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Export Journey: Step 5 – Market Entry

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Your next priority is for the execution of your company’s vision within new export markets. Key to this will be preparing the company for this change and subsequent increased demand from and servicing of new export markets.

Consideration for a successful market entry should include;

1.Identify and allocate adequate resources such as:

    • Financial resources i.e. cash required to sufficiently support overseas exports
    • Additional equipment or fixed assets needed to increase volume or backup global sales
    • People, including staff, suppliers or other valuable relationships in Ireland or overseas

2. Defining where your first sales will come from

Will your customers be a distributor which imports in larger quantities, or an overseas agenct or representative acting on your behalf or will it be a separate trading company of your own business?

3. Developing your lead generation strategy

Supports will need to be assigned to generate business leads. Will they be predominantly offline, online or a hybrid?

Offline: fairs, events, conferences, network meetings or

Online: website, social media, blogs etc.

You will need to qualify and validate the leads, managing them through a Customer Relationship Management (CMS) system such as Salesforce.

4. Marketing and communications

Implementing a successful marketing and communication plan is vital for sustained sales in export markets.

When developing a plan, it is important not to do a ‘copy and paste’ of the same marketing strategy from your domestic market as these are likely completely disparate territories. While it is logical that you should retain your company values and purpose, you will need to adapt your marketing and communications strategy to your new export market

5. Implementing a sales process

By implementing a sales process, you are creating a set of logical, repeatable steps that your sales team goes through to bring a potential buyer from an early stage of awareness to closing the sale. There are various stages that need to be considered in developing an effective sales process, such as;

a) How will your company cultivate your sales leads?

b) What preparation will you commit to in order to be ready to capture an overseas sale?

c) What will be your sales teams approach to a prospective buyer?

d) How will you adequately present or pitch your sales in an overseas market?

e) Is your team setup to deal with buyer objections or queries?

f) Have you experience in closing a sale in an overseas market?

g) What follow-up work will be done post buyer presentation?

6. Relationship building

Relationship building is a key factor in developing sustained sales in export markets. Any company considering to expand globally is undoubtedly looking for a return on their initial investment, and companies looking for better business returns are strongly encouraged to place an emphasis on relationship building.

Companies can quite often focus on the transactional, revenue generation portion before they consider relationship building. However, as is the case in much of the world, relationships based on mutual respect and trust outplay singular transactions. Relationships need to be worked on and require different approaches for different markets.

Take the next step in the Export Journey

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Export Journey: Step 6 – Scale

Scale title and background image of modern cityYou are now successfully exporting to your first market. Now begin to build on this success and grow your exports.

You will now have built up a good relationship with the overseas market team and keeping up to date on buyer trends and external factors impacting these trends will enable you to stay competitive.

Factors to consider in your plans to scale exports:

1. Resources

Do you have the necessary resources both in terms of staff and finance to meet the demand of a new market?

2. Capacity

Do you have the manufacturing, packaging, logistics, linguistic capacity?

3. Environmental

Have you considered your carbon footprint; requirements of buyers?

4. Sustainable Growth

How will this impact your current financial standing? Will it strengthen or dilute your position in the market?

5. Adjacent Markets

Is there potential in the adjacent markets where buying patterns, pricing and local regulations may be similar?

 

How can Enterprise Ireland support your growth?

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.

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Using market intelligence to inform your export plan

The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors in the market 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 eight 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

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.

ASINA: enabling safe-and sustainable-by-design nanotechnologies

Picture of male interviewee, Dt Ehtsham U.Haq

“One of the advantages of being involved in Horizon projects is the breadth of experience one gets by sharing expertise and access to new networks in partner countries.”


Dr Ehtsham U. Haq, University of Limerick, ASINA Horizon 2020 project

Key Takeouts:

  • The University of Limerick is taking part in a major project that is developing scientifically sound safe-by-design nanotechnologies.
  • The 42-month ASINA project has received €5.99m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
  • The ASINA project will support the fast industrial uptake of nanotechnology by providing safe-by-design solutions and supporting tools.

H2020 Case Study: ASINA

    Nanotechnology impacts nearly every sector of the global economy from electronics to cosmetics, and from defence to the automotive sector and agriculture. It plays a part in everyday items such as antibacterial hand creams and coated textiles and it is anticipated that the market worth will exceed $120 billion by 2024.

    However, safety issues in relation to producing and disposing of nano-enabled products remain a concern.

    “Although previous EU-funded projects have defined tools and concepts to ensure the safety of nano-enabled products through design, the current state of the art indicates that industrial production is struggling to activate the safe-and sustainable-by-design (SSbD) approach and the fast industrial uptake of engineered nanomaterials (NMs) is missing or unsafely implemented,” explains Dr Ehtsham U Haq, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Limerick, one of the ASINA (Anticipating Safety Issues at the Design Stage of NAno Product Development) project partners.

    “The ASINA project aims to promote consistent, applicable and scientifically sound SSbD nanotechnologies by collecting information across all the design dimensions: functionality, production technologies, safety, environmental sustainability, cost effectiveness and regulatory requirements.”

    Led by the National Research Council of Italy, the Horizon 2020-funded ASINA project will use an approach modelled on six-sigma practices, that  focus on process improvement.

