Creating innovative solutions to new and emerging threats

Cybersecurity solutions that address new and emerging threats

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rapid shift for many to virtual ways of doing work – and the recognition – finally – that remote and hybrid working is a very viable possibility in many industries. And, that offering flexible ways of working can actually give companies an edge when it comes to attracting talent. Unfortunately, however, with more flexibility comes a very real problem – the increased risk of cybercrime and cyberattacks. And the need for effective cybersecurity solutions is becoming more urgent by the day.

According to a study by McKinsey & Co, only 16% of executives felt that their organisations are well prepared to deal with cyber risk. Plus, the United Nations has warned that cybercrime increased by nearly 600% during the pandemic.

“Globally, there has never been a more challenging time for organisations in relation to cybersecurity,” says Pat O’Grady, Senior Business Advisor and Global Lead for Cybersecurity at Enterprise Ireland. “A higher level of cyber threats and attacks, security challenges linked to remote working, and increasingly sophisticated attacks on personal accounts have all put systems under immense pressure.”

 

Irish cybersecurity solutions

Ireland has long been a leader in technology innovation, with our advances in medtech, agritech, fintech and more in high demand across the globe. So it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of ambitious Irish companies is coming up with some very clever solutions to cybercrime. As an example, Cork-based Velona Systems has developed a solution that protects large call centres in the US against brute force call spam attacks, ghost calling and robocalling, a growing challenge in this sector.

Velona is just an example of our strength in the area, which is highlighted in the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021, which this year is titled ‘Creating Innovative Solutions to New and Emerging Threats’. Taking place over six separate events in November and December, covering different world regions, the series features talks by leading cybersecurity experts, pitches by innovative Enterprise Ireland client companies, and opportunities for individual client-buyer meetings.

“All the participating Irish companies have identified the most urgent areas within cybersecurity and come up with intelligent solutions that potentially have a worldwide customer base,” says Pat. “For instance, one of the biggest issues now is the sharp rise in phishing emails. Cyber Risk Aware is an Irish business offering learning platforms that can build training programmes within Microsoft Office 365 to raise staff awareness regarding phishing and teach them how to spot a dangerous email. The company also offers a phishing simulation platform, which can build email templates and schedule simulation campaigns to test the level of awareness within the organisation and to offer additional focused learning for staff when required.”

Like all good responses to security threats, many solutions are based on prevention rather than cure – and with the cost of cyber crime rising sharply as the attacks get more sophisticated, this is sure to be a massive area of growth. “EdgeScan is leading the way in pen testing, or vulnerability scanning,” says Pat. “This includes scanning company IPs or carrying out pen tests on company websites or client portals to find any potential weaknesses – therefore stopping the threat before it happens.”

 

Remote working challenges

With remote and hybrid working looking likely to stay in the long term, many companies are looking for ways to boost their security with staff working on devices away from the office and even out on the road. “Remote working has brought with it many challenges; one issue is providing the same amount of security as in the office,” says Pat. “Web and email filtering identifies new malware sites and can block specific categories of websites, such as gambling sites. Galway-based TitanHQ offers advanced solutions for this issue, currently helping businesses in over 120 countries.”

A big issue for companies is our increasing reliance on mobile phones for work purposes – now a company has to look into protecting these as well as laptops and computers. “Many companies have introduced a controlled ‘Bring Your Own Device’, or BYOD, policy in which company apps are locked down or secured on the device, while others have restricted access to only corporate devices to allow for full control. And yes, there’s an Irish company involved in this area too: CWSI are experts in the field of mobile device management and offer guidance on both policy and the technical aspects of managing devices.”

It’s clear that Irish companies are leading the way in cybersecurity solutions. Many companies are finding it difficult to acquire and retain staff with skills in the areas of compliance, ISO certification, incident response, forensics and investigations – and, as Pat explains, there are several Irish companies in a great position to help. “Irish innovators such as Integrity360, SmartTech 24/7, Kontex and Evros are providing a solution to this issue by providing expert security consultant services. These companies’ Security Operations Centre (SOC service) offers uninterrupted monitoring of their clients‘ IT networks.”

 

Details of the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021 can be found here

NearForm

Nearform – Necessity is the mother of invention

“We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly.”

– Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions, NearForm.

Case Study: NearForm

Every growing company juggles day-to-day demands with the need to innovate. NearForm, a Waterford-based global software consultancy with 200 staff in 29 countries, had the vision and ability to scale, but they needed help and found it in Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund.

Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions at NearForm explains: “”The potential for us was to develop software tools to help us deliver more solutions at higher speed and scale in a repeatable way. While we had all the skills and leadership to do this, we needed some commercial space to be able to take staff off client work and dedicate them to research and development.”

