Germany’s Hospital Future Act

     

     

    The German healthcare market is the largest in Europe offering a wide range of opportunities for Irish medtech and e-health businesses.

    Due to a new law signed this year, the German government is investing €3 billion in digitalising its healthcare system.

    This Enterprise Ireland webinar examines

    • the opportunities arising from healthcare digitalisation

    • the Hospital Future Act and the significance for companies with relevant solutions

    • how to navigate the landscape and position your solution effectively

    This webinar is chaired by Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor Nicol Hoppe

    with expert insights from:

    Carsten Schmidt – Co- Founder of Digital Health Port

    Changing Construction – How GreenStart has Powered Passive Sills

    Cork-based company Passive Sills was created with a vision of making changes in the construction industry

    The company could not be more timely in their mission as together building and construction are said to be responsible for a massive 39% of all carbon emissions in the world right now.  Passive Sills produces thermally efficient building products and offers environmentally friendly building materials and product options to the construction industry.

    Globally, leading cities and companies are committing to a highly efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050 but put simply – the Paris Agreement is demanding an even more ambitious built environment strategy than is currently there and for this to happen strong implementation is required.

    The European Commission has recognised the vital role that the built environment sector can play in delivering the requirements of the EU2050 long-term strategy to become climate-neutral.

    Passive Sills wanted to push forward on this with the help of Enterprise Ireland GreenStart funding and gain a clear picture of the environmental impact of manufacturing their products.

    “In the construction industry, everything is going towards zero carbon emissions.  It’s going to be a requirement in EU legislation anyway and taking into account the Paris agreement and what this country, the world and individual companies are doing to reduce emissions, it made sense for us to get on board as soon as possible”, explains spokesperson Janice O’Leary.

    “We want to spread the word and change the way people think when they are building. They have the option to move away from heavy concrete and go for lightweight more thermally efficient options.  New Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standards requirements are a reality now and people are making more informed choices as it’s all about future proofing.  Our products including our insulated window sills and oversills suit most types of construction projects, have a lower carbon footprint and are 64% more thermally efficient than concrete, reducing cold bridging. They also have almost half the embodied carbon of concrete alternatives.”

     

    Support from GreenStart

    So how did Enterprise Ireland GreenStart support Passive Sills?  The company had very clear goals – to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of their products to understand clearly all the processes and materials that have an impact on the environment and to produce a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and a public Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) which now sits proudly on their website. Passive Sills also wanted to produce an Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) for their custom manufacturing facility in Youghal.  In addition, they wanted to receive access and training for a new online reporting tool called Ecochain, to generate detailed reports for clients.

    “The Enterprise Ireland GreenStart grant helped us to nail all of this down. While we needed a lot of information for certain calculations and it did take time, we were able to calculate our carbon footprint and were pleasantly surprised with some of the results that we found. We have now also launched a new website – lightweightmouldings.ie – offering a full range of lightweight decorative mouldings and we’re expanding our product range.”

    “The GreenStart process made us think in a slightly different way.  All of this was something that we would have had to do in the future anyway – specifically we knew the requirement for an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) would be coming down the line – and Enterprise Ireland gave us a push to get it done now.”

    “We were more than happy with the process and what we achieved and we would highly recommend the process to other businesses.”

     

    To get your business ready for a green future visit Climate Enterprise Action Fund or contact the Climate Action Team

     

    Regulations in the German healthcare sector

      The German healthcare market is the largest in Europe offering ample opportunities for Irish medtech and e-health businesses.

      This webinar is chaired by Enterprise Ireland  Market Advisor Nicol Hoppe and will examine

      • accessing opportunities in the German market

      • the opportunities emerging with digitalisation

      • how to manage budgets and timelines effectively

      with expert insights from:

      • Christoph Bischoff-Everding of HGC

      • Andrea Seidel of Dr. Seidel Lifesciences

      Opportunities in the German healthcare market

      In 2020, Enterprise Ireland commissioned a research project to map all the players and points of entry to the German healthcare market.

      The results highlighted the key role of Group Purchasing Organisations (GPOs) which work across a range of healthcare groups including hospitals, care homes etc. to facilitate combining resources for procurement purposes.

