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.

Tech with heart: how CroíValve made a difference to patient safety

A trip to Paris was the catalyst for Dr. Martin Quinn, CMO and co-founder at CroíValve. “I was always interested in new treatments and one dawned on me in France,” he says.

During an interventional cardiology conference, Martin and the other attendees were going over treatments for tricuspid valve regurgitation (TR). A common heart disease that affects over half a million people every year in the US and EU alone. “I thought, ‘there’s a better way of doing this,’” he says.

Diagnosing a problem

Later that evening, Martin began jotting down ideas and sketching models. It was the beginnings of a game-changing device that would eventually be commercialised with the support of Enterprise Ireland.

Having spent 17 years as a Consultant Cardiologist, Martin has witnessed first-hand the harsh realities of TR. A vast majority of these patients are elderly and too frail for open-heart surgery. TR happens when the tricuspid valve doesn’t close properly. This causes blood to flow backwards, which over time can lead to permanent heart damage as well as liver and kidney problems.

Martin wanted to create a device that sealed the gap in the tricuspid valve, thereby restoring valve function without a big operation. On his return from Paris in 2014, Martin set the wheels in motion and filed a patent for a new concept.

Remedying a solution

To build the device, Martin needed a partner who combined both business and technical understanding. Dr Bruce Murphy, an Associate Professor in Biomechanical Engineering, was the perfect fit.

“A colleague of mine told me about a guy in Trinity College, Bruce, who was building a mitral valve for the heart,” he says. “I was astonished that he was building something so sophisticated here in Dublin.”

Martin and Bruce agreed to develop a prototype together. It was Bruce who suggested applying for Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund, and the pair were successful in their application in 2016. “The fact that Enterprise Ireland invested in us showed we were onto something,” says Martin.

With funding secured, the team began to grow. A chance meeting between Bruce and Dr Lucy O’Keefe, now CEO and co-founder at CroíValve, would prove to be a pivotal moment. She was a key hire, bringing extensive experience in start-ups and medical device development to the project.

Caring about safety

As part of the Commercialisation Fund, it was agreed that the team would develop their technology in Trinity College. Martin assigned his intellectual property to the university to develop the idea further.

During gaps in Martin’s busy schedule, he would provide clinical input as the team fine-tuned their designs and built a working prototype. “It was a huge learning curve for me. I’m not from an engineering or business background,” he says.

As the prototype took shape, Martin and the team began a rigorous testing programme. This would be a critical step to ensure the end product was safe and effective. Animal models were chosen to mimic aspects of TR. Early signs were positive, and the results would be crucial in securing additional investment.

The team reached out to industry contacts, with the support of Enterprise Ireland. Having successfully pitched their prototype, the project received €3.2m in funding from HBAN MedTech, Irrus Syndicates, Atlantic Bridge University Fund and SOSV Ventures.

“That was further validation for our solution following a detailed assessment. It was a huge achievement,” says Martin.

Believing in your team

The funding accelerated the development of the technology into first-in-human studies, which took place in St James University Hospital Dublin in March 2020. Carried out by an experienced heart team, the device performed well and was implanted and removed without complications.

“That day, the staff were incredible,” he added. “It was amazing to think how far we’d come.”

CroíValve’s device has been proven safe, simple and effective through extensive pre-clinical testing. But the journey is by no means over for Martin and his team. They spun out from Trinity College and into the Liffey Trust Enterprise, Dublin, where CroíValve is now based. They’re always looking to improve the device and still work with Enterprise Ireland today.

“They continue to provide invaluable advice, financial assistance, and important introductions to key industry contacts,” says Martin.

For anyone embarking on their own project, Martin has some advice: “Focus on the benefit to people. It’s a lot of hard work but incredibly fulfilling.”

 

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

UK Water Sector: Trends and Opportunities 2022-2025 – Webinar

 

In 2020 the UK water sector embarked on AMP 7, its five-year infrastructural spending cycle worth £51 billion. This sum covers a wide array of areas, from decarbonisation to digital, with plenty of opportunities for businesses across the supply chain to get involved in the sector.

