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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UK Education

UK Education Sector Procurement Report

UK Education

The sector is a complex mix of organisations with differing levels of autonomy and financial control, with local authorities playing a key role. Therefore, the purpose of this report is to explain the structures and governance to make it easier to understand for companies that wish to target products and services to this sector and how the sector procures goods and services. Education spending is the second largest element of public service spending in the UK, representing about £99 billion in 20/21, second only to health spend.

Read the report here.

UK Local Authority Update Report

 

The new report extended the research to look at the specific opportunities available to Irish companies by taking a closer look at the investment plans, budget priorities and organisational changes within authorities.

This document is based on detailed research, combined with our experience, knowledge and personal contacts. It endeavours to provide an up-to-date insight into the sector, taking account of the effects of the pandemic and budget priorities to help Irish companies identify relevant opportunities and target the
right authorities rather than taking a blanket approach.

Read the report here.

place based services

UK Market Analysis of ‘Place’ Based Services – Waste Collection, Treatment and Street Cleansing

 

This report provides details of how local authorities work and where Enterprise Ireland’s client companies should focus efforts to win work and develop a sustainable profitable foothold in the UK. The report focuses on two specific areas:
• Understanding the UK local authority landscape, including the types of local authorities, the roles and responsibilities of elected Members and officers and how they fit in with the decision-making process of procuring the type of ‘place based’ services offered by Enterprise Ireland client companies.
• Undertaking market analysis to identify the local authority procurement horizon/ pipeline for ‘place’ based services, focussing on waste collection, treatment and street cleansing services.

Read the report here.

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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Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital Funding – Webinar

 

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Venture Capital Association, this webinar “Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital (VC) Funding” focuses on encouraging women-led companies to seek venture capital finance.

The purpose of this webinar is to support companies in all sectors and at all stages of growth that are seeking venture capital finance. There is a specific focus on encouraging and enabling women entrepreneurs to successfully raise VC finance.

It includes panel discussions with women funders and founders, which identifies and provides examples of successful fundraising strategies.

Recognising the under-representation of women in this space, the webinar is targeted at women-founders and co-founders in all sectors and at all stages of growth.

It provides a roadmap for women founders on their investment journey who wish to develop their investment skills and network with other women funders and founders.

    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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    Under the microscope: how Hooke Bio found success

    The brilliant 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke proved an unlikely source of inspiration for an ambitious MedTech company in Shannon.

    “Robert Hooke was the incredible mind behind Hooke’s Law and early microscopy advances. Despite facing many challenges in his life, he was determined and truly ground-breaking in his fields. We see some of ourselves in him,” beamed COO of Hooke Bio, Dr Finola Cliffe.

    Finola has 15 years’ experience in cell culture. In 2014, she joined Hooke Bio, where she now leads a team of scientists and engineers developing technology for 3D microtissues. This technology has the potential to replace the need for animal testing and provide more accurate testing models.

    “It’s fantastic being part of a small company with good intentions. But we often wonder where the next segment of funding is coming from,” Finola says.

    Forging a new path

    The team was initially based at the University of Limerick and it was here they received their first investment under the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. By August 2016, this additional support allowed Finola to successfully develop a working prototype. Her team now faced a new challenge.

    “It took us months to get hold of usable data. Then it dawned on me, ‘this is going somewhere but we don’t have enough runway.’” she says.

    While the first fund allowed the team to build a working prototype, a second would allow them to take things further again. In 2017, the team successfully secured a second Commercialisation Fund to build a more robust prototype on a larger scale. Even with new financial support, Finola was still concerned.

    “We knew technology. But we were green behind the ears in how to market a product. This was a massive challenge for us to overcome. We needed to understand how to position ourselves – the funding helped with this and was the first stepping stone.”

    Leaping into the unknown

    Through the Enterprise Ireland mentorship programme, Terry Sullivan, former MD of Clonmel Healthcare, was enlisted to help with the next step – selling the idea. He, along with Prof. Mark Davies, the founder of Hooke Bio, devised a plan around costs and milestones with the team.

    The Transfer Technology Offices (TTO) became more involved. They’re responsible for technology transfer and aspects of research commercialisation at universities. Working closely with Enterprise Ireland, TTO contacted experts who could share further insights into larger pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Novartis and AstraZeneca.

    “It was a steep learning curve but we learned a lot during this time. We were beginning to understand how to best pitch ideas to research and development units. The Market Research Centre was like gold dust for us,” says Finola.

