market.

This high-speed connectivity is vital to Italy’s efforts to accelerate:

  • digital skill-building across its population and workforce
  • the digitalisation of businesses
  • the offering of digital public services
  • the implementation of key e-government processes.

In fact, migrating public administration to the cloud is one of the key drivers of the Italian recovery and resilience plan. Italy is now fourth in Europe in cloud adoption after the Nordics (Eurostat), with the market there worth €3.84 billion market in 2021, €2.89 billion of which related to public and hybrid cloud and €891m to virtual and hosted private cloud.

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Italy

Italy’s national recovery plan supports the digital transition with a €6.7 billion investment for the deployment of a 5G/fibre high capacity network. That should bring 5G to populated areas, schools and healthcare facilities, with widespread 1 Gbps connectivity by 2026.

The EU Commission has also approved a €2 billion in Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding for Italy to roll out a high-performing 5G mobile network.

To gain a foothold in the market, Irish companies with relevant offers should look to target:

  • Local telecom operators
  • Large system integrators
  • Local distributors or value-added resellers (VARs) for partnerships in the market.

It’s also worth noting that growth in cloud adoption is being particularly driven by skyrocketing use of platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which was up 31% in 2021. Meanwhile, data centre automation is also a fast-growing area.

Selling into Italy

Take your time and be prepared. Invest in validating the market opportunity and building the right market entry strategy. Italian customers value strong relationships so it is worth spending time investing in building your network.

Irish firms typically find it useful to have a strong local partner in this competitive market, as this can help shorten the sales cycle, deal with the language barrier and navigate local bureaucracy.

Top tip

Direct relationships matter. Invest time in coming to the market and meeting your counterparts in person.

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Netherlands

While opportunity abounds in this tech-savvy market, regulatory processes may slow down the growth of 5G.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in the Netherlands

The Dutch rank second in the world for online connectivity, with 98% of households having broadband connection and the country enjoying 95% 4G coverage. About 60% of the country is expected to have 5G services by 2030, with leading MNOs KPN and T-Mobile having launched commercial 5G services in July 2020.

The regulator, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has been reluctant to set out a comprehensive 5G roadmap while the shape of the future consumer and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions landscape, including security and value chain implications,  is still only sketchily defined. Progress will therefore be slow.

ACM is also studying how well the cloud market is working for people and businesses in the Netherlands, where Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud all operate, with Azure having 73% of the cloud computing marketing in 2020.

The Netherlands is also home to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the world’s leading digital data distributors.

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in the Netherlands

While the Netherlands did not submit a recovery and resilience plan to the EU and, therefore, is not accessing any related funding, there are still plenty of opportunities in this vibrant, tech-savvy market. There is a keen appetite for cloud services, for example – the  Netherlands ranks fourth globally when it comes to public cloud expenditure.

Opportunities for Irish companies include:

  • Selling into MNOs, such as T-mobile, Vodafone Ziggo and KPN, which are all open to putting in place contracts relating to innovation, Internet of Things and partnerships
  • Finding opportunities around Open RAN, which is being trialled by network operators since October 2020 and will be key in future
  • Providing cloud and data services through a system integrator/VAR.

Selling into the Netherlands

It’s vital to show commitment to the market and boots on the ground give a strong advantage. Take the time to develop a tailored market entry strategy, bearing in mind the market is competitive and being the cheapest won’t guarantee success. A quality service and the right network connections should do the trick.

Top tip

Come to the market, attend the relevant trade shows, meet the right partners and establish strong relationships. Dutch partners are willing to engage, but in person works best!

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Spain

As Spain seeks to bring ultrafast connectivity to everyone in the country, there is keen take-up of cloud services in business and industry.

The 5G and connectivity landscape in Spain

The Spain Digital 2025 Agenda supports EU connectivity objectives. It aims to extend ultrafast network coverage to the entire population (under the Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures) and prepare 100% of the radio spectrum for 5G by 2025 (following the Strategy to Promote 5G Technology).

Spain is improving on digitalisation, but there is room to improve the uptake and use of  digital technologies, and information and communication (ICT) skills.

The adoption rate of digital technologies by firms is close to the OECD average, but is below the best performing countries in Europe. There is keen and growing interest in cloud services, where Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are the main actors in the market.

The private cloud remains the preferred option for security services (41%), communications (41%) and storage (40%). For its part, the public cloud is consolidated in areas such as the implementation and deployment of workstation services (52%).

Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Spain

Under the EU Next Generation funding programme, Spain is receiving €4 billion to support fixed and 5G connectivity, data infrastructure and the related ecosystem. It is also getting €4.6 billion for the digitalisation of industry, SMEs and tourism and culture systems, along with investments in AI.

Particular growth areas worth addressing include:

  • 5G
  • cybersecurity
  • AI
  • big data
  • open RAN
  • cloud security.

While public sector bodies such as the central government, the regional governments and local councils are potential customers, the private sector (MNOs, system integrators and so on) are more dynamic and more accessible customers. Companies to target include Telefónica, Vodafone Spain, Orange, Más Móvil and Cellnex.

Selling into Spain

The most important factor when it comes to the market around 5G and connectivity in Spain is being committed to it, which includes dedicating people to this opportunity. Furthermore, the sales cycle tends to be long so you need adequate financing in place.

Local competition is the main barrier to entry here, but there are openings for innovative offerings. Make sure you have local support in the market, so you overcome any language barrier and be mindful of cultural considerations. Bear in mind too that sales are heavily based on reputation and relationships.

Top tip

To succeed in Spain, you need to pursue a strategy of continuous and thorough follow up.

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The Future of Mobility

EU helps to supercharge mobility, offering opportunity to Irish businesses

Summary

  • NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
  • EU member states are seeking to digitalise their transport infrastructure and introduce or improve smart, sustainable mobility options as rapidly as possible, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years
  • The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right mobility projects to target
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the mobility market in:

Mobility is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Europe. That’s no surprise, given the urgency of the fight to reduce emissions and combat climate change, the surge in digital technologies enabling smart cities and towns, and the reasonable desire of urban dwellers in particular to get around quickly and easily.

