Neil Cooney

Market Watch – A view from Canada

Market Watch Canada Neil Cooney

Key Takeaways

• The public health response to Covid-19 in Canada was well informed by previously having dealt with the challenges caused by an outbreak of SARS in the early 2000s.
• There were some challenges, and the Canadian government has been swift and efficient in offering support to businesses and citizens across the country.
• Canada, like many jurisdictions, is seeing a resurgence of cases and borders are currently closed to mainstream traffic.
• Remote working has seen many industries pivot to a new way of doing business.
• Many sectors are moving apace and there is opportunity for Irish companies.

Along with almost every country in the world, Canada has felt the effects of the pandemic, but Neil Cooney, Enterprise Ireland Country Manager Canada, says while a second wave is also taking its toll, there are some positive signs of growth.

“The challenges of Covid-19 are significant and as a result, the Canadian government has committed extraordinary support to citizens and businesses during 2020 as economic activity is considered to be approximately 5% below February levels,” he says. “However the economy has seen four straight months of growth, as restrictions have been modified to support more of the economy coming back online.”

“Of course, like many other jurisdictions, Canada is seeing a resurgence of cases, particularly in its main metropolitan areas – and borders are currently closed for most travellers. So those doing business need to look carefully at the limited set of exceptions which may apply (for critical infrastructure or in healthcare) – while most workers in government, banking, technology and professional services sectors continue to work from home.”

Aside from the challenges of not being able to visit the market, meet customers and attend trade events, Cooney says another effect of Covid-19 has been that some pending projects were paused as companies reacted to the uncertainty, but this is beginning to change.

“We have seen projects reignite in recent months as business priorities have shifted from crisis management or remote working challenges to an acceleration in digitalization and providing better experiences for customers and employees,” he says.

“Pivoting to virtual has been an area of opportunity for many of the leading trade events and while they vary in format and cost, these events have reduced the barriers for Irish companies interested in learning more about trends and opportunities in Canada – which has always been challenging to do on a coast to coast basis as it is the world’s second largest country.”

The move to remote working and distributed teams has pushed businesses to openly consider solutions from providers, which they will engage with online from start to finish.
And according to Cooney, the manufacturing sector and supply chains generally have done well in overcoming the hurdles posed by the current global crisis.

“Like many markets, the challenges of Covid-19 have accelerated change in many areas with companies and industries adopting new technologies,” he says. “This has represented an opportunity for Irish companies which offer innovative solutions in areas such as cybersecurity, remote working enablement and digital health.

“And Canada recently announced investment of 10 billion (CAD) in infrastructure projects -through the Canadian Investment Bank – in energy, agricultural irrigation, connectivity, zero-emission buses, early construction works and buildings’ energy efficiency.”

He says with the impact of the crisis on the energy sector, there has been an opportunity to focus investment on environmental mitigation of orphan wells, developing renewable energy and charting a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

And the construction sector has continued its buoyant level of activity with an increasing focus on modular housing deployment and environmentally superior building technologies currently in demand.

“In addition, Canada has continued to invest significantly in its public infrastructure, including a recent announcement supporting broadband provision– which at $1.75 billion represents the largest one-time federal investment in broadband.”

Home to several world class clusters including the world’s third largest aerospace hub in Montreal, Canada is North America’s second largest financial services and technology cluster, leading capability in Artificial Intelligence technologies, and has a burgeoning technology sector.

Toronto has the highest cluster of AI start-ups in the world and Montréal boasts the highest density of researchers and students of deep learning in the world. This has highlighted an opportunity for EI Canada to join the conversation with focus on Irish AI capable clients.

But while virtual meetings have made it easier for companies outside Canada to explore new commercial relationships, there are certain factors which need to be considered.

“Companies approaching the market often have to think region by region in sourcing distribution, identifying partners, winning customers and setting-up beachhead sales operations,” says Cooney. “And while doing this in-person has always been a challenge given the scale of the territory, the current reliance on virtual meetings has created more of a ‘level playing field’ for companies outside Canada exploring new commercial relationships.

“But it is officially a bilingual country which means many products and services must offer English and French to participate in procurement or Request for Proposal processes. To this end, Enterprise Ireland has recently opened an office in Montreal to assist Irish companies in doing business in the region.

“And while Canada is often seen as an excellent proving ground and valuable reference site for the wider North America market, it is crucial to display knowledge and responsiveness to the distinct needs of Canadian customers, local regulatory requirements and differences in business practice – something which definitely applies to the complex, multi-stakeholder buying processes we see in the Healthcare and Telco sectors.”

However, the country manager says that Canadians prefer to work with companies which already have an established presence in the market.

