Pricing Excellence – Pricing Study 2021 Webinar

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    The importance of asking questions

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

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

     

    Managing remote workers

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Piloting the new workplace

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

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

     

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

    UK Super Deduction: How it affects your UK customers

    As part of the 2021 UK budget, the British government has introduced the largest tax incentive on plant and equipment capital investments in their history.

    This incentive, known as the super deduction, allows UK companies to claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments. This is an increase on the 18% ordinary relief prior and came into effect on 1st April 2021 running until the end of March 2023.

    Alongside the super deduction, the UK government also introduced a 50% first year allowance (FYA) on for special rate assets until 31 March, up from a 6% allowance previously. These changes make the UK capital allowance regime more internationally competitive, lifting the net present value of UK plant and machinery allowances from 30th to 1st in the OECD.

    What does this mean for you and your UK customers?

    This incentive reduces the effective cost of equipment for UK manufacturers, thus making plant and machinery investments more attractive.

    For example, under current rules, if a company invests £100,000 in a piece of equipment they can write off the cost of that equipment against their tax bill. i.e. Since 19% of £100,000 is £19,000, the effective cost of their equipment is £81,000.

    With the new super deduction, you can write off 130% of your investment in “plant and machinery” against your tax bill. i.e. 130% of £100,000 is £130,000, which at the 19% corporate tax rate allows you to write off £24,700. This means the effective cost of your equipment is now £75,300. Therefore, companies are incentivised to move forward or make additional capital investments.

    This is necessary as investment has dropped significantly due to the pandemic in the UK which was on top of historically low business investment relative to the UK’s peers. Chancellor Rishi Sunak reiterated this need for increased investment “With the lowest corporation tax in the G7, we need to do even more to encourage businesses to invest – for decades we have lagged behind our international peers”.

    It is expected that these incentives should act as a catalyst to the return of capital investment in the UK post pandemic with Stephen Phipson of MAKE UK (The UK manufacturer’s association) stating that the super deduction should “turbocharge investment”.

    For many manufacturers in the UK investment cycles have stalled or been delayed due to Covid-19 and Brexit and may now be looking at capital investments for the first time in several years. According to a MAKE UK survey following the budget announcement, almost a quarter (22.6%) of manufacturers stated plans to increase investments in response to the super deduction. Furthermore, 28.1% of those surveyed said they will bring forward planned investments in response.

    This indicates the impact that these incentives will have on investments in 2021 and beyond, potentially making your customer base more receptive to your offering.

    This is one of the first major supports brought in for manufacturers since the UK industrial strategy was axed earlier this year and it is expected that there is further supports to come for UK manufacturers. There has been calls for an overarching plan for business to replace the industrial strategy, bringing together policies around sustainability, skills and trade, but it is uncertain whether such a plan will be put in place.

    Nevertheless, the introduction of incentives like the super deduction are sure to be welcomed by manufacturers in the UK and Irish companies should ensure they are up to date with any supports their customers may be receiving for their product/service. To learn more about Tax super deduction visit www.gov.uk.

    Stay up to date with Enterprise Ireland UK on LinkedIn or get in touch here.

    The eCommerce boom in Germany

    Germany has always been a nation of online shoppers, but Covid-19 has seen eCommerce become even more deeply rooted in society – with 65 million people, or 80% of the German population, now purchasing online on a regular basis.

    And as the country has the largest economy and consumer market in the Eurozone, Cathy O’Shea, Market Executive for Trade Development, Germany, at Enterprise Ireland says it couldn’t be more important to Irish companies.

     Popularity of online shopping to continue

    Huge German digital retailers like Zalando will be familiar to fashion-forward Irish consumers, or those who work in their Dublin offices, as the multi-national mega-retailer took in profits of nearly €8 billion in 2020 alone,” she says. “But this is only the tip of the iceberg in the German eCommerce boom, as store closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t just create a new wave of online shoppers, it also activated a new wave of online shops. So while stationary retailers were forced to close their doors amid varying levels of lockdown, this has made the eTail environment more competitive than ever.”