Mobility covers public transport such as buses, trams and trains, along with active modes such as cycling, shared mobility solutions such as scooters and bicycles, and electric vehicles, along with data-driven solutions for traffic management and other challenges.

The multi-billion euro flood of NextGenerationEU funding, distributed through national recovery and resilience plans, is amping up the speed of growth in this already soaring sector. The influx of funding amplifies what is already a significant opportunity for Irish companies to enter new markets or scale their operations in other markets.

Mobility cuts across three of the six pillars of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility: the green transition, digital transformation and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Irish firms thriving in Europe

A significant cluster of Irish companies is already winning business across the mobility space in Europe.

Taoglas, for example, provides antennae for micromobility products to significant players such as fifteen (previously Zoov), while CitySwift is pushing to digitialise the management of bus routes and Civic offers cities the ability to better manage traffic through sensors and data.

Zeus, an Irish company that operates three-wheeled electric scooter hire services, is already offering services in more than 20 German cities, as well as in Croatia, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Malaysia. Anadue, with which Zeus partners, is another Irish firm active in the space – it offers analytics for micromobility.

“Clusters like this offer a competitive advantage,” explains Jens Altmann, Enterprise Ireland’s sector lead for future mobility, “because the Irish are very good at collaborating and forming a joint offer, which can be a stronger proposition. And of course you can leverage networks through the other companies in the cluster.”

He adds that, regardless of the market, any potential entrant needs to consider how they will add value to the local mobility ecosystem.

“People will choose the local offer if it is the same. You need a strong selling point, which you get through collaborating or having a stronger technology than others.

“Irish companies tend to be deeper in the value chain. They’re good at niche enabling technologies and world leaders in some fields. Therefore, it’s crucial to build up networks and to have local partners. That’s key for most mobility companies, especially for new market entrants.”

Understand the opportunity

Significant current opportunities in most if not all European markets include charging infrastructure and other ways of optimising electric, connected or automated vehicles. Mobility as a service, where a user can plan, book and pay for a trip across multiple modes of transport in one app, is also of widespread interest.

Shared mobility remains an opportunity, but especially in smaller Tier 2 markets as capitals and other large cities are typically saturated. It’s worth checking dive.fluctuo.com for an overview.

Data management, data privacy, cybersecurity and systems integrity are also key opportunities, as true smart mobility hinges on both public and private sectors aligning on how to protect the oceans of data produced and used in this context.

Take time to access the market context

Across the EU, developments in mobility involves an interplay between the public and private sectors, and it’s vital to understand the balance before entering any new market.

“All these kind of transport systems or mobility systems need to be integrated, centralised and consolidated,” explains Altmann.

“That is all steered by the governments and the cities that regulate the market. Therefore, they’re the decision makers in the end. Either you tender to sell to the city or you get them to allow you to position your scooters for the consumer business.”

As in any sector, it’s important to gather market intelligence, appreciate the need for localisation and work to build local networks if you want to break into the mobility space in any EU market.

Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of office across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin can support your business as it investigates market opportunities, including by making local introductions and helping you to build your network.

If you are not sure where to start your export journey, get in touch.

Market snapshots

Belgium

Belgium remains car-dependent, with more than 30% of 1-2km journeys still made by car, but the entire mobility ecosystem is changing.  

The mobility landscape in Belgium

Powered by a steady influx of investment capital, the private sector has led the way in Belgium, driven by:

  • Rapid technological innovation (such as electric powertrains and automated driving systems)
  • New business models, including transport network companies
  • Increased use of drones, electric scooters and bikes

The public sector has also ramped up activity, with the federal government raising taxes to fund charging stations, for example, while Flanders plans to build 30,000 of them.

Congestion charges are also coming. The SmartMove initiative aims to reduce traffic emissions by 5% and time lost to traffic jams by 32% in the Brussels-Capital Region (one of the top 10 most congested cities in Europe), by levying a per-kilometre charge on all passenger and delivery vehicles.

Key stakeholders in Belgium

  • Federal and regional government departments, including FPS Mobility & Transport and the Departement MobiliteitOpenbare Werken & De Lijn
  • Public sector mobility providers such as SNCB
  • Mobility-focused organisations like ITS.be, Brussels Mobility and Mobilité Wallonie
  • International mobility networks such as POLIS and AVERE

Understand the mobility opportunity in Belgium

With €1.3 billion in EU funding allocated to transforming mobility in Belgium, rail is the main national priority, with funding of €675m. Over €400m is going to finance cycling infrastructure across the country, with a strong emphasis on enabling commuters to travel by electric bikes).

The greening of transport (€210m) is also a key focus, with Flanders and Brussels having requested €93m and €55m in European funds to green their bus networks.

In particular, Irish companies seeking to break into the Belgian market will find opportunities in cities such as Ghent, Liege and Leuven, and in areas such as:

  • Digitalisation of mobility
  • Road safety

Electric transport, including vehicles, bikes and scooters

Selling into Belgium

Broadly speaking, Belgium ranks highly in innovation and is a good “test market” for companies looking to grow into the broader European markets by establishing a local presence or through trade.

With high levels of English fluency, language is not necessarily a barrier to entry here and Belgium is a very open economy, due to its compact size. There are also challenges, as Belgium has a complicated government structure – highly relevant when it comes to mobility – with one federal government, three regional governments, 10 provinces and 581 municipalities!

Top tip

Do your research before entering the market and make most of the knowledge and networks of local contacts and associations.

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France

Having tended to lag in digitalisation, France is investing heavily in mobility and plans to be a leader in the mobility of tomorrow.

The mobility landscape in France

France is a highly industrial and engineering-focused country. Its digitalisation adoption is a step behind, but it expects to close the gap rapidly.

Under the France Relance plan, France plans to install seven million vehicle charging points for by 2030. It also wants to see 5.3 million EVs on the road by 2028, with €1.3 billion earmarked to incentivise people to buy them.