Seeing the potential

In 2019, the team at NearForm started to look at how they could evolve their services, but they needed to innovate quickly to make their growth plans a reality. In Q4, they applied, and were approved, for Enterprise Ireland’s (Business Innovation Initiative) under the Agile Innovation Fund. Nearform’s Development Advisor  guided them through the application and approval process.

The company has a global client list: London banks, US pharmaceutical companies, retail chains in South America, as well as blue chip brands like American Express, The New York Times and closer to home, the Health Service Executive (HSE).  But despite the wide variety of fields, all these organisations face the same challenge.

Facing the challenge

Ger says: “All of our clients want to be modern digital enterprises with market leading digital services. It’s the number one challenge in our market, not just for growth but for survival, as the world is dominated by fast-moving digital companies.”

“We’ve always been able to deliver change for clients with great digital solutions. What we came to realise – in the age of Amazon – was that delivering a great solution was not enough. We wanted to create digital platforms to deliver new features and services continuously for clients, so they could move as fast or faster than the digital native disruptors that might take their market,” he adds.

What NearForm hoped to achieve was ambitious. A lot of their work was, and still is, delivered from the open web platform – a global shared ecosystem for coders – using open source components. The team at NearForm realised that if they wanted faster, reliable solutions for their clients, they needed to move the existing open source technology forward.  By doing so, the technology would be more ‘enterprise ready’.

NearForm wanted to “advance the whole open source platform and make it available to everybody, not just our clients,” Ger says.

“Because we’re a tech services company, there’s always a pressure to be billable. We were able to do it because of the commercial cover afforded by the fund,” he says.

Learning from the process

The speedy application process for the Business Innovation Initiative (Agile Innovation Fund) had an unexpected benefit. “It made us think about our own approach and outcomes carefully,” Ger says.  “It was literally applied for in October and approved in December of the same year.”

The project kicked off in December 2019 – the timing proved to be serendipitous. Amongst the many benefits envisioned, the project aimed to accelerate their solutions. Once Covid hit, speed became even more important for their clients. And new clients soon came their way.

NearForm were approached by the HSE to create the Covid tracking app for Ireland and went on to create similar apps for nine jurisdictions. Ger says: “Everywhere from Jersey to New Jersey. We created the software, but we also donated it to the Linux Foundation so that every country could have the Covid tracking app as open source code.”

Overall, across all sectors, the impact of the innovation fund was faster delivery of high quality solutions and of course, increased revenue.  “We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly,” Ger says.

Their unique understanding of the open source code they advanced has caught the attention of global investors. They recently secured funding from a US venture capital firm. “One of the reasons we got investment is that they were so interested in our expertise in open source. Being able to show that we were investing in that was definitely a contributing factor to getting funding.”

What advice would he give to anyone thinking of applying for the Agile Innovation Fund and pursuing an innovation project? “It’s an opportunity to create longer-term value,” Ger says. “Our view is that if you’re not innovating then your competitors will be. Innovation is not just a nice to have, but a necessity for growth.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.

 

Delmec

Delmec makes data capture and sharing process more efficient

“People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there. The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

– Damien Kelly, Head of Engineering & Innovation, Delmec.

Case Study: Delmec

Delmec, a global telecoms solutions company, headquartered in Carlow, was faced with a problem. Their engineers were recording data manually while doing survey work for tower owners and mobile network operators in Africa. It was leading to vast amounts of paperwork and it was unsustainable.

Head of Engineering and Innovation Damien Kelly explains: “It was a long drawn out process, our teams had to capture all the details on site, on paper. They’d then go back to the hotel or office, take photographs or scans of the survey and send it all to our design office, who had to try to read the information, model the tower, analyse it and write up a report.”

Handwritten data resulted in inconsistencies and the sharing of data post-survey led to delays.

Delmec had to find a way to make their data capture and sharing process more efficient. By doing so, they could speed up their operations and then scale the business. Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund was there to help.

Taking the leap

Delmec has a Telecoms Infrastructure Management system (TiMS). A cloud based assessment management system; it allows clients to monitor tower capacity, view
maintenance schedules and input trouble-tickets for thousands of telecommunications masts around the world. The company wanted to develop an app that would replace the old paper-based and manual way of working, and work in tandem with TiMS.

“The teams all had phones, we wanted to see if there was a way to automate things onsite and to capture the information digitally by tapping into the TiMS system,” Damien says. “We knew it was going to be a large undertaking. But we needed to jump on it because it was going to build the business for the next five to ten years.” he says. But there were doubts over changing familiar ways of working and the level of investment required. “We knew it was going to be a long journey and we needed buy-in from everyone to be able to do it,” Damien says.

