Offshore WInd farm

For SMEs in the marine sector, the world is their oyster

The Marine Ireland Industry Network (MIIN) is made up of companies and key stakeholders across this very broad sector. And coordinator, Liam Curran who is also a Senior Technologist with Enterprise Ireland and specialist in the industry, says despite the current global situation, the future for SMEs in this area is bright as development and investment continues.

“The ocean economy in Ireland is resilient and where there are challenges there are also a wealth of opportunities,” says Curran. “This has been recognised by the current government which has made a commitment to develop a new integrated marine sustainable development plan, focusing on all aspects of the marine, with a greater focus on sustainability and stakeholder engagement.

“One key area Enterprise Ireland is specifically interested in is the role of technology and SMEs and how we can collectively position Irish enterprises at the forefront of a digital revolution in the marine/blue economy.” says Curran 

“This goes across all marine sectors, but Enterprise Ireland views the emerging Offshore Renewables sector as a key area of opportunity for Irish marine industry capability – and this sector, particularly Offshore Wind, will play a critical role in Ireland’s decarbonisation agenda.”


A rapidly growing sector

The MIIN co-ordinator says the industry as a whole has been growing steadily for a number of years and work has also focused on strengthening established marine industries such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism and the marinisation of existing industries such as ICT, food, clean/green and finance into a range of marine related markets.

“There are some great examples of Irish companies identifying and targeting these opportunities, including Bio-Marine Ingredients in Monaghan who extract high value lipid and protein products from Blue Whiting, a fish which was previously considered low value by the seafood processing industry,” he says. “The production of high-end bio products from marine biological materials is an emerging growth area in the Blue Economy.

Wicklow-based Voyager IP specialise in providing high end connectivity solutions to the superyacht industry, while Vilicom provide communications systems for the Offshore Wind industry. And because of Ireland’s location at the edge of the North Atlantic, we can benefit from one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe.”


A focus on sustainability

According to the marine expert, developing this in a sustainable manner is going to be key in supporting our clean energy transition.

“It has the potential to make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the Irish electricity system, as well as the potential for providing employment in small coastal communities which are unlikely to attract foreign direct investment,” he says.

“Examples of MIIN companies in this area are Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions, who work globally for the offshore wind industry, while Inland and Coastal Marina Systems fabricate and install pontoon systems for harbours and have been winning work in the UK installing mooring systems for Crew Transfer Vessels.

“Currently, the development of the offshore renewables sector in Ireland is high on the government’s agenda and much care is being put into developing the National Marine Planning Framework and new consenting regime to ensure this is done in a fair and sustainable way.”


Ample opportunities

Curran says that in order to take advantage of this, companies in the sector should consider how they might pivot capability to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry.

“This is a huge area of opportunity for Irish marine SMEs, both at home and in export markets,” he says. “Galway based Bluewise Marine have done exactly that, offering experience in areas such as marine and fisheries science, engineering, health & safety management, and community engagement, as well as a range of technical and operational project management supports to assist companies to select and develop offshore renewable energy sites, coordinate marine surveys, engage with the local supply chain, and manage stakeholder relationships.

“In Killybegs, the marine engineering capability has been built up around the pelagic fishing industry but is now also looking at how skillsets could be applied to the offshore wind sector – and marine fabrication companies like MMG Welding and Seaquest Systems, amongst others, have the capability to be part of this rapidly growing industry.”


Research is vital

The senior technologist recommends that companies which may be interested in entering this sector should join MIIN and attend events (currently online) to meet the best industry innovators – but says it is also important to research the sector beforehand.

“The marine sector is very unforgiving of products or services which haven’t been properly ‘marinised’ and built to withstand everything the North Atlantic winter will throw at them,” he says.

Curran confirms “We are fortunate to have a suite of testing facilities available for companies to trial and validate their products or services” 

“These includethe Lir National Ocean Test Facility at UCC and the Galway Bay Marine & Renewable Energy Test Site. We also have an excellent maritime training facility at the National Maritime College of Ireland.