Other key priorities include:

  • Connected mobility
  • Modernising rail networks for both freight and passengers (train, metro, tramway and bus)
  • Rail network security
  • Cycling infrastructure
  • 5G and quantum technologies to develop future mobility, such as connected and autonomous vehicles.

Furthermore, France is looking to mobility 3.0 and the need for sensor technology, wireless communications, computing, real-time and localisation technologies, electronic payment, traffic management, flow and security, and fleet and freight management.

Key stakeholders in France

  • Local, regional and national government
  • Enedis for charging infrastructure
  • Public sector mobility service providers such as SNCF-Thalys-RATP
  • Private sector mobility providers such as Blablacar and Keolis

Understand the mobility opportunity in France

While smart transport and shared mobility are strong in Paris and the other main cities in France, there is a significant opportunity around micromobility in smaller cities, such as Toulouse or Montpellier. It’s worth noting, however, that local authorities won’t be rushed in making decisions.

Overall, the French government is investing €570 million in an acceleration strategy to digitalise and decarbonise mobility, and the call for projects is open.

ADEME, the government’s ecological transition agency, is focusing on:

  • the development of less consuming and less polluting vehicles
  • sustainable organisation of transport systems
  • behaviour change, including the use of mobility services, active modes, public transport and clean vehicles

Work to renew and modernise the French road network is being accelerated, which in turn opens up significant opportunities around :

  • Digital road monitoring and predictive maintenance of road infrastructure
  • Intelligent refuelling management systems for electric mobility

Companies offering products and services designed to optimise the power supply in order to support charging systems, rail services and so on will also find significant opportunities in France.

Selling into France

The mobility scene is becoming busy and French companies strongly prefer French partners, but there are opportunities for innovative products and services. Flexibility in product development and collaboration is a real advantage for Irish firms.

The French market can be a long sales cycle and requires trust and reliability. You need to get to know who you are dealing with before real business can be done.

It usually helps to have a base in-market, visit regularly, or work with a local partner. If you are targeting local authorities and tenders, a French presence is a must. But patience and persistence is key.

Top tip

While English fluency can be high, depending on the sector, many businesses choose to operate in French, especially where the end customers are consumers. It’s wise to seek support from an interpreter, local expert or partner.

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Germany

While engineering leader Germany is lagging when it comes to smart cities and sustainable mobility, the market is about to skyrocket.

The mobility landscape in Germany

Germany’s mobility market, which is state-owned in many areas, is not yet leading compared to other European countries, while its digital infrastructure also needs development.

Mobility here is determined by the large German automotive industry, which employs over 800,000 people. That said, German consumers, especially younger generations, appreciate eco-friendly mobility solutions such as buses, bicycles and electric vehicles.

These will come more to the fore in the coming years as the German government and companies in the market will focus increasingly on sustainable mobility. Its current focus is on connectivity such as 5G for public transport and on regulations around micro-mobility.

The electric vehicle market is expected to grow by 25% a year by 2026, with shared mobility growing by almost 12% annually over the same period, bringing user penetration to 79.5% from 66.4% in 2022.

Key stakeholders

The integration and interdependence of private firms (typically operators and solutions providers) and public players, such as municipalities, regulators and also operators, in the ecosystem is a major topic at present.

Understand the mobility opportunity in Germany

As Germany is lagging somewhat in terms of digital infrastructure, Irish firms have an opportunity to enter this market, as it is not at all saturated or fully developed yet.

Several Irish firms are already active here, including:

  • Zeus Scooters in over 20 cities
  • Cubic Telecom, which works with German carmaker Volkswagen on in-vehicle connectivity,
  • Luna Systems, which is collaborating with TIER Mobility GmbH, Europe’s largest micro-mobility provider, on a test for supplying security solutions for scooters.

Furthermore, the German ecosystem is proactively seeking new technologies and spending significant sums on new partnerships and technologies.

Across the board, Germany tends to appreciate quality and be willing to pay for it, so is not overly price-sensitive, and it can onboard innovative solutions quickly.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is providing research and development funding for all aspects of electric mobility, including drive technology, battery research, standardisation, the value chain, grid integration, charging stations that use smart metering technology, and infrastructure.

Selling into Germany

While the standard of English is typically good, German is often spoken in a business context and companies entering the market need German language skills.

In addition, the German market can have challenging barriers to entry, as potential entrants need to build trust and relationships first, which can involve upfront costs and a long sales cycle. However, when the trust relationship is established, you have the basis for a long and fruitful relationship.

Germany is currently working on the development of a future-proof integrated mobility infrastructure, which still provides challenges for the country. While the mobility market is not hugely competitive yet, once a market opens up, Germans tend to be fast in adopting and creating their own solutions.

Top tip

Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and constant visits to the market for trade shows and direct prospect visits are key for success. This ensures you can take advantage of the long lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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Italy

Italy is shedding its reputation for slow digitalisation, with a boom in micromobility and extensive funding for smart and sustainable mobility.

The mobility landscape in Italy

Committed to the European Green Deal 2050 and with aggressive targets to reduce emissions, Italy is focusing on sustainable mobility and smart infrastructure. Smart mobility projects are already underway in Milan, Napoli, Sardegna and Veneto.

One in three people in Italy have changed transport modes due to the pandemic, with a clear shift from public transport to driving, walking and shared mobility.

While Italy has been slow to digitalise, it is one of the fastest growing markets for shared mobility, driven by concerns around climate change, fuel costs and inflation.

Micromobility is booming, with eight in 10 Italians willing to leave their cars to use shared scooters and bikes. This is positive, as Italy trails only Luxembourg in the EU for car dependency.

Key stakeholders in Italy

  • City councils
  • Italian firms such as Bitt, Helbiz and Leonardo, which have market intelligence, national operations and significant bargaining power
  • International entrants, including Bird, Lime and Tier

Understand the mobility opportunity in Italy

Through the NextGeneration EU fund, Italy is receiving €31.4 billion to develop infrastructure for sustainable mobility and €68.8 billion overall for greening its economy and infrastructure.

