Dr Michael Maguire, CEO AVECTAS

AVECTAS leading the way in non-viral cell engineering technology

Dr Michael Maguire, CEO AVECTAS

“Horizon 2020 was all about scientific excellence; this project allowed AVECTAS to further develop our pioneering SOLUPORE® technology within a structured framework.”


Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Executive of AVECTAS

Key Takeouts:

  • AVECTAS, a spin-out company from Maynooth University, has developed a game-changing approach to engineering cells for use in immunotherapy.
  • AVECTAS received €2m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme via its SME Instrument.
  • This support along with that of investors was key to enabling AVECTAS to progress the commercialisation of its SOLUPORE® platform including completing successful preclinical studies.

H2020 Case Study: AVECTAS

Case Study

Cellular immunotherapy is an exciting new approach to treating cancer that offers hope to millions of people worldwide as it has the potential to cure the disease without the harsh side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy.  It involves editing genes outside the body, in effect arming them to attack and kill cancer cells when they are infused back into patients.

Generally, viruses are required to re-engineer cells but AVECTAS, a company headquartered in Dublin and with locations in Canada and the USA, has developed a novel, non-viral gene editing approach that has multiple benefits over alternatives.

“At AVECTAS we’re looking at the next generation of cancer therapy products, including complex gene editing that will address the treatment of solid mass tumours.” explains Dr Michael Maguire, CEO of AVECTAS

“We have developed a cell engineering platform, SOLUPORE®, which works by temporarily making the cell membrane permeable to allow cargo such as mRNA, RNPs and plasmids into the cell.”

The key difference between our platform and competing technology is the gentleness. Currently, cells that are being modified are typically from a patient who may be ill and the cells may be fragile. Our approach minimises stress to cells so they function extremely well when reintroduced to the patient.”

As well as delivering benefits to patients, the SOLUPORE® gene editing process is a shorter, simpler and much more cost-effective one than other processes currently available, offering the potential to deliver life-changing treatment at an affordable cost.

 

Support for commercialisation

Having developed the SOLUPORE® platform, the next step for AVECTAS was scaling the process and aligning it to regulatory compliance to enable commercialisation. To achieve this, the company applied for support under the SME Instrument of Horizon 2020 and received additive funding of 2m.

The SME Instrument supports innovators to commercialise ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.

“This support was absolutely fantastic for the company at the stage we were at and for our ambition. It was as much about validating what we were doing as about the grant, as AVECTAS has always been very well supported by our investors,” says Maguire.

Horizon 2020 is all about scientific excellence. The objectives and deliverables that were part of the project provided a structured framework and a discipline that was valuable to us. In addition, we felt trusted, supported and part of something bigger.”

As a result of the SME Instrument support, AVECTAS achieved a number of progressive strategic objectives. “The SME Instrument enabled us to accelerate our discussions with government agencies, academic institutes, regulatory bodies and other companies in the formation of a national strategy. There are very progressive efforts now across industry, academia and the funding community to join up the thinking around cell therapy and for Ireland to do the same in this field as we’ve done in biotechnology where we’re now a world player. It’s exciting to see what will come of that.”

 

Persistence pays

Maguire is keen to encourage other companies to take advantage of the support available through Horizon Europe (Horizon 2020’s successor) but stresses that it should be viewed as additive rather than core funding.

“I feel strongly that companies need to have solid investment and avoid being dependent on grants such as Horizon funding. That’s not the right way to run a business and it can take you down avenues that don’t align with your company strategy. Additive funding such as Horizon Europe can allow you to accelerate progress but shouldn’t be the only source of finance,” says Maguire.

There is also much to be learned from the application process itself which hones focus and delivers fresh perspective.

“We made a number of applications for this funding before being successful and we learnt from the feedback on each of them, including how the outside world views your business. I would encourage people to be persistent and don’t get dispirited if the first or second applications are unsuccessful.”

AVECTAS has benefitted from a range of Enterprise Ireland support since its set-up and also got assistance with preparing the Horizon 2020 application.

Recently it has secured further funding through the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund run by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It is partnering with Bluebridge Technologies and NIBRT to expand its Solupore® platform to manufacture next-generation allogeneic products that can be produced at scale for large numbers of patients. The allogeneic approach uses cells from donor tissues rather than the patient’s own cells.

The project will take AVECTAS further towards commercialising an advanced, large-scale, digitalised cell engineering platform optimised to manufacture ‘off-the-shelf’ cell-based therapies for cancer treatment.