      This webinar will examine

      • How to use GPOs when entering the German market

      • How Irish businesses can leverage GPOs to progress business with German hospitals

      • How using GPOs can help to address various target groups

      Chaired by Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor Nicol Hoppe with insights from Rudiger Mueller, expert on procurement processes in German hospitals and owner of the Kronach consultancy company.

      Post-Brexit Construction in Ireland & the UK

      Chaired by Anne Corr, Construction Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland and joined by a panel of leading construction lawyers, this Evolve UK webinar examines the legal ramifications on how Brexit has impacted:

      – Labour and Resourcing

      – Goods and Materials

      – Standards and Regulations

      – Opportunities and Risks

       

      With insights from

      Dominic Jones, Partner at UK law firm Blake Morgan,

      Jamie Ritchie, Partner in the Projects and Construction Team at Irish law firm LK Shields

      Lisa Boyd, Director and Head of Procurement Law at Northern Ireland law firm Cleaver Fulton Rankin

       

      Plenty to celebrate stateside this St Patrick’s Day

      St Patrick’s Day offers an unrivalled opportunity to showcase Irish business innovation to a US audience.

      The traditional meeting between the Taoiseach and US President is taking place virtually this year, leveraging our important ties and connectivity with our trans-Atlantic neighbour more than ever.  

      The USA remains the world’s largest consumer market, a $22 trillion dollar economy. It grew by 4% in Q4 last year and early projections for 2021 indicate further growth of 3.2%, a strong performance for a developed economy.

      Increasingly Irish companies succeed here by recognising that the USA is no more one market than Europe is, and that to penetrate it they must go in state by state. California’s economy is, after all, approximately the same size as that of the UK. New York’s is approximately the same size as South Korea.

       

      The Pandemic Pivot

      The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact, with unemployment currently at 6.9%, up from 3.5% prior to Covid, which was a 50-year low. Lockdowns vary by state but as a whole the US is a market where the pivot happened fast, and the return will too.

      One of the biggest trends we see is how major US multinationals, such as Facebook, Microsoft, and many others are embracing the lessons learned. They have ‘leaned in’ to the opportunities that remote working, accelerated technology adoption and virtual collaboration have presented.

      Interestingly, this has also led to a level of economic migration and mobility not seen in generations as more and more people also take advantage of operating remotely and move to less dense population centres.

      The crossing of the digital Rubicon has also led to accelerated growth in sectors that were once described as emerging, these include ecommerce, cybersecurity, and digital health. There has also been a marked increase in the demand for content driven by the rapid growth in usage and choice across stream platforms. These relatively sudden supply and demand shifts always result in direct and tangential opportunities, and threats.

      As people live more online, those providing back end solutions, such as data management (provision and support products and services) and security, are seeing potential for robust growth.

       

      Building Back Better

      Further bolstering the optimism for strong 2021 GDP growth is the economic stimulus plan put forth by President Biden, further supplemented by significant planned investment in infrastructure and the green economy. At time of writing the $1.9 Trillion stimulus plan has moved back to the US House of Representatives for final ratification, this is expected to provide significant economic stimulus across the US.

      Other sectors are of course challenged. International student numbers from the US to Ireland have fallen for obvious reasons. Consumer retail, for those that have not embraced ecommerce, is struggling, and other sectors that have historically relied on a tactile or physical element to the sales process, e.g. machinery, will naturally struggle more in a virtual environment.

      A big question affecting businesses, and unknown in terms of our ‘new normal’, is what airline travel will look like. Capacity is certainly not what it was pre-Covid and there are complex variables that impact this supply and demand dynamic, not least of which are staff and equipment availability. Thankfully we continue to be relatively well served on the trans-Atlantic route.

      Over the past 12 months Enterprise Ireland has also leaned in to supporting our clients to stabilise, reset and recover. Supports such as the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, Online Retail Scheme, Virtual Selling programme, Competitive Start, our many management training programmes and others have enabled companies not just to cope with the challenges of selling into the US and globally, but to compete for and capture the opportunities that now exist in our new normal.

