Offshore WInd farm

For SMEs in the marine sector, the world is their oyster

The Marine Ireland Industry Network (MIIN) is made up of companies and key stakeholders across this very broad sector. And coordinator, Liam Curran who is also a Senior Technologist with Enterprise Ireland and specialist in the industry, says despite the current global situation, the future for SMEs in this area is bright as development and investment continues.

“The ocean economy in Ireland is resilient and where there are challenges there are also a wealth of opportunities,” says Curran. “This has been recognised by the current government which has made a commitment to develop a new integrated marine sustainable development plan, focusing on all aspects of the marine, with a greater focus on sustainability and stakeholder engagement.

“One key area Enterprise Ireland is specifically interested in is the role of technology and SMEs and how we can collectively position Irish enterprises at the forefront of a digital revolution in the marine/blue economy.” says Curran 

“This goes across all marine sectors, but Enterprise Ireland views the emerging Offshore Renewables sector as a key area of opportunity for Irish marine industry capability – and this sector, particularly Offshore Wind, will play a critical role in Ireland’s decarbonisation agenda.”

 

A rapidly growing sector

The MIIN co-ordinator says the industry as a whole has been growing steadily for a number of years and work has also focused on strengthening established marine industries such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism and the marinisation of existing industries such as ICT, food, clean/green and finance into a range of marine related markets.

“There are some great examples of Irish companies identifying and targeting these opportunities, including Bio-Marine Ingredients in Monaghan who extract high value lipid and protein products from Blue Whiting, a fish which was previously considered low value by the seafood processing industry,” he says. “The production of high-end bio products from marine biological materials is an emerging growth area in the Blue Economy.

Wicklow-based Voyager IP specialise in providing high end connectivity solutions to the superyacht industry, while Vilicom provide communications systems for the Offshore Wind industry. And because of Ireland’s location at the edge of the North Atlantic, we can benefit from one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe.”

 

A focus on sustainability

According to the marine expert, developing this in a sustainable manner is going to be key in supporting our clean energy transition.

“It has the potential to make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the Irish electricity system, as well as the potential for providing employment in small coastal communities which are unlikely to attract foreign direct investment,” he says.

“Examples of MIIN companies in this area are Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions, who work globally for the offshore wind industry, while Inland and Coastal Marina Systems fabricate and install pontoon systems for harbours and have been winning work in the UK installing mooring systems for Crew Transfer Vessels.

“Currently, the development of the offshore renewables sector in Ireland is high on the government’s agenda and much care is being put into developing the National Marine Planning Framework and new consenting regime to ensure this is done in a fair and sustainable way.”

 

Ample opportunities

Curran says that in order to take advantage of this, companies in the sector should consider how they might pivot capability to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry.

“This is a huge area of opportunity for Irish marine SMEs, both at home and in export markets,” he says. “Galway based Bluewise Marine have done exactly that, offering experience in areas such as marine and fisheries science, engineering, health & safety management, and community engagement, as well as a range of technical and operational project management supports to assist companies to select and develop offshore renewable energy sites, coordinate marine surveys, engage with the local supply chain, and manage stakeholder relationships.

“In Killybegs, the marine engineering capability has been built up around the pelagic fishing industry but is now also looking at how skillsets could be applied to the offshore wind sector – and marine fabrication companies like MMG Welding and Seaquest Systems, amongst others, have the capability to be part of this rapidly growing industry.”

 

Research is vital

The senior technologist recommends that companies which may be interested in entering this sector should join MIIN and attend events (currently online) to meet the best industry innovators – but says it is also important to research the sector beforehand.

“The marine sector is very unforgiving of products or services which haven’t been properly ‘marinised’ and built to withstand everything the North Atlantic winter will throw at them,” he says.

Curran confirms “We are fortunate to have a suite of testing facilities available for companies to trial and validate their products or services” 

“These includethe Lir National Ocean Test Facility at UCC and the Galway Bay Marine & Renewable Energy Test Site. We also have an excellent maritime training facility at the National Maritime College of Ireland.

