Data Centres

Data Centres in Southern Europe: significant growth means great opportunities for Irish construction companies

 

Ireland has been a major destination for data centre development since the 90s, when US tech giants all started to base their data centres on the island, attracted by skilled workforce, climate, advanced infrastructure, and a low tax rate. This also created a platform for Irish construction companies to work on major data centre projects both domestically and abroad.

 

All European markets have experienced a boom in data centre ventures. Today this is particularly apparent in Spain and Italy, with both Madrid and Milan fast becoming major destinations in Europe for the development of data centres.

 

“Milan and Madrid have been considered part of the so-called European data centre secondary market, but nowadays this definition should be considered somehow dated, due to the faster growth in terms of capacity of these two markets compared the FLAP-D (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, and Dublin)”, says Roberto Bettuzzi, Senior Market Advisor, Italy, at Enterprise Ireland. “It’s also worth noting that the two markets are complementing each other rather than competing”.

 

Growth in Spain

Currently, there are 80 active data centres in Spain, with a total of 113MW. The largest area of capacity is in Madrid and its surrounds; and current pipeline predicts capacity to increase fivefold across 14 projects. Barcelona is also experiencing growth in the sector, with projects totalling 110MW capacity in the pipeline.

 

According to Spanish business newspaper Cinco Días, the expected investment in the data centre sector in Spain is $6.837 billion until 2026. Reflecting the growing relevance of the local market, the Spanish Data Centre Association (SPAINDC) was set up in October 2021.

 

Several hyperscale and co-location operators are developing centre centres in Spain – or planning to. The list includes Amazon, Microsoft, Meta & IBM, Digital Realty and Equinix. Google has launched a cloud region in Spain with Telefonica. This led several Irish general contractors and subcontractors to bid and win contracts to work in many of these projects.

 

Growth in Italy

Italy is also enjoying strong growth. Lombardy is the most developed Italian region in the data centre sector, sustained by the strong financial sector located in Milan and high demand for cloud services from business and consumer sectors.

 

Currently, there are approximately 120 data centres in Italy, with a capacity of 151MW, and an additional 33MW under construction that should cover the growing demand. New developments are set to boost the capacity by more than 60%.

 

The area around Milan sees a higher concentration. Microsoft, AWS, Data4, Equinix and Vantage all have data centre projects either announced or under completion. The latest to join was Google, who recently announced the launch of Milano Cloud Region, in partnership with national telco operator TIM. Among local players, the company Aruba is expanding its 200,000sqm campus near Bergamo, while RaiWay announced their plan to build a network of 20 edge data centres across the country.

 

Many large Irish companies are already operating in Italy, including General Contractors like Mercury and Kirby Engineering, and suppliers like Brodeen Fabrication. “Irish companies have long-term experience in working with tech giants in the design, build, and fit out of data centres,” says Roberto, “and therefore when those clients enter into a new market like Italy, they tend to bring that cluster of successful Irish companies in too.”

 

A prosperous future

With such growth forecasted over the next few years in both countries, there’s plenty of room for more ambitious Irish businesses to enter the sector.

 

“For over two decades, thanks to their expertise, Irish construction companies continuously won significant contracts outside Ireland. Now, with the adoption of cloud services booming in both Italy and Spain and operators investing to meet the increasing demand, Irish companies are here to seize the opportunities,” explains Roberto.”


“2020 saw a boom in projects and 2021 confirmed the trend. 2022 sees a consolidation of the ecosystem, with the creation of local data centre associations and the hosting of prominent events related to the sector.

 

Enterprise Ireland’s active role

In May 2022, Enterprise Ireland led a trade mission to Madrid, bringing 13 companies in the high-tech construction sector to participate in the Madrid Platform, where the client had one-to-one meetings with Spanish and Latin American buyers in the construction sector. Besides, on the same days, EI Madrid co-hosted a networking event together with SPAINDC Association.

 

“The event was extremely successful,” says María Jiménez, Market Advisor for Spain and Portugal at Enterprise Ireland. “During the week the Irish client companies had the opportunity to network with all major players in the sector. We are already seeing real results from the event.”

 

Similar events are coming to Italy too. In May 2022, Milan hosted DCN – Data Centre Nation, the first business-oriented data centre event of its kind in the country. The huge success of the event proved how needed was such a platform where the players can meet, network, and build relationships. “In 2023 the event is set to get be even bigger” commented Roberto “and EI Milan is in a dialogue with the DCN organizers to get a more active role in this valuable networking event”.

