Neil Cooney

Market Watch – A view from Canada

Market Watch Canada Neil Cooney

Key Takeaways

• The public health response to Covid-19 in Canada was well informed by previously having dealt with the challenges caused by an outbreak of SARS in the early 2000s.
• There were some challenges, and the Canadian government has been swift and efficient in offering support to businesses and citizens across the country.
• Canada, like many jurisdictions, is seeing a resurgence of cases and borders are currently closed to mainstream traffic.
• Remote working has seen many industries pivot to a new way of doing business.
• Many sectors are moving apace and there is opportunity for Irish companies.

Along with almost every country in the world, Canada has felt the effects of the pandemic, but Neil Cooney, Enterprise Ireland Country Manager Canada, says while a second wave is also taking its toll, there are some positive signs of growth.

“The challenges of Covid-19 are significant and as a result, the Canadian government has committed extraordinary support to citizens and businesses during 2020 as economic activity is considered to be approximately 5% below February levels,” he says. “However the economy has seen four straight months of growth, as restrictions have been modified to support more of the economy coming back online.”

“Of course, like many other jurisdictions, Canada is seeing a resurgence of cases, particularly in its main metropolitan areas – and borders are currently closed for most travellers. So those doing business need to look carefully at the limited set of exceptions which may apply (for critical infrastructure or in healthcare) – while most workers in government, banking, technology and professional services sectors continue to work from home.”

Aside from the challenges of not being able to visit the market, meet customers and attend trade events, Cooney says another effect of Covid-19 has been that some pending projects were paused as companies reacted to the uncertainty, but this is beginning to change.

“We have seen projects reignite in recent months as business priorities have shifted from crisis management or remote working challenges to an acceleration in digitalization and providing better experiences for customers and employees,” he says.

“Pivoting to virtual has been an area of opportunity for many of the leading trade events and while they vary in format and cost, these events have reduced the barriers for Irish companies interested in learning more about trends and opportunities in Canada – which has always been challenging to do on a coast to coast basis as it is the world’s second largest country.”

The move to remote working and distributed teams has pushed businesses to openly consider solutions from providers, which they will engage with online from start to finish.
And according to Cooney, the manufacturing sector and supply chains generally have done well in overcoming the hurdles posed by the current global crisis.

“Like many markets, the challenges of Covid-19 have accelerated change in many areas with companies and industries adopting new technologies,” he says. “This has represented an opportunity for Irish companies which offer innovative solutions in areas such as cybersecurity, remote working enablement and digital health.

“And Canada recently announced investment of 10 billion (CAD) in infrastructure projects -through the Canadian Investment Bank – in energy, agricultural irrigation, connectivity, zero-emission buses, early construction works and buildings’ energy efficiency.”

He says with the impact of the crisis on the energy sector, there has been an opportunity to focus investment on environmental mitigation of orphan wells, developing renewable energy and charting a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

And the construction sector has continued its buoyant level of activity with an increasing focus on modular housing deployment and environmentally superior building technologies currently in demand.

“In addition, Canada has continued to invest significantly in its public infrastructure, including a recent announcement supporting broadband provision– which at $1.75 billion represents the largest one-time federal investment in broadband.”

Home to several world class clusters including the world’s third largest aerospace hub in Montreal, Canada is North America’s second largest financial services and technology cluster, leading capability in Artificial Intelligence technologies, and has a burgeoning technology sector.

Toronto has the highest cluster of AI start-ups in the world and Montréal boasts the highest density of researchers and students of deep learning in the world. This has highlighted an opportunity for EI Canada to join the conversation with focus on Irish AI capable clients.

But while virtual meetings have made it easier for companies outside Canada to explore new commercial relationships, there are certain factors which need to be considered.

“Companies approaching the market often have to think region by region in sourcing distribution, identifying partners, winning customers and setting-up beachhead sales operations,” says Cooney. “And while doing this in-person has always been a challenge given the scale of the territory, the current reliance on virtual meetings has created more of a ‘level playing field’ for companies outside Canada exploring new commercial relationships.

“But it is officially a bilingual country which means many products and services must offer English and French to participate in procurement or Request for Proposal processes. To this end, Enterprise Ireland has recently opened an office in Montreal to assist Irish companies in doing business in the region.