“In addition, the marine research ecosystem in this country is very active nationally and internationally, while SFI has supported research centres, like MaREI, to help Ireland stay at the forefront of marine research.

“So any SMEs who are interested should log onto the Marine Ireland website to get an insight into the vibrant marine ecosystem which exists in Ireland.”

Webinar title: Climate Action Funding & Supports - Manufacturing sector

Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Manufacturing Sector

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

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

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

  • Nick Reynolds – CSR Advisor, Business in the Community

  • Patrick Beausang – CEO, Passive Sills

  • Andrea Cawley – Commercial Director, Automatic Plastics

  • Patrick Buckley – Managing Director, EPS

Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

CEAF ICT & Services

Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – ICT & Services

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

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

Similarly, there are many ways in which services can be part of the green economy and drive sustainable development. Business services can contribute to increasing sustainability for processes and products across industries, and speed up the transition towards a green economy.

Within both sectors, sustainability is now recognised as a priority issue.

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

  • Yvonne Holmes – Chief Sustainability Officer, AIB

  • Andrea Carroll – Sr. Susutainability Programme Manager EMEA, Amazon Web Services

  • Laura Costello – Strategy Director – Purpose & Planet, Thinkhouse

  • Eanna Glynn – Head of Sustainability, BidX1

  • Brian Minehane – Account Director & Sustainability Programme Lead, Ergo

 

Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

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

    Climate Enterprise Action Fund Webinar Series – Food and Beverage Sector

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

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

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

    • Deirdre Ryan – Director of Origin Green, Bord Bia

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

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

    • Rosaleen Hyde – Operations Manager, Ballymaloe Foods

    • Padraig Mallon – Sustainability Director, Kerry Group

    Watch the Climate Enterprise Action Fund webinar series here.

      UK packaging webinar title

      The UK Packaging Sector Webinar – Opportunities and Challenges

      Few sectors have been affected greater by the COVID-19 pandemic than the packaging sector. The increased demand on food packaging with the upsurge of people eating at home and companies forced to rethink their packaging as minimalism made way for health and safety, the packaging sector was forced to change quickly to the ‘new normal’.

      Now as a post-pandemic world looks somewhat in sight, it’s time to reassess the UK market and re-evaluate how Irish packaging suppliers can take advantage of the £11 billion UK packaging sector.

      In this webinar, Andrew Finch, UK Packaging Consultant examines the UK packaging sector and discusses:

      • State of the UK market post-COVID-19 and post-Brexit

      • Opportunities for Irish packaging providers in the market

      • Latest demands from UK multiples and key industry stakeholders

      • Sustainability outlook in the UK

      • How to best engage UK packaging buyers

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

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

         

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

        • overseeing the adoption of innovative zero carbon technologies

        • investing in climate-resilient urban infrastructure

        • driving energy efficiency through building retrofitting

        • placing a greater emphasis on environmental criteria in procurement policy

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

        Speakers include:

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

        • Steve Turner, Business Director, Connected Places Catapult

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

        • Christopher Hammond, Network Membership Director, UK100

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

           

          Net Zero UK – UK Agriculture & the Net Zero Challenge – Webinar

           

          Enterprise Ireland UK hosted a webinar examining the net zero ambition of the UK agricultural sector and the implications for Irish SMEs working in the industry. Michael Haverty, Partner with The Andersons Centre, delivered a comprehensive briefing and Q&A session, which included:

          An overview of the UK’s policy drivers for net zero in agriculture, including, the Agriculture Bill, Environment Bill and the role of the devolved administrations

          • Carbon markets; The scope for direct payments to farmers for sequestration

          • Food industry initiatives; Consumer pressure, Retailer commitments to achieving net zero e.g. Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s

          • Food processors and net zero commitments e.g., Arla, ABP

          • Farm level net zero implications; net zero agritech trends, implications for inputs usage

          • How Irish SMEs can maximise on the opportunites in this space

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

           

          Net Zero UK – The UK Energy Market & the Net Zero Challenge – Webinar

           

           

          This webinar explores the major changes both underway and planned as the UK seeks to transition to a fully decarbonised energy system.