“Demonstrating local presence can be an important way to gain trust and to reassure potential customers of the availability of your on-going support,” he says. “Canada is a welcoming country when it comes to entrepreneurs, investors, and talent, including from Ireland, and is as a result attracting significant business to tech hubs such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. And during Covid-19, this may mean establishing a virtual presence and hiring locally in-market – which is readily possible given the ease of set-up in Canada.”

To learn more about the steps companies can take to address the impact of Covid-19 visit our business supports page.

Evolve UK – An Overview of AMP 7, the 2020-2025 Water Sector Investment Cycle in England and Wales

Ireland’s capabilities in the water sector

Enterprise Ireland coordinates a well-established cluster of over 80 water and wastewater companies which provide products and service solutions to address global water challenges in areas such as water scarcity; climate change and resilience; rising energy costs; increased regulation; increased quality requirements and ageing infrastructure. The launch of the AMP 7 2020 – 2025 water sector investment cycle in the UK and Wales provides opportunities to these companies, which are well positioned to service the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish municipal and industrial water sectors and their respective capital and growth objectives.

 

UK Opportunities

This report is prepared for businesses which operate or are considering entry into the English and Welsh water sector over the course of a new five-year Asset Management Plan (AMP 7) 2020-2025 which has an estimated value of £51b, with an approximate 50:50 split between capital and operational investment.

From reading this report, you should gain a greater understanding of the structure of the English and Welsh water and wastewater sector including

  • water utilities
  • tier one contractors
  • regulators
  • environmental agencies
  • water alliances
  • relevant industry events
  • AMP 7 contract information

 

Webinars – Brexit Customs Briefing Series

As the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020, Irish businesses trading with the UK will need to operate in a new business environment.

To assist Irish companies with their final preparations, Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Local Enterprise Offices will host a series of webinar briefings to advise on logistics, freight, customs clearance and the critical steps needed to avoid trading disruption on Jan 1st.

Register Below:

Evolve UK Podcast – Women in Construction

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

The ‘She Built That’ initiative was launched to highlight the real influence that women have in the Construction sector. As an industry so often criticised for its lack of diversity, this event highlighted the achievements of women in the sector and looked to inspire the next generation of great women in construction.

One year on, Conor Stone and Kevin Fennelly sit down with the minds behind the initiative, Anne Corr and Niamh Kearney, to discuss the ideation, the execution and the impact of ‘She Built That’.

 

Market Watch UK – Planning for Construction’s recovery webinar

This webinar explores the recommendations made by Construction Leadership Council’s Covid-19 Task Force to secure the future of construction businesses nationwide, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery.

Enterprise Ireland’s Niamh Kearney, market executive for the UK Construction sector was joined by Simon Rawlinson, member of the Construction Leadership Council and Head of Strategic Research and Insight at Arcadis UK.

For more UK Construction insights click here.

Evolve UK: Establishing a UK presence

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar examines how the establishment of a UK presence demonstrates long-term commitment to the market, providing customers and partners on the ground with the reassurance that your business is accessible at all times.

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland’s UK Manager, Deirdre McPartlin with insights from Gerry Collins, ECOVIS.

Evolve UK – Construction and the impact of Covid-19 webinar

 

This webinar forms part of the Evolve UK Webinar series and outlines the legal and practical considerations for companies operating in the UK Construction sector and the impact of Covid-19.

Hosted by Anne Corr, market advisor for the UK Construction sector and with expert insights from

David Evans, Legal Director of Blake Morgan

Dominic Jones, Legal Director of Blake Morgan

Global Ambition – Industry Insights: Construction webinar


Enterprise Ireland hosted a series of Global Ambition – Industry Insights sector focused webinars to deliver market intelligence on the evolving international export opportunities across global markets.

How the Irish construction sector responds to the rapid change and set of deep-seated implications for international markets will be crucial as the sector now looks to reset and recover, in the wake of Covid-19.

This webinar was hosted by John Hunt, Senior Market Advisor for Construction at Enterprise Ireland, with insights from:

  • Mr Robert Troy T.D. – Minister of State at Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

  • Professor Roger Flanagan – Professor of Construction Management, University of Reading

  • Mr Richard Joyce, Managing Director Europe, Linesight

Watch the webinar here.

Evolve UK – New UK importing rules with HMRC – Establishing a UK presence webinar

 

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar examines the upcoming rule changes to importing into the UK with insights from

– Deirdre McPartlin, UK Manager at Enterprise Ireland

– Margaret Whitby, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at BPDG

– Claire Wilson, Stakeholder Engagement at HMRC Customs and Borders unit

– Ruth Potter, Partner at Ecovis

– Gerry Collins, Managing Partner at Ecovis

Access key insights from sectoral experts with the Evolve UK webinar series.