    This, she says, is reflected across the whole Eurozone, which saw record-breaking eCommerce sales of €717 billion last year – and highlights the Eurozone opportunities on our doorstep and the benefits of accessing the biggest free trading area globally with little friction.

     

    Irish businesses successfully trading in Germany

    The market expert says virtual selling and digital networking are not going anywhere fast. So if you’re missing a virtual sales capability, you have a skills gap. But there are a number of Irish companies with very successful business relationships in Germany.

    “Increased competition means that eCommerce retailers need to pay critical attention to every customer touchpoint and focus on excellence behind the scenes to stand out from the crowd,” she says. “So there is a clear demand for innovative solutions which help connect online retailers to their customers.

    “Over the last year, we’ve really seen eCommerce and Retail Tech innovations out of Ireland grow their business in the DACH region, one example being Luzern – a leading eCommerce platform and related services provider, specialised in delivering innovative strategies for Amazon Marketplaces.

    “Nowadays, up to 70% of product searches begin on Amazon, making it the largest search engine for eCommerce. Essentially, if you are a growing brand, Amazon is a must for getting discovered by new customers and this is where Luzern comes in – they help companies to reimagine their Amazon strategy and find new ways to protect their brand, while also increasing their online revenue.”

    Opportunities for innovative Irish firms

    According to O’Shea, Luzern isn’t the only Irish company making its presence felt in the German market.

    ChannelSight is another great example and is one of the fastest growing Irish start-ups in 2021,” she says. “Their software is used by hundreds of brands across 65 countries, and they have experienced particularly rapid growth over the last year as the explosion of online retail has prompted brands to invest in eCommerce technology.

    “In the DACH region, it works with multinational brands such as BSH, one of the global sector leaders in home appliances, and Tado, an emerging technology company and European leader in intelligent home climate management. So it is great to see German retailers embracing Irish solutions and seeing significant growth as a result – and these are just two companies of many. For any other businesses wishing to avail of eCommerce opportunities in the Eurozone region, Enterprise Ireland can support them in accessing the market.

    “And in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, there are distinct pros for Irish companies looking to export as Irish SMEs are tech savvy, and digitisation is on top of the political agenda in German-speaking markets. As well as that, Irish companies react fast, deliver on time and are quick to pivot when hardship strikes – this reactivity and reliability goes a long way when doing business in the DACH region.”

     

    Research is vital

    But despite the fact that there is an Irish advantage in the region, the market executive says that buyers have high standards and Irish companies need to be able to show their commitment to the market and come prepared if they are to win business.

    “The value proposition needs to be clear, well-defined, and specific in order to make an impression,” she advises. “And as a Market Executive in Enterprise Ireland’s Düsseldorf office, my role involves supporting Irish client companies to access market opportunities in the DACH region – so market research, buyer introductions and in-market connections are all areas that we can assist with across the whole Eurozone – even in the virtual environment, securing some face time with the right decision maker can go a long way.

    “This is why we built a virtual 1:1 networking into our digital Consumer-Centric eCommerce event which took place on June 10th. The event was all about the German perspective on the eCommerce market right now, looking at the trends, pain points and opportunities the future will bring in this area. It’s an exciting time to be selling online and it’s going to ignite some big conversations and we wanted to accommodate that.”

    Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers world class market research reports to help inform market strategy. To find out more about doing business in Germany, visit our German Market page.

    Out of their comfort zone and into the Eurozone

    Industry across every sector of the country has been affected in some way or other by Brexit. But Ireland is still very much a part of the Eurozone and Anne Lanigan, Regional Director of the Eurozone for Enterprise Ireland, says it is vital that businesses in this country realise how valuable the European market is.

