Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital Funding – Webinar

 

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Venture Capital Association, this webinar “Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital (VC) Funding” focuses on encouraging women-led companies to seek venture capital finance.

The purpose of this webinar is to support companies in all sectors and at all stages of growth that are seeking venture capital finance. There is a specific focus on encouraging and enabling women entrepreneurs to successfully raise VC finance.

It includes panel discussions with women funders and founders, which identifies and provides examples of successful fundraising strategies.

Recognising the under-representation of women in this space, the webinar is targeted at women-founders and co-founders in all sectors and at all stages of growth.

It provides a roadmap for women founders on their investment journey who wish to develop their investment skills and network with other women funders and founders.

    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

      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

        Terence O'Rourke, Jennifer Melia and Leo Clancy at Enterprise Ireland Start-Up Showcase 2022

        Start-Up Showcase: Demonstrating Ireland’s strength in supporting entrepreneurs

         

        Events over the past few years have made the business environment challenging to navigate but have also presented some unprecedented opportunities for Ireland’s innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs.

         

        Enterprise Ireland’s aim to support start-ups

         

        In a rapidly changing world, innovation is vital, making it so important for Enterprise Ireland to nurture and support promising ideas and those who produce them.

         “We have a hotbed of talent and innovation in Ireland right now, so it’s more imperative than ever that our entrepreneurs are given the time, funding and advice to excel on a global scale,” says Jennifer Melia, Divisional Manager, Technology and Services Division at Enterprise Ireland.

        “At Enterprise Ireland, we aim to support and enable Irish businesses to lead in a changing world – and an integral part of this is those ambitious start-ups with innovative solutions to tackle global problems.”

         

        125 start-ups attend Start-Up Showcase 2022

         

        Our strength in innovation was recently demonstrated in Enterprise Ireland’s 2022 Start-Up Showcase, which was held in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, 7 April.

        Making a welcome return in person – last year’s Start-Up Showcase was wholly virtual – the event was attended by the ‘Class of 2021’. This included 82 new High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs), 43 approved Competitive Start Fund companies (CSFs) and representatives from each of the 32 New Frontiers programmes we supported during the year.

        This number was on a par with previous years; considering the difficult business environment in 2020 and 2021, this is testament to the resilience of Irish start-ups and entrepreneurs.

        Interestingly, and reflecting Enterprise Ireland’s commitment to supporting diversity in leadership teams, 24 of the 82 HPSUs and 16 of the 43 CSFs were led by female founders.

         

        Learning from other success stories

         

        “Investment and funding is only part of the recipe for success for a start-up,” explains Jennifer. “Learning from peers and those who have been on the starting and scaling journey already plays an important role in future success.

        As a result, this year’s conference element at Start-Up Showcase aimed to tackle two of the most important subjects for start-ups.

        The first panel focused on ‘Disruption and Customer-Led Innovation’. It featured Silvercloud Co-Founder and CEO Ken Cahill, Novus Diagnostics Founder and CEO Elaine Spain, and ACT VC General Partner John O’Sullivan.

        Centaur Fund Services Founding Partner and CEO Karen Malone, Kyte Powertech CEO Stephanie Leonard and Cubic Telecom CEO Barry Napier then shared their experiences on ‘Building a Strong Team and Funding for Scale’.

        The conference then ended with a keynote speech from LearnUpon Co-Founder and CEO Brendan Noud as his company, a HPSU from the Class of 2013, goes from strength to strength.

         

        Returning to an in-person Start-Up Showcase event

         

        Due to the public health measures, last year’s event was wholly virtual due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But this year’s was both live streamed and in person.

        “As the start-ups would have begun their journey during lengthy lockdowns and travel restrictions, this event, in many cases, was one of the first opportunities to meet such an influential group of people – as well as their peers – in person,” says Jennifer. “There was a real buzz in the air.”

        “In total, there were 500 attendees including representatives from the Irish start-up ecosystem, including VCs and other funders, State support agencies, strategic company partners and professional and financial services, Government departments, academics, business mentors and Local Enterprise Offices.”

         

        Innovation and resilience among the Start-Up Showcase Class of 2021

         

        As companies that formed during the second year of the pandemic, the ‘Class of 2021’ have shown innovation and resilience like never before. Proving that Ireland is the “go to” country when it comes to finding global solutions, these companies produced a number of solutions in many sectors, including digital health, fintech, medtech, software, sustainability and more.

