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.

    EU initiatives enable Europe to get connected and harness the power of 5G

    Summary

    • NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
    • EU member states as part of their national priorities are supporting the rollout of high-speed 5G networks, which in turn is enabling extraordinary growth in cloud computing and other innovative products and services
    • Click or scroll down for more information about the 5G market in:

    As digitalisation and technological innovation rapidly become both more complex and more widespread, it’s increasingly critical for Europe to have reliable, superfast connectivity. The 5G mobile telecommunications standard not only enables real-time data transmission at scale, but also intelligent real-time networking of products, processes and industrial value creation chains

    And that is where opportunity lies, both around products and services that facilitate the rollout of 5G, but also in the more or less endless universe of products and services made possible by these hyperfast mobile networks.

    “In the end, 5G is only the connection,” says Raul Marigorta, a Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland in Spain, who specialises in telecoms and digital technologies. “It’s what we do with 5G that will prove most interesting, whether that is eHealth and remote healthcare, VR and AR in education, smart cities, private network, Internet of Things (IoT) or many other innovations.”

    The rapid rollout of 5G across European markets

    Following the auction of relevant spectrum, the rollout of 5G has kicked off in most EU markets. While there are more distinct differences between markets when it comes to other aspects of technological innovation, Marigorta explains that 5G is somewhat different.

    “Europe in general is quite homogeneous in the development of 5G. We don’t see many differences in the 5G rollout across countries like Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. That is because most telecom operators in Europe are mature providers such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Orange and/ or Telecom Italia, who are well in sync when it comes to 5G.”

    How the EU is facilitating digital transformation

    Through the Next Generation funds administered through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the European Commission is actively enabling EU member states to accelerate their digital transitions, including the rollout of 5G, which is a key area for investment.

    Of the €723.8 billion in loans and grants it is giving, at least 20% must be spent by member states on digitalisation, although in reality the Commission reports that at least 26% of this funding is going to digital transformation projects.

    Much of that funding, in turn, is going to 5G. In April 2022, for example, the European Commission approved €2 billion in funding for Italy’s 5G rollout.

    Driving SME digitalisation through cloud services

    In 2022, the growth of cloud services will outpace the growth of traditional IT solutions, says Gartner. This makes cloud computing one of the most influential changes in the IT market since the early days of digitisation.

    Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or cloud infrastructure services will grow tremendously in the coming years, as will platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud computing services. It’s the ongoing rollout of high speed 5G networks that makes this skyrocketing growth possible.

    “Enabling SMEs to benefit from cloud technology is a key focus of the Next Generation funding, and it’s an area where Irish firms have strong capabilities,” says Marigorta.

    “While Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud dominate the cloud market, there is ample opportunity for Irish firms that can offer products and services to customise and facilitate access to the cloud for SMEs who may have thought they couldn’t use cloud technology,” he explains.

    SMEs are not interested in 5G as such, Marigorta points out, but in what this high speed connectivity can enable them to do. “5G is the highway that we need to facilitate cloud adoption by SMEs. If I am an SME owner, I don’t care what the underlying technology is as long as it works. I need to manage my accounting and my clients. I need to develop my operation quickly but in a quality way, and I need to do proper customer service.

    “Technology is a key enabler for these classic SME needs, so there is huge space for agile new start-ups that can come up with smart ideas that make the most of fast connectivity and new technology. Irish companies are fantastic at doing this.”

    Understand the 5G market opportunity for Irish firms

    The strong Irish cluster of cybersecurity firms, for example, has clear opportunities across key European markets as do Irish firms specialising in Open RAN, a technology that facilitates the deployment of 5G. Other thriving areas where Enterprise Ireland has identified significant opportunities for Irish firms include IoT and smart cities.

    Among the Irish firms specialising in 5G and connectivity products and services, and thriving in EU markets, are Open RAN radio infrastructure specialists Benetel or Aspire and core cellular network software company Druid Software.

    Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of offices across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin, can support your business as it investigates market opportunities, including by making local introductions and helping you to build your network.

    If you are not sure where to start your export journey, get in touch.

    Market snapshots

    Belgium

    While Belgium has lagged in 5G connectivity, that is set to change completely by 2025. Meanwhile, uptake of private cloud and data services is strong.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in Belgium

    Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet are the main mobile network operators (MNOs), with local private network provider CityMesh expected to become the fourth, following a recent auction of 5G spectrum band. There is limited 5G availability currently, with Proximus offering some pockets of coverage, but that is set to transform following the auction.

    The Belgian national strategy for broadband kicked off in April 2021 with full coverage planned for 2025. At present, 65% of the market has access to fibre broadband, with Proximus aiming to cover 70% of premises by 2028.

    Private cloud and data services are readily available in Belgium from providers such as Combell, with the country’s wide broadband coverage, fast download speeds and reliable networks making them possible.

    According to Statista, 64% of Belgian organisations used cloud solutions in 2018, while 43% of the Belgian population used cloud services in 2019. Both figures have likely grown since.

    Key stakeholders in Belgium

    • The Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, particularly the new Broadband Unit in the Telecom department, which will implement the national broadband plan
    • The Broadband Competence Office, which oversees all competences in this area and supervises the implementation of the EU Connectivity Toolbox
    • Mobile network operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet (and CityMesh once it becomes one)

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Belgium

    The EU is providing Belgium with €5.9 billion in recovery and resilience funding, and €480m of that is going towards supporting the digital transition. Quality goes a long way in Belgium and Irish companies have a solid reputation in the telecoms space.