       

      Virtual St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

      Enterprise Ireland is walking this walk too in our traditional St Patricks Day events, having taken the traditional week-long programme of events for St Patrick’s Day and working with our Team Ireland colleagues migrating it online. Where Team Ireland would normally have the Taoiseach, Ministers, and a programme of economic, political, social and cultural events from coast to coast and border to border, we have pivoted entirely and will instead be hosting a multi-faceted programme including a series of in-depth sectoral webinars.

      We are running high profile mainstream media and social campaigns this week too, to maximise the impact of St Patrick’s Day, raising the profile of Irish companies and of the Irish Advantage.

      None of us knows what the new normal will look like. We do know that it will not be a simple snapping back into the old ways. Over the past 12 months we have crossed the digital Rubicon. It is now up to all of us to embrace the digital opportunities on the other side. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you cannot, you are right”. We can.

       

      Join Enterprise Ireland USA for the ‘Ireland and the US: On Track to Getting Back’ virtual event on 16th March where senior business leaders from both sides of the Atlantic will discuss learnings from 2020, and powering growth in 2021. Register here.

       

      Getting There: Strategies to promote gender diversity in business

      At Enterprise Ireland, we have long since recognised that one of the keys to optimising our start-up sector in Ireland is to boost gender equality in business.

      Diversity in business is vital to reflect our modern, global economy and create growing, sustainable companies. Extensive international research has shown that diversity increases innovation and creativity, while research from McKinsey & Co revealed that gender diversity leads to improved productivity and increased profitability.

      However, promoting gender diversity takes work. “Back in 2011, only 7% of our High-Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs) included a woman on the founding team,” says Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. “Seeing this, we put in place specific goals and plans to increase this, and now, in 2020, 24% of our HPSUs have a woman founder.”

      While Enterprise Ireland is well known for its entrepreneurship supports for women, increasing gender diversity in business leadership is a relatively new objective. Towards the end of 2018, Enterprise Ireland embarked on research to look at the broader issue of women in business to assess the current situation in Ireland and to see what could be done to improve the situation. The research revealed some unsettling statistics: that less than 20% of CEOs were women, falling to 9% in larger companies; that Ireland had the highest gender gap in self-employment in the EU; and that less than 10% of venture capital funding was going to companies with female founders. The research led to the publication of the Enterprise Ireland 2020 Action Plan for Women in Business.

      “The plan has four objectives,” explains Sheelagh. “To increase the number of women becoming entrepreneurs, to increase the number of women founders in HPSUs, to increase the number of women-led companies growing internationally, and to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in companies in Ireland. All these objectives are inter-connected, so to achieve one of them you need to achieve all of them.

      “We’ve set ambitious targets for ourselves – we’d like to double the number of women-led companies in the export market by 2025.” says Daly.

      Promoting female entrepreneurs

      While the figures have improved immensely over the past few years, it’s clear there are still some physical and psychological barriers that pose more of a challenge for women in business. For instance, women still bear the brunt of unpaid work in Ireland; in 2019, the ‘Caring and Unpaid Work in Ireland Report’ from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Economic and Social Research Institute revealed that 45% of women provide care for children and older adults on a daily basis, compared with only 29% of men. Networking opportunities, mentors and the visibility of women leaders in enterprise have also been identified as important for women in business.

      “One of the initiatives we developed to address the barriers to funding for women founders is a women-specific call for the Competitive Start Fund (CSF), a fund for early-stage start-ups with the potential to turn into HPSUs, with specific CSF calls for women entrepreneurs. In 2020, 42% of the CSF projects awarded were led by female founders.” says Daly.

      “We also offer the ‘Innovate’ accelerator programme for women entrepreneurs which provides mentoring and a chance for women entrepreneurs to network and learn from each other.

      This is also what is done in Going for Growth, an initiative supported by Enterprise Ireland to offer peer support along with the mentoring piece from successful women entrepreneurs through interactive round table sessions.”

      “Another important initiative is the Part-time Key Manager Grant, which we introduced last year to facilitate the recruitment of part-time senior managers. The grant is available for both men and women, but aims to attract more women to senior management roles.”

       

      Accessible help

      While the specific female entrepreneur supports outlined above give gender equality a significant boost, a key aim at Enterprise Ireland is to make every programme accessible for all. For instance, the first stop for most entrepreneurs is Ireland’s network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), with 31 offices in the country. The New Frontiers programme is delivered on behalf of Enterprise Ireland by Third Level Institutes in 16 locations around Ireland and helps entrepreneurs develop their business in readiness for further investment without significant financial risk.