        “The ‘Class of 2021’ is really impressive,” says Jennifer. “Take a look at Amnexis Digital Solutions, based in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, a digital health company that records patient data efficiently, therefore reducing the administration workload on hospital, homecare and nursing home staff.”

        And there’s more to come. Although we are only a few months into 2022, already the easing of restrictions has resulted in a renewed energy in Ireland’s start-up community.

        “Next year’s Start-Up Showcase is looking promising even now, with a strong pipeline of promising entrepreneurs with intriguing prospects making waves across Ireland, both first-time and repeat entrepreneurs.”

        The future has never been more exciting for Irish entrepreneurs to Lead in a Changing World.

         

        Find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s supports for High Potential Start-Ups or watch the recording of the Start-Up Showcase 2022 conference.

         

        Net Zero UK GA Agriculture

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK agriculture sector – Jon Foot, AHDB

        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 fifth episode, Jon Foot, Head of Environment and Resource Management at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), discusses the latest sustainability trends in the UK agriculture sector.

         

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK water sector

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK water sector – David Riley, Anglian Water

        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 first episode, David Riley, Head of Carbon Neutrality at Anglian Water, speaks about Anglian Water’s journey to net zero, the UK water sector’s net zero ambitions and the role that the supply chain has to play as the sector works to reduce its emissions.

         

        The Level Project: Promoting gender balance in leadership teams

        The Level Project: Promoting gender balance in leadership roles

         

        Gender balance, diversity and inclusion is something we strive to promote as much as possible as a society, but in the world of business, having gender balance in a leadership team has been proved to have a very real and positive impact on a company.

        As a result, gender balance in management is something that Enterprise Ireland is widely advocating and supporting through a major new initiative, The Level Project.

         

        What is The Level Project?

        Sheelagh Daly, Enterprise IrelandThe Level Project has its origins in Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan for Women in Business, which recognised that increasing the number of women in middle and senior management, as well as on boards, leads to more successful, sustainable and profitable businesses. “The Plan saw that there are considerable economic benefits that lie, untapped, in women in their roles both as customers and as talent,” says Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. “In essence, by achieving gender balance, a company is tapping into 100% of the talent pool and 100% of the market.”

        The findings of the report is reflected in numerous studies that show that gender-balanced leadership teams can help businesses grow on a global scale. But despite all these studies and their clear conclusions, Irish companies are a long way from achieving gender balance in senior teams.

        There are numerous reasons why, but in the interests of helping companies progress and work towards their own individual gender-balance goals, The Level Project is a practical initiative that includes an online Action Planning Toolkit. Free to all companies, this toolkit helps companies assess their current situation and put in place real actions to enhance gender balance in senior teams.

        “Achieving gender balance is certainly harder in some industries than others, but simply taking some steps to enhance the gender balance of your leadership team can have tangible benefits for your business,” explains Sheelagh.

        “For example, visibly championing gender balance can have a positive effect on attracting and retaining talent. Gender balance in leadership also leads to increased creativity and innovation, thanks to diversity in thought and mindset, as well as a greater understanding of your customer base.”

         

        Striving for better

        These advantages are already being experienced by four early champions of The Level Project.

        VRAI is a fast-growing tech firm in the field of data-driven VR simulation training, and believes that a diversity of mindset is essential to help mitigate the complexity of what they are trying to achieve.

        Similarly, Spearline, a leader in telecommunication technology, credits a better understanding of their diverse customer base to diversity within their senior teams.

        For CLS, Ireland’s largest contract laboratory, having gender balance throughout the company, especially in leadership teams, creates harmony in the workplace, which can only lead to success.

        Vivian Farrell, CEO Modular AutomationHowever, achieving gender balance is very much a long-term plan for a lot of companies, especially those in industries that are traditionally male dominated. For example, Shannon-based Modular Automation has recognised that gender balance is hard to reach if girls are not seeing engineering as a viable career choice in school – a key part of their strategy is therefore demonstrating the advantages of studying engineering to girls at Junior Cert stage and lower.

        “All four of these companies have implemented very real strategies to enhance gender balance in senior leadership,” says Sheelagh. “While they recognise that this is a long-term project, the advantages of such strategies are already being experienced.”