“And while Canada is often seen as an excellent proving ground and valuable reference site for the wider North America market, it is crucial to display knowledge and responsiveness to the distinct needs of Canadian customers, local regulatory requirements and differences in business practice – something which definitely applies to the complex, multi-stakeholder buying processes we see in the Healthcare and Telco sectors.”

However, the country manager says that Canadians prefer to work with companies which already have an established presence in the market.

“Demonstrating local presence can be an important way to gain trust and to reassure potential customers of the availability of your on-going support,” he says. “Canada is a welcoming country when it comes to entrepreneurs, investors, and talent, including from Ireland, and is as a result attracting significant business to tech hubs such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. And during Covid-19, this may mean establishing a virtual presence and hiring locally in-market – which is readily possible given the ease of set-up in Canada.”

To learn more about the steps companies can take to address the impact of Covid-19 visit our business supports page.

Webinars – Brexit Customs Briefing Series

As the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020, Irish businesses trading with the UK will need to operate in a new business environment.

To assist Irish companies with their final preparations, Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Local Enterprise Offices will host a series of webinar briefings to advise on logistics, freight, customs clearance and the critical steps needed to avoid trading disruption on Jan 1st.

Register Below:

Evolve UK Podcast – Aerospace and Aviation

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

Senior Market Advisor Sean Long speaks with Gerry Reynolds, MD, Takumi Precision Engineering and Chairman of Emerald Aero Group about the Irish Aerospace Sector and the challenges and opportunities it presents to Irish suppliers.

Aerospace & Aviation

Market Watch Industry Bulletin – Aerospace & Aviation

Aerospace and Aviation

 

Enterprise Ireland’s industry bulletin for the Aerospace & Aviation industry provides insights from Market Advisors across the world, on market developments in each region, exploring market conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic , developments, opportunities and supports.

Read the full report here.

Evolve UK – Ready for Brexit: Meeting UK customer expectations

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar discuss how businesses are tackling customer communication and customer care during continued Brexit uncertainty with insights from:

Robert Rowlette, General Manager of Archway Products

Alan Croghan, Financial Director of EasyFix

Evolve UK: Establishing a UK presence

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar examines how the establishment of a UK presence demonstrates long-term commitment to the market, providing customers and partners on the ground with the reassurance that your business is accessible at all times.

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland’s UK Manager, Deirdre McPartlin with insights from Gerry Collins, ECOVIS.

Evolve UK – New UK importing rules with HMRC – Establishing a UK presence webinar

 

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar examines the upcoming rule changes to importing into the UK with insights from

– Deirdre McPartlin, UK Manager at Enterprise Ireland

– Margaret Whitby, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at BPDG

– Claire Wilson, Stakeholder Engagement at HMRC Customs and Borders unit

– Ruth Potter, Partner at Ecovis

– Gerry Collins, Managing Partner at Ecovis

Access key insights from sectoral experts with the Evolve UK webinar series.

Brexit and Intellectual Property – Webinar

The UK’s decision to leave the EU will impact many aspects of business including Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Our webinar explained the effects of Brexit on the different types of IPR, and discussed practical answers to questions like:

  • Will my existing IP rights be sufficient after Brexit?

  • What changes might I need to make to my IP portfolio?

  • Do my licence and distributor agreements cover the relevant territories?

  • If I am importing or exporting goods, have the IP rights contained in the goods been exhausted in the relevant territory?

  • Will my custom notifications still apply in the UK and EU?

Hosted by national broadcaster and journalist – Jonathan Healy with insights from:

  • Peter MacLachlan and Cherrie Stewart of MacLachlan & Donaldson

  • Joe Doyle, Intellectual Property Manager in Enterprise Ireland

  • Emer O’Byrne of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit.

Watch here 

Hannah Fraser Nordics

Market Watch – Nordics

“The Nordics is renowned for being one of the most progressive, open, and innovative regions in the world. Made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, it has not traditionally been the first choice for Irish exporters, but nonetheless the region presents opportunity for companies looking to expand their business internationally.

Over the last five years exports to the Nordics from Enterprise Ireland clients have grown 35% and there are now over 450 exporters to these markets. And despite Covid,  despite Covid, Hannah Fraser, Director Nordics Region, says opportunity exist for companies which bring innovation and something different to market.

The region is culturally and geographically close to Ireland and companies here are open to innovation and international partnerships. While negotiations often taken some time, once you secure a client, Nordic customers are committed, reliable and willing to pay a good price for solutions they can see value in.