“In addition, the marine research ecosystem in this country is very active nationally and internationally, while SFI has supported research centres, like MaREI, to help Ireland stay at the forefront of marine research.

“So any SMEs who are interested should log onto the Marine Ireland website to get an insight into the vibrant marine ecosystem which exists in Ireland.”

Webinar title: Climate Action Funding & Supports - Manufacturing sector

Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Manufacturing Sector

The transition to a low carbon world has become a defining force for business. For Irish companies, this means opportunities to compete and grow as global investments in a sustainable future accelerates.

The manufacturing sector has the capability to address many of the problems in our society, including the threat from climate change. However, as the world aims for net zero emissions by 2050, the sector faces significant challenges in reducing its own energy consumption.

This webinar includes the following guest speakers who will share their sustainability journey, as well as provide helpful advice to companies of all sizes:

  • Nick Reynolds – CSR Advisor, Business in the Community

  • Patrick Beausang – CEO, Passive Sills

  • Andrea Cawley – Commercial Director, Automatic Plastics

  • Patrick Buckley – Managing Director, EPS

Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

CEAF ICT & Services

Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – ICT & Services

The transition to a low carbon world has become a defining force for business. For Irish companies, this means opportunities to compete and grow as global investments in a sustainable future accelerates.

ICT has the capability to address many of the problems in our society, including the threat from climate change. However, as the world aims for net zero emissions by 2050, the sector faces significant challenges in reducing its own energy consumption and environmental impacts.

Similarly, there are many ways in which services can be part of the green economy and drive sustainable development. Business services can contribute to increasing sustainability for processes and products across industries, and speed up the transition towards a green economy.

Within both sectors, sustainability is now recognised as a priority issue.

This webinar includes the following guest speakers who will share their sustainability journey and provide helpful advice to companies of all sizes:

  • Yvonne Holmes – Chief Sustainability Officer, AIB

  • Andrea Carroll – Sr. Susutainability Programme Manager EMEA, Amazon Web Services

  • Laura Costello – Strategy Director – Purpose & Planet, Thinkhouse

  • Eanna Glynn – Head of Sustainability, BidX1

  • Brian Minehane – Account Director & Sustainability Programme Lead, Ergo


Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

    Webinar title: Climate Action Funding & Supports - food and Beverage sector

    Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Food and Beverage Sector

    The transition to a low carbon world has become a defining force for business. For Irish companies, this means opportunities to compete and grow as global investments in a sustainable future accelerates.

    The food & beverage sector has the capability to address many of the problems in our society, including the threat from climate change. However, as the world aims for net zero emissions by 2050, the sector faces significant challenges in reducing its own energy consumption.

    This webinar includes the following guest speakers who will share their sustainability journey and provide helpful advice to companies of all sizes:

    • Deirdre Ryan – Director of Origin Green, Bord Bia

    • Owen Keogh – Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Lidl Ireland

    • Louise Brennan – Head of Technical, O’Brien Fine Foods

    • Rosaleen Hyde – Operations Manager, Ballymaloe Foods

    • Padraig Mallon – Sustainability Director, Kerry Group

    Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

      Pricing Excellence – Pricing Study 2021 Webinar

      This Pricing Study was conducted by Enterprise Ireland in collaboration with Simon-Kucher & Partners.

      The study recorded nearly 500 responses with strong representation across all sectors demonstrating that the topic remains a high priority for businesses.

      This webinar presents the results of the survey along with guidance on how to develop and implement a price increase process.


      Gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series

      Webinar – Opportunities in Human Pharma

      Enterprise Ireland has undertaken an extensive study in the Human Pharma space across four markets; France/Belgium/UK/Switzerland.

      The findings form the basis of our webinar ‘Opportunites in Human Pharma’ which provides an overview of the sector with key insights from industry experts on the the latest trends and opportunities to help inform Irish companies looking to grow in this space.