         

        Introducing the Toolkit

        A key part of The Level Project is the Action Planning Toolkit, which is suitable for all companies, big and small, whether they are just starting out on their gender balance journey or want to improve and target their efforts even further. The Toolkit consists of six themes (Strategy, Attract, Retain, Develop, Engage, Measure), each of which is divided into two levels according to how advanced a company is. “We recommend that every company should start with the Strategy theme,” explains Sheelagh.

        A series of questions is included within each theme; answering ‘No’ to a question presents the user with suggested actions to include in their plan. Each theme also includes links to helpful resources such as guides, templates and expert insights. Once finished, an editable Action Plan for the company can be downloaded, which includes all the actions chosen  as well as space for notes.

        The online toolkit can be used free of charge by ALL companies.

        Enterprise Ireland client companies can also apply for several supports to help develop and implement their gender balance plan. Details of these supports can be found here or by talking to your Development Advisor.

         

        More information on The Level Project, including access to the Action Planning Toolkit and details of financial aids available, can be found here

        Three EU flags in front of a Eurozone recovery banner on the Berlaymont building of the European Commission

        Eurozone Recovery, Irish Opportunity: How Irish companies can benefit from the EU’s recovery plan

         

        Key takeouts

        • NextGenerationEU funding represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
        • From digital health care and green technology to smart cities and cybersecurity, there are hundreds of Eurozone recovery projects that will be fully funded by the EU
        • The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right markets and projects to target

         


         

        What is NextGenerationEU?

        We are living in extraordinary times, but it’s not all bad news for Irish business. Over the next couple of years, those who can or who are keen to export can take advantage of a significant opportunity, fuelled by the NextGenerationEU funding package put in place by the European Commission. At €750 billion*, it’s the largest ever stimulus package in Europe and some is directly aimed at SMEs.

        “The objective is twofold,” explains Marco Lopriore, at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA). “It is recovery, to help the European economy recover from the past year, but it is also resilience.

        “This is a push for a radical transformation of consumption and production to prepare European economies to withstand future crises in a better way. We’re speaking in Brussels about a paradigm shift. This is basically changing the way we function completely.”

        Within the overall project, the EU level of investment is supplemented by the agendas and priorities of each national government.

        *The current value of the funding is €806.9 billion. It was €750 billion when agreed in 2018.

         


         

        What does the Eurozone recovery plan mean for Irish SMEs?

        This Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) means a wave of funding unrolling across all 27 EU member states to support investment in public services and infrastructure, to make Europe greener, more digital and more resilient.

        As Ireland seeks to build a deeper trade relationship with Europe, that funding represents an excellent opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or to deepen and scale their presence in existing markets.

        Across everything from digital health care and green technology to smart cities and cybersecurity, there are hundreds of Eurozone recovery projects to complete across the EU over the next few years. All of them will be fully funded.

        “SMEs are not always directly affected by macroeconomics,” says Anne Lanigan, regional director, Eurozone at Enterprise Ireland, “but when that volume of money is going into it, especially to drive the green and digital agenda, it has to have an impact on what is happening at a business level.”

         


         

        Core focus on green and digital

        European Commission bannerThe overall fund is focused on six pillars, with the green transition and digital transformation being top of the list. The European Commission has specified that each country must assign at least 37% and 20% of their spending to those pillars, respectively.

        “Several member states have gone beyond those minimum thresholds,” says Lopriore. “Luxembourg, for example, is putting 60% to green, while Germany is putting 50% to digital.

        The green transition covers everything from clean tech, renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable transport, improving water quality to creating greener cities and making farming more eco-friendly.

        Digital projects to get funding span 5G, digitalisation of public service, cloud computing, smart cities, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, including projects focused on reskilling and upskilling to improve digital literacy.

         


         

        Leaning into Irish tech expertise

        Areas in which many Irish firms specialise, such as cybersecurity and the digitalisation of health are a significant focus in many plans, says Lopriore, who wrote extensively on national areas of focus for NextGenerationEU funding in a recent paper.

        “In Belgium, for example, the plan is to spend €585m on digitalisation, of which almost €80m is allocated to cybersecurity. Spain wants to reinforce cybersecurity on its rail network, its air traffic control, its central public administration and in the tourism sector.”