    To validate this, Enterprise Ireland and the IIEA (Institute of International and European Affairs) have come together to deliver a series of three events entitled ‘Europe is our Future’, aiming to change how Irish business views the EU.

    “The EU represents the biggest free trading area in the world, giving Ireland full access to this large marketplace and the three events, the first of which took on May 28th – with the second and third coming in July and September – aim to draw attention to this,” she says.

    Untapped trade opportunities

    “The webinars will highlight the unique trade opportunities for Irish business in Europe, particularly in relation to the single market and the single currency. They will also look at the untapped opportunities for Irish owned businesses in the EU and the strong reputation which Ireland, and indeed, Irish products and services, enjoy in Europe.

    “It will also help to increase Irish business’ understanding of the EU and position the Eurozone as an extension of Ireland’s domestic market as well as highlighting the supports available to Enterprise Ireland clients.”

    The single market was designed to enable frictionless trade between member states with no customs, tariffs or other barriers to trade and regulatory alignment across the region. With a population of over 440 million people this is the biggest free trading area in the world. And Lanigan says, this makes it a very big extension to our domestic market.

    “There are so many benefits to trading in a single currency as it introduces transparency and removes costs related to foreign exchange and the associated risks,” she says. “And Ireland’s adoption of the Euro has given Irish business access to a huge single currency market and an economy with a combined GDP of $13tr.

    “Of course, Europe is also a close neighbour and proximity has been proven to increase trade opportunities, while the increased direct maritime links to France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal in recent months have brought us even closer.”

    This closeness has never been more important as when Brexit finally happened in December, it highlighted the challenges which had arisen regarding trading with the UK in their new status outside the single market.

    But, while Irish firms will continue to do business with the UK, there is no doubt that the benefits of the single market now make the EU very attractive, including the benefits of ongoing regulatory alignment. And Brexit or no Brexit, the Eurozone offers the cost and transparency benefits of a single currency as well as access to a very large market.

     

    Exports to the Eurozone

    “However, while the multinational sector in Ireland has reaped the benefits of the single market, Irish owned businesses have yet to take full advantage of what is the biggest free trading area in the world,” says Lanigan. “According to 2019 data, Enterprise Ireland client exports to the Eurozone (2019: €5.6bn) were equal to just 70% of the value of those to the UK (2019: €7.9bn). This is despite the fact that the Eurozone population and Eurozone GDP is 5 times that of the UK – this is an untapped and immediate opportunity. So, the Eurozone markets are now a key element of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy and in fact since the launch of our Eurozone strategy in 2017, exports to the Eurozone have increased by over 33% and growth in Enterprise Ireland client exports increased by 15% in 2019 alone. And exports to the Eurozone are steadily increasing as a percentage of over exports – in 2019 this was 22%, up from 20% in 2017.”

    With this in mind, the Eurozone expert says Enterprise Ireland is uniquely positioned and financed to help Irish companies to both enter and scale in Eurozone markets by offering one-to-one support, through its world class market research centre, financial support and promotion of innovative Irish produce and services.

     

    Enter the Eurozone

    There is also a programme of events to introduce European buyers to the innovative capabilities of Irish companies in sectors such as internationally traded services, high-tech construction, engineering, ICT and life sciences. And the four-month Enterprise Ireland Enter the Eurozone training programme, now in its 3rd iteration, brings a group of 25 CEOs and their sales and marketing teams through the necessary steps in successfully entering a Eurozone market.

    “In addition, the IIEA, which is Ireland’s leading international affairs think tank, aims to provide a forum for all those interested in EU and International Affairs to engage in debate and discussion, and to evaluate and share policy options,” adds Lanigan. “They celebrate their 30th anniversary this year and there is also a benefit for Irish companies to become members of the IIEA, so they can stay abreast of European affairs which may impact or present opportunities for their business in addition to networking with senior figures in business and government. “So, all in all, the future for Irish companies looking to do business in the Eurozone, is looking bright.”