      Chaired by Deirdre Glenn, Enterprise Ireland’s head of life sciences with insights from:

      • Suzanne Coles, CEO & Founder of Tech Novia Solutions

      • Enca Martin-Rendon Phd, Senior Consultant Baehl Innovation

      • Jeanne Françoise, Founder of Williamson Biotech Solutions

      Designing the workplace of the future – A new guide for all employers

        The world of work was shaken to its core in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ireland and hundreds of thousands of Irish workers had to suddenly work from home.

        The slow and steady drive towards digitalisation accelerated sharply, and virtual meeting programmes such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams became commonplace. Now, 15 months on, and with the vaccination programme well underway, employers can begin to think about a return to the workplace – hopefully permanently. But the many lessons learned during the pandemic has had both employers and employees thinking about the future workplace – will we ever go back to the way it was? And do we want to?

        Enterprise Ireland has produced a new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work, which aims to help business owners think about the positives and negatives from the last 15 months and to use these to build a sustainable business model for the future. With many employees welcoming the idea of remote working into the future, either full-time or for part of the week, is it time for employers to recognise the positives of remote working and tie it into their company policy on a permanent basis? And if so, how can they make it sustainable?

        “This is a follow-on from last year’s Covid-19 employer guide; last year we looked at the health and safety aspects of returning to work, while the theme of this year’s guide is around the future of work,” explains Karen Hernández, Senior Executive, Client Management Development at Enterprise Ireland. “During Covid, the workplace has changed, the nature of work has changed for a lot of people, and what employees expect from their employers has changed. Our aim is for all companies to be prepared to put in place the right structures and practices that suit their business needs and also the needs of their employees.

        “A large portion of our client base experienced the need to rush into remote working when Covid-19 hit Ireland in 2020. There have been some advantages and opportunities associated with this; some businesses found they’re as productive, if not more productive when working remotely. This guide aims to help companies take what’s worked well over the last 15 months and create some sustainable practices and processes that work for everybody.”

        The guide was developed in partnership with Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones of Voltedge, a highly regarded HR consultancy based in Dublin. “The objective with the guide is that it gives you a framework to start developing your own plan for the return to the office,” explains Fredericka. “All organisations are going to have their own dynamic, their own set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Our aim was to identify key pillars for organisations to use to develop structure and a suitable framework for their business.”


        The importance of asking questions

        A huge emphasis is placed on the need for communication with employees when making these decisions. “Employers need to engage with and actively listen to their employees, while also driving their business forward,” says Joyce. “This is intended as a broad guide, where employers can pick and choose the relevant pieces to them.”

        “It’s very important that employees feel that they’re being heard,” adds Fredericka. “However, decisions need to be made based on a number of factors, and employee input is just one of those factors. Obviously it’s really important to manage expectations and sometimes it’s just down to how you ask the questions. Give them some context from a business point of view. It’s not just about the employees’ wish-list, it’s also about creating a sustainable workplace for the future.”


        Managing remote workers

        Many employers are looking at keeping some sort of remote or flexible working practices in place – and offering this flexibility can be very positive when it comes to attracting talent. “Almost two-thirds of our client base are saying they find it hard to attract, engage and retain talent,” says Karen. “Companies need to consult and stay close to their employees and ask them what they want – and include aspects like flexibility as part of a value proposition to attract candidates.

        “Many companies that we are working with are looking at some sort of hybrid model, where employees combine time working in the office and time spent working remotely, at home or in co-working spaces. There are huge upsides, such as accessing skills from different parts of the country that they never would have before – offering remote, flexible or hybrid working is attractive to employees.

        However, this can be difficult to manage, and companies need to consider what works for the team as a whole as well as what’s right for individuals within those teams.”

        “There’s a big need for management support and training, especially for middle and line managers and supervisors who are dealing with a remote workforce,” explains Joyce. “It’s difficult for them, but it’s important that they get it right. Ensuring your managers are confident in what they do, and in their engagement with their teams. We are hearing that companies are looking to bring their employees into the office more, but it’s about getting that blend right between remote working and the office. One aspect that we emphasised in the guide is the need to make sure you are not discriminating against employees who are not in the office environment.”