    Both factors contribute to this market offering solid opportunities around 5G and connectivity for Irish firms with innovative or best-in-class solutions, especially around:

    • Open RAN
    • private networks
    • Internet of Things (IoT) services.

    Partnership with local firms or providing infrastructure, network or IoT services to incumbents may prove the best routes forward for many Irish firms. Cloud or data services providers should look to sell to systems integrators, solutions providers or value-added resellers in particular.

    Selling into Belgium

    Broadly speaking, Belgium ranks highly in innovation and is a good test market for companies looking to grow into the broader European markets by establishing a local presence or through trade.

    With high levels of English fluency, language is not necessarily a barrier to entry here, although it can be useful to have a local partner who speaks French and Flemish. Belgium is an open economy, but business relationships are based on trust, meaning sales cycles take longer than in the UK or the US.

    Committing to the market and finding the right market entry strategy can be the biggest challenge for Irish firms. Druid Software, for example, has found success in the market through partnering with Belgian MNO Proximus and others on a number of collaborative initiatives, including an AI-powered safety app for motorcyclists.

    Top tip

    Come to the market, attend the relevant trade shows, meet the right partners and establish strong relationships. Belgian partners are willing to engage, but in person works best!

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    France

    As France demands a cloud-first approach, 5G sites and antennas are multiplying rapidly there. That represents real opportunity for Irish firms.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in France

    France Relance, the French government’s economic recovery plan, emphasises a cloud-first strategy for the public sector, while the government also announced a €1.8 billion support plan for cloud computing firms in 2021. Many French companies are also embracing the public cloud, despite lingering concerns over data privacy and sovereignty.

    Most people in France support the implementation of 5G, with around half of the population expecting to get a subscription, especially to download and swap large files or to use telehealth devices.

    Since the deployment of 5G in November 2020, sites and antennas have multiplied, and telcos have initiated the transition to the new generation of mobile phone standards. Marseille and Paris lead in terms of antennas, while 5G coverage remains unevenly distributed nationally.

    In March 2022, the French government announced new measures aimed at promoting access to 5G for manufacturers and vertical sectors. The government also wants to simplify access to the 2.6GHz spectrum to stimulate industrial 5G projects, while exploring potential access to the 3.8GHz and 4GHz bands.

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in France

    Having already funded 31 research and development (R&D) projects to the tune of €478m under the national 5G acceleration plan (launched in July 2021), the government is set to provide a further €47m to seven new projects under the plan.

    Irish firms can find particular opportunity in France around:

    • Private networks
    • Open RAN
    • IoT
    • Smart cities
    • Autonomous vehicles
    • eHealth

    Likewise, it’s worth targeting businesses engaged in:

    • Industry 4.0 or 5.0
    • 5G use cases
    • Health
    • Data centres.

    Selling into France

    There are opportunities for innovative products and services. Irish firm Benetel, for example, is providing French telco Orange with radio units for Open RAN development and testing.

    Flexibility in product development and collaboration is a real advantage for Irish firms, but be aware of the challenge around access to the 2.6GHz spectrum and enabling 5G private networks.

    The French market can be a long sales cycle and requires trust and reliability. It usually helps to have a base in-market, visit regularly, or work with a local partner. No matter what, patience and persistence is key.

    Top tip

    Work with French experts to overcome complexity around tech harmonisation and spectrum access in France. Alternatively, look to work with systems integrators and operators at the forefront of 5G private network deployment.

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    Germany

    Leading the way in spectrum allocation, Germany is focusing on the connectivity needs of industry, while also seeking to make 5G available to everyone.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in Germany

    Germany leads Europe when it comes to 5G readiness, or the proportion of relevant spectrum already allocated. Industry needs are the priority, as Germany seeks to modernise production processes through broadband, wireless real-time communications.

    The Federal Republic has taken on a pioneering role in networks for local 5G applications (or campus networks), representing an important milestone for German industry

    Germany has also pushed to make sure the general population has access to 5G. Telekom says 40m people have been able to benefit from the 5G network since July 2020 and providers are aiming to offer 99% of the population a connection to 5G by 2025.

    Providers such as Telekom and Vodafone have already set up many 5G mobile base stations, meaning 5G is already available in some large German cities.

    To achieve high coverage with 5G, Telekom and Vodafone are also using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which makes use of existing 4G infrastructure for 5G, depending on demand and particularly outside of cities, where the 3.6GHz frequencies used exclusively for 5G are being used first.

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Germany

    Any innovative or value-adding product or service that helps to enable industrial applications, products and services that harness 5G is likely to be of interest to German customers.

    Particular opportunities for Irish companies include:

    Selling into Germany

    German business culture is usually risk-averse and new entrants need to show strong commitment to the market. As the market is still fragmented, any company seeking to sell in Germany needs to build a clear go-to-market plan and to identify in-market partners.

    This is a competitive market, so it’s vital to articulate a strong USP and be able to show how your offer brings significant commercial benefit.

    Bray-based Druid Software, for example, has brought its 5G Raemis platform to Germany where it is partnering with others on cutting-edge 5G projects, including one relating to smart factory research at the University of Kaiserslautern.

    Top tip

    Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and constant visits to the market for trade shows and direct prospect visits are key for success. This ensures you can take advantage of the long-lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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    Italy

    Italy is vigorously pursuing digitalisation and cloud adoption, with significant funding for extensive infrastructure and service development.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in Italy

    Italy was a front runner in the EU for the commercial launch of 5G services. All four MNOs (TIM, Vodafone Italia, Wind3 and Iliad) launched 5G networks between June 2019 and December 2020 and have since expanded their 5G services, offering aggressive pricing to capture share in this competitive market.