      “We see really strong companies led by women at every stage of their journey,” says Sheelagh. “The supports are there, and we are really keen for more women to avail of those supports. I do believe that there are a lot of women with great ideas and the ability to put them into action; it’s then about the confidence to take that leap and use supports like the New Frontiers programme and aids from the LEOs. Those supports are there and can lessen the risk for both men and women when developing a new business.”

      “Through these initiatives, Enterprise Ireland seeks to address the challenges facing women in business and to inspire and accelerate the growth of Irish businesses by advancing gender diversity in leadership teams and excellence in our start-up sector.”

      Start-Up Showcase class of 2020: Proving again the ambition and resilience of Ireland’s entrepreneurs

      Starting a business is a difficult process at any time, but in 2020, it proved especially challenging, thanks to the uncertainty and difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic. But Irish entrepreneurs are nothing if not brave and ambitious, and 2020 was merely a year to show just how resilient and resourceful they are.

      In fact, despite having to overcome issues such as remote working and lockdowns, many new start-ups found opportunity within the Covid-19 crisis, either by pivoting their business or finding solutions to problems faced by people and countries dealing with the pandemic. To support their level of bravery and true global ambition, Enterprise Ireland approved more than €48 million in funding for new start-up companies and other start-up projects impacted by the pandemic in 2020. This figure included investment in 125 founding teams, supporting 80 companies through its High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) fund and 45 through its Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programme.

      The achievements of these start-ups were celebrated at this year’s Start-Up Showcase, which took place virtually on Wednesday 24th February and was officially launched by An Taoiseach Michéal Martin. Participants at the event included all of the HPSU and the CSF companies and a representative from each of the 13 New Frontiers programmes supported by Enterprise Ireland.

      “Most of the 125 companies at Showcase came through over the last 11 months, so the message is that we’re very much still open for business,” says Jenny Melia, Enterprise Ireland Divisional Manager, HPSU. 

      “The four main areas that we see are ICT, life sciences, fintech and food. In the last year we have adjusted to working remotely and living remotely, and many companies have been finding solutions to aid our new living and working needs, or pivoting their existing offerings to cater for this new need.”

      Funding proved difficult for new start-ups in 2020; recognising this, Enterprise Ireland provided support to existing start-up projects through the Sustainable Enterprise Fund for HPSUs, and invested earlier into some new start-ups. “There is risk involved, but we decided to go in earlier into some projects and help them deliver on their technical and commercial milestones,” explains Jenny. “Because of Covid-19, we might see that a company has had its clinical trials postponed or perhaps a company trialling a software product had to put the test on the long finger. In these cases, if the ingredients were right, we might invest a little earlier than usual. Another important aspect for us was to keep founding teams together because companies have had to work so hard to get the right talent in place and the last thing you want is to see those teams start to fragment.”

       

      Stand-out projects

      Every company featured at Showcase is fulfilling a very real need, and has the potential to globally impact their sector. “One of the most exciting is a company called Novus Diagnostics,” says Jenny. “The two founders came through DCU and have developed a rapid test for sepsis – about 11 million people die worldwide every year from sepsis, and every hour that’s missed in the diagnosis pushed up the mortality rate. As well as securing HPSU funding, the team has won EU funding, which is very competitive.

      “Another interesting company that has come through is Iamus Technologies, which has developed a smart robot for chicken breeding houses. The robot moves through the houses and measures the environment, the temperature, noting if any of the chicks are sick and alerting anything suspicious in real time. If anything goes wrong, it can spread very quickly in these environments, so having that alert in real time is really valuable. I think this is a great example of the strength we have in the agritech sector.”

       

      Supporting female and regional entrepreneurs

      Of particular interest is the promotion of women in business, and in 2020, almost 24% of the 80 new HPSUs supported by Enterprise Ireland are led by female entrepreneurs. And, 42% of the CSF projects awarded last year were led by female founders in sectors as diverse as climate change, fintech and edtech – proving that female entrepreneurship is incredibly strong in Ireland.

