Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific is flying high – time for Irish companies to get on board

Tom Cusack, regional director for Asia Pacific at Enterprise Ireland, explains what Irish exporters can gain by exploring opportunities in the region.

“Always listen,” advised Dicky Yip, non-executive director of Chinese insurance giant PingAn and former chief executive of HSBC China, during his keynote speech at Enterprise Ireland’s Routes to Growth Asia Pacific, a major conference which brought together more than 400 Irish and international business people to explore export opportunities in the region.

“It takes time to understand each area’s cultural differences”, explained Yip.

The inaugural Routes to Growth Asia Pacific event offered a unique opportunity for networking and peer-learning to current and first-time exporters, with more than 100 potential buyers travelling to attend. Enterprise Ireland’s entire Asia Pacific team assisted companies with export plans and on-the-ground experience. Enterprise Ireland also launched a series of business guides to help companies better prepare for market entry.

Asia Pacific is home to two of the world’s three biggest economies

Stretching from Australia to India and China, Asia Pacific is home to half of the world’s population and two of its three biggest economies. By 2025, it will account for more than half of the world’s economic output. Similar trends are evident with growth rates, which range from 5% to 9%, compared to the 2-3% global average. Australia, in particular, has enjoyed over 25 years of continuous growth.

More than 600 Irish companies are currently doing business in the region, worth €2 billion annually.

Irish exports more than doubled in the last five years since breaking the €1 billion mark in 2012, delivering double-digit growth for Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in 2016, with an impressive 16% year-on year-gain. As the second-fastest growing region for Enterprise Ireland-backed companies, a 50% increase in exports is targeted by 2020. Opportunities for Irish businesses in sectors including aviation, fintech, international education, and construction and engineering are particularly promising.

“Ireland has emerged as one of the greatest global aviation hubs in recent times,” commented Dermot Mannion, former deputy chairman of Royal Brunei Airlines and former Aer Lingus CEO. “That is happening at a time when Asia Pacific is by far and away the fastest growing region for aviation. Over the next twenty years, the number of aircraft going into Asia Pacific will be equal to North America and Europe combined. We are very well positioned to take advantage of that.”

One example of Irish success in the sector is CAE Parc Aviation, who first began doing business there almost three decades ago, explained chief executive, Frank Collins. Today 45% of its worldwide business comes from Asian companies. CAE Parc has seven offices spread across five AsiaPac countries. In all, “it’s a massive market for us,” Collins said.

Speakers recommended reaching out to Enterprise Ireland for assistance and tapping into the Irish diaspora.

Work with Enterprise Ireland to expand in Asia Pacific

“You need to get out there on the ground, so use Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs. There is always someone who can give you introductions,” said Paul Costigan, chief sales and marketing officer at Decawave.

Barry Napier, CEO of Cubic Telecom, first discussed the possibility of entering the region with Enterprise Ireland in 2010 and benefited from Irish embassies in the region. “Regulation is very different in every market. A key thing we leveraged from Enterprise Ireland was about laws and regulations, and how to work within the market,” said Napier.

Ireland’s connectivity to the Asia Pacific region will see a big boost in June 2018 with the launch of a direct flight between Dublin and Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, the first ever direct flight from Ireland to the Asian mainland.

“Don’t underestimate the impact of having ‘Dublin’ on departure boards in Hong Kong will have,” said Mannion. “It will create a dynamic where companies in that part of the world will be interested, because it will be easier to do business here.”

That the Routes to Growth event was organised in partnership with Cathay Pacific is fitting. There is no doubt that the AsiaPac region is flying high. For Irish companies, it is time to get on board.

Visit our markets section for insights on Singapore and China and the opportunities for Irish companies.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent.

US flag - exporting to the US

Top 10 Tips for Exporting to The USA

Ireland enjoys a unique advantage in trading with the US because of our deep historical links. Relations between the two governments are exceptional; and cooperation at an institutional level is excellent including in areas such as research, innovation and education.