        When it comes to providing health and medical services online, France will invest €2 billion in the digitalisation of health, while Germany will invest €3.8 billion.

         


         

        Breaking into a new European market

        The funding offers new momentum to Irish exporters targeting Europe, a trend that was already soaring, says Lanigan.

        Anne Lanigan, Patrick Torrekins, Leo Varadkar, Leo Clancy“Since we implemented our Eurozone strategy in 2017, we’ve seen a 33% jump in exports from Ireland to the Eurozone,” she says. “Even in 2020, when some sectors were hit very hard, we still saw a 1.6% growth in exports, which is significant considering economies across Europe shrunk.

        For companies that want to export for the first time or to diversify their export markets, Enterprise Ireland can offer support and advice. This includes everything from market research and helping a company to get export-ready to tapping into a wide network of contacts and making the right introductions.

        “The easiest model is where a client is looking for a customer and we can introduce them,” says Lanigan. “Exporting often involves a local partner and we introduce companies to the right people– the local influencers, the potential partners and those they could collaborate with, including other Irish companies.

        “We work to build clusters that bring companies in the same space together,” she explains. “If there is an opportunity around smart mobility, for example, we can bring companies working in that area together and introduce them to the right people.”

         


         

        Finding the right market to target

        The markets of interest to individual companies will depend on the nature of the products and services they offer. Those selling into the tourism and hospitality sector, for example, will find more extensive opportunities in Southern Europe, where governments are placing more emphasis on this sector.

        Many countries mention renovating buildings to be more energy-efficient and installing more electric vehicle charging situations, but Germany is putting particular emphasis on hydrogen production and AI, for example.

        Detailed country-by-country information in English on the plans and priorities of each Member State can be found here.

         


         

        How will the Eurozone recovery funding work in practice?

        • While SMEs may believe trying to tender for public contracts is too complex and likely to be choked by red tape, 15% of the NextGenerationEU funding will benefit SMEs – more than half of that in direct business.
        • Furthermore, Enterprise Ireland can advise on the tendering process.
        • In practice, each EU state has its own national Resilience and Recovery Plan (RRP), with all projects in it open to public tender on an online portal.
        • Some of these portals, such as those of France, Italy and Portugal, are already up and running.
        • Every project linked to this Eurozone recovery funding must be completed by 2026.

         


         

        Rising to the export challenge

        While deciding to expand export operations can seem daunting to some, Lanigan encourages Irish business owners and managers to examine the RRP options open to them. That includes going beyond the UK, even as a first export market.

        “Diversifying our export markets has become even more important since Brexit,” she says. “Now, 29% of our clients’ exports go to the UK, but that is down from 45% a decade ago.

        A marked improvement in marine links is helping, she adds, as more routes with more capacity mean it is much easier to trade directly with EU customers.

        “We have a huge market on our doorstep. After all, we have the biggest free trade agreement in the world, with no customs, no tariffs and no regulatory challenges. And, of course, for 19 countries in the Eurozone, there are no currency costs.”

        “Irish companies have a great reputation across Europe, with customers having a really positive view of them. And when you see the Irish products and services selling into Europe – they are top notch and born of incredible innovation – it’s evident why they are well regarded.”

         

        If you’re interested in starting to export to the Eurozone or in growing your exports to the Eurozone, get in touch.

        Creating innovative solutions to new and emerging threats

        Cybersecurity solutions that address new and emerging threats

        The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rapid shift for many to virtual ways of doing work – and the recognition – finally – that remote and hybrid working is a very viable possibility in many industries. And, that offering flexible ways of working can actually give companies an edge when it comes to attracting talent. Unfortunately, however, with more flexibility comes a very real problem – the increased risk of cybercrime and cyberattacks. And the need for effective cybersecurity solutions is becoming more urgent by the day.

        According to a study by McKinsey & Co, only 16% of executives felt that their organisations are well prepared to deal with cyber risk. Plus, the United Nations has warned that cybercrime increased by nearly 600% during the pandemic.

        “Globally, there has never been a more challenging time for organisations in relation to cybersecurity,” says Pat O’Grady, Senior Business Advisor and Global Lead for Cybersecurity at Enterprise Ireland. “A higher level of cyber threats and attacks, security challenges linked to remote working, and increasingly sophisticated attacks on personal accounts have all put systems under immense pressure.”