This webinar discusses the trends and opportunities in the sector across the regulator’s five key themes, as well as AMP 8.

Topics discussed:

  • Environmental Protection

  • Carbon Reduction and Resilience

  • Digital Agenda

  • Customer Service

  • Collaboration and Innovation

  • Value for Money

  • The Future of the Sector and AMP 8

    Construction in the UK: A Guide to Legal Challenges and the UKCA Mark – Webinar

     

    In this webinar the speakers discuss some of the main legal and regulatory issues currently facing contractors, employers and suppliers in the construction sector across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

    This webinar also discusses the UKCA mark, the new UK product marking that will replace the CE mark on 1 January 2023 in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UKCA mark will be required for construction products being placed in the market. We will also discuss the process of how to certify your products with the UKCA marking.

    Speakers Include:

    • Jamie Ritchie, Partner, LK Shields

    • Dominic Jones, Partner, Blake Morgan

    • Lisa Boyd, Construction and Procurement Lawyer, Gateley Tweed LLP and Gateley Legal

    • Robin Byrne, Head of UK Office, NSAI Certification UK

      The Future of Mobility

      EU helps to supercharge mobility, offering opportunity to Irish businesses

      Summary

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

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

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

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

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

      Irish firms thriving in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Understand the opportunity

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

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

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

      Take time to access the market context

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Market snapshots

      Belgium

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

      The mobility landscape in Belgium

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

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

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

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

      Key stakeholders in Belgium

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

      Understand the mobility opportunity in Belgium

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

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

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

      • Digitalisation of mobility
      • Road safety

      Electric transport, including vehicles, bikes and scooters

      Selling into Belgium

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

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

      Top tip

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

      Back to top

      France

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

      The mobility landscape in France

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

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

      Other key priorities include:

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

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

      Key stakeholders in France

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

      Understand the mobility opportunity in France

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Selling into France

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

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

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

      Top tip

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

      Back to top

      Germany

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

      The mobility landscape in Germany

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

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

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

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

      Key stakeholders

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

      Understand the mobility opportunity in Germany

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

      Several Irish firms are already active here, including:

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

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

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

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

      Selling into Germany

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

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

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

      Top tip

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

      Back to top

      Italy

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

      The mobility landscape in Italy

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

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

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

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

      Key stakeholders in Italy

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

      Understand the mobility opportunity in Italy

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

      There’s particular focus on:

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

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

      Selling into Italy

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

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

      Top tip

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

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

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

      Back to top

      Netherlands

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

      The mobility landscape in the Netherlands

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

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

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

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

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

      Key stakeholders in the Netherlands

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

      Understand the mobility opportunities in the Netherlands

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

      • The Internet of Things
      • Smart cities
      • Connectivity

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

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

      Other key trends in the market include:

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

      Selling into the Netherlands

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

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

      Top tip

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

      Back to top

      Spain

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

      The mobility landscape in Spain

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

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

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

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

      Key stakeholders in Spain

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

      Understanding the mobility opportunity in Spain

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

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

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

      Other opportunities for Irish firms include:

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

      Selling into Spain

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

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

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

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

      Top tip

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

      Back to top

      Terence O'Rourke, Jennifer Melia and Leo Clancy at Enterprise Ireland Start-Up Showcase 2022

      Start-Up Showcase: Demonstrating Ireland’s strength in supporting entrepreneurs

       

      Events over the past few years have made the business environment challenging to navigate but have also presented some unprecedented opportunities for Ireland’s innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs.

       

      Enterprise Ireland’s aim to support start-ups

       

      In a rapidly changing world, innovation is vital, making it so important for Enterprise Ireland to nurture and support promising ideas and those who produce them.