      Our experience over the years has shown us that it’s not just about the funding but it’s also about the networking and capability development,”

      “Alongside our female focus in the CSF, we set up a development programme called Innovate, where the female founders are networking and learning from each other, as well as learning from female entrepreneurs that have gone before them. We have found that this programme, alongside the funding and any other mentoring, has helped us to help the companies become investment-ready faster.”

      Another area of interest is to promote regional development by ensuring entrepreneurs all over the country receive the support their need. “We work closely with the four business incubation centres around Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) to ensure the companies from around Ireland are not just getting the funding support but they’re also getting the hands-on support in terms of building out the company. Balanced regional development is one of the key priorities for us at Enterprise Ireland.”

      Jenny says that the intensity of this engagement is paying off; this is reflected in 2020’s figures, with a 50/50 split between new projects based in and outside Dublin in 2020. This reflects higher numbers in the West than in 2019, and more than double the numbers in the South.

       

      Support from start to finish

      Representatives from the New Frontiers national entrepreneurship programme also took part in the Showcase, reflecting the highly connective nature of Ireland’s start-up scene. Some companies complete New Frontiers and progress to CSF or directly to HPSU; others might be growing more slowly and will engage with our colleagues in the LEOs as they begin to build out their business,” says Jenny.

      Both the CSF and the HPSU maintain strong links with Ireland’s network of LEOs and the New Frontiers programme to recognise new companies with great ideas as they emerge, getting ready to support them as they grow their idea into an innovative and thriving business. For entrepreneurs, knowing that this support is available from start to finish is encouraging, especially as we continue to navigate through the difficult economic environment created by Covid-19 and Brexit in 2021.

       

      Transport & Logistics Industry Update – Webinar


      The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the re-shaping of transport routes brought a very turbulent start to 2021. Logistics and transportation companies involved in the movement, storage and flow of goods have been directly impacted and had to rapidly adapt to changing business landscape. Irish companies exporting their products or importing components or raw materials need to follow and understand these trends to stay competitive.

      This Enterprise Ireland webinar identifies these challenges and examines current developments with a panel of industry experts.

      The webinar is chaired by Enterprise Ireland’s Director UK & Northern Europe Marina Donohoe with insights from:

       • Gopal R, Global Leader, Supply Chain & Logistics, Frost & Sullivan

      • John Ward, Managing Director, Maurice Ward & Co. Ltd Ireland

      • Richard Nolan, CEO, Nolan Transport – Nolan Group

       

      Register now to attend the webinar.

      New Frontiers: Turning great ideas into promising businesses

      Great ideas are in the Irish DNA, but turning these ideas into viable businesses takes time, ambition, hard work and support.

      To help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into promising businesses, Ireland has built up a solid network of supports for early stage start-ups, with a high level of connectivity to ensure that businesses can access the right support at the right time.

      Many entrepreneurs begin their business journey at the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which offers a wide range of experience, skills and services.

      Typical supports offered by the LEOs include training and mentoring programmes, access to financial support and microfinance loans, general business advice and help with business planning.  and with 31 LEOs nationwide, entrepreneurs don’t have to travel far to find business support.

      The LEOs are also the front door into other support services such as the local authorities, Enterprise Ireland and State agencies, including the Department of Social Protection, Skillnets, Education and Training Boards, Microfinance Ireland, Revenue and Fáilte Ireland.

      The beauty of the structure is that it’s inter-connected,” explains Teri Smith, manager at Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) division. 

      “At the HPSU, we would communicate with the LEOs and other starter programmes like New Frontiers, so a suitable business can very readily come onto our radar if they’re going through those channels, which allows us to transition them at the right time.” 

      “From an Enterprise Ireland point of view, a lot of entrepreneurs would have started out with LEO supports or New Frontiers; when they have their business plan, their prototype and their market opportunities mapped out, and ready to raise seed investment, that’s generally when they transition to Enterprise Ireland.”

       

      New Frontiers

      The highly regarded New Frontiers programme is a popular starting point for many entrepreneurs. Like the LEO supports, New Frontiers is available nationwide and is delivered on behalf of Enterprise Ireland by Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities in 16 locations around Ireland. Since Enterprise Ireland began managing the programme in 2012, 4,700 individuals have participated in New Frontiers, with 1,430 going on to the immersive Phase 2 of the programme.