There is, without doubt, huge opportunity in the US. Around 700 Enterprise Ireland client companies are exporting there and companies like Aerogen, Fenergo, Cylon Controls, Candidate Manager and Rubicoin have set up offices and accelerated exports in the past 24 months. To date, over 20 clients have won contracts worth over €500,000.

1. Preparation

Before entering the US market, extensive research at home is strongly advised. Make contact with State agencies, relevant support organisations and companies who currently export to the US, if possible. Targeting the US usually requires additional financial and human resources, so to keep costs and operations manageable in such as geographically big country, first-time entrants are advised to segment the market and target a particular region or state. Give careful consideration to the resources needed to serve the selected market, for instance, will the operation use a direct or indirect sales channel. Some companies hire locally and others (often in the early stages) put a C-level member of the team in the market for a short period to get things off the ground.

2. Legal

Corporate – Confirm your corporate structure. Typically setting up a US subsidiary makes sense both for tax and liability reasons. Your US subsidiary also will need to appoint a registered agent, and “qualify to do business” in every state in which you have an office or similar presence.

Intellectual Property – Address US trademark issues defensively (confirming that no one else has prior registered or unregistered rights in respect of name and key brands); and offensively (by filing a US trademark application). Patent issues may need addressed depending on the business.

Contractual Terms and Conditions – These must be converted to the laws of a US state, for legal and commercial reasons.

Employment – Get professional employment advice locally. Most US employees do not have employment contracts but employers are bound by offer-letter terms, employee manuals and other undertakings. Also, ensure confidentiality and IP assignment agreements with all employees are established.

3. Tax Structuring and Compliance

Establish appropriate arm’s-length arrangements between the Irish parent and US subsidiary to separate taxable income. This is particularly important because US corporate tax rates (federal and state), totalling about 40% are typically three times the level in Ireland. Have appropriate compliance procedures in place to address federal and state corporate income tax, as well as other potentially relevant tax regimes (sales tax, personal property tax, etc.), particularly at the state and local level.

4. Trends

US import trends indicate high potential for Irish exporters. Meat imports were valued at €9.4bn which was the second fastest-growing import; while dairy went up over 40% to €2.8 billion. The US also imports pharmaceuticals worth $86.1 billion; medical and technical equipment worth $78.3 billion and organic chemicals worth $52.1 billion. These are all among the top 10 Irish exports by category. It is also a big importer in sectors such as aviation and aerospace, mechanical and electronic equipment, insurance and ICT services – all of which are growing in Ireland.

5. Banking

It can be difficult for a non-US company to set up banking for its US subsidiary. Some banks are particularly focused on banking high-growth companies on a trans-Atlantic basis, which can help ease the process.

6. Immigration

Most Irish companies exporting to the US find it critical to establish a presence in the market. This is particularly true in software and high-tech. An estimated 65% of Irish exporters to the US have a full-time presence, ranging from a single-person sales office to manufacturing operations with thousands of employees. Route-to-market decisions are crucial and the role of agents and distributors cannot be ignored. Buyers rarely purchase directly from manufacturers, particularly those from overseas. So fulfilment centres have become increasingly important in the supply-chain, especially since the growth of e-business. This approach is better suited to non-perishable items and consumer products.

7. Insurance

The US is a high-risk environment. Get an insurance broker with trans-Atlantic experience to advise on types of cover, terms and limits.

8. Recruitment

The most difficult aspect of setting up in the US is finding the right people. Obtaining recommendations from trusted people including investors and advisors is often the best way. Otherwise get professional support (especially with sales people). Consider outsourcing for book-keeping, employee tax withholding, HR and mandatory employee insurance and benefits, and similar matters. Also note that visas permitting Irish personnel deployed in the US to work are needed. Allow three to four months to sort this out.

9. Offices

Get professional advice on office space and other properties such as co-working spaces (like WeWork), accommodation offices (like Regus) or renting an individual premises.