For further information about applying for support from Horizon Europe, the successor programme to Horizon 2020, please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie.

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H2020 CityxChange team

+CityxChange helping to create the positive energy cities of the future

H2020 CityxChange team

Horizon 2020, and its successor Horizon Europe, are designed for innovation. It enables participants to take risks and therefore achieve more.”


Terry Connolly, Limerick City and County Council, +CityxChange project

Key Takeouts:

  • Limerick City and County Council is taking part in a five-year, €24m, pan-European project to create positive energy blocks within cities.
  • The project is funded by Horizon 2020 under its Smart Cities and Communities call.
  • Now midway through the project, +CityxChange is set to roll out its blueprint for carbon reduction across seven European cities.

H2020 Case Study: CityxChange

The European Union’s (EU) ambitious vision of creating positive energy cities – those that generate more energy than they use – is being advanced by a major pan-European project, +CityxChange, running over five years.

The aim of the project, which has received 24m from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, is to create positive energy blocks within two ‘lighthouse’ cities and then roll out the learning and solutions across five other European cities. This will establish a blueprint for creating energy positive urban environments, essentially co-creating solutions to global-scale challenges at the local level.

Trondheim, Norway and Limerick, Ireland, are the lighthouse cities, but as Terry Connolly of Limerick City and County Council explains, the challenges in each are very different.

Trondheim’s positive energy block is a new build that was designed to be energy positive. In Limerick we’re trying to do the same thing with Georgian buildings, which is a massive challenge,” says Connolly.

Limerick City and County Council is working with a number of expert partners to develop solutions for buildings located in the Georgian Innovation District to help generate more energy than they consume and allow for any excess energy to be returned to the grid.

+CityxChange involves extensive data collection, engaging communities, upgrading building stock, accelerating the clean energy transition and balancing energy use. Despite the challenges, however, including the impact of Covid delaying the energy monitoring elements, the project is progressing well.

“We’ve completed the data collection and building modeling work and are well advanced with citizen engagement. The response from the public has been great.

We’ve recruited 20 energy champions in Limerick who are demonstrating how they are changing their energy use, and we have funded several small community innovative energy positive projects through open calls,” says Connolly.

+CityxChange’s extensive remit is being delivered by a consortium consisting of 32 partners across Europe including city municipalities, universities, and businesses and organisations in the fields of research, technology, community engagement, energy production/distribution and logistics.

“In essence we’re looking at how digital technologies can be exploited to improve quality of life, make cities more climate-friendly and productive, and facilitate business development,” says Connolly.

 

Horizon 2020 supporting innovation

Connolly has been involved in numerous European projects over many years, which have spanned a wide range of funding mechanisms. He believes Horizon 2020 and its successor Horizon Europe are perfectly designed to support innovation.

“Some funding mechanisms can generate a lot of paperwork for participants, in particular those that are based on having to spend money first and then claim it back.  I believe that can make people risk averse because they’re afraid they might not get their money back”.

“Horizon 2020 is high quality funding; it’s designed for innovation. Of course, you still have all the paperwork requirements but the fact that you get most of the money up front makes you better placed to take the risks needed to deliver real innovation”.

“Also, Horizon-funded projects are by their nature at the cutting edge of research and innovation and so are extremely interesting projects to be involved in,” says Connolly.

With his extensive experience of Horizon projects, Connolly is able to offer some advice to other organizations and businesses that might be considering responding to a Horizon call.

“The key thing for anyone thinking of getting involved in a Horizon project is to ensure that it’s aligned with what you want to do. You don’t want to start something and then realise it’s beyond your capability or out of step with your business focus.  A Horizon project is a contract that you have to finish.”

Enterprise Ireland’s support and expertise is an invaluable resource for applicants.

Enterprise Ireland has so much information about these projects and what’s happening across Europe and they can share that with you. They can advise on which projects you have a better chance of winning and can help with identifying partners or putting you in touch with someone who is looking for a partner”.

“We’re talking to them at the minute to prepare for Horizon Europe calls. They’re helping us pinpoint which clusters we will look at and focus on which applications might be of interest”.

“They’re also very honest, so they’ll tell you straight if they don’t think your project will work and that means you don’t waste time working on a proposal that’s going nowhere.”

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

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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.

 

 

 

FAITH: Improving mental health care for cancer survivors

H2020 FAITH team image and case study heading

FAITH is potentially life-changing research. To achieve the ambitious goals of the project we needed to leverage our networks in Europe and build a consortium of experts.