    This high-speed connectivity is vital to Italy’s efforts to accelerate:

    • digital skill-building across its population and workforce
    • the digitalisation of businesses
    • the offering of digital public services
    • the implementation of key e-government processes.

    In fact, migrating public administration to the cloud is one of the key drivers of the Italian recovery and resilience plan. Italy is now fourth in Europe in cloud adoption after the Nordics (Eurostat), with the market there worth €3.84 billion market in 2021, €2.89 billion of which related to public and hybrid cloud and €891m to virtual and hosted private cloud.

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Italy

    Italy’s national recovery plan supports the digital transition with a €6.7 billion investment for the deployment of a 5G/fibre high capacity network. That should bring 5G to populated areas, schools and healthcare facilities, with widespread 1 Gbps connectivity by 2026.

    The EU Commission has also approved a €2 billion in Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding for Italy to roll out a high-performing 5G mobile network.

    To gain a foothold in the market, Irish companies with relevant offers should look to target:

    • Local telecom operators
    • Large system integrators
    • Local distributors or value-added resellers (VARs) for partnerships in the market.

    It’s also worth noting that growth in cloud adoption is being particularly driven by skyrocketing use of platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which was up 31% in 2021. Meanwhile, data centre automation is also a fast-growing area.

    Selling into Italy

    Take your time and be prepared. Invest in validating the market opportunity and building the right market entry strategy. Italian customers value strong relationships so it is worth spending time investing in building your network.

    Irish firms typically find it useful to have a strong local partner in this competitive market, as this can help shorten the sales cycle, deal with the language barrier and navigate local bureaucracy.

    Top tip

    Direct relationships matter. Invest time in coming to the market and meeting your counterparts in person.

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    Netherlands

    While opportunity abounds in this tech-savvy market, regulatory processes may slow down the growth of 5G.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in the Netherlands

    The Dutch rank second in the world for online connectivity, with 98% of households having broadband connection and the country enjoying 95% 4G coverage. About 60% of the country is expected to have 5G services by 2030, with leading MNOs KPN and T-Mobile having launched commercial 5G services in July 2020.

    The regulator, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has been reluctant to set out a comprehensive 5G roadmap while the shape of the future consumer and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions landscape, including security and value chain implications,  is still only sketchily defined. Progress will therefore be slow.

    ACM is also studying how well the cloud market is working for people and businesses in the Netherlands, where Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud all operate, with Azure having 73% of the cloud computing marketing in 2020.

    The Netherlands is also home to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the world’s leading digital data distributors.

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in the Netherlands

    While the Netherlands did not submit a recovery and resilience plan to the EU and, therefore, is not accessing any related funding, there are still plenty of opportunities in this vibrant, tech-savvy market. There is a keen appetite for cloud services, for example – the  Netherlands ranks fourth globally when it comes to public cloud expenditure.

    Opportunities for Irish companies include:

    • Selling into MNOs, such as T-mobile, Vodafone Ziggo and KPN, which are all open to putting in place contracts relating to innovation, Internet of Things and partnerships
    • Finding opportunities around Open RAN, which is being trialled by network operators since October 2020 and will be key in future
    • Providing cloud and data services through a system integrator/VAR.

    Selling into the Netherlands

    It’s vital to show commitment to the market and boots on the ground give a strong advantage. Take the time to develop a tailored market entry strategy, bearing in mind the market is competitive and being the cheapest won’t guarantee success. A quality service and the right network connections should do the trick.

    Top tip

    Come to the market, attend the relevant trade shows, meet the right partners and establish strong relationships. Dutch partners are willing to engage, but in person works best!

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    Spain

    As Spain seeks to bring ultrafast connectivity to everyone in the country, there is keen take-up of cloud services in business and industry.

    The 5G and connectivity landscape in Spain

    The Spain Digital 2025 Agenda supports EU connectivity objectives. It aims to extend ultrafast network coverage to the entire population (under the Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures) and prepare 100% of the radio spectrum for 5G by 2025 (following the Strategy to Promote 5G Technology).

    Spain is improving on digitalisation, but there is room to improve the uptake and use of  digital technologies, and information and communication (ICT) skills.

    The adoption rate of digital technologies by firms is close to the OECD average, but is below the best performing countries in Europe. There is keen and growing interest in cloud services, where Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are the main actors in the market.

    The private cloud remains the preferred option for security services (41%), communications (41%) and storage (40%). For its part, the public cloud is consolidated in areas such as the implementation and deployment of workstation services (52%).

    Understand the 5G and connectivity opportunity in Spain

    Under the EU Next Generation funding programme, Spain is receiving €4 billion to support fixed and 5G connectivity, data infrastructure and the related ecosystem. It is also getting €4.6 billion for the digitalisation of industry, SMEs and tourism and culture systems, along with investments in AI.

    Particular growth areas worth addressing include:

    • 5G
    • cybersecurity
    • AI
    • big data
    • open RAN
    • cloud security.

    While public sector bodies such as the central government, the regional governments and local councils are potential customers, the private sector (MNOs, system integrators and so on) are more dynamic and more accessible customers. Companies to target include Telefónica, Vodafone Spain, Orange, Más Móvil and Cellnex.

    Selling into Spain

    The most important factor when it comes to the market around 5G and connectivity in Spain is being committed to it, which includes dedicating people to this opportunity. Furthermore, the sales cycle tends to be long so you need adequate financing in place.

    Local competition is the main barrier to entry here, but there are openings for innovative offerings. Make sure you have local support in the market, so you overcome any language barrier and be mindful of cultural considerations. Bear in mind too that sales are heavily based on reputation and relationships.

