UK and the Nordics

Irish exporters can find ample opportunity in both the UK and the Nordics

While our new trading relationship with our closest neighbours has caused some challenges for Irish companies, the UK undoubtedly remains a critically important market for Irish industry, and an important first export market.


In fact, at the recent International Markets Week event run by Enterprise Ireland in the RDS, one of Ireland’s biggest annual business events, new exporters and start-ups comprised two thirds of the Irish companies meeting with the organisation’s team of UK market advisers. Despite evident challenges, this market is still hugely attractive to Irish exporters.


It’s not surprising, when we consider that the UK and the Nordic markets collectively accounted for €9.6 billion of global exports from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in 2021. That represented 35% of all exports from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies last year, and an increase of €1.38 billion on the previous year.


Despite the additional complexities since Brexit, it’s clear that the UK remains the dominant market for many of the companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, says Marina Donohoe, Regional Director UK, Nordics & Global Procurement, Enterprise Ireland.


“It remains a crucial market for companies to scale in and to use as a stepping-stone to further export markets. One key reason for that is the strong reputation of Irish companies in Britain, and the resilience and agility they’ve shown in the face of recent challenges,” she says. “One key reason for that is the strong reputation of Irish companies in Britain, and the resilience and agility they’ve shown in the face of recent challenges.”

Irish exporters thriving across sectors

As we build on the strong links that have been in place between our countries for centuries, we’re also seeing a new generation of exporters across sectors such as digital technologies, renewable energy and modular construction.


Likewise, in London, which remains the financial services capital of Europe, Irish companies specialising in digital finance and payment technology have an impressive reputation in this highly regulated industry.


“Consumer retail is another thriving sector for Irish companies exporting to the UK,” explains Marina.


“In the past decade, we’ve seen brands such as Therapie, Max Benjamin, Pestle & Mortar and Gym+Coffee become really well established there. And recently, the hugely popular Irish beauty brand Sculpted by Aimee has also launched in Boots stores across the UK.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that the UK is the third largest e-commerce market in the world.”

Scaling from across the UK

We’re also seeing more and more Irish exporters who appreciate the value of starting their UK operations in cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, and scaling from there. In these locations in particular, they benefit from long-standing relationships between the cities and Ireland.


Throughout the UK, Irish companies employ 117,000 people, making an important economic impact in their nearest market. Enterprise Ireland has expanded its team in the UK in recent years, opening a new office in Manchester in 2018 and planning to expand our footprint to Scotland in 2023.

Nordics prove accessible for Irish firms

Exports to the Nordics from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies are also growing rapidly, and have risen from €442m in 2011 to €1.24 billion in 2021.


“While there is a preconception in Ireland that these markets (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) are expensive and difficult to access, once companies start to do business in the region, they find it is much more accessible than they initially thought,” says Marina.


In fact, English is widely spoken and customers in the Nordics are willing to pay for innovation, with particular opportunities for Irish firms across high tech construction, life sciences, digital technologies and consumer retail.


“As these markets combined represent the 11th largest economy in the world, they’re a natural focus for consideration for any Irish business seeking to expand its internationalisation focus,” Marina adds.

Expanding services across the Nordics

Reflecting the strong demand for support and the clear market potential, Enterprise Ireland expanded the team, opened its office in Copenhagen in 2019 and established a wider network of pathfinders throughout the region. We also plan to extend our operations in the Nordics in 2023.


Regardless of the preconceptions, Irish firms may have about doing business in the UK and the Nordics, the statistics clearly tell the story of Irish companies scaling well in these markets.


For other Irish businesses keen to emulate this success, we recommend doing focused market research, understanding your value proposition and how to differentiate yourself in these crowded markets, and then committing to them by visiting often and having a presence on the ground.

Enterprise Ireland teams across the region are keen to support clients to enter and scale in these critically important near and accessible export markets

Learn more about the opportunities in these markets and get crucial market insights in our Global Ambition deep dives for the UK and the Nordics.