Philip O’ Brien, Technical Co-ordinator, FAITH Horizon 2020 project

Key Takeouts:

  • Walton, part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is leading a project that aims to develop a model for mental health monitoring of cancer patients, to improve their quality of life.
  • The FAITH project has received €4.8m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
  • As well as co-ordinating FAITH, Walton is driving the development of artificial intelligence (AI) models and the deployment of a federated learning framework.

H2020 Case Study: FAITH

    Cancer remains the second leading cause of death globally and as many as one in five people living with cancer experiences depression and mood change post diagnosis. It’s a stark statistic and one that led researchers at Walton Institute, an ICT research and development centre within the Waterford Institute of Technology, to begin looking at the area of mental health in cancer patients to see if they could use their expertise to help. 

    “We believe the potential for ICT applications in health is massive. We had an initial idea about looking at markers of depression and when the Horizon 2020 call came out, which was specifically targeting improving the quality of life for cancer survivors, it was an opportunity to take the idea to the next level,” says Philip O’ Brien, technical co-ordinator of FAITH.

    The goal of FAITH (a Federated Artificial Intelligence solution for moniToring mental Health status after cancer treatment) is to provide an ‘AI Angel’ app that remotely analyses depression markers, such as changes in activity, outlook, sleep and appetite. When a negative trend is detected, an alert can be sent to the patient’s healthcare providers or other caregivers who can then offer support.

    The project uses the latest, secure AI and machine learning techniques within the interactive app located on patients’ phones. Key to the project is federated machine learning, which enables the patient’s personal data to stay within the AI model on each phone, guaranteeing privacy.

    “As the model collects data on a person’s phone it retrains itself to improve and personalize it for each individual.explains O’Brien

    “As the model collects data on a person’s phone it retrains itself to improve and personalize it for each individual. But we also want to learn from all that data to gain insights that are beneficial to the broader population, so when a model updates, that update, rather than the person’s data is sent back to the cloud. All the updates are processed and a new, improved model is sent back out to everyone and that cycle repeats,”

     

    Another important aspect of the project is a focus on explainable AI, which is about ensuring that healthcare professionals can understand why the machine has reached a particular decision about the person’s mental health.

    “Explainable AI is extremely important for building trust. As AI impacts more and more on our lives the implications of this are huge,” says O’Brien.

     

    Why Horizon 2020?

    “It was clear from the start that to achieve the ambitious goals of the FAITH project we would need to leverage our networks in Europe and build a consortium of clinicians and technical experts. By breaking the project concept into a number of key objectives we then built our consortium based on specific expertise to achieve each objective,” says O’Brien.

    FAITH brings together partners from Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Cyprus into a strong multi-disciplinary team. Trial sites in eminent cancer hospitals in Madrid, Waterford and Lisbon, involving both clinicians and patients, are assessing the concept and feedback is being used to refine the model.

    As with most Horizon projects there are multiple dependencies across the various work packages and co-ordinating the whole presents some challenges. At the helm of FAITH is Gary McManus, Research Project Manager at Walton.

    Different countries and organisations have different regulations and ways of operating so that’s one challenge. Also, from experience from previous projects, I knew it was important to remember that each partner, although working towards the global aim of the project, will have their own interests. Being cognisant of these sub-goals from the outset and, where possible, facilitating these in the overall planning process is essential,” says McManus.

    Different countries and organisations have different regulations and ways of operating so that’s one challenge. Also, from experience from previous projects, I knew it was important to remember that each partner, although working towards the global aim of the project, will have their own interests. Being cognisant of these sub-goals from the outset and, where possible, facilitating these in the overall planning process is essential,” says McManus.

    “But by having strong leaders for each work package, who are experts in their domain, we can be sure that delivery of each element will build towards the final offering.”

     

    Knowledge gain

    Having taken part in multiple Horizon 2020 projects, O’Brien believes that one of the great benefits is the extensive knowledge gain within a short period.

    “Being involved in a Horizon project is the opportunity to upskill rapidly and build on your underlying expertise. Through your links with other organisations across Europe you get an insight into different ways of working and you cross paths with people from many disciplines. For example, through FAITH we’ve been talking to a range of healthcare professionals and leveraging their experience.

    “The EU spends a lot of time and money with experts pinpointing the areas where we need to see technology improving to tackle specific challenges in the next five to ten years. By being involved in these projects you’re building on all of that knowledge rather than working in isolation. Then learning from the people you are working with across Europe pushes you up a level again.”