A partner in change

After some research, Delmec signed up to a webinar to find out about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund. The company liked what it saw and applied. The process from application to decision was quick, only taking four months to complete.

The application for the fund also helped Delmec map out the project. “Part of the application process involves scoping. By doing that, you’re then visualising what it is and you’re identifying problems,” he says.

“Enterprise Ireland holds your hand through the whole thing, there’s a lot of work but you’re not on your own,” Damien says.

Once the Agile Innovation Fund was secured, the internally-named ‘Eiffel’ project got underway. As with any app build, there were different iterations; it took eight months to complete its first stage.

A towering success

“It opened the floodgates to everything,” Damien says. Their design teams could access data in real-time and client partners were wowed by the speed of the process. The Agile Innovation Fund enabled Delmec to scale, they secured new contracts in Asia and the Middle East and they are now planning to expand to Europe.

The streamlined process means it can work with contractors in remote locations if needed. This proved to be essential when Delmec couldn’t dispatch their teams to towers due to local COVID-19 lockdowns. “If we didn’t have the app, I don’t know what position we’d be in now. We rely heavily on it,” Damien adds.

Delmec has built on the functionality of the app, moving it from a real-time data capture and sharing tool to something much more powerful. It not only drives efficiency throughout the entire business, it now drives ideas. The app tracks suggestions from team members who think something could be done better, everyone from accountants to engineers are encouraged to input.

The Eiffel project has also changed the mindset of the team. They have seen the benefits of embracing innovation and want to continue to evolve. It has given the business an edge over risk-averse competitors who are slow to embrace change.

How can other businesses nurture an innovative mindset? “People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there,” Damien says. “The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.

 

Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity

International Markets Week 2021: Green agenda and digitalisation key areas for growth  

Global Recovery - Irish Opportunity

It’s been said many times that exports are crucial to Ireland’s recovery in the post-pandemic world – and Enterprise Ireland is committed to ensuring that Irish companies take advantage of the many opportunities around the world to increase their business and bolster our economy as a result.

A crucial event in the Enterprise Ireland year is International Markets Week, and this year, for the second year running, it was held as a virtual event over five busy days in October 2021.

“When Covid hit, we decided that the event was too important to miss, particularly in the context of a global pandemic,” explains Anne Lanigan, Regional Director, Eurozone, at Enterprise Ireland. “This is a time when it’s even more important for our clients to keep their exports going, so we decided to go onto a virtual platform, with our market advisors available for a full week.

“The market advisors are the boots on the floor, the people who can introduce client companies to potential buyers, so it’s a very practical week for people who want to do business.”

This year, the theme of the event was Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity, recognising that the global economy is experiencing significant disruption – but while this disruption brings challenges, there are also significant opportunities.

“Enterprise Ireland client companies enjoyed excellent overall export growth in 2019 of 8%,  with particularly strong growth in the Eurozone and North America of 15% and 16% respectively,” says Anne

 “In 2020, these figures stabilised, which was a very good result in the context of a global pandemic, but now we need to get back to 2019 levels of growth.”

Opportunities for Irish companies lie in many areas, including the green agenda and digitisation. Throughout the world, companies are investing in green and digital strategies and governments are putting stimulus packages in place to drive a recovery based on a green and digital future. This investment represents huge opportunity for innovative Irish companies.

“The current disruption in global supply chains also poses significant opportunity,” says Anne. “The drive by manufacturers in developed economies, in particular, to strengthen the reliability of their supply chains so that they are more easily accessed from a geographic and an administrative perspective, creates the opportunity for Ireland to embed themselves in these new supply chains. Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe puts us in a key position to capitalise on this move towards regionalisation of supply chains.”

 

Finding opportunities

It’s clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Enterprise Ireland client companies have recognised the importance of building a robust strategy to take advantage of these growth opportunities. A total of 710 Enterprise Ireland client companies registered for the event, booking a total of 1,663 meetings with market advisors from across the world.

To get an indication of how companies were faring as the world’s economy recovers from the challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Enterprise Ireland conducted a survey of the participants ahead of the event. The results were positive: 56% of businesses indicated that they have seen an increase in exports in 2021 compared to 2020, with only 11% reporting a decrease. And, 91% of companies expect sales to increase again in 2022. In terms of trends, the survey revealed that 80% of businesses viewed digitalisation as vital over the next 12 months, while 63% said that advancing their sustainability agenda was a priority.

These results proved accurate throughout the event, which was officially launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy. Lydia Rogers, country manager for Enterprise Ireland in Canada, reported a real hunger in Irish companies to take advantage of the many opportunities out there. “I met many client companies at various stages of their export journey, from those accelerating their international growth and diversifying into new global markets to ambitious start-ups keen to explore the export opportunities in Canada. The week proved that Canada is a very attractive market for Irish companies in many sectors, including cleantech, consumer retail, engineering, life sciences, fintech and BPO, and a large proportion of digital technologies companies.