         

        Irish cybersecurity solutions

        Ireland has long been a leader in technology innovation, with our advances in medtech, agritech, fintech and more in high demand across the globe. So it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of ambitious Irish companies is coming up with some very clever solutions to cybercrime. As an example, Cork-based Velona Systems has developed a solution that protects large call centres in the US against brute force call spam attacks, ghost calling and robocalling, a growing challenge in this sector.

        Velona is just an example of our strength in the area, which is highlighted in the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021, which this year is titled ‘Creating Innovative Solutions to New and Emerging Threats’. Taking place over six separate events in November and December, covering different world regions, the series features talks by leading cybersecurity experts, pitches by innovative Enterprise Ireland client companies, and opportunities for individual client-buyer meetings.

        “All the participating Irish companies have identified the most urgent areas within cybersecurity and come up with intelligent solutions that potentially have a worldwide customer base,” says Pat. “For instance, one of the biggest issues now is the sharp rise in phishing emails. Cyber Risk Aware is an Irish business offering learning platforms that can build training programmes within Microsoft Office 365 to raise staff awareness regarding phishing and teach them how to spot a dangerous email. The company also offers a phishing simulation platform, which can build email templates and schedule simulation campaigns to test the level of awareness within the organisation and to offer additional focused learning for staff when required.”

        Like all good responses to security threats, many solutions are based on prevention rather than cure – and with the cost of cyber crime rising sharply as the attacks get more sophisticated, this is sure to be a massive area of growth. “EdgeScan is leading the way in pen testing, or vulnerability scanning,” says Pat. “This includes scanning company IPs or carrying out pen tests on company websites or client portals to find any potential weaknesses – therefore stopping the threat before it happens.”

         

        Remote working challenges

        With remote and hybrid working looking likely to stay in the long term, many companies are looking for ways to boost their security with staff working on devices away from the office and even out on the road. “Remote working has brought with it many challenges; one issue is providing the same amount of security as in the office,” says Pat. “Web and email filtering identifies new malware sites and can block specific categories of websites, such as gambling sites. Galway-based TitanHQ offers advanced solutions for this issue, currently helping businesses in over 120 countries.”

        A big issue for companies is our increasing reliance on mobile phones for work purposes – now a company has to look into protecting these as well as laptops and computers. “Many companies have introduced a controlled ‘Bring Your Own Device’, or BYOD, policy in which company apps are locked down or secured on the device, while others have restricted access to only corporate devices to allow for full control. And yes, there’s an Irish company involved in this area too: CWSI are experts in the field of mobile device management and offer guidance on both policy and the technical aspects of managing devices.”

        It’s clear that Irish companies are leading the way in cybersecurity solutions. Many companies are finding it difficult to acquire and retain staff with skills in the areas of compliance, ISO certification, incident response, forensics and investigations – and, as Pat explains, there are several Irish companies in a great position to help. “Irish innovators such as Integrity360, SmartTech 24/7, Kontex and Evros are providing a solution to this issue by providing expert security consultant services. These companies’ Security Operations Centre (SOC service) offers uninterrupted monitoring of their clients‘ IT networks.”

         

        Details of the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021 can be found here

        Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity

        International Markets Week 2021: Green agenda and digitalisation key areas for growth  

        Global Recovery - Irish Opportunity

        It’s been said many times that exports are crucial to Ireland’s recovery in the post-pandemic world – and Enterprise Ireland is committed to ensuring that Irish companies take advantage of the many opportunities around the world to increase their business and bolster our economy as a result.

        A crucial event in the Enterprise Ireland year is International Markets Week, and this year, for the second year running, it was held as a virtual event over five busy days in October 2021.

        “When Covid hit, we decided that the event was too important to miss, particularly in the context of a global pandemic,” explains Anne Lanigan, Regional Director, Eurozone, at Enterprise Ireland. “This is a time when it’s even more important for our clients to keep their exports going, so we decided to go onto a virtual platform, with our market advisors available for a full week.

        “The market advisors are the boots on the floor, the people who can introduce client companies to potential buyers, so it’s a very practical week for people who want to do business.”

        This year, the theme of the event was Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity, recognising that the global economy is experiencing significant disruption – but while this disruption brings challenges, there are also significant opportunities.