    Moreover, the end of a Horizon project is usually the beginning of something else.

    “One of our work packages is looking at what happens post project and how we take it to the next stage. We know bigger healthcare trials will be needed, for example. But from Walton’s point of view we’ve broken some new ground on explainable AI which has a lot of applications outside this project, so that’s an area we’d like to take forward. You need to be clear about how you build on the project, either in a well-defined follow-up project or by commercial exploitation of the output.”

     

    For further information about applying for support from Horizon Europe, the successor programme to Horizon 2020, please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie.

     

    Positioning Strategy title and businessman

    Export Journey: Step 3 – Positioning Strategy

    Positioning Strategy title and businessman

    Your positioning strategy should set out what you will do to achieve a favourable perception in your new export market.

    Typically companies will try to achieve the same brand positioning regardless of the market. A coherent positioning strategy can be hugely advantageous, so it’s important when reviewing the export potential of your products/goods or services to consider the following:

    1. Customer profiles

    • What is your current USP and will this translate to your new foreign export markets ?
    • Do you understand your domestic customer profile? E.g. age profile, socio-economic grouping etc.
    • Are there other significant demographic patterns to your product or service’s usage?
    • Have you considered the need to modify your product/service to facilitate differences in language, culture and business environments?
    • How do you plan to deliver your services to foreign markets ? In person, via a local partner or using digital resources?

    2. Market Pricing and Value Propostion

    • Consideration whether any necessary changes to make your product/service more appealing to foreign markets and customers?
    • If you’re exporting services, what makes them unique within global markets?
    • Have you benchmarked your services in a global context? Would they be considered to be world-class and stand up to stronger scrutiny?
    • Have you considered the cost implications of servicing overseas markets? Including FX rates and fluctuations?
    • Does your product have a shelf life and will this be impacted by time in transit?
    • Will your packaging have the same impact in a foreign market or can it be easily modified to satisfy new demands?
    • Are there any climatic or geographic factors that could affect the uptake of your product or service in other markets?

    3. Route to Market

    • Do you need special export licensing or documentation to export? i.e. technical or regulatory requirements localised to the market?
    • Are there considerations for the safe transportation of your product to global markets ? i.e. specialized containers or packaging materials?
    • Would transportation costs make competitive pricing a problem?
    • How efficiently does your target market process incoming shipments?

    4. Capacity to support

    • In the event that your domestic/export demand increases beyond current projections, will you still be able to look after both markets?
    • Will you be able to serve both your existing domestic customers and any new foreign clients?

     

    5. Further considerations

    • Do you require a local presence or representation?
    • Will your products/service require local professional support or can this be done digitally?
    • Will after-sales service be required ? Can it be easily sourced locally or do you have to provide it? Does you have the resources to provide it?
    • Are there legal / IP implications to consider when entering global markets?

    Once your positioning strategy is in development, it’s time to consider how to develop your export strategy and access your target market.

     

    Take the next step in the Export Journey

     

    Export Strategy title and port image

    Export Journey: Step 4 – Developing your Export Strategy

    The next step is your export plan. You may have ideas but you need to clearly communicate them in writing so that your whole team is clear on their responsibilities. Having a plan laid out makes it easier to spot pitfalls, gaps and even additional opportunities!

    The export plan is also key in seeking supports in term of financing or grants.  Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it clear and simple.

    The key elements of a successful export plan include:

    1. The Vision

    • What you are going to do. How you are going to do it. What your expected outcome is.

    2. Human Resources

    • Have you the staff, external support and expertise? Have you skills within your team to manage language and cultural differences?

    3. Financial Resources

    • Budget, Sales targets and Pricing – Consider the additional costs involved in selling into the overseas market. Establish a target price for the end user, taking into consideration currency, payment terms, freight and carriage charges, import duties and taxes, commission to partners and competitors’ pricing.

    4. Target Market

    • Why you have selected this market; who your buyers are.

    5. Your Product

    • Your USP and how it translates internationally. Are there external factors which could impact production or sales?

    6. Market Entry

    • Sales channels; marketing plan; regulations, language and local laws.

    7. Monitoring and Developing the market

    • Are you meeting sales targets?

    8. What’s next?

    • How do you plan to grow and scale?

    Access the Market Entry Page

     

     

     

    Market Entry title and businesswoman image

    Export Journey: Step 5 – Market Entry

    Market Entry title and businesswoman image

    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

    Scale title and background image of modern city

    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.

    graph with export data

    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.