        Identifying and managing issues such as burn-out and isolation is essential if companies are to offer some sort of remote working policy. “Companies that have regular check-ins and meetings with staff and use different methods of communication, such as video calls, emails and direct messaging are more likely to keep employees engaged when working remotely.  It’s also important for employees to have individual focus time, where they are able to detach from colleagues and concentrate on getting their work done without interruption”, says Karen.  “Long term, we don’t know enough about hybrid working for a definite ‘best practice’ but instead companies should pilot different ways of working – for instance, we have some companies who are trialling a ‘team days’ concept – having the whole team in for certain days of the week, then for the rest of the week, they’re working from home.”


        Piloting the new workplace

        The aim of the guide is to pose those broad questions that will help employers in every sector decide on the right workplace for the future of their business – but there is no need to rush into a decision. “The biggest challenge for employers is making the decision as to how you’re going to handle this working environment,” says Joyce. “Are you going to fully return, are you going for a hybrid, can you facilitate a full return in the workspace that you have? Employers need to make very big decisions, and very strategic, long-term decisions, so we’re suggesting that they talk to their employees about what they want and then piloting whatever they plan to do before they make any strategic decisions that will impact on the business going forward.”

        Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how we work – but now is the time to use what we have learned since March 2020 to create a more inclusive, sustainable business model, one that pushes the business forward while creating a culture that values employees and their health and wellbeing more than ever before. This can only be a positive thing.


        To download Enterprise Ireland’s new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’, click here.

        Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work


        In partnership with Voltedge, Enterprise Ireland hosted the webinar ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of workand developed a guide of the same name.

        The webinar aims to assist companies as they prepare to embark on a new era of work post-Covid-19 and examines:

        • What the future of work look like for your business.
        • How Covid-19 has impacted the world of work.
        • How the introduction of hybrid or fully remote teams might change the way you do business.
        • What new skills will you need to attract, motivate and engage your employees.


          • Karen Hernandez, Senior Executive, Client Management Development, Enterprise Ireland
          • Fredericka Sheppard, Joint Managing Director, Voltedge Management Ltd.
          • Joyce Rigby Jones, Joint Managing Director, Voltedge Management Ltd.

        Both the guide and webinar slides are availabe to download; Guide / Webinar slides.


        Mexican market ripe for Irish fintech firms seeking to expand

        With an underbanked population and skyrocketing use of mobile tech, Mexico offers an open door to growth for Irish financial technology firms seeking new opportunities in the global market. This is a market with a real need for innovative financial services.

        “Mexico is in the early stages of a financial technology (or fintech) revolution, with start-ups focusing particularly on flexible, low-cost, accessible services,” says Sara Hill, SVP Southern US and Mexico at Enterprise Ireland. “It is the Latin American hub for the sector and local start-ups flourishing in the wake of local pioneers such as Kubo, Financiero and Conekta, all peer-to-peer payments firms which first emerged in 2011.”

        Partly driven by the same social distancing regulations and decrease in the use of cash seen everywhere because of the pandemic, use of mobile banking is soaring in Mexico, up 113 per cent between 2018 and 2020.


        Lending and payments lead the way

        Across the board, the financial services market in the country remains underserved, but local consumers and businesses are keen to see new services in this area and new financial companies don’t have to compete with legacy institutions as much as they might have to elsewhere.

        “Only 47% of the population in Mexico has a bank account,” explains Sara. “That’s why we’re seeing lending and payments as the top two areas in which fintech start-ups are operating. There continues to be huge demand and extensive room for growth in this area.”

        Start-ups are also active in Mexico in categories such as blockchain, crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, digital banking, enterprise financial management, personal financial management, remittances and foreign exchange, scoring, identity and fraud, and wealth management.

        “In the Austin, Texas office of Enterprise Ireland, we not only support Irish businesses seeking to break into nine southern states of the US, but also those who want to enter the Mexican market,” says Sara. “We help them evaluate the opportunity there for their business and also offer in-market support such as introductions to buyers, partners and decision-makers.”


        Irish businesses soaring in Mexico

        Fintech businesses in Ireland considering this step will be in good company, with Irish tech firms already thriving in Mexico including Workhuman, Adaptive Mobile and Daon.