          From the increasing role of renewable energy, to the decarbonisation of the heating and transport sectors, this Enterprise Ireland UK webinar invites experts and industry leaders to understand the timelines, technologies and innovation required for the UK energy system to achieve net zero.

          Speakers:

          • Andrew Lever, Director of Programmes & Innovation, The Carbon Trust

          • Cian McLeavey Reville, Market Strategy Manager, National Grid ESO

          • Jon Slowe, Founding Director, Delta EE

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

              Net Zero UK – Nine key steps towards a net zero construction business – Webinar

              The net zero challenge facing the UK will reform the ways in which business is done. This webinar focuses on the construction sector and examines the nine key steps towards a net zero construction business. Industry leaders from the UK and Ireland gave their insights and participated discussed their decarbonisation experiences.

              Speakers:

              • Isabel McAllister, Responsible Business Director, Mace

              • Dr. Matt Kennedy, Associate Director, Arup

              • Jo-Ann Garbutt, Director Sustainability, Mercury

              • Ché McGann, Sustainability Strategy & ESG Reporting Lead at Clearstream Solutions

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

                Pricing Excellence – Pricing Study 2021 Webinar

                This Pricing Study was conducted by Enterprise Ireland in collaboration with Simon-Kucher & Partners.

                The study recorded nearly 500 responses with strong representation across all sectors demonstrating that the topic remains a high priority for businesses.

                This webinar presents the results of the survey along with guidance on how to develop and implement a price increase process.

                 

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

                Net Zero webinar - How, When & Why

                Net Zero UK – Why, When and How – Webinar

                The net zero challenge facing the UK will reform the ways in which business is done. To help Irish exporters understand how these changes will affect their sector and growth, Enterprise Ireland UK and UK net zero experts hosted the webinar Net Zero UK Overview, Why, When and How? 

                The webinar examines

                • The major industry and policy drivers that will accelerate the UK economy towards net zero emissions

                • The impact of the UK’S Sixth Carbon Budget, Green Industrial Strategy and individual corporate net zero plans

                • Key sectoral updates

                • Enterprise Ireland’s organisational climate action strategy

                • Green initiatives such as the €10 million Climate Enterprise Action Fund

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

                 

                Designing the workplace of the future – A new guide for all employers

                  The world of work was shaken to its core in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ireland and hundreds of thousands of Irish workers had to suddenly work from home.

                  The slow and steady drive towards digitalisation accelerated sharply, and virtual meeting programmes such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams became commonplace. Now, 15 months on, and with the vaccination programme well underway, employers can begin to think about a return to the workplace – hopefully permanently. But the many lessons learned during the pandemic has had both employers and employees thinking about the future workplace – will we ever go back to the way it was? And do we want to?

                  Enterprise Ireland has produced a new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work, which aims to help business owners think about the positives and negatives from the last 15 months and to use these to build a sustainable business model for the future. With many employees welcoming the idea of remote working into the future, either full-time or for part of the week, is it time for employers to recognise the positives of remote working and tie it into their company policy on a permanent basis? And if so, how can they make it sustainable?

                  “This is a follow-on from last year’s Covid-19 employer guide; last year we looked at the health and safety aspects of returning to work, while the theme of this year’s guide is around the future of work,” explains Karen Hernández, Senior Executive, Client Management Development at Enterprise Ireland. “During Covid, the workplace has changed, the nature of work has changed for a lot of people, and what employees expect from their employers has changed. Our aim is for all companies to be prepared to put in place the right structures and practices that suit their business needs and also the needs of their employees.