    Top tip

    To succeed in Spain, you need to pursue a strategy of continuous and thorough follow up.

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    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.

         

        Mobile World Congress

        Mobile innovators went worldwide at Mobile World Congress

        Six Irish technology innovators showcased their products and services at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC22) earlier this year.

        All exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion, the prestigious country stand supported by Enterprise Ireland for the duration of the event, which ran from 28th February to 3rd of March.

        A further cohort of seven companies attended the event as visitors, also with the support of Enterprise Ireland.

        World’s largest

        All had good reason to be there.

        “Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovation and cutting-edge technology,” says Gillian Baker, Development Adviser Digital Technologies with Enterprise Ireland.

        “In 2020 it was one of the first major trade events to be shuttered as a result of the pandemic. Last year it held a scaled back version, which is why its return earlier this year, as one of the first major industry events to take place since the advent of Covid, created enormous excitement.”

        Global scale

        With industry leaders from around the world attending MWC22, it was only fitting that Ireland’s strength in this sector should be showcased too.

        “The six Enterprise Ireland-supported companies which exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion stand were already successful in the mobile communications space, highlighting Irish capability on a global scale,” she explains.

        “These Enterprise Ireland-backed companies provide products and services that cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly changing demands of mobile technology and the wider communications sectors. With over 1500 exhibitors at Mobile World Congress, it was an opportunity for them to get in front of their market and showcase their capability, raise brand awareness and gain exposure on a world stage.”

        Facetime

        After the challenges of the past two years, when business relationships had to be maintained or developed remotely, exhibitors were keener than ever to meet in person, says Baker.

        “They were excited to get back out there in front of their business partners, to resume face-to-face business, to network and to gain exposure to potential new partners,” she says.

        Enterprise Ireland supported attendees to ensure they made the most of the commercial potential such major in-person events offer.

        “All scheduled back-to-back meetings over the duration of the exhibition, to ensure they maximised every opportunity the show afforded them,” she explains.

        As well as providing access to its deep network of international contacts, Enterprise Ireland’s sectoral experts were on hand at to support client companies.

        Six of the best

        Among the companies featured at The Ireland Pavilion at MWC22 were established Enterprise Ireland client companies such as Benetel, a provider of leading-edge radio solutions for 5G disaggregated RAN and 4G/LTE Small Cells. It works with leading vendors, partners and open initiatives such as the O-RAN ALLICANCE.

        Cubic Telecom develops IoT connected software solutions to the automotive, agriculture and transport manufacturing industries. Its platform, PACE, is used by leading companies around the world including Audi, Microsoft and CNH Industrial.

        Druid Software, a core cellular network software company and a leader in 5G & 4G Cellular technology will be there too. Its RAEMIS platform is used by internet service providers and enterprises for mission critical environments all over the world.

        Also present was Endeavour Technology, the global leader in IoT and 5G service assurance whose nSpire product is a leading-edge state of the art SaaS platform that ensures continuously reliable connectivity for customers around the globe.

        Exhibiting alongside them were early-stage Enterprise Ireland clients in the mobile technology space, Ringotel and Software Radio Systems.

        Ringotel’s platform turns any VoIP phone system into a cutting-edge unified communication solution without changing existing infrastructure and setup, enabling its clients to add conference communications functionality to their phone system in less than 10 minutes.

        Software Radio Systems develops open software for mobile radio wireless networks. Its high-performance software radio solutions for 4G and 5G, with complete UE and RAN applications, support the creation of new mobile services. 

        Value added visits

        “In addition to the six Enterprise Ireland client companies taking space on the Ireland Pavilion, seven more attended Mobile World Congress as visitors,” says Baker.

        “For these client companies too it was an unrivalled opportunity to meet with both new and existing partners, to showcase their latest offerings and to benchmark against the best available in the global marketplace.”

        All in all, the event provided enormous value to exhibitors and visitors alike.

        “We live in a connected society. Mobile connectivity solutions are already across all industries and all verticals. The advancement and roll-out of 5G will be transformative because, from smart cities to industrial IoT, the possibilities are endless,” adds Baker.

        A man and woman wearing headsets for immersive entertainment purposes

        The Irish businesses making waves in the immersive entertainment sector

         

        Irish people have a long and proud history of storytelling. From the ancient seanchaí to poets, musicians and novelists, the Irish ability to tell a story in an unforgettable and imaginative way is famous across the world.

        With storytelling at the core of today’s artificial reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and immersive experiences, combined with Ireland’s reputation for excellence in technological innovation, it should come as no surprise that several Irish companies are making waves in this sector.

         

        Overview of the immersive entertainment sector

         

        “The immersive entertainment sector actually grew during the Covid-19 pandemic,” notes Bartosz Siepracki, Senior ICT Market Advisor, Poland and Baltics, and Global Digital Entertainment Sector Lead at Enterprise Ireland.

        Cinema restrictions resulted in more people looking for immersive entertainment experiences at home. As a result, consumers worldwide spent $9.9 billion on AR and VR during 2020.”

        “During the same period, just $7 billion was spent on cinema attendance. Investors are recognising this growth and responding accordingly. This means there are plenty of opportunities for Irish companies looking to enter the sector.”

        These opportunities become even more significant when the impressive long-term predictions are taken into account.

        A report on Statistica predicts that the global immersive market will grow to almost $300 billion by 2024. This means that immersive media will be as significant to us as mobile apps are today.”