10. Incentives and Supports

US supports should not be overlooked. Federal, state and local development agencies and international chambers of commerce can provide very useful support. State and local incentives for investment and job creation also may be available.

 

Arralis

“The fact that Enterprise Ireland delivered the European Space agency was incredible. That was instrumental. That is where it all started.”

Barry Lunn – CEO & Founder

Who

Arralis is a rapidly scaling technology company providing world leading expertise in RF, micro and millimetre-wave technology.

How

Enterprise Ireland helped Arralis break into the American, Chinese and Russian markets and, most importantly, introduced them to the European Space Agency.

Result

Arralis are now a world leader in their field working with six of the top ten aerospace companies. In 2016 they opened new offices in China and the USA.

See How We Helped Arralis

Oman: the Ireland of the Middle East

Mike Hogan Manager for the Middle East & North Africa at Enterprise Ireland, describes surprising similarities that are creating opportunities for Irish exporters to Oman.

If someone described a neutral country with a rapidly growing population of 4.5m people, which is held in good standing by neighbours, whose people have a reputation for hospitality and being great talkers, with a distinctive style of traditional music, you might think they were referring to Ireland.

There is also, however, a country in the Middle East that matches that profile – the Sultanate of Oman. Oman has become a growing market for Irish companies and a gateway to additional markets in the wider Middle East, countries where Ireland currently has a weak export footprint, located along East Africa’s Indian Ocean coast.

 

Innovation creating opportunities for Irish businesses

A recent Trade Mission, composed of 32 Irish companies and led by the then Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, testified to the growing importance of Oman as a regional commercial hub. Three Enterprise Ireland-backed companies, Ding, iheed and mAdme, announced deals and partnerships with Oman-based companies during the Trade Mission.

Talal Said Al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, affirmed the importance of Irish innovation, saying, “We are always looking for innovative ways to communicate and interact with customers to better understand their experiences and expectations. Using mAdme’s platform allows us to enhance that experience by engaging customers at the right moment with exactly the right content.”

Agreements were signed by Enterprise Ireland and Atlantic Bridge with the state-backed Oman Technology Fund (OTF). A major aim of these agreements is to further aid market entry for Enterprise Ireland clients to Oman and to position Ireland as a hub for Omani companies with plans to expand their presence in the EU. The OTF aims to learn from Ireland’s experience as a world-leading technology start-up centre to support the development of its own start-up ecosystem, tailored to the needs of the Gulf region. A related initiative has seen the OTF partner with Ireland’s National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) to run a pre-seed accelerator programme in the Omani capital of Muscat.

Oman is focused on increasing diversification to drive economic growth, creating opportunities for Irish companies to assist in the process. David Shackleton, Ding’s Chief Executive, described the strengths that attracted his company to the region, “Oman is a significant and exciting growth opportunity for Ding given the flourishing economy and a proactive approach to world-leading technology. We are thrilled to partner with Asia Express Exchange across more than 30 branches.”

Irish companies already have strong positions in sectors such as ICT, healthcare, engineering and education, with almost 650 Omanis currently in higher education in Ireland. New opportunities are quickly emerging in sectors including aviation, agritech, aquaculture, food production and eLearning, in which Ireland has a strong export offering.

 

Doing business in Oman

Oman has developed a reputation as the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, maintaining strong political and commercial relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. Leveraging its network of friendly states, Oman is developing its status as a logistics hub, with the expansion and development of major ports at Salalah, Duqm and Sohar, and upgrades to international airports in Muscat and Salalah. The country is currently building out a railway network to connect its three port cities with Gulf neighbours. Boosting private sector participation in the economy is a key goal, as well as investment in indigenous food production, mining, shipbuilding and repair. Enhanced training of the Omani workforce is a priority, with 60% of the population under 30 years of age.