        Other Irish businesses also active in Mexico include Ornua (Kerrygold’s parent company), mobile recharge provider Ding, forklift firm Combilift, food packaging manufacturer Fispak, GM Steel Fabricators, and pharmaceutical engineering firm Prodieco. Overall in 2019, Irish exports to Mexico were worth €83m, up 36 per cent on the previous year.


        A growing market for fintech

        When it comes to fintech, Mexico is currently ranked 30th in the Global Fintech Ranking, with Brazil ranking 19. Mexico has over twice as many adults that use digital banking, however, compared with Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

        The Mexican fintech is worth 68.4 billion pesos (around €2.8 billion), with about 4.7 million users out of a total population of 127.6 million. For context, the global fintech market was valued at US$127.66 billion (€105.9 billion) in 2018, with expected growth of 24.8% by the end of 2022.


        Understanding market challenges

        Rapidly developing markets like this one undoubtedly present challenges to potential new entrants. With a troubled history of corruption in the past, some lingering distrust of financial institutions remains, but the introduction of a stringent fintech law in 2018 has helped.


        “This law regulates which financial entities are legally allowed to operate and offer financial services in Mexico,” explains Sara. “So you have to make sure that your business is going to meet the criteria. The law was introduced to protect users and consumers, to prevent money laundering and to help foster an environment of trust.”

        Geography can also be a challenge for companies expanding in Mexico, with many rural areas having no banks or ATMs, meaning people are less likely to have bank accounts. While this presents a great opportunity for digital payments, internet and mobile service can be poor in some locations. As a result, fintech firms tend to be based in urban areas, with more than half of the 700 or so start-ups in the sector based in Mexico City.

        Other factors inhibiting financial inclusion in Mexico include income, education and even gender. That gender gap should close quickly, however, as men and women are equally likely to use mobile tech and social media.


        Building lasting relationships

        When it comes to exporting, understanding the nuance of any new market is vital. Firms must remember to localise products and messaging properly, for example, as Mexican Spanish is different to that spoken in Spain.

        On-the-ground agents or partners are also crucial when it comes to navigating the local business environment and building customer relationships.

        “People in Mexico want to do business with those they know and trust,” says Sara. “You’ll need to make multiple visits to build relationships or to have a strong partner on the ground who can represent your business.”

        For Irish fintech firms seeking to expand overseas, Mexico undoubtedly presents a real opportunity to build a user base quickly in a rapidly developing and dynamic market.

        Get advice and insight into local market conditions and practices in Enterprise Ireland’s Exporting to Mexico guide.


        The eCommerce boom in Germany

        Germany has always been a nation of online shoppers, but Covid-19 has seen eCommerce become even more deeply rooted in society – with 65 million people, or 80% of the German population, now purchasing online on a regular basis.

        And as the country has the largest economy and consumer market in the Eurozone, Cathy O’Shea, Market Executive for Trade Development, Germany, at Enterprise Ireland says it couldn’t be more important to Irish companies.

         Popularity of online shopping to continue

        Huge German digital retailers like Zalando will be familiar to fashion-forward Irish consumers, or those who work in their Dublin offices, as the multi-national mega-retailer took in profits of nearly €8 billion in 2020 alone,” she says. “But this is only the tip of the iceberg in the German eCommerce boom, as store closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t just create a new wave of online shoppers, it also activated a new wave of online shops. So while stationary retailers were forced to close their doors amid varying levels of lockdown, this has made the eTail environment more competitive than ever.”

        This, she says, is reflected across the whole Eurozone, which saw record-breaking eCommerce sales of €717 billion last year – and highlights the Eurozone opportunities on our doorstep and the benefits of accessing the biggest free trading area globally with little friction.


        Irish businesses successfully trading in Germany

        The market expert says virtual selling and digital networking are not going anywhere fast. So if you’re missing a virtual sales capability, you have a skills gap. But there are a number of Irish companies with very successful business relationships in Germany.