    One of the challenge that ASINA will address is how to distil existing methods into simple, robust, cost-effective methods for monitoring of physio-chemical properties and biological effect assessment of nanomaterials and address properties of concern like technical performance, hazard and exposure related issues in product-relevant matrices. ASINA will develop pilot facilities with a combination of digital technologies and artificial intelligence technologies (Digital Twins) under a SSbD framework,” adds Haq.

    In turn, this should help to accelerate the uptake of nanotechnology by industry and reassure end users of its safety, matching existing challenges summarised by the European Green Deal.” 

    Real-world applications

    One of 21 partners in the ASINA consortium, the six-strong University of Limerick team is tasked primarily with physical-chemical characterisation of the nanoparticles and developing information about their properties. Two spin-out companies from the university are also partners on the project.

    Focusing on two real-world product lines–antimicrobialcoatings for clean technology applications (textile and air filtration sector), and nanostructured capsules for applications in the cosmetic sector, ASINA has also had a part to play in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “The methodologies of physio-chemical characterization developed by us can be applied to other nano-enabled products as well. We are developing coatings for variously functionalized textiles for face masks, air filters for example in collaboration with other partners,” says Haq.

    “We’re enthusiastic about ASINA because what we’re doing will be used in real-life industrial applications,” explains Haq.

    “We’re using machine learning tools to generate response functions and obtain the full set of design solutions performance attributes. An expert system (ASINA- ES), easily adoptable by industries, will be developed for supporting the industrial product designers in identifying the suitable SSbD solutions better complying with the design constraints….There will be huge learning from this project.”

     

    The Horizon advantage

    Like all Horizon projects, ASINA is a multi-disciplinary, international project involving a range of players from large research institutes to small and medium-sized enterprises. The project is also collaborating with other Horizon 2020 funded projects focusing on safe-by design production of nano-enabled products. While ASINA is still very much in its infancy, having been held up by laboratory closures due to Covid-19, Haq has recently been involved in two other Horizon projects – OYSTER and M3DLOC.

    “One of the advantages of being involved in Horizon projects is the breadth of experience you get and the profile of your research in an international audience. The projects I’ve been involved with have all been very different. OYSTER  aims to develop standardized measurement protocol for surface free energy for quality control in nano-enabled and bioinspired products, while M3DLOC involved 3D printing for the fabrication of microfluidic MEMS for lab-on-a-chip and sensing applications.  ASINA is on the other hand is dealing with nanoparticles and nano-enabled products. That makes the work very interesting, challenging and in return it also extends your technical expertise,” says Haq.

    “Overall, the Horizon experience is beneficial for both your research and personal development. Because you are dealing with people from other professions who have a completely different perspective and experience, you become more multi-disciplinary and broaden your collaborations and skill level.” says Haq.

    For those considering getting involved in a Horizon proposal, perhaps for the first time, Haq highlights two issues.

    “In Horizon projects a great deal of time is spent on consortium building. You’re bringing together not only researchers but managers, Intellectual Property experts, SMEs and others, so that side of things is as important along the original idea, and it’s important to get it right.

    “Also, take advantage of any support that’s available if you are involved in producing the proposal. Enterprise Ireland has a range of supports and my experience of dealing with them has been very positive.”

    For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

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    2021 virtual trade mission – Reaching a global audience

    In the not-too-distant past, companies wishing to establish a successful business relationship with firms overseas, would have relied heavily on international travel and perhaps an office or ‘boots-on-the-ground’ in the country in question.

    But these days, there is also another option as there are many international companies located across Ireland who are more than willing to do business with local businesses – and Gerard, Fenner, Senior Executive of Global Sourcing for Enterprise Ireland, says his team can help to bring Irish SMEs and multinational firms together.

    “The combination of modern technology and accessible travel has made the world a much smaller place and opened up a myriad of global opportunities for Irish businesses,” he says.

     

    Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland collaboration

    “But travelling to or even selling out of this country isn’t the only means for companies at home to expand into the international market as there are hundreds of multinationals right here in Ireland, which are willing and able to engage with indigenous firms. Since its formation in 2012, the Enterprise Ireland Global Sourcing team has been working with colleagues in IDA Ireland to introduce Irish owned businesses to international firms to respond to their specific requirements.

    “Working with companies across every sector, including pharma, medtech, ICT, engineering, financial services and energy, our team helps to develop relationships between Irish companies who are seeking to sell their product or service and multinational firms who wish to purchase same – so our particular focus is on providing sales opportunities and partnerships between Enterprise Ireland client companies and Ireland-based multinationals, predominantly IDA firms.”

    According to Fenner, there are many benefits to both the seller and the buyer in these business relationships and apart from supporting industry at home, it can also lead to opportunities in export markets – and winning a contract with a multinational gives a scaling Irish company a valuable reference site for its move into export markets.

    “We have found that one of the most productive means of securing relationships between Irish firms and multinationals based here is by means of events where introductions can be made, and sellers can have pre-arranged face to face meetings with potential buyers,” he says.

     

    Developing international relationships

    “In 2014 we organised the first Trade Mission in Ireland. The event was minister led and took place in various regional locations across the country over the course of a couple of days – and since then, it has taken place every year, apart from 2020, due to lockdown restrictions. It has always garnered a lot of interest and helped to develop contracts and future relationships.”