        “There is another piece to this fast growth,” notes Bartosz. “With this being such a rapidly growing and developing industry, companies entering the sector today will play a valuable role in shaping the world of immersive entertainment over the coming decades.”

         

        Opportunities for Irish companies in immersive entertainment

         

        Recognising the massive potential of this growing sector, Enterprise Ireland is supporting Irish companies that wish to enter or increase their presence in the industry.

        As part of this, a new guide, ‘Opportunities in Immersive Media Entertainment’, has been developed by the UK-based Limina Immersive consultancy in partnership with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish entertainment companies recognise, prepare for and take advantage of these opportunities globally.

        Headed by globally recognised expert Catherine Allen, Limina is also currently working with several Irish SMEs branching out into the sector.

        “The guide looks at the current immersive entertainment market and the areas of growth over the coming years, along with the digital technology trends, investment opportunities and advice on getting your immersive entertainment projects off the ground.”

         

        Irish businesses that found success in the sector

         

        Engage XR

        “Many Irish companies are already finding success in the area,” says Bartosz. “For example, Engage XR (previously known as Immersive VR Education) launched a VR documentary in April 2016, ‘Apollo 11’, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s based on NASA’s original material from the first lunar expedition in 1969. It allows the user to fly the command module, operate the lunar lander and carry out experiments on the moon.”

        “Since then, the company has developed its ENGAGE platform, which enables VR education, collaboration and events. This is now used by over 130 commercial customers including Fortune 500 companies Meta and 3M.”

         

        Volograms

        Another area of growth is in volumetric filmmaking, most notably how to make it easy and affordable for both professional headsets and mobile experiences. “Volograms has developed state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms powering 3D reconstruction, multi-view texture mapping and many more important features,” says Bartosz. “Its mobile app allows anyone to capture volumetric video of someone, resize it and place it in a different context.”

         

        Pink Kong Studio

        Ireland’s animation industry has long been admired for its carefully crafted stories for both adults and children. Naturally, this sector is playing a big role in advancing the world of immersive entertainment too. “Most famous of all is Aurora, developed by Pink Kong Studio in 2018,” says Bartosz. “Aurora is an emotional story about a family of three living in a forest and has received multiple accolades around the world. These include the 2018 Monolith Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Immersive VR’ from Infinity Film Festival Beverly Hills.”

         

        Algorithm

        Irish companies are taking the technology to the outdoors too, for everyone to enjoy. “Living Canvas was developed by Algorithm and is noted for bringing technology into the cultural sphere,” explains Bartosz. “It’s one of the world’s first outdoor digital screens used exclusively for artistic and cultural content. It’s currently located in Wilton Park where it operates as an exciting open-air gallery. Anyone living in or visiting Dublin can experience this wonderful new technology for themselves.”

        “People don’t need a complicated entertainment system or even a top-of-the-range phone to experience this new world.”

         

        Contact Bartosz Siepracki to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you explore opportunities in the immersive entertainment sector.

        Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry - Image of space and galaxies

        How Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry

         

        Ireland may not be the first country to spring to mind when you talk about space travel or exploration, but recently this industry has proved itself to have plenty of opportunities for Irish innovation, both from companies and research bodies.

         

        The James Webb Space Telescope

         

        Many businesses based in Ireland are already working in the area, thanks to our involvement with the European Space Agency (ESA). What’s more, several Irish companies are now playing a pivotal role in some of the most thrilling and high-profile space missions.

        One such mission was the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or simply Webb), the next great space science observatory following the famous Hubble Telescope.

        The Webb was launched from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Christmas Day 2021. It now resides one-and-a-half million kilometres from Earth, hovering in line with our planet as it orbits the sun.

        Over 25 years in development, the Webb telescope has the ability to look back 13.5 billion years in time to observe the birth of the first galaxies and the lifecycle of stars and exoplanets.

        Webb follows the Hubble Telescope in the line of great space observatories. Both have different scientific capabilities and will operate together, complementing each other, for several years.

        In fact, according to Bryan Rodgers, Senior Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland and a member of the Irish delegation to the ESA, Webb has the capacity to do far more than the Hubble.

        “The Webb has over six times the light-gathering capacity and is a hundred times more sensitive, with the ability to peer through clouds of dust by capturing light in the infrared part of the spectrum.”

        “By looking back to the early universe using infrared detectors, Webb hopes to answer some vital questions about the formation of our universe, the make-up of so-called dark matter, and what the development of galaxies can tell us about the future of the universe.”

         

        How Irish companies contributed to the development and launch of the JWST

         

        Webb is the result of an international project led by NASA with the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Within the ESA’s contribution, two Irish companies and an Irish research institute played significant roles in the development of the Webb’s scientific instruments and in its launch into space.

        “Firstly, there was significant Irish input into the development of the infrared detector technology,” comments Bryan. “Professor Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) was Co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on Webb, which will produce images and spectra with unprecedented sharpness and sensitivity.”

        “Professor Tom Ray and his team from DIAS also provided MIRI’s infrared filters, which breaks up the light into its various components, and imaging software that will analyse the instrument data sent back to Earth and produce scientific images.”

        An Irish company also played an important role in Webb’s launch into space via an Ariane 5 launcher.

        Réaltra Space Systems Engineering designed and manufactured the video imaging system onboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, which gave us impressive high-definition video images of the separation of the launcher’s fairing and separation of the telescope itself,” says Bryan.

        “The final images of Webb moving into space on Christmas Day in 2021 came from Réaltra’s technology.”

        Interestingly, Réaltra’s system was originally designed for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which is due its first flight in the second half of 2022.