Perched on the Arabian Peninsula, with 1,700 km of coastline, Oman is an emerging tourist destination, with beautiful beaches and landscapes, coupled with outstanding nature and heritage tourism. Aiming to target up to 5 million foreign tourists by 2020, Oman expects to host 4 million foreign tourists in 2017 alone. There is a substantial opportunity for Ireland to assist Oman in developing its tourism capacity, in areas such as training, infrastructure, and ICT travel and tourism solutions. Clearly, whether for business or for pleasure, Oman will continue to be an attractive new market for Ireland.

 

This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent.

Africa Calling with Opportunity for Irish Exporters

The reality of the business opportunity in Africa is often different to what SMEs first assume. Beyond the ‘glass half-empty’ headlines lies an expanding market in the second-fastest growing region in the world. Rapid growth has created opportunities for Irish exporters in key sectors such as international education, healthcare, ICT, telco, fintech and aviation.

The scale of the opportunity is evident in the market size alone. Eastern Africa is home to 460 million people, 6% of the world’s population. Kenya acts as an ideal gateway into the region’s target market of 250 million people, covering Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, in addition to Kenya itself.

The market in the region is developing quickly in ways that benefit Irish businesses. Ethiopia’s economy continues to experience exponential growth, and Kenya, with its rising African middle class clustered mainly in urban areas. 30% of its middle class live in Nairobi, offering a dense market for exporters to the region.

The growth of the Kenyan middle class is creating opportunities for Irish exporters in sectors including education and healthcare. 400,000 African students travel abroad to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate studies every year, creating an enormous market for Ireland’s education sector. Uncertainty generated by Brexit has created huge potential for Ireland to increase the number of African students that study here. A number of Irish universities are leveraging opportunities in the sector. During a trade visit to Kenya, Griffith College signed a partnership agreement with Nairobi’s Riara University, which sees it support the education of the country’s growing youth population. Minister Coveney also awarded International Computer Driving Licence certificates to students who are among the country’s rising skilled workforce.

Irish companies are using innovative technologies to help improve the quality of the region’s medical care. Enterprise Ireland facilitated a multimillion agreement between Novaerus Ireland and Quinton’s Pharmacy, a Kenyan based company, which is set to change the landscape of infections control and prevention in East Africa. Through its partnership with Quinton’s, Novaerus is adding value to Kenya’s healthcare system, reducing the number of infections in hospital environments and creating cost savings of approximately €12 million.

Dublin-based company Vitro Software announced a multi-million US dollar contract with The Nairobi Hospital, one of the most prestigious private hospitals in East Africa. Vitro’s electronic medical record software helps reduce change management challenges and deliver better patient outcomes. Mr. Odundo of The Nairobi Hospital affirmed the importance of innovation to the partnership, saying, “This initiative will bear great testimony to our ability to be innovative in all matters that ensure the highest standards are met.” For Declan Daly, CEO Vitro Software, the agreement is a gateway to the broader East African region, “We are now well placed to grow, not just in Kenya, but to other sub-Saharan countries.”

A number of strengths make Kenya a great gateway for Irish exporters considering expansion to Africa. The port of Mombasa is a key transit point, not just for imports and exports to and from Kenya, but also to and from Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The national air carrier Kenya Airways flies to more than 50 destinations in Africa and has direct connections to Asia and Europe.

Recognising the potential of the market, Enterprise Ireland appointed a dedicated trade representative for Kenya, based in Nairobi. Furthermore, there are a number of planned conferences and trade missions, upcoming. Enterprise Ireland’s advisors can help companies to identify opportunities in East Africa, get introductions to Kenyan buyers and potential partners, and get informed about important procedures, market entry barriers and license requirements.

How to do business in the Middle East

Doing business in the Middle East has become more challenging in recent years – the process of getting a product or service on the market there is not as easy as it used to be. Enterprise Ireland Market Advisors, Eamon Sikafi and Rachel Kouyoumdjis, discuss the challenges and opportunities for key sectors, in particular, aviation and security.

To learn more about Enterprise Ireland supports and for further information on business in the Gulf States click here.