    So it seems that trade missions have long been an effective means of introducing businesses to prospective clients, but since the onset of the pandemic, industry across every sector has had to pivot online and learn how to do business in a virtual world.

     

    Online introductions and meetings

    As current guidelines continue to prevent physical events of this nature taking place, this year, on May 12th, the first ever virtual Global Sourcing Trade Mission became the alternative.

    Launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, the event proved as popular as ever with 65 multinationals and 240 Irish companies registered with over 350 meetings. And according to Gerard Fenner, the online system was popular with both the variety of different international firms and indigenous companies looking to set up new business relationships.

    “When the Enterprise Ireland companies registered on the event platform, they provided some company information about what they do and what their offer is, and this allowed suppliers to search through this information and put in a request for a meeting,” says the international trade expert. “Similarly, the supplier was also able to request a meeting with a buyer in order to pitch a product or service.

    “Although these 15-minute meeting slots were different to how things normally work at a physical trade mission, it proved to be very successful with feedback from both sides indicating their positivity – and early signs show the possibility of new business relationships and further revenue to add to the €32 million in contracts which have been secured from these trade missions.”

    The Global Sourcing Team lead says there was also the added positive bonus of no travel, which meant that the multinational could bring in individuals from different areas of their business to meet potential suppliers – so rather than just one representative attending the event, firms could bring in someone from finance or with technical expertise to liaise directly with companies pitching a particular service.

    “Overall it was a great success and we have run smaller online events similar to this over the past year and many multinational firms have come back to us to say they were impressed with the fact that they got to meet so many different businesses,” he says.

    “So, the trade mission, whether it takes place at a venue or online, is an important platform for raising awareness about the capabilities of innovative Irish SMEs and helping them to establish future business relationships. And given the interest in this year’s event, despite the difficulties surrounding the current global situation, the future looks bright.”

    Webinar Series: Free Trade Agreements

    EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea enable Ireland to increase its trade, GDP and national income. The FTAs allow Irish exporters to explore new opportunities as market access increases and they benefit from competitive advantage in doing business in these countries.

    Join Enterprise Ireland as it hosts a webinar series on Free Trade Agreements and doing business in these four export markets: Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea.

    Each webinar will be opened by Robert Troy TD, Minister of State Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Trade Promotion. The webinars feature contributions from market experts and guest speakers from Irish companies who will share their experiences on doing business in specific markets.

    If you’re considering exporting to these markets, or scaling your existing export business, these webinars are for you.

    Click on the links below to register for upcoming webinars.

    Doing Business in Japan

    Thursday, 17 June 2021, 9am BST

    The EU Japan Economic Partnership Agreement provides a positive backdrop to Ireland Japan trading relations. This webinar will explore the experiences of key Irish business interests in Japan, and will outline the knowledge, networks and access supports available to capitalise on what is an increasingly important market for ambitious Irish exporters.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

     

    Doing Business in Mexico

    Tuesday, 22 June 2021, 3pm BST

    With duty-free trade on most goods and a simplification of the customs procedures, the latest 2018 EU-Mexico trade agreement has improved the already positive and prosperous relationship between Ireland and Mexico. This webinar features two market experts who will highlight opportunities and explain business culture and processes, as well as providing practical guidance for market entry.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

     

    Doing Business in South Korea

    Thursday, 24 June 2021, 9am BST

    The EU-South Korea FTA can provide enhanced business opportunities for Irish businesses. This webinar brings together experts on the topic to provide knowledge and insights on key elements of the FTA, and to enable Irish businesses to make use of the FTA to its fullest in doing business in South Korea.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

    Doing Business in Canada


    Tuesday, 25 May 2021, 3pm BST

    Attendees will learn more about the opportunities available in the Greater Montreal region, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe, and what incentives are available to Irish companies looking to expand in North America.

    Watch back on-demand, available here.

    SmartAgriHubs connecting European agricultural and IT innovation

    “The SmartAgriHubs project has been invaluable not just to Walton but to Ireland, as it’s allowed us to build a network of contacts and strong strategic relations with similar partners across Europe.”

    Hazel Peavoy, Walton Institute, SmartAgriHubs Horizon 2020 project

    Key Takeouts:

    • Walton Institute, part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a major project that is driving the digitisation of the agricultural sector in Europe.
    • The SmartAgriHubs project has received €20m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
    • With 164 partners, the ambitious project aims to build a network of over 2000 Competence Centres supported by 250 Digital Innovation Hubs and deliver 80 new digital solutions to the market.

    H2020 Case Study: SmartAgriHubs

       

      Increasing the competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of Europe’s agri-food sector is a prime focus for the European Union as it looks ahead to the challenges of climate change and feeding a growing population. Central to the future success of the sector will be the widespread adoption of innovation and smart-farming techniques but this will rely heavily on interconnectivity and knowledge-sharing across a multitude of stakeholders.

      This is the focus of the ambitious €20m SmartAgriHubs Horizon 2020 project. Involving a consortium of 164 partners, including start-ups, SMEs, service providers, technology experts and end-users spread over nine Regional Clusters, the project aims to build a network of over 2000 Competence Centres supported by some 250 Digital Innovation Hubs and deliver 80 new digital solutions to the market.