There’s particular focus on:

  • Smart transport and logistics
  • Smart cities, with sustainable and smart mobility at their core

While Italy is a highly competitive market, if not a saturated one, for shared mobility in Tier 1 cities, there is plenty of opportunity in smaller Tier 2 cities around shared mobility services, such as scooters. That is due in particular to the favourable climate, tourism, and the strong university culture in these cities.

Selling into Italy

Irish firms will need a partner in the market to help navigate the extremely competitive market and local government bureaucracy, and to be made aware of and compete for tenders.

Although competitors may already have a strong market share, there are opportunities for Irish companies to partner with them with white-label software solutions for smart mobility.

Top tip

To navigate the bureaucratic nature of public tenders in Italy, engage with a local partner or hire locally. Italian competitors have invested heavily in recruiting city managers, operations teams, and public policy teams to help scale operations.

Local laws and tender regulations differ in every municipality so liaise with a local legal or policy expert.

Another potential route to market is developing a partnership with an established transport or mobility company in Italy that wants to expand its smart mobility portfolio on the back of national initiatives and a booming private sector.

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Netherlands

Ranked first in Europe for green mobility, the Netherlands remains a good testing ground for smart mobility initiatives, with high levels of innovation and low language barriers.

The mobility landscape in the Netherlands

With excellent transport and logistics infrastructure, the Netherlands is a leader in this space. The Dutch are always on the move, and the government is looking at new technologies to solve challenges related to transport, the environment and safety.

Famous for its love of cycling, the Netherlands had an estimated 22.9m bicycles in 2019 (more than one per person), including 2.4m electric bikes. That said, the rate of passenger car ownership is growing faster than the population.

Powered by a steady influx of investment capital, the private sector has led the way in Belgium, driven by:

  • rapid technological innovation (electric powertrains and automated driving systems)
  • new business models, including transport network companies
  • increased use of drones, electric scooters and bikes

The public sector has become markedly more active, as many cities and others have sought to proactively shape the future of mobility in the Netherlands.

Key stakeholders in the Netherlands

  • Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
  • Smart Mobility & Internationalization at RAI Automotive Industry NL(Dutch cluster organization of the automotive industry)
  • Large private delivery companies such as Just Eat Takeaway.com

Understand the mobility opportunities in the Netherlands

The Netherlands aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and has ambitious strategies in place to achieve this, such as planning for all public transport buses to be zero-emission by 2025. It’s also eager to lead internationally on:

  • The Internet of Things
  • Smart cities
  • Connectivity

The Dutch government, together with provinces, metropolitan areas, public transport companies and the rail infrastructure management company ProRail, has drawn up the Vision on the Future of Public Transport for 2040.

  • Two large consortia of Dutch companies and knowledge institutes will receive  €47m in government funding to develop ground-breaking electrification and hydrogen applications in automotive, maritime and air transport.

Other key trends in the market include:

  • Mobility as a service (MaaS)- emerging service where the traveller can plan, book and pay for the entire trip through a single app.
  • Electric bikes & Bikes as a Service – Irish company Moby are powering global delivery businesses with the best ebikes and service packages including fleet management and maintenance. Another example is Kuma Bikes, an Irish electric bike company based in Dublin.
  • Reduction of congestion and emissions, through developing self-driving vehicles and improving car traffic information for drivers
  • Improving data quality and transmission to enable new trends and reduce harmful emissions

Selling into the Netherlands

As the Netherlands is a mature market in terms of digitalisation, that presents a challenge of its own, as Irish firms need to have an exceptional niche product or service to catch the interest of potential customers in the market.

The keen local interest in innovation and the high levels of English fluency compensate to a degree for those looking at the market.

Top tip

As the Netherlands did not submit a recovery plan to the EU, there is no recovery and resilience funding for projects there, unlike all other EU member states.

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Spain

Spain excels in high-speed rail and efficient public transport, but a huge push is on to move to zero-emission transport and travel.

The mobility landscape in Spain

Given the importance of tourism to its economy, Spain has invested heavily in transport infrastructure and connectivity, including:

  • the second most extensive high-speed rail system after China
  • extensive modern public transport in urban areas, meaning fast journey times
  • advanced high speed networks

While there is burgeoning innovation in smart mobility, digitalisation lags behind the main European economies. Shared mobility is increasingly popular, with thousands of shared cars, motorbikes, bikes and scooters available in Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain also lags in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, but plans to have 5m vehicles and 360,000 charging points by 2030 (up from 65,000 vehicles and 13,400 points in 2021), with significant EV battery production slated in the market. It is also testing autonomous vehicles, with a daily on-campus bus service already running at Madrid Autonoma University.

Key stakeholders in Spain

  • Public sector (Renfe, Correos, Ports 4.0 fund)
  • Private companies (Alsa, Airbus, Ferrovial,Cabify, Acciona)
  • Smart Mobility association

Understanding the mobility opportunity in Spain

Spain has ambitious emission reduction goals set for 2030. To achieve them, it seeks to reduce private vehicle use by 35% in cities by 2030 and to ensure 55% of vehicles sold will be zero emissions by then, with no diesel or petrol vehicles sold by 2035. Hydrogen-powered vehicles and rail is also a priority.

Spain is receiving €6.5 billion from NextGeneration EU in invest in sustainable, safe and connected mobility in cities and towns, including:

  • Traffic and emission reductions, through low-emission zones, high occupancy lanes, zero-emission buses, digital public transport and traffic management tools
  • Greener vehicles and charging points
  • Electric mobility
  • Improving suburban rail and digitalising rail security
  • Digitalisation of logistics networks.

Other opportunities for Irish firms include:

  • Mobility related to ecommerce logistics and carbon emissions
  • Supporting Ferrovial’s expertise in zero carbon aviation.

Selling into Spain

Spain is a competitive market for mobility and typically has a relatively long sales cycle regardless of the sector, so a premium offer and patience are required.

Make sure you have local support in the market, as you need to speak the language in this cost-driven market, and sales are heavily based on reputation and relationships.