        “In addition, a second Irish company, Nammo Ireland, provided structural supports for the Vulcain engine that powers Ariane 5 – and will be involved in producing components for both the Vulcain and Vinci engines on the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle.”

         

        Opportunities for Irish businesses in the space industry

         

        The involvement of these Irish entities came about as a result of Ireland’s membership of the ESA, which is managed through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

        Enterprise Ireland plays a huge role in enabling this work, by supporting and guiding Irish companies and research institutes in developing technologies through ESA programmes, and in commercialising these technologies in the worldwide space market, with over 100 companies supported to date.

        “The success of the Irish entities involved in the ground-breaking JWST project underlines the growth in opportunities in the commercial space market for innovative Irish companies with exciting technologies that can be used in many different sectors, such as automotive and medical,” notes Bryan.

        “These opportunities will only become more plentiful as our understanding of space grows and develops. We are confident that more Irish companies will be involved in such thrilling projects in the future.”

         

        Contact Bryan Rodgers to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you successfully bid for European Space Agency contracts or explore other opportunities in the space industry.

         

        People working at a co-working hub in the National Hub Network

        National Hub Network: Bringing Irish workplaces into a new era

         

        There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. While we’re not out of the woods just yet, slowly but surely we are all looking to recovery and what work might look like post-pandemic. And it’s looking like a whole new world for many.

         

        Designing a workplace for the future

        In 2021, Enterprise Ireland released a new guide, ‘Designing a workplace for the future’, which was written to help employers navigate their way into the new world of work, including remote/hybrid working and other more flexible forms of work.

        The guide recognised that company owners are now aware that offering a degree of flexibility has many advantages for their business in attracting and retaining talent, as well as for the Irish economy overall.

        However, most are still in the early stages of working out how these can be optimised within their own companies.

         

        The right to request remote work

        What’s more, the matter is becoming more urgent, thanks to the upcoming legislation on the right to request remote work. When enacted, it will act as a lynchpin for HR strategy and implementation.

        This legislation is due to come into effect in 2022, so it’s essential that every employer considers the best solution for their company sooner rather than later.

         

        The National Hub Network

        An integral part of the new world of work is the growth of the National Hub Network, which enables workers to carry out their jobs in a social space with excellent amenities.

        The networks also play a valuable role in driving vibrant regional economies across Ireland, as Clare Power, Enterprise Ireland’s lead on Regional Remote Working, explains.

        “These hubs are far more than just buildings for workers,” Clare explains.

        “They are part of the regional ecosystem, a go-to place for local start-ups through to established SMEs looking to grow and scale their businesses.”

        “These co-working hubs are a valuable contributor to a vibrant local economy, a wonderful opportunity for employees from diverse backgrounds who want to progress their careers outside of the big cities, and an important enabler for collaboration and networking across sectors and disciplines.”

        “In short, these hubs will play a crucial role in Ireland’s future of work landscape.”

         

        The evolution of co-working hubs in Ireland

        Co-working hubs existed before the pandemic. In fact, they were highlighted in Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 ‘Powering the regions’ plan.

        However, they’ve taken on a new level of significance since Covid-19 hit in March 2020.

        “There have been examples of successful co-working hubs already,” says Clare. “These include Dogpatch Labs and Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin, The Mill in Drogheda, Wexford Enterprise Centre, Merits in Naas, PorterShed in Galway and Ludgate in Skibbereen.”

        “Their success is down to their excellent facilities, including reliable wi-fi, excellent cybersecurity, access to the latest digital tools, meeting spaces and 24-hour access.”

         

        The Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network

        Recognising the importance of these hub networks to both regional development and Irish SMEs, Enterprise Ireland has led significant infrastructural investments initiatives on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

        “We have a relationship with the Community Enterprise Association Ireland (CEAI) spanning two decades, and have supported CEAI as the co-ordinator of a world first, the development of the Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network, known as QHubs,” explains Clare.

        “The Quality Standards Framework aims to provide a world-class facility and service for enterprise at all stages of growth, enable hub owners and managers deliver excellent service to their users, and help the National Hub Network to work collectively towards future self-sustainability.”

        To help embed QHubs, CEAI launched a free preparatory development programme for enterprise hub owners and managers, delivered in partnership with Skillnet Ireland.

         

        Supporting co-working and remote working

        “Enterprise Ireland is also involved in many other initiatives to support the National Hub Network.”

        “These include Grow Remote, a not-for-profit agency working in the fields of networking, job market connection, community development and free nationwide remote training. Grow Remote has published a playbook to equip SMEs with the tools to successfully implement remote work permanently. We also point employers to the Western Development Commission-led ConnectedHubs portal in searching and sourcing for their ideal co-working spaces.”

        According to Clare, “it’s clear that regional hubs have a vital role to play as we slowly get back to ‘the new normal’.

        Perhaps the growth and development of these hubs – and the subsequent positive effect on our lifestyles, families and rural areas – will emerge as something positive to come out of the last two years of upheaval and change.”

         

        Download Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Designing the workplace of the future’ guide here.

        High-tech construction opportunities for Irish firms in France and Germany

         

        Summary

        • The expertise of Irish high-tech construction companies is well-known in France and Germany, with many home-grown businesses active in the markets
        • There are opportunities for Irish firms to get involved in French and German construction projects, particularly data centre design and building
        • Enterprise Ireland is supporting clients that wish to attend the Data Centre World events in Frankfurt during May 2022 and Paris during November 2022

         

         

        As global events impacted on industry across every sector, technology, and our reliance on it has never been more important, with businesses keen to learn about advances in digital solutions and data collection.