Brexit and Intellectual Property – Webinar

The UK’s decision to leave the EU will impact many aspects of business including Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Our webinar explained the effects of Brexit on the different types of IPR, and discussed practical answers to questions like:

  • Will my existing IP rights be sufficient after Brexit?

  • What changes might I need to make to my IP portfolio?

  • Do my licence and distributor agreements cover the relevant territories?

  • If I am importing or exporting goods, have the IP rights contained in the goods been exhausted in the relevant territory?

  • Will my custom notifications still apply in the UK and EU?

Hosted by national broadcaster and journalist – Jonathan Healy with insights from:

  • Peter MacLachlan and Cherrie Stewart of MacLachlan & Donaldson

  • Joe Doyle, Intellectual Property Manager in Enterprise Ireland

  • Emer O’Byrne of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit.

Watch here 

The African opportunity for Irish firms

There is a tendency among people in Europe and the rest of the Developed World to take a somewhat negative view of Africa. While the continent certainly does have its problems, the fact remains that Africa presents huge opportunities for Irish firms in a variety of sectors, including agritech, life sciences, education, fintech, construction, ICT and other digital technologies.

And the extent of the opportunity is vast. There are 46countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a total population of 1.2 billion. According to the World Bank, between 10% and 15% of those people are middle class. Furthermore, there are more people earning over $25,000 a year in Africa than in India.

Africa is the second-largest landmass in the world after Russia and has more cities with a population of over 1 million than the US.

Overall, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is set to double to 2.5 billion by 2060. That will give the continent a very large cohort of young people. While the rest of the world is greying the African population is getting younger.

At an individual country level, Nigeria has a population of 200 million at present. That is set to grow to 400 million by 2060 when it will have overtaken the US in population terms. Ethiopia has more than 100 million people at present and that is also set to double by 2060 and has been the fastest-growing economy in the world over the last two years (10% annum).

Sub-Saharan Africa pre-Covid-19 was the second-fastest growing economic region in the world after South East Asia. English is widely spoken, while the time zones in Africa are similar to Ireland’s.

The middle-class proportion of the population is also set to continue to grow, further adding to the scale of the opportunity. That trend is largely being driven by increased urbanisation, with people moving from the land to the cities in increasing numbers.

Vast opportunities in Africa

Africa also possesses vast mineral wealth. Just about every mineral required by modern industry can be found in Africa. In fact, every mineral the world needs can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone.

The continent is also rich in natural resources, with major gas finds off Mozambique being larger than many of those found in the Arabian Gulf. Meanwhile, companies such as Tullow Oil are active in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Quite a few African countries are becoming oil producers and exporters, while others are growing wealthy from minerals and precious metals exports.

Agriculture will be a key driver of opportunities for Irish firms. Every country in the African Union has a stated ambition to become self-sufficient in food in the coming years. This is driven by the simple imperative that foreign exchange is not available to import food. Population growth will drive increasing demand for food and that in turn will provide openings for Irish agritech companies.

These companies can share their knowledge to help African farmers and food producers to increase yields. Irish farming can produce ten times what we consume as a nation and this capability can be transferred. For example, Irish know-how has helped Kenyan potato farmers produce yields of 60 tonnes per hectare, a sixfold increase on previous output.

Education is another zone of opportunity. Up until 2020, some 400,000 Africans left to study abroad each year. In the main, they are studying for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The biggest market is Nigeria at present, while Africa has the world’s fastest-growing third-level sector. Pre-Covid-19, Ireland was only attracting around 900 students from Africa each year. There is clearly room for improvement there.

The African healthcare system is different from our own in terms of the fact that all of the growth is in the private sector. These new hospitals and clinics are demanding the very best when it comes to healthcare technologies and other supplies, and they offer a potentially lucrative opening for life sciences and medtech firms.

In the years ahead, much of Africa’s economic growth will be driven by digitisation. Young Africans tend to be much earlier adopters of digital technology than their European counterparts. This is in part due to the poor state of older technology infrastructure in much of Africa. Digital Technologies Irish technology companies, involved in areas such as Fintech and Telecommunications find multiple opportunities in Africa in the years ahead.

Other digital technologies experiencing strong demand growth there include all forms of e-health and e-travel.

Construction is another major opportunity. Africa has rapidly increasing needs for housing, hospitals, roads, industrial infrastructure, water and sanitation, datacentres. All sectors are relevant, and Ireland’s well-travelled construction industry is ideally positioned to meet that demand.