    As part of Enterprise Ireland, the Market Research Centre offered access to free reports that would typically cost thousands of Euros. This provided important knowledge on the competition and proved crucial in seeking investment.

    Reaching the masses

    The team eventually finished a business plan and began networking with potential investors in Ireland. The media was one way to be heard.

    “We got our name out there, did interviews with journalists and told our story. It was something new to us, but our confidence grew,” she says.

    Finola noticed that investors were becoming more familiar with the company. Having won the Big Idea Showcase in 2017, even more investors came forward.

    “We were getting a lot of traction and that was worth an awful lot to us. We have grown so much since the initial funding.”

    Finding a new home

    It wasn’t long until the team secured its initial investor funding and spun out of the University of Limerick. However, more funding would be needed to secure new premises and set up labs.

    In early 2019, after the team secured disruptive technology and innovation funding, they moved to Shannon. Their new premises contain offices, engineering labs, and workshops, making it an entirely self-sufficient business.

    “We don’t need to outsource anything, which is quite unusual for a company of our size,” she says. “We can make all our prototypes in-house – we can mill stainless steel, acrylic, mostly any material we want. A lot of components are needed when testing.”

    Believing in yourself

    Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund has opened up a world of opportunities for Finola and her team, helping them on a path to success.

    The company has just completed its second round of investment and released two new patents. In Jan 2019, Hooke Bio won €1.9m in the first round of funding through the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, in collaboration with The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis and NUI, Galway.

    For anyone thinking of embarking on a new journey with Enterprise Ireland, Finola has some advice: “Communication is everything. If you’re unsure of next steps, just go for it and pick up the phone – if you don’t try, you’ll never know”.

     

    Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

    Forming unbreakable bonds: how Plasmabound found success

    “This goes against science,” marvelled Nick Barry, a tech inventor and founder of PlasmaBound.

    It was 2013, and Nick was working for the UCD-based Irish Centre for Composite Research (IComp).

    Excitedly, Nick asked his professor, Denis Dowling, to look at the testing sample.

    “Okay, I think we have something”, confirmed Prof. Dowling.

    Nick had discovered a new process for bonding composite materials like carbon fibre. A solution that could help automotive, aerospace, marine, and electronics manufacturers build even stronger, lighter products.

    Finding a solution

    Nick quickly realised the significance of his findings and was determined to develop a product for the market.

    New design opportunities beckoned. Companies could potentially build significantly cheaper solutions without metal fixings and, importantly, reduce their CO2 footprint globally.

    “When I developed the solution, I immediately thought ‘product’. Fortunately, I’d been aware of the Commercialisation Fund since my PhD days, so it was always in the back of my mind,” says Nick.

    “I saw a benefit to the human race. So, I went home to my partner (and now wife) and told her repeatedly how exciting it was!” he laughed.

    Forging a new path

    Hugh Hayden, UCD Case Manager of the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), was on hand to provide support. After viewing the solution and reviewing UCD’s internal Invention Disclosure Forms, he agreed that this would be a perfect project for Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

    Things moved quickly from there. The TTO reached out to David Flood, Commercialisation Specialist at Enterprise Ireland.

    Over a cup of coffee, David listened closely to Nick’s story and was blown away by the project’s potential. David then dug deeper into Nick’s solution, working out what would be needed to commercialise a minimum viable product (MVP).

    “David was fantastic in reflecting the fund’s requirements. You might say, he gave me the sandbox in which to build my castle,” says Nick.

    Removing barriers

    With funding secured, Nick began developing an MVP. He went about ensuring the technology could treat a number of complex composite materials at scale.

    Barriers to the market had to be removed. Nick and his team contacted industry leaders to communicate the idea. The MVP was a game-changer – Nick needed to show companies how it could reduce the weight of their products and their carbon gains.

    Searching for answers

    The MVP was demonstrated at three different sites. With potential customers in attendance, demonstrations took place at FiftyOne Bikes in Dublin, Custom Composites in Meath, and ÉireComposites in Galway.

    “We needed to show that we could meet required specifications with certain materials. So, that’s exactly what we did,” says Nick.

    In the first 12 months, Nick had 11 letters of interest from firms. To drive the project forward, Nick took it upon himself to gather feedback and learn what was needed in the short and long term.

    “After a couple of rounds of feedback, we were successful in gaining support. But it was only once we had secured the Commercialisation Fund

    Thinking bigger

    In 2017, Nick was ready to take the next step by forming a spin-out company.