Spain is one of the most decentralised countries in the world, with 17 autonomous communities and five official languages, so a one-size-fits-all approach may not work.

In fact, the Spanish state is managing 55% of the national recovery and resilience funding, with regional authorities administering the rest. Market entrants need to understand local, regional and national regulations and bureaucracy.

Top tip

Consider attending upcoming events such as Global Mobility Call 22 (Madrid, June 14-16 and Smart City Expo (Barcelona, November 15-17).

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Mobile World Congress

Mobile innovators went worldwide at Mobile World Congress

Six Irish technology innovators showcased their products and services at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC22) earlier this year.

All exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion, the prestigious country stand supported by Enterprise Ireland for the duration of the event, which ran from 28th February to 3rd of March.

A further cohort of seven companies attended the event as visitors, also with the support of Enterprise Ireland.

World’s largest

All had good reason to be there.

“Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovation and cutting-edge technology,” says Gillian Baker, Development Adviser Digital Technologies with Enterprise Ireland.

“In 2020 it was one of the first major trade events to be shuttered as a result of the pandemic. Last year it held a scaled back version, which is why its return earlier this year, as one of the first major industry events to take place since the advent of Covid, created enormous excitement.”

Global scale

With industry leaders from around the world attending MWC22, it was only fitting that Ireland’s strength in this sector should be showcased too.

“The six Enterprise Ireland-supported companies which exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion stand were already successful in the mobile communications space, highlighting Irish capability on a global scale,” she explains.

“These Enterprise Ireland-backed companies provide products and services that cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly changing demands of mobile technology and the wider communications sectors. With over 1500 exhibitors at Mobile World Congress, it was an opportunity for them to get in front of their market and showcase their capability, raise brand awareness and gain exposure on a world stage.”

Facetime

After the challenges of the past two years, when business relationships had to be maintained or developed remotely, exhibitors were keener than ever to meet in person, says Baker.

“They were excited to get back out there in front of their business partners, to resume face-to-face business, to network and to gain exposure to potential new partners,” she says.

Enterprise Ireland supported attendees to ensure they made the most of the commercial potential such major in-person events offer.

“All scheduled back-to-back meetings over the duration of the exhibition, to ensure they maximised every opportunity the show afforded them,” she explains.

As well as providing access to its deep network of international contacts, Enterprise Ireland’s sectoral experts were on hand at to support client companies.

Six of the best

Among the companies featured at The Ireland Pavilion at MWC22 were established Enterprise Ireland client companies such as Benetel, a provider of leading-edge radio solutions for 5G disaggregated RAN and 4G/LTE Small Cells. It works with leading vendors, partners and open initiatives such as the O-RAN ALLICANCE.

Cubic Telecom develops IoT connected software solutions to the automotive, agriculture and transport manufacturing industries. Its platform, PACE, is used by leading companies around the world including Audi, Microsoft and CNH Industrial.

Druid Software, a core cellular network software company and a leader in 5G & 4G Cellular technology will be there too. Its RAEMIS platform is used by internet service providers and enterprises for mission critical environments all over the world.

Also present was Endeavour Technology, the global leader in IoT and 5G service assurance whose nSpire product is a leading-edge state of the art SaaS platform that ensures continuously reliable connectivity for customers around the globe.

Exhibiting alongside them were early-stage Enterprise Ireland clients in the mobile technology space, Ringotel and Software Radio Systems.

Ringotel’s platform turns any VoIP phone system into a cutting-edge unified communication solution without changing existing infrastructure and setup, enabling its clients to add conference communications functionality to their phone system in less than 10 minutes.

Software Radio Systems develops open software for mobile radio wireless networks. Its high-performance software radio solutions for 4G and 5G, with complete UE and RAN applications, support the creation of new mobile services. 

Value added visits

“In addition to the six Enterprise Ireland client companies taking space on the Ireland Pavilion, seven more attended Mobile World Congress as visitors,” says Baker.

“For these client companies too it was an unrivalled opportunity to meet with both new and existing partners, to showcase their latest offerings and to benchmark against the best available in the global marketplace.”

All in all, the event provided enormous value to exhibitors and visitors alike.

“We live in a connected society. Mobile connectivity solutions are already across all industries and all verticals. The advancement and roll-out of 5G will be transformative because, from smart cities to industrial IoT, the possibilities are endless,” adds Baker.

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.

 

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.

 

High-tech construction opportunities for Irish firms in France and Germany

 

Summary

  • The expertise of Irish high-tech construction companies is well-known in France and Germany, with many home-grown businesses active in the markets
  • There are opportunities for Irish firms to get involved in French and German construction projects, particularly data centre design and building
  • Enterprise Ireland is supporting clients that wish to attend the Data Centre World events in Frankfurt during May 2022 and Paris during November 2022

 

 

As global events impacted on industry across every sector, technology, and our reliance on it has never been more important, with businesses keen to learn about advances in digital solutions and data collection.

For instance, this was reflected at a range of Data Centre World events across Europe which garnered a huge amount of interest from companies around Ireland.

The largest gathering of data experts in France took place in Paris Porte de Versailles on 24 November 2021 and was attended by almost 1,700 industry experts, with 59% of attendees looking to invest more in associated products and solutions.

 

The French market

According to Alix Derigny, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction & Sustainable Build in France, more than half of the attendees, including many Irish clients, were from organisations whose primary business is data centre design and build.

“Although some had to cancel due to the pandemic, a number of Enterprise Ireland clients visited, including Mercury Engineering, who exhibited there for the second time and other client companies like Moy Materials and Cubis Systems,” she says. “It was a very busy tradeshow, with great networking and fruitful meetings with large data centre projects managers who were interested in the solutions offered by Irish companies.”

“Sustainability is a major issue for the high-tech construction sector and, with a commitment to be climate neutral by 2030, Irish innovation in this area was of particular interest.”