“In addition, Canada was also identified by many client companies as an entry point and as a lower-cost gateway into the wider North America market.”

And, as predicted, the green agenda and digitalisation opportunities were noted by Lydia as strong trends for Irish companies looking to Canada for growth. “Our team met many companies with innovative digitalisation solutions across travel tech, retail tech, ed tech, digital health, fintech, HR & talent tech, and IoT. There were also many SMEs with innovative solutions in areas including cleantech, mobility, smart energy and environment. Consumer retail was also a significant area of interest – a sector that experienced growth in 2020 despite the challenges of Covid-19. All in all, it was clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Irish companies have recognised Ireland and Canada make great business partners and are ready to reap the rewards from this vibrant and welcoming country.”

 

View the virtual launch event from Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week 2021 below:

 

 

 

 

 

Large ship with containers in port

Customs – Country of Origin

When it comes to customs, the country of origin of a product is critically important. And to all intents and purposes, the world is divided in three – EU member states and preferential and non-preferential countries.

 

Preferential Countries

Goods of EU origin travel freely within the EU, with no customs to deal with. Preferential countries are those with trade agreements with the EU, and all other countries fall into the non-preferential category.

Exports to and from preferential countries are subject to the rules of the trade agreement. For Irish exporters, this means proving that the goods involved are of EU origin. Importers must establish that the goods are of preferential origin, i.e. that they came from the country with the trade agreement.

 

Non-Preferential Countries

Normal WTO rules apply to non-preferential countries. This means first establishing the origin of the goods in question and then looking up the EU TARIC site to get the code for the goods and finding the relevant tariffs and other rules such as anti-dumping or quota restrictions which might apply.

Origin is essentially the economic nationality of the goods being traded. In some cases, this is easily established. These are instances where products are what is known as wholly obtained in a country. This means they have been entirely produced in that country without any goods from other countries being utilised in the end product.

 

Value-Added Rule

This would normally apply to fruit or vegetable products or basic cuts of meat. Spanish strawberries or Dutch tomatoes would be examples.

Things get a little more complicated with prepared consumer foods like frozen pizzas or other ready meal products like lasagne. The increasingly complex and globalised supply chains involved in the manufacture of such products can call into doubt their country of origin. So, a pizza manufactured in the EU, but with many of its ingredients sourced from countries outside the EU, could present an interesting case.

Origin in these cases is determined by where what is known as substantial transformation has taken place. This is decided by the value-added rule which, broadly speaking, means where most value has been added. In the case of the Irish manufactured pizza or ready meal, if the value of the finished product is significantly greater than the sum of its third country ingredients, it is deemed to be of EU origin.

 

Certificates of Origin

Certificates of Origin are required for goods being exported to countries with trade agreements with the EU. Certificates may also be required for other countries depending on the destination e.g. certain Arabic countries. Many large exporting companies have an Approved Exporter for Simplified Origin Procedure status with Revenue, and this allows them to self-certify their exports to countries with EU preferential origin status.

Companies without this Approved Exporter status have to apply for a EUR 1 certificate from Revenue for each consignment of goods to preferential countries. For newer preferential agreements with Japan and Canada, EU exporters can simply register in the REX system, without applying to Revenue for Approved Exporter status. They can then declare their exports to Japan and Canada as having EU preferential origin by means of a statement on origin placed on an invoice or other commercial document.

Where the goods are destined for a non-preferential country, a Certificate of Origin can be obtained through Chambers Ireland or one of its members.

For further information, go to a customs broker for advice or to your local chamber of commerce. If you are still in doubt after that, you will find further information on the Origin section of Revenue’s website or contact the Revenue Commissioner’s Origin and Valuation Unit.

Export Compass webinar series

Export Compass: the first step to export success

Export Compass webinar series

The export economy is widely seen as vital to the success of the Irish economy – and even more so now we are looking into a period of recovery after the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid-19. There’s no better time to look at the possibilities afforded by exporting, and the opportunities that are available for ambitious Irish companies.

Plus, there are more markets that ever before that are actively welcoming innovative and ambitious Irish export partners. The UK market continues to be an important market, while our ongoing commitment to the EU has made trading within the Eurozone easy and accessible. What’s more, Brexit has created more opportunities for Irish companies to increase business within the Eurozone.

But while it’s clear that now is the time to develop an export strategy, getting started is the most difficult step – and that’s where Enterprise Ireland’s Export Compass series of webinars can help.

“Exports are critical to the Irish economy,” says Keelin Fagan, Head of Exporter Development at Enterprise Ireland. 