Net Zero UK – UK Local Authorities & the Net Zero Challenge – Webinar


The UK’s 408 local authorities will play a crucial and defining role in the UK’s net zero challenge with responsibility for:

  • overseeing the adoption of innovative zero carbon technologies

  • investing in climate-resilient urban infrastructure

  • driving energy efficiency through building retrofitting

  • placing a greater emphasis on environmental criteria in procurement policy

This Enterprise Ireland UK webinar discusses how this evolution is reflected in procurement practices, with local authorities giving increasing consideration to social value and carbon emissions and what this means for Irish SMEs in the sector.

Speakers include:

  • Todd Holden, Energy Policy & Programme Lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

  • Steve Turner, Business Director, Connected Places Catapult

  • Bret Willers, Head of Climate Change and Sustainability, Coventry City Council

  • Christopher Hammond, Network Membership Director, UK100

    Gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series


    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.

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


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

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

    Topics discussed:

    • Environmental Protection

    • Carbon Reduction and Resilience

    • Digital Agenda

    • Customer Service

    • Collaboration and Innovation

    • Value for Money

    • The Future of the Sector and AMP 8

      Net Zero UK podcast – The UK ports sector

      Net Zero UK podcast – The UK ports sector – Lewis McIntyre, Peel Ports

      In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

      In the second episode, Lewis McIntyre, Managing Director of Port Services at Peel Ports, speaks about Peel Ports’ journey to net zero, the UK ports sector’s net zero ambitions and the role that the supply chain has to play as the sector works to reduce its emissions.


      Key questions to ask at your Singaporean Market Advisor meeting

      Singapore, the gateway to SE Asia, is the regional business hub for ASEAN and the wider Asia Pacific region, providing stability and highly educated workforce, making it the perfect location to create a base.

      If you are considering doing business in Singapore, please be sure to explore our top tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in Singapore

      • What are the core sectors and what sectors should I avoid?
      • Will I need a local partner company?
      • What kind of obstacles should I expect when entering Singapore?
      • What local competitors are active in this market?
      • What social norms should I be cognizant of when engaging in meetings with local people?
      • Will I need to set up an office in the region?
      • Will I need to hire local staff?
      • Can I relocate Irish staff in this region?

      For more, please reach out to the Singapore region MA here and be sure to check out our Going Global Guide 

      If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

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


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

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

      Speakers Include:

      • Jamie Ritchie, Partner, LK Shields

      • Dominic Jones, Partner, Blake Morgan

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

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

        UK Health Care

        Support for Health Care Innovation in the UK

        This document is a simple comprehensive reference guide to the complex world of Government and Institutional support for health care innovation in the UK. It is not an analytical document but rather a descriptive one describing the role and support available from each institution and programme. It also provides extensive links to these organisations’  websites which give further detail on how to apply for support, as well as case studies on companies they have supported. In each section, the programme’s relevance to innovators has been highlighted. The healthcare innovation support environment is dynamic, with Government prone to introducing new initiatives every eighteen months or so, whilst rarely curtailing existing schemes. Consequently, over time a wide range of institutions and programs evolve.

        The document can be read in conjunction with a workshop, which was delivered in November 2022, which took a more analytical view on the issues confronting the NHS, the structural changes currently occurring in health care provision and the engagement and procurement challenges for innovators in winning adoption and diffusion in the UK’s National Health Service. The documentation from this workshop can be requested by getting in touch with our UK team here.


        Read the report here.

        Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Spanish and Portuguese markets

        Historically pillars of trade, the Iberian nations of Spain and Portugal offer exceptional export opportunities to Irish companies

        Home to the international powerhouses of Inditex, Banco Santander, BBVA, Ferrovial, and TAP (Transportes Aereos Portugueses), the purchasing power in this market, along with the cordial nature of the population, makes it a highly attractive export region. The team in Enterprise Ireland’s Madrid office are here to support you in entering this dynamic and growing market.