        “Increased competition means that eCommerce retailers need to pay critical attention to every customer touchpoint and focus on excellence behind the scenes to stand out from the crowd,” she says. “So there is a clear demand for innovative solutions which help connect online retailers to their customers.

        “Over the last year, we’ve really seen eCommerce and Retail Tech innovations out of Ireland grow their business in the DACH region, one example being Luzern – a leading eCommerce platform and related services provider, specialised in delivering innovative strategies for Amazon Marketplaces.

        “Nowadays, up to 70% of product searches begin on Amazon, making it the largest search engine for eCommerce. Essentially, if you are a growing brand, Amazon is a must for getting discovered by new customers and this is where Luzern comes in – they help companies to reimagine their Amazon strategy and find new ways to protect their brand, while also increasing their online revenue.”

        Opportunities for innovative Irish firms

        According to O’Shea, Luzern isn’t the only Irish company making its presence felt in the German market.

        ChannelSight is another great example and is one of the fastest growing Irish start-ups in 2021,” she says. “Their software is used by hundreds of brands across 65 countries, and they have experienced particularly rapid growth over the last year as the explosion of online retail has prompted brands to invest in eCommerce technology.

        “In the DACH region, it works with multinational brands such as BSH, one of the global sector leaders in home appliances, and Tado, an emerging technology company and European leader in intelligent home climate management. So it is great to see German retailers embracing Irish solutions and seeing significant growth as a result – and these are just two companies of many. For any other businesses wishing to avail of eCommerce opportunities in the Eurozone region, Enterprise Ireland can support them in accessing the market.

        “And in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, there are distinct pros for Irish companies looking to export as Irish SMEs are tech savvy, and digitisation is on top of the political agenda in German-speaking markets. As well as that, Irish companies react fast, deliver on time and are quick to pivot when hardship strikes – this reactivity and reliability goes a long way when doing business in the DACH region.”


        Research is vital

        But despite the fact that there is an Irish advantage in the region, the market executive says that buyers have high standards and Irish companies need to be able to show their commitment to the market and come prepared if they are to win business.

        “The value proposition needs to be clear, well-defined, and specific in order to make an impression,” she advises. “And as a Market Executive in Enterprise Ireland’s Düsseldorf office, my role involves supporting Irish client companies to access market opportunities in the DACH region – so market research, buyer introductions and in-market connections are all areas that we can assist with across the whole Eurozone – even in the virtual environment, securing some face time with the right decision maker can go a long way.

        “This is why we built a virtual 1:1 networking into our digital Consumer-Centric eCommerce event which took place on June 10th. The event was all about the German perspective on the eCommerce market right now, looking at the trends, pain points and opportunities the future will bring in this area. It’s an exciting time to be selling online and it’s going to ignite some big conversations and we wanted to accommodate that.”

        Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers world class market research reports to help inform market strategy. To find out more about doing business in Germany, visit our German Market page.

        Out of their comfort zone and into the Eurozone

        Industry across every sector of the country has been affected in some way or other by Brexit. But Ireland is still very much a part of the Eurozone and Anne Lanigan, Regional Director of the Eurozone for Enterprise Ireland, says it is vital that businesses in this country realise how valuable the European market is.

        To validate this, Enterprise Ireland and the IIEA (Institute of International and European Affairs) have come together to deliver a series of three events entitled ‘Europe is our Future’, aiming to change how Irish business views the EU.

        “The EU represents the biggest free trading area in the world, giving Ireland full access to this large marketplace and the three events, the first of which took on May 28th – with the second and third coming in July and September – aim to draw attention to this,” she says.

        Untapped trade opportunities

        “The webinars will highlight the unique trade opportunities for Irish business in Europe, particularly in relation to the single market and the single currency. They will also look at the untapped opportunities for Irish owned businesses in the EU and the strong reputation which Ireland, and indeed, Irish products and services, enjoy in Europe.

        “It will also help to increase Irish business’ understanding of the EU and position the Eurozone as an extension of Ireland’s domestic market as well as highlighting the supports available to Enterprise Ireland clients.”