In addition, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are in the top five countries for non-native English speakers, so language isn’t a barrier like other European markets – all of this adds up to a region which is lucrative and easy to do business in.

However, there is no denying that the pandemic has caused a lot of disruption to industry across the globe and in every sector – and the Nordic region is no different.

The response has differed country to country and while it remains to be seen how these measures will impact the economy in the long run, the Nordic economies were some of the strongest globally at the start of 2020 and look, so far, to be more resilient and set to recover faster than many of their European neighbours.

In the most recent figures, Sweden reported a GDP fall of 8.6% and Denmark of 7.4% during Q2. Norway’s GDP is estimated to have fallen around 7.1% between the months of March to May, while Finland, which undertook some of the stricter measures in the Nordics, reported a GDP fall of only 3.2%.

Irish companies working in the region have been affected in some ways. Travel restrictions, in particular, have proven challenging for staff travelling in and out of the region and also hindered Irish companies’ ability to meet customers, or potential customers, in person, which has affected the pipeline of new business for this year and into 2021.

But these issues are being addressed as firms have ramped up their digital presence to connect with customers in new ways and are now working more closely with local partners and suppliers. In addition, the supply chain across the Nordics is operational and the major construction sites, which many Irish companies are working on, have remained open throughout and business is now moving well in many areas.

Ultimately, the Nordics is a region of huge diversity and opportunities for companies differ from country to country and sector by sector. Well-established opportunities exist for Irish Engineering and Hi-Tech Construction companies, particularly around the construction and fit-out of the hyperscale data centres being built across the region.

There are also some emerging opportunities in areas like Fintech, Lifesciences, Telecoms and Energy and Irish firms have started to capitalise on these. In addition to this, one of the major themes for Nordic companies is around sustainability and building sustainable businesses.

Indeed the region has been at the forefront of sustainability for years and is considered to have some of the most ambitious climate action plans in the world – and this is an area in which Ireland can really learn from. Companies of all sizes here have a focus on building sustainable companies and integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into their business models.

This commitment to sustainability drives market demand for Irish products and services which in turn delivers solutions and innovation to areas such as renewable energy, electrification and energy efficiency.

There are a number of Irish companies which have successfully secured contracts in the Nordics in recent months including Mainline Power, CXIndex, Cambrist and XOcean – so the future does look bright for the region. Our team at Enterprise Ireland are on hand to support Irish companies to continue to grow and win business here.”

Get key insights on the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

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

Steve Keogh is currently in his second year with the International Graduate Programme, working as a Trade Development Executive in the Austin, Texas, office.

The Graduate Programme at Enterprise Ireland has given 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 I became interested in Enterprise Ireland and went on to complete an International Management Masters in Trinity before joining the Graduate Programme.

I currently work as a Trade Development Executive in the Austin, Texas, office. Everything you do in this role, has a direct influence on Irish companies.  There’s great satisfaction to be had, for example, if I can open an industry for an Irish company. It’s genuinely meaningful work. I worked for years just to make money and there’s no satisfaction in that.

 

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.

In the final interview, you’re given a list of available destinations and you are asked to rank them in order of preference. Austin was my second choice. I hadn’t a clue about Austin before then – when I think of Texas, I think of Dallas – but it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in.

 

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 say ‘you just need to talk to xx over in Houston, he’s connected to all of the major players over there, let me get you on the phone together’ – 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.

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

One of my favorite 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.

 

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

 

David Eccles Regional Director Australia and New Zealand

Market Watch – Australia and New Zealand

Overview

•  Australia and New Zealand have amongst the lowest cases of Covid-19 in the world
•  There have been some second wave cases and local lockdowns
•  Most businesses still working remotely where possible
•  Australia is experiencing its first recession in three decades and the New Zealand economy has also been affected, but plans have been put in      place to mitigate this.
•  Government stimuli put into effect in March will begin to be phased out over the coming months.
•  There are business opportunities for Irish companies in the MedTech and Lifesciences sectors.

Nowhere has been left unscathed by the global pandemic but Australia and New Zealand have been fortunate to have some of the lowest case numbers in the world. However, regional Enterprise Ireland manager, David Eccles, says while the two countries have managed to escape the worst of the infections, there is still a note of caution about the future.