 

Southern Europe is a location that Irish tech-construction companies should keep on their radar.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about the data centre opportunities in Italy and Spain, please contact Roberto Bettuzzi, Senior Market Advisor in Italy roberto.bettuzzi@enterprise-ireland.com, or María Jiménez, Market Advisor in Spain and Portugal Maria.Jimenez@enterprise-ireland.com

Construction

EU initiatives helps Europe’s construction sector build a sustainable future

Summary

  • NextGenerationEUrepresents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets.
  • EU member states are united in the push for a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, which requires huge investment in sustainable construction and retrofitting.
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the sustainable construction market in:

Sustainability is the future of construction. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement (or COP 21), countries around the world have been striving to change how they operate with a view to keeping global warming at 2C or lower. In many countries, the decarbonisation of construction comes second only to renewable energy as the sector where most impact can be had.

Concrete and cement alone account for as much as 8 percent of global CO2 emissions, while the construction industry is also a heavy consumer of energy and other resources and generates huge levels of waste. Furthermore, existing building stocks across the region emit carbon and need to be retrofitted to operate sustainably.

The push for a carbon neutral 2050

Through the €806.9 billion Recovery and Resiliency Facility (RRF), which aims to help Europe recover from the pandemic and future-proof its economy and society, the European Union also hopes to achieve its Green Deal target of climate neutrality by 2050.

“We are all on the same page in Europe,” says Alix Derigny, Market Advisor Construction & Sustainable Build at Enterprise Ireland in France, “because every state has set greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets. The EU and national governments are putting in place grants to raise ambitions, and consumers are expecting day-to-day life to be greener.”

“Similarly, the real estate and retail sectors are putting pressure on the construction sector to accelerate the ecological transition. This issue is driving all businesses in the sector, from sub-contractors to suppliers and materials manufacturers.”

In fact, at least 37% of spending in the national plans funded by the RRF must relate to climate goals. Much of that, in turn, is going to construction and infrastructure projects.

In the effort to build a truly climate-friendly, circular economy, where waste and carbon emissions are minimised or eliminated, building and renovation methods are crucial. Prefabrication, for example, can enhance efficiency and build speed, while minimising waste.

Across the board in Europe, governments are making use of this funding to enable the Green transition. From a construction perspective, this includes work around:

  • energy retrofitting of public and private buildings, including homes and business premises
  • enabling the circular economy, through the modernisation of recycling centres and other projects
  • building green infrastructure, such as rail and other transport infrastructure.

Where the opportunity lies for Irish construction firms

As the whole industry evolves to embrace innovation, be more flexible, efficient and sustainable, many opportunities are opening up for contractors, engineering and advisory companies. It’s worth bearing in mind that large contractors are now seeking to reduce emissions across their entire value chain and will seek vendors who can meet those standards.

Irish firms are already delivering demanding construction and related projects in more than 100 countries. Ireland has particular strength in sought-after capabilities such as:

  • designing and delivering advanced infrastructure across the data, pharma and energy sectors
  • developing and implementing innovative digital and data-driven solutions, such as digital twins
  • improving resource efficiencies

There are a number of key areas in which the construction sector across Europe, and indeed globally, will welcome the solutions Irish firms can provide. “Markets like France and Germany are mature markets with an engineering culture,” says Derigny.

“You need to be innovative or have something to reduce the customer’s carbon footprint, if you want to compete with domestic suppliers,” she adds. “If you can bring those solutions, you’ll find customers with a huge appetite for them.”

Specific areas of interest to European construction customers include:

  • energy efficiency
  • sustainable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • LEED certification
  • smart building solutions, including sensors, security and maintenance
  • 5G Technology (for IoT solutions)
  • technologies and material to reduce CO2 emissions
  • solar panels
  • AI-powered solutions
  • any other product or service that can help lead to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings

Partners and planning vital to success

Typically, says Derigny, it makes sense for Irish firms to find partners in export markets, because it increases speed to market and reduces risk, but Enterprise Ireland can advise on a case-by-case basis.

Across Europe, as for any market at present, this sector is grappling with commodity price inflation, supply chain disruption and labour shortages. None of the markets below varies from that perspective, so it’s best to be prepared and consider how you can surmount these challenges so your market entry is not derailed by external factors.