Enterprise Ireland companies with Global Ambition

Attendees at Enterprise Ireland‘s International Markets Week heard from established Irish companies successfully selling globally and had the opportunity for meetings with Market Advisors, available to provide expertise on exporting to new markets.

If you are attending IMW please consider the following:

  • In which markets are you successful and how have you achieved this success?
  • What is your business/value proposition?
  • Why have you decided to target this new market?
  • What market validation have you carried out and what evidence do you have for a demand for your product / service?

Contact the International Markets team at International Markets Week for further information.

Strong Supply Chain Propels Irish Aerospace and Aviation Industry

Sean Long, Senior UK Market Adviser for Engineering & Electronics at Enterprise Ireland, describes current trends and opportunities for Irish exporters in the aerospace and aviation sector.

Worth over €4.1bn to the Irish economy, Ireland’s aerospace and aviation industry is soaring to new heights. Irish lessors manage €80 billion in assets worldwide and today there are more than 250 companies actively involved in the aerospace, aviation and space sectors in Ireland, providing employment for approximately 42,000 full-time workers.

That number is set to grow further, as Dublin Aerospace, Ireland’s largest independent aircraft maintenance provider, announced that it will create 150 new jobs over the next three years. Supported by Enterprise Ireland, the expansion of Dublin Aerospace’s workforce is part of the company’s strategy to double its turnover by 2023.

With over 50% of the industry’s global spend managed by aircraft leasing companies headquartered in Ireland, which is also home to 30 international leasing operations, Ireland is uniquely positioned to help drive the industry’s innovation forward.

Sean Phelan, Director at QCD Solutions, a global sourcing supply chain and Lean consulting company, describes the scale of the opportunity facing Irish exporters: “The world fleet of commercial aircraft is forecast to nearly double to 40,000 aircraft by 2036, with a projected value of $5.5 trillion. There is additional demand for 35,000 aircraft over the next twenty years, to replace existing aircraft and support new aircraft requirements. That creates significant opportunities for Irish aerospace supply chain companies to secure long-term contracts on the aircraft programs that will meet this demand. As of September, the aerospace industry has a backlog of firm orders for 6991 Airbus Aircraft and 5659 Boeing Aircraft already placed. Bombardier’s potential deal with Airbus also promises additional opportunities to the Irish aerospace supply chain.”

Ireland has approximately 115 active Enterprise Ireland-backed companies within the sector, including CAE Parc Aviation, The Botany Weaving Mill, Ohshima, Eirtech Aviation Services, Inflight Audio, Takumi Precision Engineering, Dawnlough, DPF and Eirecomposites, paving the way for other start-ups to consider Ireland as a location to conduct business. Speaking at the Dublin Aerospace announcement, the then Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, affirmed the national importance of the sector, “The aerospace and aviation sector is extremely important for Ireland, contributing more than €4 billion to the economy.”

Ireland has a growing reputation for innovation and service excellence within the aerospace and aviation industry which is itself experiencing rapid growth. Its established supply chain includes both prime and tier 1 companies, including Bombardier, Rockwell Collins, and Thales. The growth of the aviation and aerospace sector has been driven by the unique strengths Irish companies offer these partners, including a continuous investment in developing the skills of a highly-educated and adaptable workforce, and a focus on research, development and innovation, which strengthens their competitiveness in the sector. These strengths are central to what Enterprise Ireland defines as the Irish Advantage and help companies within the sector to achieve business wins across the world.

David Quin, Supply Chain Director at Rockwell Collins, echoes the advantages of working with companies in Ireland, “At Rockwell Collins in Kilkeel, we procure over €20 million from our Irish supply base. This success is based on a responsive and collaborative approach to our supply chain solutions and the reliable delivery of high quality parts.”

Boasting a competitive and innovative aviation and aerospace sector, there is significant potential for Irish exporters to further build ambitious and successful partnerships in key international markets. Enterprise Ireland supports that work with presences at the world-renowned Farnborough, Dubai and Paris Air Shows, including a dedicated Aviation Aerospace Ireland pavilion. To support the development of Irish aerospace supply chain programmes, Irish companies are encouraged to expand their quality processes, procedures and management styles in line with established international aerospace standards such as SC21 and AS9100, endorsed by mentoring programmes from key prime and tier 1 companies, such as Bombardier and Rockwell Collins.