“As micro, small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy, it’s a key focus for us and other agencies such as the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) to support these types of businesses when thinking about exporting and during their export journey. The Export Compass webinars are a first step for any company even considering exporting.

“The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for SMEs and micro businesses. The pandemic has resulted in the digital economy completely opening up, and there’s been a dramatic shift in how people buy goods. But this has also created opportunities for businesses that weren’t there before, whether in terms of mindset or in in terms of the market itself. In short, Export Compass is a chance for companies to really explore the possibility of developing an export strategy, and what are the right next steps for them.”

The series of five webinars cover every aspect of developing an export plan, including research into different markets and opportunities, culture and doing business in other countries, sales and marketing techniques to win export customers in a digital world and financing your export plan through funding and pricing. The final session aims to bring all the information together, with a chance for participants to interact with a panel of experts.

 

Essential first steps

Export Compass is open to any company considering exporting, or perhaps in the very early stages of developing an export plan, as Keelin explains: “The Export Compass webinars aim to show companies the benefits of exporting, as well as where companies can get support in overcoming any potential barriers or challenges, for instance, language or business culture. The purpose of the series is to explain the key facts when it comes to exporting and how to get into the mindset of developing an export plan.

“Participants will hear from other companies that have started their export journey, or perhaps are even a little further along.”

“We touch on areas such as market research, the ideal customer from an international point of view, cultural differences in each of the market, and tips and tools to win customers in a competitive digital world. These are the fundamentals of what you need to think about if you want to move forward in developing an export plan.” says Keelin.

Introduction to supports

The series features interviews with companies who have successfully exported to a variety of different countries, giving participants a valuable opportunity to learn from other Irish businesses and network with those in similar situations – something that has been hugely missed over the last 18 months.

A pivotal part of the series is the introduction to the many available supports for Irish companies considering an export strategy. Enterprise Ireland has over 40 international locations, which facilitate access to more than 60 countries worldwide; each of the international offices are there to help Irish companies overcome any obstacles to trading in each country, from facilitating introductions and meetings with potential export partners to researching a chosen sector or overcoming language barriers. The Export Compass series features insights from many of the personnel available to help Irish companies implement an export strategy in their chosen country.

We also bring in some of the Enterprise Ireland staff from the offices around the world so participants can hear first-hand how they can support client companies as they begin their export journey,” says Keelin. “We want participants to leave the series of webinars with a clear idea of what support is available to help them during their export journey and what next steps they need to take in order to develop their plan.”

The webinar series is free to all micro & SME companies who are looking to take the first steps on the export journey. Watch the on-demand series here.

 

 

 

A person gathering market intelligence by analysing graphs and statistics on a sheet of paper

Using market intelligence to inform your export plan

The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must use market intelligence to understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors are doing, in order to succeed.

Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive. While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.

 

Market Research Centre

That is one reason Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to Enterprise Ireland supported companies.

Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as GartnerFrost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable. Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense.

 

Using market intelligence to assess new markets

The Market Research Centre is staffed by information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. The specialists can track down niche market intelligence that is not available through internet research and can also facilitate access to industry analysts to provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas.

While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.

 

Using insights to make an impact

An example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is workforce travel company Roomex. Over the last two years, the company has targeted the UK and Germany and is now looking at the huge potential of the US market. Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing access to global company, country, market and sector data which helped the Roomex to analyse their target customer and competitor base.

Enterprise Ireland’s research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead.

 

Growing your business using market intelligence

Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy.

If your company is considering expanding into new markets the Market Research Centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

Contact the Market Research Centre today.

Salaso CEO Aoife ni Mhuiri

Salaso: Using market research to hone your growth strategy

Salaso CEO Aoife ni Mhuiri

Market research is important at every stage of building a business, not just when you’re exploring new markets and verticals. For Aoife Ní Mhuirí and Salaso, market research was vital when their precision exercise digital platform was inundated with requests from new customers over the last 12 months – and this is where Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre proved so useful.

“The last year has been an absolute gamechanger in terms of digital health, we experienced a large increase in inbound customer queries because we had the digital platform to deliver to patients under COVID restrictions.” explains Salaso CEO Aoife Ní Mhuirí

“As a small company, we had to focus on the right opportunities and we found the Market Research Centre particularly useful in understanding these customers. More strategically it is has helped us hone our market expansion strategy in the US.”

 

The growth of digital health

In business for 10 years, Salaso is a well-established digital platform designed for health professionals to make precision exercise prescriptions easily accessible for patients. The idea was born out of Aoife’s experience as a working chartered physiotherapist and her interest in e-learning and digital technology.