    “It was the logical next step. But I had no idea what it would take to grow a company. Enterprise Ireland helped us understand each step and what was required,” says Nick.

    His brother Alan Barry came on board as CEO, a serial entrepreneur, who had followed the project closely from a very early stage. Xavier Montibert joined as Commercial Director in 2018, bringing connections with industry leaders and a proven track record of delivering innovation.

    PlasmaBound continued to grow and recognition quickly followed. In 2018, the company reached the final of Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas and featured in The Ones to Watch and SBP’s 100 Hot Start-Ups. Nick and his team aren’t stopping there.

    “The start-up journey is going extraordinarily well,” beams Nick. “The team is motivated and everyone’s excited about what the future holds.”

    Believing in yourself

    Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund helped Nick on his path to success. Subsequently, his confidence grew.

    “The project gave me faith that I could actually do this. Having an organisation like Enterprise Ireland demonstrate trust in your idea makes you feel good about yourself. Sometimes science is all about confidence.”

    For anyone embarking on their own project, Nick has some advice: “Remember, be positive. Always communicate with those close to you and enjoy the journey.”

     

    Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

    Output Sports

    Meet Output: the smartest team in sport

    A passion for sports and data has proved the winning formula for Dr Martin O’Reilly, co-founder and CEO at Output Sports.

    Founded in 2018, the company develops technology to test and track the performance of athletes. However, the origins of the team stretch back further.

    In 2012, Martin was first exposed to wearable sensors, signal processing, and machine learning during an undergraduate degree in Sports and Exercise Engineering, NUI Galway (NUIG).

    “At first, I was just interested in what could be measured in the gym and that led to a PhD in Machine Learning for Signal Processing at UCD”, laughs Martin, as he reflects on his commercialisation journey with Enterprise Ireland.

    Getting the ball rolling

    Martin discovered a problem during his fieldwork.

    He realised that athlete testing and tracking involved the use of cumbersome, bespoke equipment. These tools were unreliable, expensive and time-consuming.

    When he looked deeper into the issue, he realised that strength coaches and medics were spending less time doing the things they truly cared about – coaching and rehabilitating others.

    Products like Fitbit and Nike’s FuelBand provide macro-level analysis like step and calorie count. But, Martin wanted to go further by measuring performance related attributes like strength, power, balance, speed and mobility.

    Martin and his fellow PhD student Dr Darragh Whelan (also now co-founder and CSO at Output Sports) began collecting interdisciplinary research and exploring algorithms. They felt sporting performance could be measured more accurately, and at a lower cost, by developing a single, wearable motion sensor.

    Martin and Darragh’s PhD advisor Brian Caulfield, Director of the SFI Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCD, adopted a leadership role in their project.

    “Brain’s involvement was pivotal for us. He surrounded us with anthropologists, statisticians, doctors, and physios. He’s a brilliant creative mind and still sits on the board today as an adviser,” says Martin.

    Setting the bar high

    The team was about to be given a jolt of confidence. Darragh conducted 80 interviews with sports practitioners who completed quantitative and qualitative surveys.

    “Their pain points almost perfectly matched our algorithms and research. That encouraged us to commercialise,” says Martin.

    In 2018, the team applied for an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund, allowing them to ramp up and develop a minimum viable product (MVP).

    The team gathered extensive feedback from 30 potential users, as they tinkered and iterated the MVP. In 2019, Julian Eberle, the third co-founder and also CTO, came on board and began leading the technical side of things, such as developing mobile applications and implementing the MVP’s algorithms.

    “We were beginning to put the meat on the bones,” says Martin. Together with Enterprise Ireland, they created a rigorous project plan with a series of milestones and timelines. Martin and the team regularly met with Enterprise Ireland advisors Gerard Lande and Tom Bannon to help focus the project from a commercial viewpoint.

    After many months of hard work, the team launched Output // Capture in February 2020. The product can test multiple aspects of athletic performance with a matchbox-sized wearable sensor that can be fitted to your wrist or upper arm.

    With Enterprise Ireland’s support, the team began reaching out to contacts in the world ofsport. They were excited by the names showing interest.

    Believing in your team

    Soon after launching Output // Capture, the company spun out from UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. The team made the short move to the university’s innovation hub NovaUCD, where they are now based.

    Output Sports now has 200 clients from professional sports teams right down to school and university levels. Among the company’s partners are several professional soccer clubs, this includes Premier League sides including Burnley, Norwich City, and Watford. The team also partner with Leinster Rugby and the England men’s football team.