According to a study by the consultancy Arcadis, France now ranks fifth in Europe in terms of attractiveness for setting up data centres. Interxion has submitted plans in Les Ulis for a 130 MW campus, DATA4 is looking to construct a 100 MW campus expansion, and CloudHQ has recently submitted plans for a two-building hyperscale build in Lisses, for a total of nearly 400 possible MW coming online over the next decade.

 

Success for Irish companies in France

Derigny, whose role involves supporting Irish capabilities across the construction industry in France, says there is plenty of Irish success in the region and many opportunities up for grabs.

“2020 and 2021 have been synonymous with great success stories for Irish companies in France,” she says, “There are several Enterprise Ireland clients active in the French market including Ethos Engineering, E&I Engineering, Anord Mardix, LPI Group, Enersol, Fireblock, King Environmental, CET Connect and Evercam.

 

Trends in the French high-tech construction sector

“There are two major trends in the French construction market which present opportunities to Irish companies: the roll-out of the largest transport project in Europe, the ‘Grand Paris Express’ (2015-2030), and a move towards sustainability through certifications, CO2 reduction targets and market-led initiatives in ‘green building’.

Long considered as a potential hub for hyperscale construction, Paris could potentially more than double in size as a data centre area. Existing investment is heavily centered in its capital, with Paris accounting for over 70% of the country’s current data center footprint. Equinix, Interxion, Orange, Mipih, Colt DCS, Digital Realty and Atos are the prominent investors in the market.

 

The German market

France isn’t the only option for Irish firms in this space. Tim Flache, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction in Germany and Austria, says there is also plenty of opportunity for Irish high-tech construction companies in that market.

“After the US, Germany is the second largest data centre market worldwide,” he says.

“The main data centre hub in Germany is Frankfurt, and with the DE-CIX the city has the internet exchange with the most data throughput worldwide and it has not reached its peak yet, with 230 MW under construction and a potential of another 500 MW – so there will be plenty of business over the coming years.

Equinix alone announced in 2021 its intention to build five new data centres and invest $1.14 billion USD in Frankfurt over the next years. Other locations in Germany like Berlin (37 MW under construction) and Munich (12 MW under construction) also present opportunities.

 

Success for Irish companies in Germany

There are many success stories already in the region with Irish contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers active in the German data centre market. Some of these include well-known Irish companies likes Mercury, Winthrop, and Collen.

“These companies deliver large scale co-location data centre projects all over Europe and have been active in Germany for several years. Smaller subcontractors and suppliers are also active in the German market and are winning projects.”

 

Trends in the German high-tech construction sector

Flache, who is based in Dusseldorf, says the biggest topic at Data Centre World is sustainability.

“As in many other countries, the data centre industry in Germany is under pressure to become more sustainable and climate friendly,” he says.

“With the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, the industry committed, on a European level, to a more sustainable future for data centres and to become climate neutral by 2030.”

“This ambitious goal also impacts the design and construction of data centres, which is where Irish capabilities lie.”

Beyond data centre projects, the high-tech construction market in Germany has more to offer. Over the last years, several battery manufacturing facilities have been announced and large semiconductor manufacturers are looking for suitable sites in Germany. The main pull factor for these projects is the German automotive industry.

 

Differences between the French and German markets

While the European single market makes both Germany and France attractive target markets for Irish companies, there are some differences clients should be aware of when it comes to labour law, taxation, and certification.

“Companies beginning operations in France must ensure all contracts adhere to French law, for legal and commercial reasons”, says Alix Derigny.

“France is among the easiest countries to set up a business. The guichet-entreprises.fr service encourages business creation in France by enabling anyone to complete the formalities necessary to create their activity in one place online. Only a few days are required.

“With regard to tax structures: corporate tax rates in France are gradually reducing. In 2021, the standard corporate income tax rate is 26.5%, a figure which will fall to 25% in 2022. Corporations with profits of more than €500,000 must pay a rate of 27.5%. A reduced rate of 15% is also available to small companies on the first €38,120 of taxable profits.”

Tim Flache says the federal system in Germany influences certification and safety standards in the construction industry.

“Fire safety regulations, for instance, can differ between the different states (Bundeslaender),” he says. “Companies should be aware of these differences, even within the German market. Also, when it comes to sending staff to Germany, certain time limitations and country specific labour agreements have to be considered.”

 

Business culture

The market experts say Irish businesses looking to expand in Europe should be aware of both the opportunities and requirements.

“Irish companies may face challenges in the French market because of the time and patience needed to manage lengthy sales cycles and due diligence processes. However, if approached correctly, France can be a very significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.” says Derigny.

“A partnership agreement with a local organisation may act as a way of gaining foothold in the market or building sales opportunities in sectors that might be difficult to penetrate as a new entrant.”

 

The Irish Advantage in high-tech construction

Tim Flache agrees and says there is plenty of help on offer from Enterprise Ireland.

“The unique experience and know-how of the Irish high-tech construction sector is well known in the German data centre sector, which is a great foundation for every Irish company active in this field.”

“However, Germany is a mature market, so, for many of our clients, a proven route to market is the existing relationship to Irish contractors, who are already active in Germany. This can be helpful to win an initial project and build a track record.”

“I am more than happy to help further clients with their business in Germany. Enterprise Ireland clients can either get in touch with me directly or through their Development Advisor.”

 

Want to find out more about high-tech construction opportunities in France or Germany? Contact Alix Derigny or Tim Flache respectively.

 

In 2022, Data Centre World will be back in Frankfurt (11 – 12 May) and Paris (16 – 17 November). Enterprise Ireland are supporting clients at this event. If you are interested in attending, or learning more about our plans, get in touch with Alix or Tim.

Healthcare digitalisation

Eurozone Recovery, Irish Opportunity: New EU funding and national initiatives drive healthcare digitalisation

Summary

  • NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
  • EU member states are seeking to digitalise their healthcare systems as rapidly as possible, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years
  • The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right healthcare digitalisation projects to target
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the healthcare digitalisation market in:

 

Estimated article reading time: 12 minutes

New EU funding

Across Europe, EU member states are seeking to digitalise their healthcare systems as rapidly as possible over the next three years. This is not only spurred by the pandemic, but also by an extraordinary increase in funding under the €750 billion NextGenerationEU plan, which seeks to build a more resilient Europe.