“I did the Endeavour Programme back in 2011 at the Institute of Technology in Tralee (now Munster Technological University), and that was essentially the start of Salaso. The company’s aim was to use technology and multimedia to make exercise a core part of healthcare and this led to the development of the Salaso platform . Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, primary care therapists, nurses, physicians and so on can use the infrastructure to engage their patients in exercise and physical activity programmes in order to  improve outcomes both for the patient and the clinic, hospital or practice.”

The platform can be used in countless scenarios, as Aoife explains. “It’s really for every patient; one of our clients in the US said that our infrastructure will benefit every person coming through their doors – and that’s true. No matter who you are or what you do, there’s always an exercise programme that can benefit your health and wellbeing – whether you have breast cancer, you’re recovering from a stroke, you have a pain in your back, you want to play sport and need to recover from a hamstring strain, there’s always an exercise programme for you.”

“We like to think of ourselves as pioneers in precision exercise, delivering the smart infrastructure that allows practitioners select and guide the patient in choosing the right exercise, at the right time and in the amount of time the patient has to engage in exercise.”

 

US growth ambitions

Headquartered in Kerry with offices in the UK and the US, Salaso is going from strength to strength. “There are huge opportunities for our platform in the US due to the direction that healthcare is taking over there – it’s very much about keeping people out of hospitals and surgeries, and that’s what our platform feeds into. We have an office on the East Coast and also in Nevada, working to target the value-based care market on the West Coast.”

That opportunity has grown even more due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as Aoife explains. “The pandemic changed the delivery and the consumption of healthcare forever, which is a good thing for many people, as there’s easier access to the care that they need – because the technology is  available and the infrastructure is there in the hospitals. The behaviour has changed too, now that digital healthcare is accessible. Think of someone who’s had a stroke or suffers from Parkinson’s disease who needs to access care or follow-up physiotherapy – before they would have been reliant on someone driving them there, maybe a son or daughter who has to take time off work, now they can access the care they need from the comfort of their own home.”

This, coupled with the fact that patients are becoming more educated about the many different forms of healthcare, has resulted in Salaso becoming a much sought-after platform.

“More patients are also now more involved and informed about their options; if there’s an exercise programme that might help postpone a surgery or improve recovery, then they want to know about it.”

“All of the evidence shows that if you engage with prehabilitation before surgery, the outcomes post-surgery are better. Even if you look at an area like cancer, exercise not only improves quality of life but it can also have a positive effect on survivorship.”

As Salaso grew, so did its need for market research; as Enterprise Ireland clients, the company was able to avail of the Market Research Centre to help them recognise opportunities and understand new markets. “We used the Market Research Centre for accessing a lot of the reports for the overseas markets, the US in particular,” Aoife explains.

“The centre was very useful for segmenting the industry, as well as identifying the possible leads that we could go after. It also helped us in understanding the market in the US, how reimbursement worked, and what has changed in the last 12 months. ” says Aoife

“The centre was very useful for segmenting the industry, as well as identifying the possible leads that we could go after. It also helped us in understanding the market in the US, how reimbursement worked, and what has changed in the last 12 months. For instance, a year ago, tele-health wasn’t reimbursed, but during the pandemic, reimbursement for tele health was brought in temporarily, and now it appears to be here for the long-haul. Getting information on topics like this is so useful when navigating a complicated market like the US healthcare market.”

The pandemic has accelerated Salaso’s growth as a company but expanding too fast can have its pitfalls too – and again, the data provided by the Market Research Centre can be invaluable. “There’s great opportunity for us to expand right now but we’re still an SME with limited resources, so knowing the best use of those resources is critical for the future of the company. And that’s where market research really comes in for a company like us.”

Learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre can support your company’s export ambitions.

Cara Edwards title

Graduate Stories: Playing a tangible role in supporting Irish enterprise

Cara Edwards - Grad Programme title

Cara Edwards is currently on Enterprise Ireland’s national graduate programme working as a Development Executive in Dublin within the Life Sciences, Construction, Cleantech, Timber and Consumer department.

I became interested in the graduate programme while I was studying for my Masters in Strategic Management at TU Dublin, where I specialised in innovation. Enterprise Ireland’s support for Irish companies was constantly referenced in my studies, so I knew it was somewhere that I would like to apply to.

 

Applying for the Graduate Programme

The application process is quite lengthy and intense. It’s very important to dedicate time to completing your application. There are multiple stages so it’s vital to research what’s needed in each stage and understand what Enterprise Ireland is looking for. Once you’ve successfully completed the initial online assessment, you’re invited to an assessment day with other candidates – I remember being extremely nervous about this but as soon as I met the assessors, my nerves were put at ease. It’s a great opportunity to show your strengths and to get an insight into what Enterprise Ireland is about and what the work entails.

There are lots of opportunities in various departments, especially on the national programme, and you can indicate your preference before the final interview.