        The single market was designed to enable frictionless trade between member states with no customs, tariffs or other barriers to trade and regulatory alignment across the region. With a population of over 440 million people this is the biggest free trading area in the world. And Lanigan says, this makes it a very big extension to our domestic market.

        “There are so many benefits to trading in a single currency as it introduces transparency and removes costs related to foreign exchange and the associated risks,” she says. “And Ireland’s adoption of the Euro has given Irish business access to a huge single currency market and an economy with a combined GDP of $13tr.

        “Of course, Europe is also a close neighbour and proximity has been proven to increase trade opportunities, while the increased direct maritime links to France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal in recent months have brought us even closer.”

        This closeness has never been more important as when Brexit finally happened in December, it highlighted the challenges which had arisen regarding trading with the UK in their new status outside the single market.

        But, while Irish firms will continue to do business with the UK, there is no doubt that the benefits of the single market now make the EU very attractive, including the benefits of ongoing regulatory alignment. And Brexit or no Brexit, the Eurozone offers the cost and transparency benefits of a single currency as well as access to a very large market.


        Exports to the Eurozone

        “However, while the multinational sector in Ireland has reaped the benefits of the single market, Irish owned businesses have yet to take full advantage of what is the biggest free trading area in the world,” says Lanigan. “According to 2019 data, Enterprise Ireland client exports to the Eurozone (2019: €5.6bn) were equal to just 70% of the value of those to the UK (2019: €7.9bn). This is despite the fact that the Eurozone population and Eurozone GDP is 5 times that of the UK – this is an untapped and immediate opportunity. So, the Eurozone markets are now a key element of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy and in fact since the launch of our Eurozone strategy in 2017, exports to the Eurozone have increased by over 33% and growth in Enterprise Ireland client exports increased by 15% in 2019 alone. And exports to the Eurozone are steadily increasing as a percentage of over exports – in 2019 this was 22%, up from 20% in 2017.”

        With this in mind, the Eurozone expert says Enterprise Ireland is uniquely positioned and financed to help Irish companies to both enter and scale in Eurozone markets by offering one-to-one support, through its world class market research centre, financial support and promotion of innovative Irish produce and services.


        Enter the Eurozone

        There is also a programme of events to introduce European buyers to the innovative capabilities of Irish companies in sectors such as internationally traded services, high-tech construction, engineering, ICT and life sciences. And the four-month Enterprise Ireland Enter the Eurozone training programme, now in its 3rd iteration, brings a group of 25 CEOs and their sales and marketing teams through the necessary steps in successfully entering a Eurozone market.

        “In addition, the IIEA, which is Ireland’s leading international affairs think tank, aims to provide a forum for all those interested in EU and International Affairs to engage in debate and discussion, and to evaluate and share policy options,” adds Lanigan. “They celebrate their 30th anniversary this year and there is also a benefit for Irish companies to become members of the IIEA, so they can stay abreast of European affairs which may impact or present opportunities for their business in addition to networking with senior figures in business and government. “So, all in all, the future for Irish companies looking to do business in the Eurozone, is looking bright.”

        Evolve UK – Guide to Social Value in Procurement

        Social Value in UK Public Sector tenders

        Social Value can be described as the additional value created in the delivery of a contract to a community, beyond the monetary value of the contract itself. While Social Value has been a feature of UK public procurement over the last decade, it has grown in prominence since introduction of the Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 06/20 in September 2020. This note requires councils to include a weighting of at least 10% to social value in tenders. Therefore, it is necessary for any Irish company dealing with the UK public sector to consider social value and how they can create value in a wider community.

        This Enterprise Ireland publication has been developed in collaboration with Steve Oldbury, Founder & Director, to help companies to meet the social value requirements of UK tenders and improve their capability to win business with UK public sector bodies.

        This guide includes:

        • The Principles of Social Value

        • Why Social Value is so important to society

        • The importance of Social Value when tendering for work

        • Assessing Social Value and the National TOMs Framework

        • Examples of Social Value Questions

        • Actions required by companies to respond effectively to Social Value