 

This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent

Aviation Services and LSM Engineering – #GlobalAmbition plans for 2017

With clients across the globe, Gerry Kelly from Aviation Services in Dublin and John Cummins from LSM Engineering in Laois are making plans for the future

To learn more about Enterprise Ireland supports and for further information on building capabilities click here.

Innovation Islands: Building on Irish Success in Singapore

Like Ireland, Singapore has experienced dynamic growth and the opportunities and challenges that accompany it in recent years. In both countries, innovation has been used to overcome challenges that include upskilling a workforce and maintaining a world-class infrastructure. A focus on development has helped Ireland and Singapore to become known as ‘innovation Islands’ – hubs for world-class entrepreneurs and ecosystems that support the growth of multinationals.

Irish companies with disruptive, value-adding solutions are carving out business opportunities in Singapore. A trade and investment mission to the APAC region presented opportunities to appreciate the links that Irish-owned SMEs have developed in Singapore first hand. In total, 60 Enterprise Ireland client companies participated in the mission across two market legs – Singapore and Japan – with the goal of securing export business in the wider Asia region.

A tour of Singapore’s tallest building, the Tanjong Pagar Centre, was included on a tight schedule on the second day of the mission, giving delegates a chance to observe the impact of Irish innovation on the city. The energy-efficient technology of Tanjong Pagar Centre towers over Singapore’s Central Business District and is powered by the Dublin-headquartered company Cylon Controls. As the developer Guocoland explained with a smile, “the brains of this building are Irish”.

Opportunities in green tech are a particularly good fit for the capabilities of Irish companies. Singapore is driving an ambitious environmental agenda, with a target of 80% of buildings to be green by 2030 (currently at 33%) and to increase the number of green specialists from 15,000 to 20,000 by 2020. The government is providing a Zero Capital Partnership, enabling building owners to engage Energy Performance Contracting firms for energy retrofits with zero capital outlay.

Ireland’s green build cluster is supported by a sophisticated network of companies specialising in building energy management systems, green building materials, HVAC, lighting and energy technologies, as well as green architecture and engineering. Major names include Zutec and Kingspan Insulated Panels. Enterprise Ireland actively collaborates in this space, working with the Singapore Green Building Council to provide new solutions that help the markets to ‘go green together’.

The aerospace and aviation sector also presents opportunities for Irish companies considering Singapore. Over the next 20 years, Asia-Pacific will have the greatest demand for aircrafts, representing 39% of global requirements. The region’s global share of passenger traffic is also expected to rise from 31% to 42%. Ireland is viewed as a global centre of excellence for aviation, with a proud history of pioneering developments and dynamic innovation. Irish companies including CAE, Eirtech Aviation and Aero Inspection are leading the way, securing aviation opportunities in the wider APAC region from bases in Singapore, for example, in the Aviation Festival Asia in Singapore.

There are good reasons for Irish business to look to the Asia-Pacific region. It has delivered double-digit growth and an impressive year-on-year gain, making it one of the fastest growing regions for Enterprise Ireland clients. Many are already capitalising on that potential, with exports from Irish companies to Singapore and the wider ASEAN region on the rise and growing steadily year-on-year.

The trade mission raised the profile of Ireland as a key supply base offering high-value solutions and created a number of partnership opportunities between Irish and Singaporean companies throughout the ASEAN region. The ASEAN office hubbed in Singapore will expand resources over the coming months to further support Irish clients in their growth as they diversify through the region.

The Emerald Isle and Singapore, ‘the Garden City’, work well together because of what we have in common, a history of economic growth based on a trading perspective, investment in education and training, support for innovation and R&D, and an ability to succeed in the global marketplace. The vibrant export growth of both countries over the past ten years has positioned us both as trading nations, global players, and true innovation islands.