“Australia is 75th on W.H.O data table of cases and New Zealand is 153rd, but we are not out of the woods yet with some second wave cases across both countries,” he says. “Both countries have closed their borders to all except for citizens, residents and immediate family members and 14-day quarantine measures are strictly enforced.

“Australians had been slowly emerging from Covid-19 lockdowns since May but a recent second wave has seen the State of Victoria in stage 4 restrictions while the other seven States and Territories have lighter restrictions and there are some border closures between States, with each being in a very different position.

“And in New Zealand, which was COVID free for over 100 days, a recent wave had seen Auckland go into lockdown and Level 3 restrictions, but this week they have returned to Level 2 restrictions with the rest of the country. So, most companies are continuing to work remotely and enforce social distancing where possible.”

But while the cases of Covid-19 were noticeably less in the region, Eccles says economies in both countries have been affected.

“Australia is now experiencing its first recession in nearly 30 years, thanks to the economic fallout from coronavirus, bushfires and drought,” he says. “And the New Zealand economy is poised to contract severely for the first time in over a decade this year – again due to the coronavirus.

“In addition, they both also boast large tourism, hospitality, and education industries, and these have been severely impacted by the near elimination of international travel. But in other areas, business activity remains robust with construction and financial services leading the way.”

The area manager says Australian and New Zealand Governments invested in numerous cash-stimulus measures for business since March, but these will be withdrawn across three phases from September 2020 to March 2021.

And the Australian government has increased the instant asset write off from $30k to $150k for businesses making capital expenditures and this has given a boost to some Irish companies.

However he says, while there have certainly been an array of challenges and opportunities for exporters to the region, Irish companies have shown remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of these challenges. And the Antipodean market is no exception.

“We have found multiple opportunities for Enterprise Ireland clients, as all sectors increase their digital transformation,” said Eccles. “In fact, some clients have brought forward their entry into our markets due to demand, particularly across digital health, EduTech and FinTech. And in MedTech and Lifesciences, Irish companies have scaled rapidly to meet new demand for product and have accelerated their market entry here.

“The most impactful of the COVID factors to our clients is the border closures and the cessation of international travel. The borders to international travellers will definitely not reopen this year but exemptions are possible, while very difficult to achieve.

“Interestingly, a key challenge for our clients in the past has been making the decision about when to invest in a local presence and the time and cost involved in flying to the region for important meetings – but with everyone now meeting virtually, this removes that pressure.”

Since March when the lockdown began, 20 Enterprise Ireland clients have established a presence in Australia and New Zealand, including WayFlyer, Vizor, Swoop and MagGrow and over 50 new contracts were won by Irish enterprises across Australia and New Zealand.

“This is as clear a sign as you can hope for, to show that Australia and New Zealand are still open for business, still the gateway into the wider AsiaPac region,” says Eccles. “And Irish companies are showing the strength, determination, adaptability and resilience to win business 17,000 kilometres from home.

“We, Enterprise Ireland Australia / New Zealand, have started new ideas and initiatives to try and help clients during the current situation. We have started a mentoring programme ‘Scale Up, Down Under’ with six companies taking part in a 6-month programme to accelerate their entry into market.

We have also run a series of sector specific Advisory Panels across Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand, giving a range of Irish companies the opportunity to present their product to sector experts and often senior Irish diaspora in the market to seek guidance and advice.
“So there is light on the horizon for both companies doing business here currently and those planning their market entry.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Irish innovation and its application in the Australian market can visit www.irishadvantage.com.au

Get key insights on the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

Global Ambition – Industry Insights webinar series

Enterprise Ireland will host a series of Global Ambition – Industry Insights sector focused webinars for clients, to deliver market intelligence on the evolving international export opportunities across global markets. The five sector market webinars will focus on:

  • Construction – 15th September, 9:30am – 10:45am

  • Lifesciences – 15th September, 2pm – 3pm

  • Travel Tech – 16th September, 3pm – 4pm

  • Agritech – 17th September, 11am – 12pm

  • Consumer Retail – 17th September, 2pm – 3pm

 

This webinar series will draw on Enterprise Ireland’s unique insight into key markets for Irish exporters lead by the Market Advisor in that sector and will explore crucial issues such as relationship strategies and the shift in consumer behaviour in the context of Covid-19.

You can register using this link. You can register for multiple webinars and all registrants will receive a copy of the webinar recording and slides.