At present, Enterprise Ireland is supporting more than 400 client companies to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth has been very strong in recent years, with Irish exports to sub-Saharan Africa growing to well over €500 million. Growth in the key markets of Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya reached 16%, 9% and 7%, respectively, during 2019 against a backdrop of a global growth for Irish exports.

Enterprise Ireland supports

Enterprise Ireland has adopted a hub-and-spoke strategy to assist client companies in this hugely complex region. We have offices in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya to cover the south, west and east of the continent, and we use these bases to support client companies working in neighbouring companies.

There are challenges, of course. Africa is a very big place, with a huge variety of different languages and cultures. Companies need to be very committed to the market and understand that African purchasers are quite sophisticated. The best strategy for most Irish firms will be to work with local partners. That presents its own challenges in terms of maintaining and developing the relationship from a distance. Through our e-program of meet the buyer and presentations of sectoral opportunities, Enterprise Ireland helps client firms to find local partners as well as to sustain relationships with them.

On the other hand, Ireland does have some natural advantages. As a small country in Europe which has come through a period of rapid development only quite recently, there is a natural affinity with many African countries. Furthermore, coming from a multi-cultural, highly educated, entrepreneurial country, Irish firms are able to deal with cultural and other differences with a sensitivity that makes them the envy of other exporting nations around the world.

For these and other reasons, it is time for us to open our eyes to the African opportunity. If you want to know more about Africa contact us in Enterprise Ireland 

Hannah Fraser Nordics

Market Watch – Nordics

“The Nordics is renowned for being one of the most progressive, open, and innovative regions in the world. Made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, it has not traditionally been the first choice for Irish exporters, but nonetheless the region presents opportunity for companies looking to expand their business internationally.

Over the last five years exports to the Nordics from Enterprise Ireland clients have grown 35% and there are now over 450 exporters to these markets. And despite Covid,  despite Covid, Hannah Fraser, Director Nordics Region, says opportunity exist for companies which bring innovation and something different to market.

The region is culturally and geographically close to Ireland and companies here are open to innovation and international partnerships. While negotiations often taken some time, once you secure a client, Nordic customers are committed, reliable and willing to pay a good price for solutions they can see value in.

In addition, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are in the top five countries for non-native English speakers, so language isn’t a barrier like other European markets – all of this adds up to a region which is lucrative and easy to do business in.

However, there is no denying that the pandemic has caused a lot of disruption to industry across the globe and in every sector – and the Nordic region is no different.

The response has differed country to country and while it remains to be seen how these measures will impact the economy in the long run, the Nordic economies were some of the strongest globally at the start of 2020 and look, so far, to be more resilient and set to recover faster than many of their European neighbours.

In the most recent figures, Sweden reported a GDP fall of 8.6% and Denmark of 7.4% during Q2. Norway’s GDP is estimated to have fallen around 7.1% between the months of March to May, while Finland, which undertook some of the stricter measures in the Nordics, reported a GDP fall of only 3.2%.

Irish companies working in the region have been affected in some ways. Travel restrictions, in particular, have proven challenging for staff travelling in and out of the region and also hindered Irish companies’ ability to meet customers, or potential customers, in person, which has affected the pipeline of new business for this year and into 2021.

But these issues are being addressed as firms have ramped up their digital presence to connect with customers in new ways and are now working more closely with local partners and suppliers. In addition, the supply chain across the Nordics is operational and the major construction sites, which many Irish companies are working on, have remained open throughout and business is now moving well in many areas.

Ultimately, the Nordics is a region of huge diversity and opportunities for companies differ from country to country and sector by sector. Well-established opportunities exist for Irish Engineering and Hi-Tech Construction companies, particularly around the construction and fit-out of the hyperscale data centres being built across the region.

There are also some emerging opportunities in areas like Fintech, Lifesciences, Telecoms and Energy and Irish firms have started to capitalise on these. In addition to this, one of the major themes for Nordic companies is around sustainability and building sustainable businesses.

Indeed the region has been at the forefront of sustainability for years and is considered to have some of the most ambitious climate action plans in the world – and this is an area in which Ireland can really learn from. Companies of all sizes here have a focus on building sustainable companies and integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into their business models.

This commitment to sustainability drives market demand for Irish products and services which in turn delivers solutions and innovation to areas such as renewable energy, electrification and energy efficiency.

There are a number of Irish companies which have successfully secured contracts in the Nordics in recent months including Mainline Power, CXIndex, Cambrist and XOcean – so the future does look bright for the region. Our team at Enterprise Ireland are on hand to support Irish companies to continue to grow and win business here.”

Get key insights on the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.