        “Enterprise Ireland client companies enjoyed excellent overall export growth in 2019 of 8%,  with particularly strong growth in the Eurozone and North America of 15% and 16% respectively,” says Anne

         “In 2020, these figures stabilised, which was a very good result in the context of a global pandemic, but now we need to get back to 2019 levels of growth.”

        Opportunities for Irish companies lie in many areas, including the green agenda and digitisation. Throughout the world, companies are investing in green and digital strategies and governments are putting stimulus packages in place to drive a recovery based on a green and digital future. This investment represents huge opportunity for innovative Irish companies.

        “The current disruption in global supply chains also poses significant opportunity,” says Anne. “The drive by manufacturers in developed economies, in particular, to strengthen the reliability of their supply chains so that they are more easily accessed from a geographic and an administrative perspective, creates the opportunity for Ireland to embed themselves in these new supply chains. Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe puts us in a key position to capitalise on this move towards regionalisation of supply chains.”

         

        Finding opportunities

        It’s clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Enterprise Ireland client companies have recognised the importance of building a robust strategy to take advantage of these growth opportunities. A total of 710 Enterprise Ireland client companies registered for the event, booking a total of 1,663 meetings with market advisors from across the world.

        To get an indication of how companies were faring as the world’s economy recovers from the challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Enterprise Ireland conducted a survey of the participants ahead of the event. The results were positive: 56% of businesses indicated that they have seen an increase in exports in 2021 compared to 2020, with only 11% reporting a decrease. And, 91% of companies expect sales to increase again in 2022. In terms of trends, the survey revealed that 80% of businesses viewed digitalisation as vital over the next 12 months, while 63% said that advancing their sustainability agenda was a priority.

        These results proved accurate throughout the event, which was officially launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy. Lydia Rogers, country manager for Enterprise Ireland in Canada, reported a real hunger in Irish companies to take advantage of the many opportunities out there. “I met many client companies at various stages of their export journey, from those accelerating their international growth and diversifying into new global markets to ambitious start-ups keen to explore the export opportunities in Canada. The week proved that Canada is a very attractive market for Irish companies in many sectors, including cleantech, consumer retail, engineering, life sciences, fintech and BPO, and a large proportion of digital technologies companies.

        “In addition, Canada was also identified by many client companies as an entry point and as a lower-cost gateway into the wider North America market.”

        And, as predicted, the green agenda and digitalisation opportunities were noted by Lydia as strong trends for Irish companies looking to Canada for growth. “Our team met many companies with innovative digitalisation solutions across travel tech, retail tech, ed tech, digital health, fintech, HR & talent tech, and IoT. There were also many SMEs with innovative solutions in areas including cleantech, mobility, smart energy and environment. Consumer retail was also a significant area of interest – a sector that experienced growth in 2020 despite the challenges of Covid-19. All in all, it was clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Irish companies have recognised Ireland and Canada make great business partners and are ready to reap the rewards from this vibrant and welcoming country.”

         

        View the virtual launch event from Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week 2021 below:

         

         

         

         

         

        A young man in a warehouse using his laptop to research his EORI number

        Customs – What is an EORI Number used for?

         

        The Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number allows businesses to import or export with countries outside the European Union. It is a unique reference number recognised by all EU member states and is a requirement on all customs declarations.

        First introduced in 2009, the EORI number is a common reference number for interactions with the customs authorities in any EU Member State. All Irish numbers are prefaced with the prefix IE and contain eight characters. It is closely aligned to your VAT number but requires a separate EORI registration with Revenue.

         

        Register for your EORI number

        To obtain your number, companies can register directly through Revenue. If you are already registered on Revenue Online Service (ROS), you can register within a matter of minutes. Once the registration is complete, the number is active immediately.

        If you believe that you already have one, this can be verified by simply checking the EORI number validation service. Insert your VAT number prefixed by “IE” and select validate.

        Revenue has support for companies that have questions about their process. Visit Revenue’s website for the relevant contact details.