    Having successfully commercialised their product, Martin still works alongside Enterprise Ireland today.

    “We received funds from other investors, but the key to that was the backing we received from Enterprise Ireland. They also helped with grants and opened doors for us to make important contacts, so they’ve been fantastic.”

    For anyone embarking on their own project, Martin has some advice: “Surround yourself with mentors and listen. Most of all, enjoy yourself. We’ve loved every second of our journey.”

     

    Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

    CropBiome

    Green shoots: how CropBiome gave hope to Irish agriculture

    It’s not news that our planet faces unprecedented food shortages, due to growing populations and climate change . But there is hope, in the shape of a new Dublin-based business.

    Dr Fiona Doohan, Professor of Plant Health at University College Dublin (UCD), has studied plant diseases for over 20 years. She’s all too familiar with the challenges we face and has worked hard to find a solution. With the support of Enterprise Ireland she is turning that into a cutting-edge response.

    “Agriculture is changing dramatically. While we’ve taken an awful lot of the chemicals out of crop growing, we still need to have high yields to feed the population,” says Fiona.

    In 2019, she co-founded CropBiome, which creates biological products that can boost crop yields. That means cultivated plants become high in nutritional value and climate-resistant, which is good for the environment and farmers’ pockets.

    Planting a seed

    It was during Fiona’s collaborative research with Trinity College that she realised there was commercial potential in her work. They discovered that there was more microbial diversity in wild plants compared to cultivated plants. In layman’s terms, microbial diversity covers all the organisms that help life thrive. For crops, it drives growth, yield, and adaptation.

    “Microbial diversity has been lost through agricultural practices. So, we wondered what would happen if we put it back in?” says Fiona.

    Initial experiments followed, and the team found great potential to improve drought tolerance in cultivated plants.

    They wanted to develop a technology that isolated the beneficial microbes from wild plants, which could then be used on cultivated plants. But they needed to build a prototype, which could then be used to produce products like seed coatings and a soil health indicator. This technology would not only improve the sustainability of crops globally, but also enhance the diversification, safety and transparency of Irish food systems.

    Fiona was already aware of Enterprise Ireland’s Commercial Fund from previous projects at UCD. And in 2017, she was successful in her application for funding.

    Branching out

    Fiona now had the resources to wrap up the critical scientific issues and create the prototype. It was a long process, as the prototype could only be tested seasonally, to align with crop planting. However, early signs were positive.

    In the meantime, they shifted their focus to the business side of things. With the help of Enterprise Ireland, they conducted market analysis and created a business plan. A timeline and a series of milestones were also built to keep the project on track.

    “I’m a scientist and that’s a long way from commercialisation,” says Fiona. “These things were new to me. What I know about start-ups now and what I knew then is very different.”

    As work progressed, a significant announcement further validated the project. The EU Green Deal was unveiled – a set of initiatives to move Europe to a cleaner, circular economy by 2050. From an agricultural perspective, it would mean removing chemicals from crops and further reducing pesticides and fertiliser. These requirements aligned with Fiona’s long-term goals.

    Growing together

    Through Enterprise Ireland’s Business Partners Programme, Fiona met Sean Daly – a pivotal moment for the project.

    Initially an Enterprise Ireland adviser, Sean’s enthusiasm for the technology would lead to his appointment as CEO at CropBiome. With over 20 years business development experience in agribusiness and life sciences, he would help the company grow further and secure additional investment.

    “Sean brought huge value to us. Without his input, we wouldn’t have a spin-out company today. He brought a level of commercial realisation to the project that wasn’t there before,” she says.

    For Fiona, years of hard work was about to pay off as the team successfully launched their new microbe discovery platform. Industry recognition has quickly followed, Fiona took home the main prize at the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awards. More recently, CropBiome successfully secured the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) which will be critical for the further development of the technology.

    Believing in yourself

    In February 2022, CropBiome will spin out from Trinity College into their new home in UCD’s innovation hub, NovaUCD. The move was supported by Enterprise Ireland’s High Performance Start-Up Fund.

    “Enterprise Ireland has been supportive the entire way. If we hit any glitches, they were the first to help us find a path to overcome them,” says Fiona.

    As she reflects on her commercialisation journey, Fiona has some advice for those embarking on their own project: “There were times of anxiety, but there is a huge amount of support that can help you along the way – you just have to reach out.”