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

France

The renovation sector is thriving in France as established building and energy firms seek innovative solutions to incorporate into their offerings.

The sustainable construction landscape in France

France aims to reduce energy consumption in the building sector by 28% by 2030 and to achieve a carbon-neutral building stock by 2050.

The building sector is a priority target for France’s Energy Transition Law, which came into force in 2015, and legislation also mandates high energy performance from any renovation works. Furthermore, any new building has had to be energy-efficient since 2012, with construction of ‘energy-plus’ homes expected to become the norm.

Major players such as GA Smart Building, Bouygues and Vinci have a strong culture of innovation. They are eager to scout and integrate innovative solutions into their products, so they can offer smart building solutions to their customers.

 Energy providers such as EDF, Engie and Total Direct Energie are always looking for innovative start-ups to develop partnerships.

Understand the construction opportunityin France

Overall, the booming housing renovation market is worth €40 billion in France or about a third of the overall construction sector.

France Relance, the national recovery and resilience plan provides substantial additional public funding for energy-saving works, with €5.8 billion allocated to energy retrofitting works. A further €7.0 billion is earmarked for green infrastructure and mobility, which will require significant building work.

President Macron has set the goal of renovating at least 700,000 homes a year for five years, relying on his flagship MaPrimeRénov’ grant. This covers works related to insulation, ventilation, heating and heating control systems.

The construction activity is now in total evolution towards energy renovation and the construction of more efficient buildings – BIM, sensors, maintenance, energy efficiency, safety & security.

Selling into France

Time and patience are needed to manage lengthy sales cycles and due diligence processes. If it is approached correctly, however, France can be a significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.

Irish companies thriving in France include:

  • Kingspan, which anticipates turning over half a billion euro in France in 2022
  • Ecocem France, a concrete products joint venture with a French firm
  • Tricel, a wastewater treatment manufacturer
  • LED Group, which makes lighting fittings
  • Robeau, which makes water-saving systems

Key players in the market include:

  • material manufacturers
  • general contractors
  • wholesalers and DIY stores
  • Specialised distributors

Top tip

Being part of a local, on-the-ground network is important in the French market. Recruiting an in-market business developer or partnering with a local company will improve chances of success.

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Germany

Huge drive for energy-efficient building and renovation represents a significant opportunity for Irish firms prepared to commit to the German market.

The sustainable construction landscape in Germany

Germany is aiming to have a completely climate-neutral building stock by 2050, but as it stands, buildings there still account for a significant proportion of its total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

In total, there are nearly 22 million buildings in Germany, and three quarters of them were built before the first energy efficiency standards were introduced in 1978. That means despite Germany’s long-standing commitment to energy efficiency, there is still ample opportunity for companies who can support with retrofitting and refurbishment, or the construction of new low- or zero-carbon developments

Understand the sustainable construction opportunity in Germany

Of Germany’s total €28 billion national Recovery and Resilience Plan or Deutscher Aufbau- und Resilienzplan (DARP), 42% has been allocated to support climate objectives

It includes €2.5 billion for a large-scale renovation programme to radically improve the energy efficiency in residential buildings, while the government is making a further €6 billion available for the Federal Funding for Efficient Buildings Program.

Irish firms will find particular opportunity in the German market around:

  • energy management
  • HVAC systems
  • insulation
  • timber construction.

Customers for Irish firms would most typically be large companies in the residential construction sector, such as Vonovia SE, Strabag AG, Ed. Zublin AG and Bauer AG.

Selling into Germany

While the main opportunities and funding lie in the residential construction sector, this is a competitive market with numerous well-established domestic competitors. At a minimum, you’ll find a strong local partner to help you with language skills and making the most of their existing relationships on the ground.

Irish companies have not had notable success in residential construction, but have gained far more ground in the specialist high-tech construction market, where their expertise in building data centres and pharmaceutical facility is valued.

 

German business culture is usually risk-averse and new entrants need to show a strong commitment to the market.

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 regular visits to the market will mean you can take advantage of the long-lasting opportunity the German market offers.

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Italy

Opportunities abound for construction firms in Italy, where the government is committed to upgrading its building stock and overhauling its infrastructure.

The sustainable construction landscape in Italy

As Italy seeks to become carbon neutral by 2050, it is undertaking a huge public-private regeneration effort, largely driven by EU funding. With 30% of buildings in the country having historic or cultural value, there is extensive funding for sustainable restorations.