      Walton Institute, a centre for information and communication systems science and part of the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), is leading the Ireland & UK Regional Cluster, with Hazel Peavoy at the helm.

      “Part of our role is to identify the Digital Innovation Hubs and Competency Centres across Ireland to build our local network. Digital Innovation Hubs are larger centres that bring together research, funding, business models and services, while the smaller Competency Centres tend to have a single technical service,” she explains.

      “The aim is to create a network that will work together on ground-breaking research and innovation. We want to be able to give farmers a clear view of the technologies that may be coming down the line and to ensure they get assistance to apply whatever technology they need to support their activities.”

      SmartAgriHubs is also funding a number of Flagship Innovation Experiments through which technology solutions are tested with a view to eventually bringing them to market. The experiments are conducted with the help of the Digital Innovation Hubs and Competence Centres.

      The Ireland & UK Regional Cluster is currently running two Flagship Innovation Experiments. The Farm Sustainability Audit is measuring a range of metrics in the dairy industry related to energy and water use, nutrient use efficiency, animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions, while STREAM is applying digital technologies to simplify the production of farmland habitat reports.

      “These experiments are helping to bring innovation to the fore. Currently there are three more open calls under SmartAgriHubs that are offering funding for experiments that will drive digital innovation,” says Peavoy.

       

      Connecting the dots

      SmartAgriHubs’s full project title is ‘Connecting the dots to unleash the innovation potential for digital transformation of the European agri-food sector’, which highlights the importance of excellent communication and dissemination of information across project partners and stakeholders.

      “The project has been very successful with regards to communication. The Regional Cluster leads attend monthly meetings and then we disseminate the information down to other elements of the project. And there are also monthly meetings with the Flagship Innovation Experiments. So we can quite clearly see what’s happening across Europe with the other partners and with agriculture and we can learn from each other,” says Peavoy.

      “Having such a large number of partners meant, at an early stage, it took some time to mobilise the consortium but once that was achieved the network has become invaluable to all involved in this sector globally.”

       

      The value to Walton Institute and Ireland

      Peavoy believes that taking part in SmartAgriHubs has positioned Ireland and the UK as key drivers for the agri-tech sector across Europe.

      “This project has been invaluable not just to Walton but to Ireland, as it’s allowed us to build a network of contacts and strong strategic relations with similar partners across Europe.”

      “From a personal perspective, it’s very interesting to see how other countries approach particular problems and to get an insight into what research is required by the sector to meet its future needs,” says Peavoy.

      “Likewise, we can see that our partners in SmartAgriHubs are learning from us. For example, the Competency Centres we’ve identified through SmartAgriHubs are often start-ups and SMEs and through WIT’s Technology Gateway they’ve been able to benefit from Enterprise Ireland funding. Our partners in Germany were very interested in how our Technology Gateways function because they don’t have anything like that.

      “The SmartAgriHubs partners are also looking at how we’ve created a culture of multi-disciplinary collaboration in Ireland. What was once a landscape of competition has become a landscape of collaboration; A perfect example of that is the VistaMilk Research Centre which has brought together a number of RPO’s to develop new technologies for the dairy sector. I believe that in many ways Ireland is leading the charge in this space and is well-positioned to lead on future Horizon Europe projects linked to agriculture” says Peavoy.

      For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

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      cybersecurity

      Protecting remote workforces: Tips from five notable Irish cybersecurity firms

      One of the most immediate consequences of Covid-19 has been the rapid global shift towards working from home where possible

      During these uncertain times, Irish cybersecurity companies can offer innovative solutions to the challenge of managing a remote workforce. Many are free or open to all, including:

      Read on for expert advice from some of the Irish companies that can help your employees work from home safely and securely.

       

      1. Edgescan: continuously monitoring threats

      Remote working must happen over a VPN or similar solution to help ensure secure, encrypted communications, says Eoin Keary, CEO and founder of Edgescan, an award-winning vulnerability management service (SaaS) and one of Ireland’s largest cybersecurity exporters.

      “Access to network systems in the office should be on a least-privilege basis and if your organisation has a Network Authentication Server (NAS), make sure it’s configured and enabled appropriately,” he says.

      Appropriate patching and anti-virus measures should also be enabled on employees’ computers, he adds, to prevent viruses spreading into the office network once people return to the office.

      Edgescan helps its clients worldwide to understand, prioritise and mitigate cyber security risks on a continuous basis, including when offices are closed and employees are working remotely

       

      2. CWSI: ensuring secure enterprise mobility

      The rules governing data security and cybersecurity don’t go away just because people have to change how they work, says Philip Harrison, CTO and co-founder of CWSI, which specialises in secure mobile and workforce solutions and works with many large organisations from its offices in Dublin and London.

      “The cyber-criminals and hackers certainly aren’t taking a break to let us all adjust, so more businesses are more vulnerable than ever,” he says.

      A core tenet of any information security management system is that your security or compliance is not weakened during a business continuity or disaster recovery scenario.”

      Two-factor authentication, he adds, is critical to protect corporate data. Businesses should also ensure mobile devices are secured with a mobile thread defence (MTD) solution.

      Employees should be encouraged to report security incidents to IT while they’re working from home and to be vigilant about keeping data secure at home, even through simple steps such as locking their screen when they walk away.