     

    Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

    Biologit

    Hardwired for success: how Biologit is improving clinical safety

    Cars beep and lorries rumble past on the busy streets of São Paulo. Nicole Baker, PhD, CEO and co-founder at biologit, is in Brazil on business as she reflects on a familiar problem. “There’s so much medical literature out there. The volume is so high it can be difficult to follow it all,” she says.

    This issue would inspire Nicole to create her own start-up company, with the support of Enterprise Ireland. Before spinning out, the core technology would be developed at Trinity College.

    With over 20 years of experience as an immunologist and pharmacovigilance professional, Nicole understood that searching for the latest information on drugs or side effects can pose a real challenge for pharma companies and researchers. Screening can be laborious and impact patients’ safety.

    “I kept thinking ‘how can we do this better at a much bigger level?’” says Nicole.

    Seeking out opportunity

    With that question in mind, she approached Bruno Ohana, PhD, and now CTO and co-founder at biologit. The pair had known each other for years through different projects.

    After some discussion, they concluded that AI could filter out redundant information and provide relevant research in an easily accessible form. They created working models to put their theory into practice and were pleased by the results. Nicole recognised that additional expertise and skills would be needed to develop the technology further – she reached out to Enterprise Ireland.

    “We wanted to dedicate ourselves full-time, so funding and support would be critical to creating the product,” she says.

    Enterprise Ireland confirmed there was potential in the project. They talked through commercialisation avenues and collaboration possibilities to take the idea forward.

    The next step was introducing Nicole and Bruno to Professor Lucy Hederman, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, at Trinity College. While Nicole and Bruno had extensive market intel and knowledge of technical strategy, Lucy had the means to build the technology solution.

    Having reviewed the working models and accompanying results, Lucy came on board as scientific lead. Trinity’s lab facilities and Lucy’s work would prove to be the backbone of the project. Now the team had invaluable access to a greater level of information around health informatics and AI.

    With this collaboration in place, Nicole successfully applied for Commercialisation Funding in 2020. The team could now begin creating a minimum viable product (MVP). The project was gathering real momentum.

    Building something special

    A team was assembled at Trinity College, with Lucy and Bruno now working in conjunction with the UCD Adapt Centre. With the world in the grips of a pandemic, meeting people in person proved difficult.

    “Unfortunately, this hampered things, everything was virtual. We missed interacting with other researchers over coffee, which is easier for making connections,” says Nicole.

    Two engineers were hired, along with a group of pharmacovigilance professionals to share their expert knowledge. With everyone on board, the team got to work.

    “Our solution needed to de-duplicate and tag every incoming article with predictions based on AI models in collaboration with subject matter experts. This wasn’t going to be built in a week,” she says.

    The team created a more accessible workflow by building a front-end for the MVP to speed things up.

    After many hard hours and months, the MVP was taking shape.

    Thinking bigger

    With Enterprise Ireland’s support, Nicole drew on her vast industry experience to gauge reaction to the product. The team gathered feedback through interviews and testing sessions.

    Sandboxing was also key to providing further validation, allowing the team to test the MVP in a safe, isolated environment that mimicked the experiences of end-users.

    The results exceeded the team’s expectations. They had already submitted a patent and secured disclosure on the technology in conjunction with the Technology Transfer Office at Trinity College, which owns the intellectual property.

    They had successfully created a product that could collect information and data about problems in medications. A database of scientific research that was far easier for users to view.

    Nicole and the team began receiving industry recognition. She was a finalist in Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2020. Along with the Dublin Business Innovation Centre, the event allowed Nicole to network with industry leaders and establish important contacts. “Those events were invaluable, allowing us to meet investors and decide where we wanted to go next,” says Nicole.

    With the help of Neil Gordon, Start-up Development Manager at Trinity College, Nicole opened dialogue with investors and presented the product. After several discussions, Nicole and Bruno secured private funding. This would be the platform to found Biologit in 2021.

    Looking ahead

    The future looks bright for Nicole and her team. Biologit now works alongside 20 pilot partners in the pharma industry, rigorously testing its AI models across many cases. “This was something we really worked for – it wasn’t just handed to us. Knowing Enterprise Ireland was behind us filled us with great confidence. They have been great partners and we’re still connected with them today,” says Nicole.

    For those embarking on their own commercialisation project, Nicole has some advice: “Focus on your product. It’s a lot of hard work, but with a certain belief, you can accomplish what you set out to achieve.”

     

    Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.