      “New Frontiers is a good starting point,” says Teri. “Phase 1 can be done while you’re still in your day job, so you don’t have to go ‘all in’ to progress your idea and see if it has the potential to turn into a business.” 

      The programme is aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs with business ideas from across all sectors including food & consumer products; information & communication technology; engineering & electronics; medical devices; biotechnology; pharma, digital media; cleantech/renewable energy;

      They could also be developing new solutions that would have export potential, or an innovative alternative to what is mainstream in the marketplace. Entrepreneurs would have to have qualified that there is market potential for their product in order to be eligible for a place on the programme.

      New Frontiers is delivered in three phases. Currently offered online due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, Phase I consists of weekend and evening workshops to research and test the market potential of the idea. By the end of this phase, participants should have a good idea as to whether their idea can become a viable business – and be confident enough to leave their job or take a career break to immerse themselves in their fledgling business.

      Entrepreneurs who have successfully completed Phase 1 can apply for Phase 2, which is a full-time intensive programme that focuses on developing and validating the business proposition. Participants are supported throughout this phase with workshops, mentoring, regular milestone reviews, a free co-working space and guidance from the programme team.

      In addition, a tax-free stipend of €15,000 is paid directly to the entrepreneur over a six-month period, along with web hosting and support worth $15,000 from Amazon.  No equity is taken in your business in exchange for this support package.

      Upon successful completed of Phase 2, participants can also apply For Phase 3, which focuses on bringing the product/service to market and preparing to acquire further funding.

      Many New Frontiers participants have progressed on to Enterprise Ireland supports such as the Competitive Start Fund and the High Potential Start-Up Fund; these include Wellola, Video Sherpa, Swyft Energy, Snapfix, Examfly, LiveCosts, Positive Carbon and Safecility. And from there, great things can be achieved.

      For instance, Immersive VR Education in Waterford, one of the 2016 participants, raised €6.75 million following a successful IPO in 2018. In 2020, Cork ed-tech company and New Frontiers graduate TeachKloud raised €750,000, with investment led by Frontline Ventures and ed-tech investor Sean Tai. And in terms of creating employment, 2017 participants Xerotech has established an R&D centre in Claregalway with space for 40 engineers.

      The highly connected nature of Ireland’s supports for early-stage entrepreneurs means that the sky really is the limit for ambitious innovators. Great ideas with huge potential are quickly identified and given the right support to bring them as far as possible, furthering our island’s reputation as a hotbed of promising start-ups.

      For more information on New Frontiers, including a calendar of starting dates across the country, visit www.newfrontiers.ie

      Evolve UK Webinar – UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook

      Enterprise Ireland UK’s webinar: UK Water Sector – AMP 7 Update and Net Zero Outlook provided attendees with an update on the UK water sector and discussed the Net Zero 2030 Routemap.

      Experts from across the industry gave their perspective on key issues, including the AMP 7 investment cycle, the sector’s plan to deliver upon a net zero strategy and the role that supply chain companies will play in achieving the sector’s carbon reduction targets.

      Watch the webinar to hear expert insights from

      –             Lee Horrocks, Director, LCH Executive

      –             Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

      –             Samuel Larsen, Programme Lead, Water UK

      –             David Riley, Head of Carbon Neutrality, Anglian Water

       

      Read how Flynn built its international presence

      This time last year, none of us were aware of the disaster which was about to unfold across the globe. But 12 months on, industry across every sector is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic which continues to make its presence felt.

      But while some businesses were affected more than others, the construction sector in many areas of the world, has continued to carry out essential works and this, according to Cormac McKenna of Flynn, a Dublin based international construction company, has been beneficial for many companies which have expanded outside Ireland.

      “We have been active in mainland Europe for four years and have branches in Denmark and Germany,” says McKenna, who has been with the company for 12 years. “We are predominantly in the data centre sector in mainland Europe and our offices have a blend of both Irish and local staff.

      “We have also been active in the UK for nearly three years and have a regional office in London, servicing this market in the general contracting, fit-out and data centre markets.”

      McKenna, a director with Flynn, oversees operations in Dublin and mainland Europe and says the move outside Ireland came about as a result of building on existing relationships and pitching the expertise the firm was confident would add value to European and UK projects.