Urban regeneration projects alone are valued at €3.4bn, with €300m already spent in 2022.

Milan is a front runner, with 320 green buildings already certified and 4 ongoing major large-scale urban regeneration projects (Porta Nuova, Citylife, Uptown and MIND, the zero-carbon Milan Innovation District), where sustainability is a key driver of the projects.

 

Legislative changes and ongoing reform of the public administration will also help the country achieve its sustainability goals, especially as they should enable the construction industry to operate more efficiently.

Understand the sustainable construction opportunity in Italy

Within Italy’s €191 billion National Resilience and Recovery Plan or Piano Nazionale di Represa e Resilienza (PNRR), which is funded by the EU, €59.46 billion is devoted to the circular economy and introducing green initiatives. The government is adding a further €30 billion in grants.

Together, this spend will include:

  • €5bn on social housing, including the refurbishment of a fifth of public apartment buildings
  • €412m to refurbish judicial buildings
  • €800m to make 40,000 schools more energy efficient.

Furthermore, the PNRR also includes significant commitments around the refurbishment of infrastructure with:

  • €87bn going to construction (of which 30% will go to Lombardy, Sicily and Campania)
  • €31bn allocated to upgrade railways and ports

To encourage 50,000 or more building owners to refurbish and retrofit existing properties, the Italian government has also introduced the EcoBonus scheme. This is a €14 billion fiscal incentive aimed at improving the energy rating and efficiency of existing buildings. The scheme covers the full cost of green renovations and also incentivises homeowners by offering an extra 10% (through a tax deduction of up to €100,000 per home).

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.

Typical customers include private construction consortiums, local contractor companies, local councils and suppliers.

Competition from local companies can be a challenge, especially if you are a first time exporter in the market. 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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Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital Funding – Webinar

 

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

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

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

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

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

    UK Water Sector: Trends and Opportunities 2022-2025 – Webinar

     

    In 2020 the UK water sector embarked on AMP 7, its five-year infrastructural spending cycle worth £51 billion. This sum covers a wide array of areas, from decarbonisation to digital, with plenty of opportunities for businesses across the supply chain to get involved in the sector.

    This webinar discusses the trends and opportunities in the sector across the regulator’s five key themes, as well as AMP 8.

    Topics discussed:

    • Environmental Protection

    • Carbon Reduction and Resilience

    • Digital Agenda

    • Customer Service

    • Collaboration and Innovation

    • Value for Money

    • The Future of the Sector and AMP 8

      Construction in the UK: A Guide to Legal Challenges and the UKCA Mark – Webinar

       

      In this webinar the speakers discuss some of the main legal and regulatory issues currently facing contractors, employers and suppliers in the construction sector across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

      This webinar also discusses the UKCA mark, the new UK product marking that will replace the CE mark on 1 January 2023 in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UKCA mark will be required for construction products being placed in the market. We will also discuss the process of how to certify your products with the UKCA marking.

      Speakers Include:

      • Jamie Ritchie, Partner, LK Shields

      • Dominic Jones, Partner, Blake Morgan

      • Lisa Boyd, Construction and Procurement Lawyer, Gateley Tweed LLP and Gateley Legal

      • Robin Byrne, Head of UK Office, NSAI Certification UK

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

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

         

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

         

        Enterprise Ireland’s aim to support start-ups

         

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

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

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

         

        125 start-ups attend Start-Up Showcase 2022

         

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

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

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

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

         

        Learning from other success stories

         

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

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

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

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

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

         

        Returning to an in-person Start-Up Showcase event

         

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

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

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

         

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

         

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

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

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

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

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

         

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

         

        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.

         

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction industry – Tim Chapman, Arup

        In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

        In the fourth episode, Tim Chapman, Director of Infrastructure Design at Arup, speaks about what Arup is doing to lower its emissions, changes in the UK construction industry and how supply chain companies can get to the start line of the journey to net zero.

         

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector

        Net Zero UK podcast – The UK construction sector – Lara Young, Costain

        In Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Net Zero UK’ podcast series, we discuss how the UK plans to transition to a net zero economy and the impact this will have on SMEs.

        In the third episode, Lara Young, Group Climate Change Director at Costain, speaks about Costain’s climate ambitions, the journey to net zero in the construction sector and the role of the supply chain moving forward.

         

        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