Iran: From Zero to Trading Hero?

With the lifting of economic sanctions, Iran could well be THE global market growth story of the coming year

It isn’t often that a large and mature economy opens for business with half the world in one fell swoop. But that’s exactly what occurred, following the lifting of sanctions, on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Only the Saudi Arabian economy is currently bigger in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and Iran, with a population of some 80 million, almost two-thirds of whom are under 30, is poised to challenge for the number one spot in the coming years.

First Steps

Tehran Honorary Consul for Ireland in Iran Alireza Feizollahi says that a path is now being beaten to Iran’s door.

“Right now, if you want to book a hotel in Tehran, it’s almost impossible. Trade delegations are coming here every week from all over the world,” Feizollahi says. But he cautions that this is a highly regulated country and companies must carefully study the market to see how they can be successful.

Sean Davis, Enterprise Ireland’s Manager for the MENA region, has been closely following developments in Iran’s $400 billion economy. He points to a very real hunger in the Iranian business community for new technology and innovation to fuel economic development.

“Iran has been on the side lines of global growth for some time, and there is a huge appetite to redress that. All around, you get the sense of people driven to capitalise on the new opportunities.”

Given the closed nature of the economy in recent times, primary research, in the form of market visits and relationship building, is highly recommended. Davis stresses that preparation and planning are very important on every front, from securing the necessary business visa to identifying the best way to utilise your time there.

“Though English is commonly spoken, it doesn’t predominate. You won’t be able to use your ATM or credit cards, and Tehran is a very large and very busy city, and by no means cheap. Packing a short itinerary with meetings that criss-cross the city isn’t going to be a runner,” he warns.

Enterprise Ireland supported a number of exploratory visits, with sectors such as healthcare, aviation, agri-tech, education, ICT, financial services and fintech, all in the mix. Fintech is likely to be among the more immediate opportunities given that the country’s financial services sector requires considerable investment and upgrading as it reconnects with its peers across the globe.

For clients, Davis recommends the first step is to contact Enterprise Ireland itself. “We are building a contact base of people Irish companies can reach out to, who will help suggest meetings and allow them to hit the ground running.”

Search for Quality

Dr Amir Kordvani, a senior associate with international law firm Clyde & Co, advises on sectoral investments across the Middle East and recently undertook a detailed look at the potential Iran offers to companies across the business spectrum. “What Iranian businesses are looking for, and it will be a requirement to any procurement proposal, is to show that you are bringing the very latest know-how and technology to the country. They are not interested in something from 10 years ago,” he says.

Irish companies are frequently warned of long sales cycles when they enter a new market, but Kordvani’s view is that Iran could represent something of an exception. “It really depends on how strong you are in the area you are operating. However, generally, Iranians are very commercially minded, value strong relationships and are very frank and open, so it doesn’t take that long to build trust from that perspective.”

A final, but important, piece of advice is to recognise that, whatever field you operate in, the value of quality customer service as a differentiator cannot be overstated. “In the past, customer service has been very poor in Iran,” Dr Kordvani says.

“If you want to lead and exploit your opportunity, then you should prioritise your customer service and your after-sales support as much as the quality of your product. Companies that can do that will be very well rewarded in this market.”

Come In Houston –
We have Products

Irish companies have a strong record winning business with the European Space Agency. Claire O’Connell reports there are growing opportunities to replicate this success in the US

Revenue from the global space industry was estimated at $322.7 billion in 2014. Driven by frontiers as varied as harnessing data from the International Space Station to the move towards low-Earth orbit satellites set to provide ‘internet for the planet’, commercial space is growing, particularly in the US.

Located close to the heartland of this burgeoning sector, the team at Enterprise Ireland’s new office in Austin, Texas, has been busy forging contacts with representatives from the likes of NASA, Teledyne Brown Engineering, PlanetIQ and Firefly

Senior market adviser Randy Bounds believes that a better understanding of US satellite market and manufacturing supply chain could create opportunities for Irish companies, even those not currently working in the space sector.