      “Our network of clients, design teams and traditional contactor partners have brought us data centre opportunities in Denmark initially – and these led to further operations in Northern Europe, the Nordics and the Benelux regions,” he says. “We are fortunate to have been able to continue working in Europe during the pandemic as it affected Irish business badly because the sector has been shut down twice during national lockdowns.

      “Construction has continued in both the UK and Germany and because we have been working on data centres, which are deemed essential.

      The main difficulty has been getting workforce to and from sites as every jurisdiction has its own restrictions – so in some places there are quarantine regulations and in other countries, there is a requirement to provide a negative PCR test. Everywhere is different, but you just have to roll with the punches, be nimble and able to change approach as and when is necessary. And we have relied heavily on our workforce to be flexible in their approach.”

      Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing as operating in different countries can be challenging, even without a global pandemic.

      “Apart from the obvious challenges to be overcome such as supply chain, logistics, legislative issues, taxation, industrial relations and nuances in the construction regulations in any new jurisdiction we enter, working overseas also raises the additional challenge of ensuring that operations in remote locations are delivered with same culture and quality that we insist on,” says McKenna.

       

      Building an international presence

      “The main issues we have faced were around sourcing supply chain and getting to grips with local legislation from an industrial relations perspective and contract law perspective. But our auditors and accountants are Grant Thornton who have an international presence, which gives us a lot of satisfaction and comfort in knowing that our approach is correct.

      “We have opened offices in London, Copenhagen and Frankfurt. And Enterprise Ireland and our international auditors and accountants have been key to the successful establishment of a foothold in these markets.  The key to success has also been leaning heavily on our network and ensuring we asked plenty of questions of the right people.”

      Along with keeping its European interests ticking over, Flynn has also been looking after its clients here at home – but the various lockdowns have made this difficult at times.

      “Like all businesses in construction, Covid 19 has affected our operations,” says McKenna. “We, like many companies, have faced difficulties and have faced additional costs for control measures and also to cover for staff who either contracted Covid or were close contacts of someone with the virus.  But we managed to get through the past year by investing in people and systems along with physical controls on our sites to ensure we have industry leading controls and management systems in place.

      “Our business had well tested systems for remote working and collaboration to allow our project teams and regional offices to communicate effectively.  And as working restrictions were imposed, these existing systems have paid real dividends and we feel we are working as effectively as possible while keeping our teams safe.

      The Dublin based firm has been in business for over 16 years and prides itself in the quality of its people and the prestige of its clients.  And according to McKenna, Enterprise Ireland has helped with this success.

      “Flynn is predominantly a main contractor but over the past five years we have brought our main contracting experience to package contracting in the Hyperscale Data Centre Market,” says the company director. “And we feel the expertise in bringing teams of trusted trade contractors together and managing the entire CSA solution for our clients, brings tangible added value to any Hyperscale DC we have been involved in.

      “Enterprise Ireland has been a key partner in our international growth. Their representatives are always at the end of the phone for advice and have provided key introductions in local authorities, supply chain parties and in some instances leads for new business.  They have also provided tangible supports from a training and marketing perspective.

      “In addition, we found the Market Discovery Fund and some of the supports we got in the marketing field to be very effective. Some of the introductions they made for us in both Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK was a great help. And also, just having someone at the other end of the phone to bounce ideas off, has been invaluable.”

      The company has over 140 employees across Ireland and Europe and is currently looking to further its portfolio with opportunities in Ireland, UK and Mainland Europe. and McKenna says while 2021 may be a difficult time for construction firms to be thinking of expanding abroad, once the current crisis is over, there could be plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

      “There is a definite advantage to being an Irish company overseas, particularly one with Irish employees as we are known for having the mindset of getting things done,” he says. “In the high tech and data centre world, schedule is key and the Irish work ethic of doing what you say you will do and doing it on time, is a great advantage as we can be trusted to get the job done.

      “Our aim so to grow our client base across Europe, to grow our team and to bring added value to future data centre projects.  My advice to firms thinking of doing the same, would be to complete extensive research in the jurisdiction you are targeting and use the Enterprise Ireland team as they provide a lot of useful information and contacts.”