 

Lots of responsibility from Day One!

The role has given me a unique opportunity to work with a variety of companies from a wide range of sectors; from Day One, I was given lots of responsibility working directly with clients and supporting colleagues on various initiatives. Over the past 10 months, I’ve been project managing one of Enterprise Ireland’s biggest events, Med in Ireland, which is a biannual high-profile national event that covers the entire spectrum of the Irish medical technologies sector. My role involves driving and coordinating a team of colleagues from various departments, ensuring that planning is underway and that we’re achieving key project milestones. This project has enabled me to work closely with many of our overseas colleagues too.

“Another highlight for me has been working as part of a small team on the Online Retail Scheme, where we administered over €5 million in funding to retailers in response to the huge impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on the retail sector.” says Edwards

Now that the retailers have had the opportunity to implement their projects, it’s extremely rewarding to see the results – by improving their online capability, they’re more competitive and resilient as a result. This is an example of how rewarding the work in Enterprise Ireland can be.

 

Developing a skillset

I’m now half way through the two-year programme and I’m starting to think about what happens next. I personally would like to stay with Enterprise Ireland as I feel there are plenty of opportunities to further my career. Also, by working so closely with companies, you gain a deep understanding of how they operate and you can take these learnings with you whether you stay with Enterprise Ireland or go elsewhere. It’s also been very inspiring to work with entrepreneurs.

“The Graduate Programme is a great opportunity to work with different companies and build a broad set of skills; there are continuous career development opportunities and lots of learning available through courses, webinars and workshops.” says Edwards

Enterprise Ireland is also incredibly diverse so there are multiple ways to get involved and build your skillset. Plus the work is very rewarding as you’re playing an active role in supporting Irish enterprise. I would really recommend the programme to anyone interested in a career in business. 

To learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Programme can help you take the next step in your career visit National ProgrammeInternational Programme

Steve Keogh - Graduate Programmes

Graduate Stories – Flying the flag for Irish businesses in international markets

Steve Keogh title

Steve Keogh participated in Enterprise Ireland’s international graduate programme working as a Trade Development Executive in the Austin, Texas, office. On completion of the programme he made the move back to Europe and is now based in Brussels working as a Market Advisor

The Graduate Programme at Enterprise Ireland gave me the opportunity to see the world while flying the flag for Irish businesses in international markets. My story is slightly different in that I’m 37 years old and ran a family business in Dublin for many years before deciding that I wanted to do something bigger. While studying Business Management in Tallaght I became interested in Enterprise Ireland and went on to complete an International Management Masters in Trinity before joining the Graduate Programme.

 

Applying for the Graduate Programme

The application process for the Graduate Programme is fairly intense. First you need to write an essay about why you’re good for the role. Then there are online tests to do before a video interview. The group scenarios can seem quite intimidating. In one instance there are five applicants with five individual assessors taking notes and watching your performance as you work through a case study completing tasks and discussing the assignment in front of the group. While it can be intimidating it is worth it for the benefits and experience that the Enterprise Ireland graduate programme provides.

If I were to give one piece of advice to applicants who face the same test it would be that this is not the time to discuss your thesis; this is a test to see how you would act on the ground in the market. Many candidates think that the assessors want to see their knowledge of a topic, when it’s actually a practical test to see what impactful decisions you would make that would help our clients. This test is reflective of the job itself – on any given day, you’ll receive a call from a client looking for contacts or networking opportunities – your job is to connect them with the right person/people, sector knowledge is important but so is practicality. Time is money over here.

If you’re interested in the position, you need to be bold and confident. There’s no room to be timid around ideas, instead be brave enough to voice the ideas that you think would make the most impact.

“Go in with a positive mental attitude and let your willingness to work hard and do the job show.” advises Steve Keogh.

 

Networking is key

The job itself is intensive. You are representative of Ireland on the ground in a foreign business community. I can’t put a figure on the number of tasks you might be asked to do. It’s literally anything and everything that would help Irish companies win exports in a foreign market. It’s about knowledge and networking – the knowledge of the leading sectors in your market, and the contacts you make through attending shows, events and so on.

 

Making an impact for Irish business

Nothing makes more of an impact than if a company rings up looking for advice on how to get into a sector and you’re able to introduce them to the major players and progress an introduction– you’ve just saved them a lot of time and a lot of headaches. And on the flip side you will have lots of people coming to market with a product that mightn’t be suitable – your knowledge of the market could save them time and money if you can direct them to the best market fit for their product.