        James Maloney of Enterprise Ireland_Centre_ presenting Paddy Casey of “Target Fertilisers” and Oliver Kiernan of “Brandon Bioscience”

        Innovation Arena Awards: collaboration & sustainability solutions are winners in 2021

        An important area for innovation in Ireland is agritech. Not surprisingly for a country that produces some of the world’s best-quality meat, dairy products and produce, our industry is constantly coming up with excellent products to improve and optimise the agriculture sector. Many of these solutions are featured in the annual Innovation Arena Awards, held by Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with the Ploughing Championships.

        “We have an excellent reputation for product robust technologies that have been tested and proven in a farm setting,” says James Maloney, Senior Regional Development Executive

        “The science and R&D behind these really give us the edge, as well as our reputation as a high-quality food producer. With over 250,000 people employed in agriculture in Ireland, and the sector being such a huge beacon for regional development, it’s a very important area for us. It’s significant that most of the winners of this year’s awards are from different counties around Ireland, including Kerry, Kildare, Cork and Laois.”

         

        This year’s winners

        Now in its 11th year, the Innovation Arena Awards seek to celebrate and promote those entrepreneurs with a ground-breaking agri-related prototype or product. The awards traditionally take place at the Innovation Area during the Ploughing Championships; however, due to Covid-related restrictions, both the 2020 and the 2021 awards moved online, with shortlisted entrants pitching their idea to the panel of judges via a virtual platform.

        “We had approximately 57 entries this year, similar to last year, and nearly every applicant had something to do with sustainability or efficiency,” says James. “This came through in a few ways – for instance as management software or IoT products, where companies were highlighting areas where efficiency could be improved.

        “We also saw a lot of collaborations as well this year between traditional industry and other companies or universities. An excellent example of this is marine biotech company Brandon Bioscience in Tralee, who won the Sustainable Agriculture Award and was crowned Overall Winner. They teamed up with Target Fertiliser to develop a new fertiliser product using extracts from common brown seaweed. This product can reduce nitrogen use on farms by up to 20%. If you look at the Ag Climatise document and the Agriculture European Green Deal, we have to reduce our fertiliser use on the farms by 20%, so this product can deliver the same results thanks to the biostimulant properties. This is a European and a global issue, so the potential for this product is huge.”

         

        New awards

        The growth in veterinary innovation was reflected in a new award introduced this year, the Vet Technology Award, which recognises innovations made within healthcare in agriculture. This was won by EquiTrace, a product that reflects Ireland’s long and proud history as a leader in the equine industry. EquiTrace was also the winner of the Best Overall Start-Up Award.

        “EquiTrace is a little microchip scanner that provides accurate data on your horse, such as temperature, location, medicine dosages and time and the horse’s whole medical record – getting this sort of data  was a big issue with high-value horses in the past. But EquiTrace lets you run a scanner over the microchip’s location and all the data is then available through an app on your phone. Ireland is about third in the world for bloodstock sales, so a product like this is simply cementing our position as sector leaders.”

        The Innovation Arena also welcomed two new partners this year. Ifac partnered on the Best Newcomer Award, which went to Moonsyst International, a smart monitoring system that collects real time data from livestock to help farmers increase productivity, detect disease earlier and monitor heat, water intake and movement. UCD Lyons also partnered on the Agritech Award, which was presented to FodderBox in Cork, a novel hydroponic system that creates efficiency in fodder growth. As the winner of this award, FodderBox will also be taking part in the new AgTechUCD Agcelerator Programme in UCD, an intensive 12-week programme that includes business development workshops, investor readiness training, mentoring from experts and advisers, and introductions to VC and angel networks. AgTechUCD was funded through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland.

         

        Great publicity

        A big reason why the Innovation Arena Awards attracts so many entries is the publicity each product receives. “Traditionally we would have had about 300,000 people at the Ploughing Championships, many of whom are buyers,” says James. “Last year we had to go online because of the pandemic, but the companies still got a huge amount of exposure. For example, last year’s overall winners, Malone Farm Machinery in Mayo, got about 17,000 views on YouTube in the first week for their compact 16-bale trailer; their sales guys said their phone was off the hook the next morning with enquiries. When you’re coming to the Innovation Arena, you’re really announcing that you have a product ready.”

        All these winners are further underlining our strength in the world of agritech, a growing industry across Europe and the world – and an excellent way for Irish SMEs to flourish and prosper in the future.

         

        For more information on the Innovation Arena, and other supports available to ambitious agritech companies, please see www.enterprise-ireland.com