       “We have a hotbed of talent and innovation in Ireland right now, so it’s more imperative than ever that our entrepreneurs are given the time, funding and advice to excel on a global scale,” says Jennifer Melia, Divisional Manager, Technology and Services Division at Enterprise Ireland.

      “At Enterprise Ireland, we aim to support and enable Irish businesses to lead in a changing world – and an integral part of this is those ambitious start-ups with innovative solutions to tackle global problems.”

       

      125 start-ups attend Start-Up Showcase 2022

       

      Our strength in innovation was recently demonstrated in Enterprise Ireland’s 2022 Start-Up Showcase, which was held in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, 7 April.

      Making a welcome return in person – last year’s Start-Up Showcase was wholly virtual – the event was attended by the ‘Class of 2021’. This included 82 new High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs), 43 approved Competitive Start Fund companies (CSFs) and representatives from each of the 32 New Frontiers programmes we supported during the year.

      This number was on a par with previous years; considering the difficult business environment in 2020 and 2021, this is testament to the resilience of Irish start-ups and entrepreneurs.

      Interestingly, and reflecting Enterprise Ireland’s commitment to supporting diversity in leadership teams, 24 of the 82 HPSUs and 16 of the 43 CSFs were led by female founders.

       

      Learning from other success stories

       

      “Investment and funding is only part of the recipe for success for a start-up,” explains Jennifer. “Learning from peers and those who have been on the starting and scaling journey already plays an important role in future success.

      As a result, this year’s conference element at Start-Up Showcase aimed to tackle two of the most important subjects for start-ups.

      The first panel focused on ‘Disruption and Customer-Led Innovation’. It featured Silvercloud Co-Founder and CEO Ken Cahill, Novus Diagnostics Founder and CEO Elaine Spain, and ACT VC General Partner John O’Sullivan.

      Centaur Fund Services Founding Partner and CEO Karen Malone, Kyte Powertech CEO Stephanie Leonard and Cubic Telecom CEO Barry Napier then shared their experiences on ‘Building a Strong Team and Funding for Scale’.

      The conference then ended with a keynote speech from LearnUpon Co-Founder and CEO Brendan Noud as his company, a HPSU from the Class of 2013, goes from strength to strength.

       

      Returning to an in-person Start-Up Showcase event

       

      Due to the public health measures, last year’s event was wholly virtual due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But this year’s was both live streamed and in person.

      “As the start-ups would have begun their journey during lengthy lockdowns and travel restrictions, this event, in many cases, was one of the first opportunities to meet such an influential group of people – as well as their peers – in person,” says Jennifer. “There was a real buzz in the air.”

      “In total, there were 500 attendees including representatives from the Irish start-up ecosystem, including VCs and other funders, State support agencies, strategic company partners and professional and financial services, Government departments, academics, business mentors and Local Enterprise Offices.”

       

      Innovation and resilience among the Start-Up Showcase Class of 2021

       

      As companies that formed during the second year of the pandemic, the ‘Class of 2021’ have shown innovation and resilience like never before. Proving that Ireland is the “go to” country when it comes to finding global solutions, these companies produced a number of solutions in many sectors, including digital health, fintech, medtech, software, sustainability and more.

      “The ‘Class of 2021’ is really impressive,” says Jennifer. “Take a look at Amnexis Digital Solutions, based in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, a digital health company that records patient data efficiently, therefore reducing the administration workload on hospital, homecare and nursing home staff.”

      And there’s more to come. Although we are only a few months into 2022, already the easing of restrictions has resulted in a renewed energy in Ireland’s start-up community.

      “Next year’s Start-Up Showcase is looking promising even now, with a strong pipeline of promising entrepreneurs with intriguing prospects making waves across Ireland, both first-time and repeat entrepreneurs.”

      The future has never been more exciting for Irish entrepreneurs to Lead in a Changing World.

       

      Find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s supports for High Potential Start-Ups or watch the recording of the Start-Up Showcase 2022 conference.