       

      3. Cyber Risk Aware: training on cyber security in real time

      Using VPNs and patched applications on encrypted up-to-date devices is critical to security for remote workforces, agrees Cyber Risk Aware’s CEO and founder Stephen Burke, himself a former chief information security officer (CISO).

      These devices should be company-issued, with password-protected and encrypted files and data, he says. “I know what it’s like being on the inside defending a network. Personal accounts and devices can really leave a business insecure and vulnerable to cyber attacks,” he says.

      Clear, secure lines of communication are also critical, he adds, advising companies to avoid channels such as social media and Whatsapp when working with sensitive data. Likewise, businesses should avoid ‘shadow IT’ or the unauthorised downloading and use of software and systems.

      Cyber Risk Aware is the only company in the world to offer a real time cybersecurity awareness training platform. It helps companies worldwide assess and mitigate human cyber risks, the root cause in over 90% of security incidents, by running simulated phishing attacks, assessing cyber knowledge to locate risks within a business and providing security awareness training content when needed.

       

      4. Sytorus: specialising in data and privacy management

      Companies and organisations around the world have been urgently seeking information on minimising the risk of data breaches or employees getting hacked while working from home. So says John Ghent, CEO of Sytorus, which offers a SaaS privacy management platform and is a global market leader in data protection and privacy management.

      “Many people newly working from home are likely to have smart TVs, gaming platforms, and wireless routers, with some also having Internet of Things (IoT) devices installed,” he says.

      “All these can add complexity to the security challenge and vulnerabilities to the network, and home networks are not usually sufficiently protected.

      Ghent advises organisations to update their remote access policy or develop one if none is in place, and to ensure all staff complete a full cyber security awareness programme (covering topics such as malware, acceptable use and device security) and understand the high risk of Covid-19 related phishing emails.

      5. TitanHQ: protecting higher education and business

      Along with businesses that must suddenly enable remote working, universities and colleges that now have to facilitate remote lectures and study must also be mindful of coronavirus-related cyberthreats, says Ronan Kavanagh, CEO of TitanHQ, a multi-award-winning web filtering, email security and email archiving SaaS business.

      “We have seen massive demand so far this year for two products in particular that can be rolled out seamlessly to remote devices,” he says.

      “These are SpamTitan cloud-based email security, which protects students and staff from the newest iterations of phishing attacks, and our AI-drive DNS security product, WebTitan. Combined, these create an umbrella layer over all students and staff protecting their devices.”

      NIVA – simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy claims process

      Horizon 2020 is an ideal funding stream as it enables cross-border collaboration and ensures that technology developed will be fit for purpose on a pan European basis.

      David Hearne, Walton Institute, NIVA Horizon 2020 project

      Key Takeouts:

      • Walton Institute (formerly TSSG), part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a project that aims to develop and implement a range of digital innovations to improve the administration of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
      • The NIVA project has received €10.5m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
      • Walton Institute is focused on developing a geo-tagged photo app to help simplify the CAP claims process for farmers and paying agencies.

      H2020 Case Study: NIVA

        The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports farmers, safeguards agri-food supplies and encourages sustainable management of land resources. Administering and controlling payments to farmers under CAP is done through the integrated administration and control system (IACS), which is the subject of the Horizon 2020 project, NIVA (New IACS Vision in Action).

        The three-year project, led by The Netherlands’ Wageningen University & Research and involving 27 partners, aims to modernise IACS by delivering a suite of digital solutions, e-tools and good practices for e-governance. These will ultimately produce more transparent, simpler processes that will reduce the administrative burden on farmers, paying agencies and other stakeholders.

        In Ireland, a multi-disciplinary team made up of The Walton Institute (formerly TSSG) – a centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation – the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – and led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is tasked with developing a geo-tagged photo app.

        The app will be used to resolve claim queries by enabling farmers to send digital photos of their land parcels directly to the paying agency, which will reduce the need for inspections and accelerate claim processing.

        “Our app is one of nine innovations in this project with different countries working on each,” explains David Hearne of Walton Institute’s Creative Design Unit. “Other areas include decision support systems, machine data and a solution for simplifying payments, but in the end they will all come together in one ecosystem, which will be used by paying agencies across Europe.”

        Although it won’t be the first geo-tagged photo app on the market, Hearne explains that what sets this one apart is the user-centric, multi-actor design.

        “We take the approach that we don’t know what the users want; we can’t decide what’s best for a farmer in the west of Ireland who needs to send a photo to the Dept of Agriculture. So the project started by gathering data about the needs of all stakeholders, not just in Ireland but across Europe. It’s an iterative process, so when we’d developed the first version of the app, it was tested by users across Europe and their feedback informed the next iteration and so on.

        “The fact that farmers and other stakeholders have been involved from the beginning gives them a sense of ownership, and that should result in a higher adoption rate at the end,” adds Hearne.

         

        Horizon benefits  

        Horizon 2020 has provided €10.5m in funding for the project, but beyond the financial investment the programme offers multiple other benefits.

        Horizon 2020 is an ideal funding stream as it enables cross-border collaboration and ensures that technology developed will be fit for purpose on a pan European basis,” says Hearne

        “Currently, our app is being tested across nine EU countries with over 200 users, and other solutions being developed under NIVA will likewise be tested across different countries, so there’s a lot of interaction, integration and learning across the project.”