        For instance, this was reflected at a range of Data Centre World events across Europe which garnered a huge amount of interest from companies around Ireland.

        The largest gathering of data experts in France took place in Paris Porte de Versailles on 24 November 2021 and was attended by almost 1,700 industry experts, with 59% of attendees looking to invest more in associated products and solutions.

         

        The French market

        According to Alix Derigny, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction & Sustainable Build in France, more than half of the attendees, including many Irish clients, were from organisations whose primary business is data centre design and build.

        “Although some had to cancel due to the pandemic, a number of Enterprise Ireland clients visited, including Mercury Engineering, who exhibited there for the second time and other client companies like Moy Materials and Cubis Systems,” she says. “It was a very busy tradeshow, with great networking and fruitful meetings with large data centre projects managers who were interested in the solutions offered by Irish companies.”

        “Sustainability is a major issue for the high-tech construction sector and, with a commitment to be climate neutral by 2030, Irish innovation in this area was of particular interest.”

        According to a study by the consultancy Arcadis, France now ranks fifth in Europe in terms of attractiveness for setting up data centres. Interxion has submitted plans in Les Ulis for a 130 MW campus, DATA4 is looking to construct a 100 MW campus expansion, and CloudHQ has recently submitted plans for a two-building hyperscale build in Lisses, for a total of nearly 400 possible MW coming online over the next decade.

         

        Success for Irish companies in France

        Derigny, whose role involves supporting Irish capabilities across the construction industry in France, says there is plenty of Irish success in the region and many opportunities up for grabs.

        “2020 and 2021 have been synonymous with great success stories for Irish companies in France,” she says, “There are several Enterprise Ireland clients active in the French market including Ethos Engineering, E&I Engineering, Anord Mardix, LPI Group, Enersol, Fireblock, King Environmental, CET Connect and Evercam.

         

        Trends in the French high-tech construction sector

        “There are two major trends in the French construction market which present opportunities to Irish companies: the roll-out of the largest transport project in Europe, the ‘Grand Paris Express’ (2015-2030), and a move towards sustainability through certifications, CO2 reduction targets and market-led initiatives in ‘green building’.

        Long considered as a potential hub for hyperscale construction, Paris could potentially more than double in size as a data centre area. Existing investment is heavily centered in its capital, with Paris accounting for over 70% of the country’s current data center footprint. Equinix, Interxion, Orange, Mipih, Colt DCS, Digital Realty and Atos are the prominent investors in the market.

         

        The German market

        France isn’t the only option for Irish firms in this space. Tim Flache, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction in Germany and Austria, says there is also plenty of opportunity for Irish high-tech construction companies in that market.

        “After the US, Germany is the second largest data centre market worldwide,” he says.

        “The main data centre hub in Germany is Frankfurt, and with the DE-CIX the city has the internet exchange with the most data throughput worldwide and it has not reached its peak yet, with 230 MW under construction and a potential of another 500 MW – so there will be plenty of business over the coming years.

        Equinix alone announced in 2021 its intention to build five new data centres and invest $1.14 billion USD in Frankfurt over the next years. Other locations in Germany like Berlin (37 MW under construction) and Munich (12 MW under construction) also present opportunities.

         

        Success for Irish companies in Germany

        There are many success stories already in the region with Irish contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers active in the German data centre market. Some of these include well-known Irish companies likes Mercury, Winthrop, and Collen.

        “These companies deliver large scale co-location data centre projects all over Europe and have been active in Germany for several years. Smaller subcontractors and suppliers are also active in the German market and are winning projects.”

         

        Trends in the German high-tech construction sector

        Flache, who is based in Dusseldorf, says the biggest topic at Data Centre World is sustainability.

        “As in many other countries, the data centre industry in Germany is under pressure to become more sustainable and climate friendly,” he says.

        “With the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, the industry committed, on a European level, to a more sustainable future for data centres and to become climate neutral by 2030.”

        “This ambitious goal also impacts the design and construction of data centres, which is where Irish capabilities lie.”

        Beyond data centre projects, the high-tech construction market in Germany has more to offer. Over the last years, several battery manufacturing facilities have been announced and large semiconductor manufacturers are looking for suitable sites in Germany. The main pull factor for these projects is the German automotive industry.

         

        Differences between the French and German markets

        While the European single market makes both Germany and France attractive target markets for Irish companies, there are some differences clients should be aware of when it comes to labour law, taxation, and certification.

        “Companies beginning operations in France must ensure all contracts adhere to French law, for legal and commercial reasons”, says Alix Derigny.

        “France is among the easiest countries to set up a business. The guichet-entreprises.fr service encourages business creation in France by enabling anyone to complete the formalities necessary to create their activity in one place online. Only a few days are required.

        “With regard to tax structures: corporate tax rates in France are gradually reducing. In 2021, the standard corporate income tax rate is 26.5%, a figure which will fall to 25% in 2022. Corporations with profits of more than €500,000 must pay a rate of 27.5%. A reduced rate of 15% is also available to small companies on the first €38,120 of taxable profits.”

        Tim Flache says the federal system in Germany influences certification and safety standards in the construction industry.

        “Fire safety regulations, for instance, can differ between the different states (Bundeslaender),” he says. “Companies should be aware of these differences, even within the German market. Also, when it comes to sending staff to Germany, certain time limitations and country specific labour agreements have to be considered.”

         

        Business culture

        The market experts say Irish businesses looking to expand in Europe should be aware of both the opportunities and requirements.

        “Irish companies may face challenges in the French market because of the time and patience needed to manage lengthy sales cycles and due diligence processes. However, if approached correctly, France can be a very significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.” says Derigny.