       

      Showcase - Irish craft and design expo at RDS, Dublin

      Irish craft and design in the spotlight at Showcase 2022

       

      The return of Showcase to the RDS in Dublin was cause for celebration for Ireland’s craft and design sector.

      While 2021 saw a virtual-only trade event, which brought the country’s makers together with international buyers online, Showcase 2022 proved better than ever because it blended the benefits of a traditional in-person trade show with lessons learned about online B2B sales.

       

      How Showcase benefits the Irish craft and design sector

       

      The event is the most important date on the craft and design sector’s calendar.

      “If Showcase didn’t exist, it would have to be invented,” says Brian McGee, Market Development Director of Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI).

      “It was established by what was then the Crafts Council nearly 50 years ago on the basis that it is very difficult to bring the whole craft and design sector overseas, and much easier to bring buyers here.”

      The Local Enterprise Office Showcase features first-time exhibitors. “For any small producer starting out, who wants to sell outside of their studio, Showcase provides them with the ability to do that,” Brian explains.

      “All sorts of retailers, from pharmacies in Dublin to gift shops in Donegal, exhibit to overseas buyers who travel to find products they won’t see anywhere but at Showcase.”

       

      Unique craft and design

       

      The originality of the products is an important part of Showcase’s appeal.

      “Buyers from the likes of QVC, LL Bean and the Tate Gallery know they won’t find these goods in Frankfurt or Birmingham.”

      “Buyers come to Showcase because they get unique products of a very high quality with a story attached.”

      Its purpose is not to generate profit, but to strategically develop the craft and design sector. However, serious business is done. At Showcase 2020, €25 million worth of orders were made, up 6% on 2019.

      400 exhibitors took part in that show which was visited by 4,187 individuals, representing 2,600 businesses/shops.

      McGee correctly anticipated a strong showing at Showcase 2022. “We saw high levels of anticipation and excitement because buyers hadn’t been anywhere for two years,” he points out.

      While there were fewer buyers from long haul locations such as Asia and the Middle East, those present were very serious about buying.

       

       

      A digitally enhanced expo

       

      Because the future is likely to see an increase in online marketplaces, Showcase 2022 was digitally enhanced.

      The Showcase Connect digital platform opened to buyers two weeks before Showcase 2022 launched at the RDS, enabling exhibitors to organise meetings and pitch products.

      The platform remained open for two weeks after the show to allow exhibitors to answer queries.

       

      Craft and design innovation

       

      Another reason why international buyers visit Showcase each year is because Irish craft and design companies are consistently bringing forward new products, says Enterprise Ireland’s Ross O’Colmain.

      Examples include Allied Imports’ new collection from designer Orla Kiely and the sustainable range from Rathborne Candles.

      “For any business that is developing new product lines, a physical trade show is the best way to keep existing buyers interested, to win new buyers, and to get feedback,” Ross says.

      The craft and design sector encompasses everything from jewellery and homewares to gifts. What most have in common is growing export orientation.

       

      Strength in stories

       

      Showcase 2022 exhibitor Copperfish uses timbers reclaimed from the decking planks at Belfast harbour, where ships like the Titanic were built. These are authentic, traceable timbers with a story attached, which is why luxury stores in the US want them.

      “Buyers are looking for things that aren’t available anywhere else,” explains McGee.

      The apparel and fashion side of the sector is performing well too, says O’Colmain, who points to a rise in interest in items such as Aran sweaters, driven by influencers such as singer Taylor Swift.

      “Many businesses in the sector have posted strong sales results throughout the pandemic, which in itself is encouraging. But for companies that are launching new products, doing so without meeting, engaging with, or presenting to buyers in person is very hard. That is what has been most difficult over the past two years,” says O’Colmain.

      “People wanted to get back to those kinds of interactions, and that’s why Showcase was so important.”

       

      Showcase 2022 took place from 27 February – 2 March in Dublin.

      To enquire about exhibiting during 2023, contact Showcase Ireland.