One of my favourite success story’s features a company from Tipperary called Saint Killians that produces candle units for churches. Their products make it so that when the candle burns down, the wick drops into a water bath underneath for safe extinguishing. About a week after I stepped into this role, they contacted me and asked for help to sell into Texas for the first time. This was my first task and I felt I had something to prove so I got on the phone to every priest from Houston to Dallas and back, and now, if you go to 10th Street in Austin, there’s a church there with a candle unit from a company in Tipperary – and I got it there! That’s the sort of impact you can have for an Irish company and the feeling of being able to point to it and say: “I did that” is extraordinary.

“Enterprise Ireland gives you the opportunity to do genuinely meaningful work for Irish companies in international markets.” says Steve Keogh.

 

One Year Later

One year later and I am sitting in the Enterprise Ireland Benelux office on the 14th floor of Sablon tower in city centre Brussels. It’s been an interesting transition to say the least and I feel invigorated by the challenge of a new region, new team dynamics and business culture.

I have started a new position as a Market Advisor for digital solutions and will be working with colleagues in the wider Eurozone team to deliver impact for clients in cyber security, ICT and more. That’s what’s great about Enterprise Ireland, the opportunities for progression and exciting challenges are there. It takes a combination of patience, opportunity and results but if successful you can join one of the overseas offices in a new region and gain an entirely new cultural experience, or advance in your career in HQ at Eastpoint and remain at the forefront of innovation.

The preceding year was challenging for businesses globally as we all transitioned into the world of virtual work, restricted travel, and general uncertainty. Working from Austin I was able to witness first-hand the adaptability of the Enterprise Ireland team and we all pivoted into new ways of delivering impact for clients. Through webinars, virtual pitch events, business accelerators and network we could still deliver key supports to help win new business and expand existing relationships for our clients.

For those wishing to progress beyond the grad programme in Enterprise Ireland, your demonstration of capability will increase your responsibility. My portfolio was expanded to include the energy and aerospace sectors for the US and I thoroughly enjoyed finding new opportunities for clients in these markets. The development of meaningful relationships with your clients will be key in your success.  The clients I worked with had incredible offerings and exceptional business development skills so once I could find the right opportunity for them, I was confident that they would work their magic and get results. Building trust with your manager and team will open doors to new opportunities and keeping a keen eye on new or unexplored sectors in your region will provide a platform to demonstrate your innovative thinking. In this regard I particularly enjoyed looking at the commercial space and renewable energy sectors in the US.

I think ultimately that there is an element of job fit that comes into play. It won’t take you long to figure out if this is the sort of role you enjoy and if it is the right one doors tend to open.

If you are successful in joining the programme, you have gained the opportunity of a lifetime. Whether you stay on with Enterprise Ireland or take up a new role in a different organisation, the skillset, network and confidence you will have gained set you up for success in any new endeavour.

To learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Programme can help you take the next step in your career visit National ProgrammeInternational Programme.

Why Export title

Export Journey: Step 1 – Why Export?

Why Export title - image of woman packing a box

In a post-Covid world access to international markets, buyers, distributors and information is now at the fingertips of Irish SMEs thanks to increased digitalisation.

When looking towards new markets, it is important to consider the potential benefits of exporting for your company such as;

1. Diversification of market and reduced vunerability

A well considered diversification plan can minimise a dependency on the domestic market and the potential exposure to domestic downturn.

2. Increased revenue and scale

Exporting opens channels to exponentially expand the home market and identify new markets to take advantage of globally. A larger market base delivers economies of scale, enabling you to maximise your resources.

3. Improved profitability

Your ongoing domestic operation should cover business-as-usual fixed costs, either directly or via other types of business financing, which should, in turn, facilitate a faster growth in your export profits.

4. Best practice and knowledge

Accessing global markets will provide additional benefits to an exporter, aside from increased revenues such as new ways of doing business, increased awareness of global best practice, cultural and international competitiveness, that could also bring benefits to your market offering in Ireland.

5. Domestic competitiveness

Considering your company’s export potential will increase its resilience against potential competition within the domestic market.

 

 

Assess & validate title and two women at a computer screen

Export Journey: Step 2 – Assess & Validate

Assess & Validate title and business people

Before beginning your export journey you must clearly identify your target market.  You may have preferences based on previous experience, understanding of the language or culture or simply some connection with the market, though a good starting point it’s not enough of a reason to export to this market.

Market Research will form the backbone of your export strategy as you begin to validate your plans.

The key elements for consideration are:

  • What makes your product unique
  • Who are your competitors in your selected research market?
  • Who are the buyers in that market?
  • How does your product compare in terms of pricing?
  • How is the product sold in that market?
  • What are the local regulations, certification for selling your product and can you currently comply?
  • A clear understanding as to why you have selected this market as the potential first market.

What supports are available?

If your business is at an early development stage the Local Enterprise Office has the supports to help you plan, start and grow

If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.