Two key goals of this plan are to make Europe digital and to make it healthy, with the development of digital healthcare an engine driving both of those. France, for example, is dedicating €2 billion to digital health alone in its national recovery and resilience plan.

“This unprecedented public funding across the EU represents an extraordinary opportunity for Irish businesses,” says Anne Lanigan, regional director, Eurozone at Enterprise Ireland. “Digitalising healthcare is now a core focus across the region, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years.”

Enabling 21st century healthcare

Within the digital goal, the EU wants to see artificial intelligence (AI) being used to improve healthcare and for public services to become digital where possible, taking advantage of 5G and EU-wide ultra-fast broadband.

The EU is also keen for member states to modernise their health systems with better access to new technology and medical supplies, and to invest more in research and innovation to develop vaccines and treatments.

Expanding digital health exports

With significant tranches of funding dedicated to both of these goals in individual member state recovery and resilience plans, this clearly presents a huge opportunity for Irish companies who produce or develop digital health products and services. That’s true whether they want to start exporting or diversify their export markets.

“The opportunities can differ from market to market and there are challenges to overcome,” says Lanigan, “but the message is clear from our offices around the region – strong Irish healthcare players with disruptive, niche or market-leading products, services or components can thrive while taking advantage of NextGenerationEU-funded opportunities.”

Given the need to pursue a market diversification strategy post-Brexit, she adds that it makes sense for companies that want to export or to expand their export activities to look to EU markets and try to take advantage of this huge increase in funded projects.

Priority areas of funding

Telemedicine

Everywhere in Europe, the pandemic has seen a huge surge in telemedicine, remote care and  remote monitoring, as both citizens seek to protect themselves and healthcare providers look to maximise resources. This sector is expanding rapidly, meaning that opportunities abound for businesses keen to export.

Optimising data and processes

Across the region, governments are also seeking to optimise processes in healthcare, making the most of software and apps, and aiming for a high level of interoperability and better co-ordination between all the different strands of healthcare systems.

They want to make better use of data, with most countries seeking to introduce or improve digital health profiles, which offer a single source of truth to each citizen and all their healthcare providers.

Other priorities

In most markets, both preventative and personalised medicine, including the use of AI in medicine, are also beginning to boom. As ever, any innovation in medical devices and device components is also going to be of interest to European customers, especially in Germany and Italy.

Innovation in medical imaging is also highly sought after, particularly in France, where it is a core focus. Medical areas in particular focus include: cardiac health; diabetes; oncology; and respiratory diseases.

In some less mature markets, such as Italy, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide innovative solutions around connectivity for healthcare locations and digital skills across the health and medical workforce.

Understanding the challenges

National healthcare systems are never straightforward, and the level and nature of the complexity involved varies from market to market. Most have both public and private healthcare systems running in parallel, although the public/private split varies significantly.

In some countries, such as Germany and Spain, private hospital chains and large insurance companies that offer branded clinics and digital products are significant actors.

While the increase in EU funding is primarily focused on public healthcare, it is worth bearing in mind that a private healthcare company can often make faster decisions and be less hamstrung by legacy and regulatory processes.

Where healthcare is concerned, localisation is important in every market, even in those with a high degree of fluency in English.

The value of local partnership

Those seeking to sell into the public healthcare system in any EU market typically need to work with a local systems integrator, who is used to navigating the complexity of the national system and national tender processes.

“Whether your company is focusing on securing public or private customers, you will need a local partner who understands the healthcare system and you may need a local office or representative,” says Lanigan.

“Part of Enterprise Ireland’s remit is to make introductions locally and to enable Irish companies set up the partnerships they need to succeed. Talk to us and we can help you.”

Digital healthcare: The Irish Advantage

While any Irish company operating in the digital healthcare space needs to offer a standout product or service to gain traction in export markets, the good news is that Irish firms are typically keeping pace with local competitors and can garner market share fast when their offering has the edge over those developed in-market.

Market snapshots

Belgium

Digitalisation of the healthcare system is a huge priority in Belgium, but language and regulatory complexity pose a challenge to exporters.

Overview

  • €5.9 billion national recovery and resilience plan
    • 27% allocated to digital initiatives

Opportunities

€40m digital healthcare funding allocated across:

  • Teleconsulting
  • E-prescribing platforms
  • Making existing eHealth applications more user-friendly

Medical priority areas:

  • Cardiac health
  • Diabetes
  • Oncology
  • Respiratory diseases

Belgian healthcare system

  • This is a fragmented market, subject to federal and regional oversight, and companies need to be ready to operate in three languages
  • Digital health products and services must be approved for reimbursement or are unlikely to be prescribed to patients

Digitalising Belgian healthcare

  • Belgium’s national recovery and resilience plan sets a key goal of making the national healthcare system more resilient, through modernisation and digitalisation
  • Its eHealth Roadmap sets out how that will happen across government, industry, service providers and patients
  • A planned Health Data Authority will make healthcare data available for research and product development

Relative digital maturity

  • Broadly speaking, the Belgian population has good digital skills but it lags behind the neighbouring Netherlands, and is also further behind in digital transformation

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France

Determined to lead the region in digital healthcare, France has introduced numerous eHealth initiatives, backed by substantial funding.

Overview

  • EU financing €40 billion of the overall €100 billion France Relance recovery plan
    • €7 billion going to health, with €2 billion in public and private funding specifically allocated to digital health initiatives

Opportunities

  • Digital prevention
  • Medical devices based on artificial intelligence
  • Innovative remote monitoring solutions
  • Imaging solutions

Digital health initiatives and innovation

  • As part of France’s intense drive to lead in digital health, it has introduced new agencies for digital transformation of health, particularly the Agence du numérique en santé (ANS), along with a national health ID and a national eHealth platform for patients & healthcare professionals
  • It is also seeking to fast-track innovation in health products and medical devices, and has recently launched a national portal for eHealth innovation
  • A new agency, the Agence de l’innovation en santé (AIS) or Agency for Healthcare Innovation aims to simplify and unify the ecosystem, to make it easier for scientists, healthcare professionals, industry and investors to collaborate
  • Reimbursement is a huge issue in France – if your digital health product or service is not on the reimbursement list, it’s extremely difficult to gain traction

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Germany

With an approvals fast track in place, Germany is committed to digital health but the competitive local scene is hard to crack.