        Monthly work package meetings and bi-monthly project meetings, all virtual at the minute, keep the project on course and ensure that innovation is shared across the partners.

        On a personal and professional level, Hearne believes his involvement in Horizon 2020 projects has been highly advantageous.

        “It’s great to focus on these large projects with so many moving parts. You learn so much, for example, the various technologies used in different countries, how they are implemented and what the issues are.

        Hearne confirms “The opportunity to collaborate with researchers in other countries is also invaluable. You build up a huge contact base, which gives you the opportunity to collaborate on more projects.”

        To others who have not yet dipped their toe in the Horizon water, Hearne simply says “Do it”.

        “It’s a great opportunity to be involved in projects that can actually change people’s lives. With NIVA we’re reducing the burden on farmers, so we’re making a difference. My advice would be to focus on something that you’re really passionate about.”

        His other advice is to seek out the right partners at the start and use the supports that are available to help with putting the proposal together.

        “I was involved in writing sections of the NIVA proposal. It was a new experience for me because I come from a very technical background, but I had the support of people in WIT to guide me in how to approach it. And the more you do it the easier it gets.

        “We’re also in close contact with Enterprise Ireland, who have a real interest in the project, and we know that they’re there to help us if we need it.”

        For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

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        AgROBOfood – stimulating the uptake of robotics in the agri-food sector

        “The Horizon 2020 & Horizon Europe funding streams give participants exposure to a large European network of relevant research organisations, business advisory services, investors and companies.”

         

        Christine O’Meara, Walton Institute, AgROBOfood, Horizon 2020 project

        Key Takeouts:

        • Walton Institute, formerly TSSG, part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a major project to encourage and facilitate the uptake of robotics in the agri-food sector.
        • The AgROBOfood project is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
        • Acting as a Digital Innovation Hub, The Walton Institute, is a one-stop-shop, supporting those in the Agri-food sector in locating and accessing robotics services or expertise and is mapping out the robotics ecosystem in Ireland.

        Case Study: AgROBOfood

        By 2050, our planet will be home to almost 10 billion people and the pressure on food production will be immense. There is now an urgent need to find and develop smart ways to farm and process food, and this underlies the European Union’s huge investment in agri-food-related innovation projects.

        AgROBOfood is one such project. Focused on helping the Agri-food sector become more efficient through the use of robotics, the four-year, €16.3m Horizon 2020 project involves 39 partners and is led by Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands.

        The project team is broken into seven territorial clusters enabling more agile and effective group sizes. Ireland, represented by The Walton Institute (formerly TSSG) – an internationally recognised centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation and part of the Waterford Institute of Technology is in the North West cluster. This cluster comprises the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, United Kingdom and Ireland.

        AgROBOfood has three aims: to build a network of digital innovation hubs and competency centres; to load this network with a catalogue of services; and to showcase what robotics can do for the sector.

        “Walton Institute is the Digital Innovation Hub for Ireland. We can signpost stakeholders to competency or research centres or other hubs in Ireland or across Europe that can provide the services or expertise they need. And as an R&D centre itself, Walton can also provide services directly,” explains Christine O’Meara, Walton Institute project lead.

        “There’s definitely an appetite for digitization and automation, and Ireland has strong national players in, for example, the dairy sector where smart technologies are well advanced.” says O’Meara

        “There are a lot of exciting start-ups in Ireland working in robotics in diverse areas from pasture management to sustainable poultry production. Across Europe, great progress has been made across agri-food with areas like robotic weeding and harvesting set to advance quickly.”

        A key driver in the growth of the robotics ecosystem will be the results of three funding open calls. Two of these (Open Calls for Innovation Experiments) will involve a technology provider and a technology user coming together to advance and demonstrate their solution. The third open call will be targeted at a range of specific industrial challenges, for example, asking if robots can improve working conditions in the food industry.

        “From a TSSG perspective, the opportunity to reach out to, and build relationships with, start-ups and SMEs in the agri-food space through these open calls is really important,” says O’Meara.

         

        The Horizon advantage

        One of the advantages of the Horizon 2020 approach, says O’Meara, is that it presents a means of looking at broader impacts, beyond the local and across disciplines.

        “The Horizon 2020 funding stream gives participants exposure to a large European network of relevant research organisations, business advisory services, investors, technology companies, agri-food start-ups and large enterprises,” says O’Meara.

        “Although in this project each cluster is working somewhat independently, we’re collaborating through a shared technology platform to ensure best practices are replicated and everyone has full visibility of progress and developments.”

        O’Meara is involved in several Horizon 2020-funded projects, including Demeter and NIVA, and is keen to encourage others to explore the opportunities such projects present.

        “As well as giving access to a breadth of expertise, Horizon projects provide a way of broadening your network and extending your skills,” confirms O’Meara

         

        Don’t be daunted

        For some, however, the Horizon process remains an intimidating prospect.

        “Don’t be daunted by the proposal process. It’s quite structured and it’s clear what the EU wants to see. But you need to give yourself plenty of time. As soon as a call comes out you need to start thinking about what topics you’re interested in, what partners you’ll need and get the right team on board. Remember that there’s a lot of support available,” O’Meara advises.