                  “A large portion of our client base experienced the need to rush into remote working when Covid-19 hit Ireland in 2020. There have been some advantages and opportunities associated with this; some businesses found they’re as productive, if not more productive when working remotely. This guide aims to help companies take what’s worked well over the last 15 months and create some sustainable practices and processes that work for everybody.”

                  The guide was developed in partnership with Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones of Voltedge, a highly regarded HR consultancy based in Dublin. “The objective with the guide is that it gives you a framework to start developing your own plan for the return to the office,” explains Fredericka. “All organisations are going to have their own dynamic, their own set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Our aim was to identify key pillars for organisations to use to develop structure and a suitable framework for their business.”

                   

                  The importance of asking questions

                  A huge emphasis is placed on the need for communication with employees when making these decisions. “Employers need to engage with and actively listen to their employees, while also driving their business forward,” says Joyce. “This is intended as a broad guide, where employers can pick and choose the relevant pieces to them.”

                  “It’s very important that employees feel that they’re being heard,” adds Fredericka. “However, decisions need to be made based on a number of factors, and employee input is just one of those factors. Obviously it’s really important to manage expectations and sometimes it’s just down to how you ask the questions. Give them some context from a business point of view. It’s not just about the employees’ wish-list, it’s also about creating a sustainable workplace for the future.”

                   

                  Managing remote workers

                  Many employers are looking at keeping some sort of remote or flexible working practices in place – and offering this flexibility can be very positive when it comes to attracting talent. “Almost two-thirds of our client base are saying they find it hard to attract, engage and retain talent,” says Karen. “Companies need to consult and stay close to their employees and ask them what they want – and include aspects like flexibility as part of a value proposition to attract candidates.

                  “Many companies that we are working with are looking at some sort of hybrid model, where employees combine time working in the office and time spent working remotely, at home or in co-working spaces. There are huge upsides, such as accessing skills from different parts of the country that they never would have before – offering remote, flexible or hybrid working is attractive to employees.

                  However, this can be difficult to manage, and companies need to consider what works for the team as a whole as well as what’s right for individuals within those teams.”

                  “There’s a big need for management support and training, especially for middle and line managers and supervisors who are dealing with a remote workforce,” explains Joyce. “It’s difficult for them, but it’s important that they get it right. Ensuring your managers are confident in what they do, and in their engagement with their teams. We are hearing that companies are looking to bring their employees into the office more, but it’s about getting that blend right between remote working and the office. One aspect that we emphasised in the guide is the need to make sure you are not discriminating against employees who are not in the office environment.”

                  Identifying and managing issues such as burn-out and isolation is essential if companies are to offer some sort of remote working policy. “Companies that have regular check-ins and meetings with staff and use different methods of communication, such as video calls, emails and direct messaging are more likely to keep employees engaged when working remotely.  It’s also important for employees to have individual focus time, where they are able to detach from colleagues and concentrate on getting their work done without interruption”, says Karen.  “Long term, we don’t know enough about hybrid working for a definite ‘best practice’ but instead companies should pilot different ways of working – for instance, we have some companies who are trialling a ‘team days’ concept – having the whole team in for certain days of the week, then for the rest of the week, they’re working from home.”

                   

                  Piloting the new workplace

                  The aim of the guide is to pose those broad questions that will help employers in every sector decide on the right workplace for the future of their business – but there is no need to rush into a decision. “The biggest challenge for employers is making the decision as to how you’re going to handle this working environment,” says Joyce. “Are you going to fully return, are you going for a hybrid, can you facilitate a full return in the workspace that you have? Employers need to make very big decisions, and very strategic, long-term decisions, so we’re suggesting that they talk to their employees about what they want and then piloting whatever they plan to do before they make any strategic decisions that will impact on the business going forward.”

                  Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how we work – but now is the time to use what we have learned since March 2020 to create a more inclusive, sustainable business model, one that pushes the business forward while creating a culture that values employees and their health and wellbeing more than ever before. This can only be a positive thing.

                   

                  To download Enterprise Ireland’s new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’, click here.