Overview

  • €25.6 billion in grants for recovery and resilience projects
    • €3 billion to digitalise hospitals
    • €814 million to modernise public healthcare offices, with vaccine development also a key focus

Opportunities

  • Sub-supply in medical devices (supplying device components), as Germany seeks to become a medical device hub
  • Optimising administration and operational efficiency to free up the time of medical staff to focus on clinical issues

Germany’s healthcare system

  • People in Germany are generally insured by one of more than 100 public health insurers, with many also choosing to opt for private insurance
  • Large hospital chains such as Helios are key players
  • As elsewhere, reimbursement is crucial and products and services must be included on the Hilfsmittelliste – bear in mind the approvals process can be complicated

Privacy concerns

  • While the same GDPR principles apply in Germany as anywhere else in Europe, people there are particularly concerned about data privacy and need reassurance around any potential sharing of their data

Relative digital maturity

  • Germany is advanced in digital terms
  • Wearables are extremely popular for health monitoring and there is a reimbursement fast track for what are known as DiGA (Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen or digital health applications). International companies are encouraged to seek DiGA approvals
  • That said, given Germany’s size and how advanced the local scene is, those wishing to enter the market need to have an exceptional niche product and be extremely clear on its USP

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Italy

While it has lagged on the digital front, Italy is committed to modernising its healthcare system and is open to external innovation.

Overview

€191.6 billion in grants and loans for recovery and resilience

  • €15.6 billion to modernise and digitalise the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), the public health system
    • €7 billion to develop proximity networks, infrastructures and telemedicine for local care
    • €8.63 billion for research, innovation and digitalisation

Digital connectivity is also a priority, with 12,279 healthcare facilities slated to be provided with 1GBPS connectivity by 2026

Relative digital maturity

  • Italy continues to have lower digital literacy and lower investment in digital innovation than elsewhere
  • Digital skills among healthcare professionals are markedly low and only 38% of population knows about electronic health records
  • The recovery and resilience plan seeks to address this, with a core focus on modernising the healthcare system and building the digital skills of its workforce

Focus on senior care

  • With an aging population, Italy sees a significant need for digital health solutions that can support elder care
  • Large insurance companies such as Generali and Reale Mutua are already developing senior living complexes designed to incorporate digital healthcare

Local healthcare system

  • Italy is a fragmented market with considerable decentralised administration in healthcare and substantial regional differences in terms of digital maturity and healthcare ecosystems
  • Enterprise Ireland typically recommends that Irish companies enter the market by focusing on a single area in the north of the country, such as Milan
  • Across the board, public sector decision-making tends to be slower than in the private sector

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Netherlands

The Netherlands has not yet submitted a national recovery and resilience plan – the only EU member state not to do so.

With one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, the Netherlands has a strong focus on digital health innovation.

Medical priority areas

  • Cardiac health
  • Diabetes
  • Oncology
  • Respiratory diseases

Nature of healthcare system

  • Both individual and public sector spending on healthcare is much higher than the EU average and the Dutch spend the most of all EU countries on long-term care
  • All residents are mandated to buy insurance from private insurers as part of a government scheme

Relative digital maturity

  • The Netherlands is one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of both digital skills, and public and private digital transformation
  • It has many advanced solutions already in place, which can be a barrier to entry for international companies

Support for digital health

  • Digital healthcare is a huge focus, with an eHealth at home incentive scheme in place and more flexible rules introduced around reimbursement for digital health apps and services
  • The Dutch government has built an extensive Care for Innovation online portal for eHealth innovators
  • Note there is already a strong collaborative ecosystem in the Netherlands between research institutes, healthcare institutes/professionals, organisations and public bodies
  • The government is also organising a countrywide Smart Health Relay event to educate healthcare providers on innovation in healthcare solutions from Jan 31 to Feb 25 2022

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Spain

While Spain is a fragmented market due to strong regional government, opportunity abounds as digital healthcare is less advanced than elsewhere.

Overview

  • €69.5 billion national recovery and resilience plan
    • 17% going to science, innovation and modernising and strengthening the national healthcare system – together one of 10 priority policies for NextGenEU funding in Spain

Priority investment areas

  • Advanced therapies for diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, ALS and other conditions
  • Personalised precision medicine, incorporating genomic data
  • National Digital Health System with integrated database
  • Promoting primary healthcare through digital transformation

Understanding PERTE

  • Within the overall Spanish plan is PERTE (Proyectos Estratégicos para la Recuperación y Transformación Económica or strategic projects for economic recovery and transformation) to which €1.469 billion in public/private funds is being devoted until the end of 2023)
  • While Spain is the second largest recipient of funds in the EU, not many projects have been properly specced out and made available for tender yet

A fragmented market

  • With 17 autonomous communities and five official languages, Spain is not a market where a one-size-fits-all approach works
  • In fact, 55% of the national recovery and resilience funding will be managed by the Spanish state, with 45% being administered by regional authorities
  • Irish companies should begin by seeking a foothold in one area, such as Madrid, before trying to expand across the country. Note many regions have their own systems integrators
  • While targeting an often-fragmented public healthcare system can be challenging, recent reforms to speed up public sector contracting go some way to mitigating that

Spanish healthcare system

  • Almost everyone in Spain is covered by the national health system, while many also have private health insurance
  • Insurance companies such as Sanitas are particularly active in areas such as telemedicine
  • In 2019, health spending per capita in Spain was 15% lower than the EU average, while out-of-pocket payments for prescriptions and medical devices were much higher than average

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