        Most research institutes have in-house support for Horizon 2020 applicants but another excellent source of support is Enterprise Ireland’s National Contact Points These provide information and guidance on all aspects of Horizon 2020 from signposting to webinars about areas of interest, to helping identify partners and reviewing proposals.

        “Begin by identifying what supports are available to you and speak to someone who’s been involved in the process before. If you or your organization need help in writing the proposal, Enterprise Ireland can also provide consultancy support,” adds O’Meara.

        “If you’re successful in getting Horizon 2020 funding, you will have a  very well defined plan of action set out in your implementation description and detailed work packages and you’ll have specific deliverables. So you’ll know exactly what to do from day one.”

        For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

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        Québec Offers Potential for Irish Business, Exports

        Home to nearly a quarter of the Canadian population, the Quebec province includes one of North America’s largest, most vibrant, and perhaps overlooked markets. With world-class universities, a talented workforce, an abundance of natural resources and the lowest operations and energy costs in North America, Quebec attracts a diverse range of tech companies and start-ups to its historical, inviting cities.

        A common understanding is that “selling and exporting to Canada, overlooking the province of Quebec would be similar to promoting your products in the U.S. but disregarding California, New York, and Florida, which together constitute a similar percentage of the overall population.” Additionally, The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe means the timing is right to invest more in partnerships with Canada, as benefits for Ireland and Québec based companies include tariff free trade, easier access to procurement opportunities, and much more.

        With a populace of more than 4.2 million, Montréal, Québec’s main metropolis, attracts tourists, companies and investors from all around the world. This French-speaking province boasts a high standard of living and a highly-educated workforce that fully embraces cutting-edge technology. Quebec holds excellent potential for Irish business, especially in shared strength areas such as transportation, aerospace, AI, data centers, life sciences, digital media and agriculture.

         

        Artificial Intelligence

        In Montréal alone, there are eleven universities, sixty colleges, and the highest number of post-secondary students in Canada, so it’s no surprise that the city offers the world’s largest concentration of academic researchers in deep learning. Canada is home to several AI pioneers and their research has attracted a vibrant, international community of data scientists. Not only has this created a diverse talent pool, it has sparked significant investment in bridging the gap between research labs and industry.

         

        Data Centres

        Attracted by the lowest energy costs in all of North America, the Quebec province draws many large-power customers, including data centers and other tech-based enterprises. Affordable energy benefits most everyone in the province, with Natural Resources Canada noting that in Québec, the residential rates are nearly 1.5 times lower than Toronto and four times lower than New York.

         

        Aerospace

        Many are surprised to learn that the Canadian province of Quebec is home to the world’s third-largest hub for the aerospace industry. Many large players, including Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce Canada, CAE, Bell Helicopter, Safran, Lockheed Martin, and Thales, and a long list of suppliers and sub-contractors contribute to this critical and vibrant business sector.

         

        Transportation

        Canada has a booming smart transportation hub with over 1,000 companies in the industry. Drawn to the region by low energy and operations costs as well as the workforce talent, many hybrid vehicles and specialized electric vehicles are now manufactured in Québec, including city buses (Nova Bus); Class 7 trucks (Paccar Open); mining vehicles by (SCP 89’s Minautor); modular industrial vehicles by (Kargo), and small trains and transportation shuttles from (Wattman Trains & Trams), to name a few.

         

        Gaming & Entertainment

        Since the 1980s, Quebec has brought creativity and innovation to the gaming and entertainment industries. Today, Quebec is recognized as one of the world’s top five video game production cities after Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Austin. There were more than 11,000 people employed in Quebec’s video game industry in 2017. Additionally, Quebec is home to the largest Visual Effects (VFX) and animation hubs in Canada and is regarded as a world leader in VFX development.

         

        Life Sciences

        Québec’s pool of skilled research personnel positions the region among the world’s best for life science innovation. Built upon an environment of collaboration between companies and research centers, Quebec is the sixth-largest life sciences and health technologies hubs in North America. More than 130 companies in the biotechnology industry employ 4,700 people in the greater Montreal area.

        Agriculture & Fresh Water

        With an abundance of natural resources, including more than half a million lakes and 4,500 rivers supplying fresh water throughout the province, Quebec supports a robust and thriving agribusiness. With nearly 8,000 dairy farms, Quebec’s dairy industry is the largest in Canada. And the region’s farmers produce nearly 90% of the world’s maple syrup.

         

        Mining

        One-fifth of Canada’s mining output comes from Québec. The providence is the largest producer of zinc and the second-largest producer of gold and iron in Canada. More than 15 different metals and 13 minerals are mined and produced in Quebec, including lithium and apatite. Québec is one of the rare producers of niobium, titanium dioxide, cobalt and platinum in the world.

         

        Parlez-vous Français?

        While you may have spent time in parts of Europe where most of the population is comfortable in English despite it not being their native language, this is not the case in Quebec. Only 43% of Quebecers are bilingual, and while younger generations and the business community tend to be more comfortable in English, you will encounter many Quebecers who speak little to no English. Fortunately, Quebecers are exceptionally good-natured and welcoming, and if your French is not strong, they will do their best to communicate.