NASA on Partner Search

At the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, NASA’s Partnership Development Office has identified 27 technology areas where it is actively seeking to establish co-operative-development (co-dev) projects. Technologies include energy production management and storage, risk-analysis software and inflatable structures – but the list is far from exhaustive, according to Partnership Manager Mark Dillard.

“We have a technology roadmap that has hundreds of different technologies and areas where we would see a shortfall or there is a big technology gap we want to close, and we have cherry-picked 27 as a starting point,” he explains. “But a technology doesn’t have to be on the list for us to be interested.”

Commercial Players Looking Beyond Space Sector

In the past, space was a very specific market with very specific technologies,” says Tony McDonald, who deals with European Space Agency programmes at Enterprise Ireland. “But in the past five years or so, it has moved more to the commercial arena, and this trend changes the whole dynamic.”

With that comes the need for more flexible solutions that can be delivered to the market quickly, and the resulting direction of travel means that technologies developed for use on Earth can now have greater applications in the space sector, and vice versa.

Harnessing Data from The ISS

The move for Alabama-headquartered Teledyne Brown Engineering to a more commercial focus in space involves what Vice President for Global Commercial Space John Horack describes as ‘the world’s most technologically advanced coffee table’.”

About one metre squared, the stable platform is designed for use on the International Space Station to hold up to four separate instruments for gathering data about the Earth below.

Teledyne Brown is now interested in talking to potential partners who could use the platform itself to test or run equipment, or who could use the data that on-board instruments generate. “Whether it is an academic, social scientific or commercial activity, we are very eager to find good quality partners,” says Horack.

Firefly, co-founded by US-based Irish entrepreneur PJ King, is another commercial space-sector player looking for collaboration partners. Billed as the ‘Ryanair of satellite launch’, the company is developing dedicated launch vehicles for small satellites.

Firefly is interested in talking to companies with materials expertise that could suit their needs: “Rockets need to be lightweight and materials design is a tricky and important part of that,” says King.

Low Earth Orbit Satellites

Another new area opening up possible opportunities is the concept of ‘megaconstellations’ of hundreds or even thousands of small, low Earth orbit satellites being harnessed to revolutionise data acquisition from space and ultimately deliver high-speed ‘Internet for the Planet’. Bounds says that big names, including Googlespace, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, are investing in this potentially disruptive technology. For Irish suppliers, he adds, the economics become a whole lot more attractive if they are supplying components for an order for hundreds of satellites rather than a single unit.

Aiming for an orbit a little below the International Space Station, PlanetiQ wants to deploy suite of small satellites to capture precise information about the Earth’s temperature. “We are looking to be the world’s first commercial satellite network for weather applications,” explains president and CEO Anne Miglarese.

We Have the Technology

Back at home, Enterprise Ireland’s Tony McDonald has seen numerous Irish companies apply their technologies in space, including Enbio, which has developed protective pigments for coating spacecraft, and Radisens Diagnostics, which is working with the ESA to develop a blood-testing device for use by astronauts on board the International Space Station.

Developing technologies for the space sector can involve clearing relatively high hurdles to ensure that the resulting products or services are reliable and robust, he notes. However, lower-hanging fruit may now become an option for Irish companies through the emergence of the megaconstellations of low Earth orbit satellites concept. The move to high-volume, lower cost and faster turnover of satellites will mean more business in the supply chain, and the data, positioning information and communications the satellites provide could also generate useful downstream applications.

“The expanding niche of satellites offers a growing opportunity not just for traditional space companies, but companies in remote monitoring and even in terrestrial communications systems, who might be able to incorporate a satellite into their communications as well, or for networks that need to be resilient, such as emergency services,” says McDonald. “I think there are all sorts of exciting opportunities there when people put those systems together.”

For more information, contact randy.bounds@enterprise-ireland.com or tony.mcdonald@enterprise-ireland.com