        “A partnership agreement with a local organisation may act as a way of gaining foothold in the market or building sales opportunities in sectors that might be difficult to penetrate as a new entrant.”

         

        The Irish Advantage in high-tech construction

        Tim Flache agrees and says there is plenty of help on offer from Enterprise Ireland.

        “The unique experience and know-how of the Irish high-tech construction sector is well known in the German data centre sector, which is a great foundation for every Irish company active in this field.”

        “However, Germany is a mature market, so, for many of our clients, a proven route to market is the existing relationship to Irish contractors, who are already active in Germany. This can be helpful to win an initial project and build a track record.”

        “I am more than happy to help further clients with their business in Germany. Enterprise Ireland clients can either get in touch with me directly or through their Development Advisor.”

         

        Want to find out more about high-tech construction opportunities in France or Germany? Contact Alix Derigny or Tim Flache respectively.

         

        In 2022, Data Centre World will be back in Frankfurt (11 – 12 May) and Paris (16 – 17 November). Enterprise Ireland are supporting clients at this event. If you are interested in attending, or learning more about our plans, get in touch with Alix or Tim.

        Minister Robert Troy in the Nordics attending SLUSH

        The Nordics: Opportunities abound for ambitious Irish exporters

         

        As an island nation, the export economy is essential for the health and growth of Irish companies. Our reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship has served us well in that regard, with Irish companies finding huge success in every corner of the world. Key markets such as the UK, the US, France and Germany remain hugely important, but ambitious Irish exporters are exploring other countries that are actively looking for the products and solutions produced by Irish entrepreneurs – and finding a whole new world of opportunity. A region that is growing rapidly in importance for Irish business is the Nordics, an area made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.

        Currently, over 450 Enterprise Ireland supported companies export to the Nordics, with exports reaching a remarkable €1.16 billion in 2020. It’s easy to see why this region is so attractive, home to 26 million inhabitants, the Nordic region is the 11th largest economy in the world. 

         

        The Nordic market

        Irish companies have a strong track record and reputation here, says Eoghan O’Connor, Market Executive, ICT & Start Ups, Enterprise Ireland. “The Nordics are known for being progressive, stable, and open to new technology.”

        “As a region that is culturally and geographically close to Ireland, Nordic countries should be considered our home markets and natural partners in terms of trade and business cooperation. English is widely spoken and like Ireland, a huge emphasis is placed on innovation.”

        Eoghan O Connor Enterprise Ireland

        This innovation can be seen in the number of household names from the Nordics. For instance, within the Nordic ecosystem are global companies like H&MNokiaVolvo, Maersk, and Ericsson. In addition, outside of Silicon Valley, the Nordics have generated the highest number of unicorns per capita globally, including companies like Spotify, Mojang (creators of Minecraft), Oatly, and Klarna

        “The success of these companies is down to the ecosystem, which is a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Eoghan. “Their comprehensive welfare state provides citizens with free education, healthcare, and social security and their public sector provides a strong framework for the ecosystem with opportunities for funding and other supports. There is also a dedicated focus on R&D and in general they are a population of early adopters of new technology.”

        “This makes the Nordic region a great starting point for Irish companies looking to establish a foothold in the European markets and scale their businesses internationally from here.”

         

        Success for Irish companies in the Nordics

        Already there are several very successful Irish companies in the region, all of which offer clever solutions in several different areas. “These include WAZP, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) that specialises in the production of 3D printing materials, which has forged a partnership with IKEA, one of the most globally recognised brands,” says Eoghan.

        “In addition, iCabbi, a Dublin cloud-based taxi firm, have a contract with Finnish taxi company Meneva, which has grown its fleet from 100 cars to over 1,500 since joining iCabbi over two years ago.”

        Minister Robert Troy in front of a Meneva taxi

        A key term in today’s global business world is sustainability, a significant area of growth as we race towards ambitious goals of net zero emissions. The Nordic countries have been long considered leaders in this field, especially in the area of environmentally friendly transport options, such as public scooter schemes.

        “Irish companies are playing their part here also,” says Eoghan. “For instance, Luna Technologies, which develops AI tech for the e-scooter market, has partnered with Swedish scooter giant Voi, while Zeus has rolled out scooters in Oslo, Halmstad, and Karlstad.”

         

        Springboard to success

        These Irish companies have found huge success in the region – but there’s plenty more opportunity for ambitious Irish exporters who will find an open and welcoming market for their innovative products and solutions. To demonstrate the Irish Advantage to the Nordics, Enterprise Ireland showcased Irish innovation at SLUSH, a global-leading event for start-ups and the largest of its kind in the Nordics, which took place in December 2021 in Helsinki.

        The event is considered a hotbed of start-up talent; the sold-out 2021 event attracted 8,000 attendees, over 3,200 start-up founders, and 1,500 investors, all of whom travelled from every part of the world. Irish attendees included seven companies, some already successful in the region along with some newcomers that have compelling offerings for this market.

         

         

        These included Boundless (B2B SaaS technology), MyPatientSpace (life sciences), Educatly (higher education), PlantQuest (oil & gas and data centres), Zeus (transport and mobility), Social Talent (learning and development), and Tito (events & ticketing).  

        The event acted as a springboard for Irish companies looking to expand their offerings in this prosperous region, keen to avail of the positives of trading in an area that values innovation, flexible working relationships and timely solutions to the issues that really matter in today’s world – everything that Irish enterprise is revered for.

         

        If you’re interested in exporting to the Nordics, contact the Enterprise Ireland Nordics team.

        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