        In all, Quebec is a dynamic, growing market that has adapted to the demands of the 21st century exceptionally well. Canada’s commitment to talent development, strong support for innovation, and low business costs make it a good match for all that Irish business has to offer. Taking the time to understand this market and build a business plan and market strategy which resonates Quebecers will be well rewarded.

         

        SpeakingNGI – Shaping the internet of the future

        “We are delighted and proud to have contributed to the successful building of the EU’s flagship Next Generation Internet – An Open Internet Initiative (NGI)”.

        TSSG’s Strategic EU Liaison Manager and coordinator of the SpeakNGI.eu project, James Clarke

        Key Takeouts:

        • TSSG (Telecommunications Software & Systems Group), an internationally recognised centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation at the Waterford Institute of Technology, led the influential SpeakNGI.eu project, which was a Pathfinder Project for the European Commission’s large-scale, flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative.
        • The project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation ICT work programme 2018-2020 (WP2018-20).
        • SpeakNGI.eu’s NGI Consultation Platform and Knowledge Base were among numerous contributing projects helping to shape the internet of the future into an Internet of humans that responds to people’s fundamental needs, including trust, security and inclusion, and reflects the values and the norms that we enjoy in Europe.

        Case Study: SpeakingNGI

        Evolving the internet from its current problem-strewn form into a human-centric, secure, inclusive space that supports people’s needs and addresses global sustainability challenges is a European Commission (EC) priority.  It’s an ambitious goal, now embodied in the EC’s flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative.

        SpeakNGI.eu, a partnership between TSSG and Trust-IT Services Ltd, was one of three Horizon 2020-funded Pathfinder Projects that aimed to identify research topics, enable dynamic consultation, and shape the programme for the NGI initiative. For more information on the initiative, please consult the NGI Brochure.

        Begun in 2017 and running for just 18 months, SpeakNGI.eu addressed the dynamic consultation aspect of the pathfinder programme, by building a platform with mechanisms for engagement with the NGI stakeholder communities, creating a knowledge base and establishing a 16-strong European Champions Panel of thought-leaders.

        “These pathfinder projects were important cogs in a bigger wheel and a very important step towards the establishment of the EU’s flagship NGI initiative and directly contributing to the selection of priority NGI topics for the open calls being funded by the larger scaled NGI Research and Innovation Action projects,” explains James Clarke, SpeakNGI.eu project coordinator.

        “We were considering what the Internet will look like 10 years from now, dealing with mounting concerns about security and privacy, and anticipating radically new functionalities. Our platform enabled organisations and individuals to share their ideas and we collated the information and published it in a readable format, essentially building the topics that would eventually be funded through cascade funded open calls by the NGI RIAs.”

         

        From data gathering to experimentation

        Following the successful conclusion of the Pathfinder Projects, the EC launched Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) as the next step towards its vision of creating the ‘internet of humans’.

        In the first tranche of the NGI RIAs, they funded open-call NGI projects based on the topics the pathfinders identified, such as privacy and trust technologies, decentralized data governance, and better search and discovery technologies.

        On the back of SpeakNGI.eu’s success, Clarke led a five-partner team that secured an NGI RIA project covering EU – US cooperation. The project, NGIAtlantic.eu, which runs until June 2022, is funding EU-based researchers and innovators to carry out NGI-related experiments in collaboration with US research teams.

        “We have a 3.5 million budget, 80% of which is dedicated for open calls funding third-party projects. We select, fund and monitor the projects, which are building on research results and moving to the experimentation stage on EU and US experimental platforms,” says Clarke.

        “The vision of a new initiative, launched by the EC in 2016, is now at the stage of funding innovators through RIAs with an overall budget of €75 million over a three-year period. We are delighted and proud to have been part of this long-term strategic action and to have contributed to the successful building of the EU’s flagship NGI initiative.”

        Building on experience

        The two NGI projects are not Clarke’s first foray into the world of EU funding and he has a wealth of experience to call upon.

        “I’ve been involved in EU-funded projects back to the early-nineties so this wasn’t a first for me. For the most part, the experience has been good and challenging. Where it hasn’t been so good, it can be down to teaming up with the wrong partners, perhaps with not enough foresight into the strategy and team building experiences when working in the proposal stages. With experience, I’ve learned how to pick the right partners every time, which is very important,” says Clarke.

        Clarke says “There is certainly a lot of work involved in putting a proposal together for projects. I found the Enterprise Ireland Coordinator Grant to be a huge support in helping prepare a successful Horizon proposal.”

        It has enabled me to bring in great mentors to help with not just the reviewing process, but also to generate content, where needed. And if I couldn’t find someone suitable, who was also available, in Ireland, I could go further into Europe to get the right person.

        “Before Covid-19, I would meet the mentor and spend a couple of days working with them on the proposal and I found that much more effective than relying on feedback from written drafts. Since I started taking that approach, I’ve been winning more projects.”

        Although he admits that being a coordinator on a Horizon 2020 project can be sometimes difficult, Clarke firmly believes the experience has many rewards.

        “Working with like-minded researchers and innovators from around Europe has been a big thrill for me. Coordinating a Horizon 2020 project also frequently offers the opportunity to be invited to participate in more projects, events and follow-up activities. The more you succeed, the more invites you get. Overall, it’s very fulfilling and enjoyable.”

        For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

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