        • Do your research. The Spanish and Portuguese populations combined amass to more than 10 times that of Ireland, while Iberia’s landmass is 7 times larger than Ireland’s. With more people, comes more business and innovation, and thus more competition. Really get to know the market you’re entering, and who you’ll be competing with.
        • Create a great elevator pitch. Spanish and Portuguese businesses are more hierarchal in nature, and they like to work on equal terms, so make sure you are bringing your best to the table, as you can presume they are. A good elevator pitch that clearly explains who you are, what you do, and what you can offer is a great way of proving your interest and significance. First impressions and personal relationships are important here.
        • Have a summarised value proposition. This is a highly price-sensitive market. Being price competitive will open the door to a consumer base of more than 50 million. However, having a good USP and a clear value proposition will help you to find a successful gap in the market. There is great purchasing power in Spain and Portugal, but you must find a way for your company to tap into it.
        • Be aware of your distribution channel. If you intend to export to, or scale in this market, know how you will make that happen. Consider the steps that must be taken between your product/service in Ireland and your customer in Spain or Portugal. Assess the potential hurdles in providing your good or service to this market.
        • You and/or your product need to speak the local language. Overcoming language barriers can be one of the most difficult aspects of exporting to this market. English levels vary significantly geographically and by sector. Having a trusted translator may be necessary for meetings and correspondence, which EI Madrid can help you with. More practically, your product itself must be accessible to the population you are selling to; an app that functions solely in English will not succeed in the wider population.
        • Assess your resources. How can you make the most of the human and financial capital that you have? With a good business team and the backing of Enterprise Ireland, at home and in market, there is great potential for success when entering the Spanish and Portuguese market. Know your weaknesses and seek help from EI to develop them into strengths. 

        Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have experts on hand, ready to help you access the Spanish market.

        Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

        For more, download our Going Global Guide

        If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

        Insights into the Commercialisation of Diagnostice webinar

        Insights to the Commercialisation of Diagnostics

        Enterprise Ireland UK in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics, the world’s largest biotech company and the world leader in in vitro diagnostics, examined the route to commercialisation, market access and economic modelling in this Insights into the Commercialisation of Diagnostics webinar.

        Webinar title: Climate Action Funding & Supports - Manufacturing sector

        Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Manufacturing Sector

        The transition to a low carbon world has become a defining force for business. For Irish companies, this means opportunities to compete and grow as global investments in a sustainable future accelerates.

        The manufacturing sector has the capability to address many of the problems in our society, including the threat from climate change. However, as the world aims for net zero emissions by 2050, the sector faces significant challenges in reducing its own energy consumption.

        This webinar includes the following guest speakers who will share their sustainability journey, as well as provide helpful advice to companies of all sizes:

        • Nick Reynolds – CSR Advisor, Business in the Community

        • Patrick Beausang – CEO, Passive Sills

        • Andrea Cawley – Commercial Director, Automatic Plastics

        • Patrick Buckley – Managing Director, EPS

        Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

        Webinar title: Climate Action Funding & Supports - food and Beverage sector

        Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Food and Beverage Sector

        The transition to a low carbon world has become a defining force for business. For Irish companies, this means opportunities to compete and grow as global investments in a sustainable future accelerates.

        The food & beverage sector has the capability to address many of the problems in our society, including the threat from climate change. However, as the world aims for net zero emissions by 2050, the sector faces significant challenges in reducing its own energy consumption.

        This webinar includes the following guest speakers who will share their sustainability journey and provide helpful advice to companies of all sizes:

        • Deirdre Ryan – Director of Origin Green, Bord Bia

        • Owen Keogh – Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Lidl Ireland

        • Louise Brennan – Head of Technical, O’Brien Fine Foods

        • Rosaleen Hyde – Operations Manager, Ballymaloe Foods

        • Padraig Mallon – Sustainability Director, Kerry Group

        Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.