    Evolve UK – Guide to Social Value in Procurement

    Social Value in UK Public Sector tenders

    Social Value can be described as the additional value created in the delivery of a contract to a community, beyond the monetary value of the contract itself. While Social Value has been a feature of UK public procurement over the last decade, it has grown in prominence since introduction of the Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 06/20 in September 2020. This note requires councils to include a weighting of at least 10% to social value in tenders. Therefore, it is necessary for any Irish company dealing with the UK public sector to consider social value and how they can create value in a wider community.

    This Enterprise Ireland publication has been developed in collaboration with Steve Oldbury, Founder & Director, Bidwriting.com to help companies to meet the social value requirements of UK tenders and improve their capability to win business with UK public sector bodies.

    This guide includes:

    • The Principles of Social Value

    • Why Social Value is so important to society

    • The importance of Social Value when tendering for work

    • Assessing Social Value and the National TOMs Framework

    • Examples of Social Value Questions

    • Actions required by companies to respond effectively to Social Value

     

     

     

    The Climate Enterprise Action Fund: helping firms to boost low-carbon agendas

    The Climate Enterprise Action Fund is a new initiative that was recently launched by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Eamon Ryan with an initial allocation of €10m. The fund, which will be administered by Enterprise Ireland, is designed to help businesses take action to drive down their emissions and embed sustainability in how they work.

    Aidan McKenna, manager of the Climate Enterprise Action Fund at Enterprise Ireland, says the fund is one of a number of actions underway to ensure that Ireland reaches its ambition of reducing emissions by 51% by the end of this decade.

    “The fund builds on work Enterprise Ireland is already carrying out with companies throughout Ireland,” says Aidan. “We know the initiatives that work well and embed change in companies.”

     

    Low-carbon future

    Reducing emissions will contribute to a more sustainable future for us all. However, along with the moral and political imperative, there is a very strong business case for Irish companies to adopt a low-carbon, sustainable agenda. One of the most important emerging market demands today is the need for companies to demonstrate their commitment to low-carbon production and sustainable business processes. It is vital that these companies are responsive to emerging market conditions.”

    “Many Irish companies sell products and services to larger, international companies at home and abroad. Increasingly, these companies are requiring suppliers to have sustainability at the core of their operations. A failure to show real progress can lock you out of the market.

    “Likewise, many consumers are placing environmental standards at a premium when making purchasing decisions. Issues such as using recyclable packaging, adhering to international sustainability standards and having transparent supply chains are now important factors for more and more consumers. Those that don’t change will miss out on the significant opportunities emerging from the low-carbon transition and risk being left behind.”

    Aidan McKenna says another important factor is that investors and capital funds – which are critical to start-up and growing companies – increasingly factor in environmental impact into their investment decisions.  “What is termed ‘green finance’ is now a reality and will shape investment decisions into the future,” explains Aidan.

     

    Climate Enterprise Action Fund

    Enterprise Ireland’s new Climate Enterprise Action Fund is designed to assist companies at various stages of engagement with this agenda. It comprises of three main offers:

    • Climate Action Voucher – a €1,800 grant to engage consultants to develop plans in areas such as resource efficiency and renewable energy.
    • GreenStart – up to €5,000 to measure carbon footprint and identify ways to reduce emissions and operate more sustainably.
    • GreenPlus – a fund of up to 50% to develop a multi-annual climate change plan aligned to international standards and frameworks.

    “The first two offers are driven by the principle of ‘what gets measured gets done’,” explains Aidan. “Establishing a baseline of current resource consumption and emissions profile is essential to begin a change process. These offers will be particularly attractive to companies beginning their low-carbon journey. The third offer, Green Plus, is aimed at companies further along the journey align to international standards and frameworks.”

    The Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) network has also recently launched a new scheme, called Green For Micro, designed to help smaller companies prepare for a low-carbon, sustainable future. With the help of a Green Consultant, small businesses with up to ten employees can get free advice and technical support on resource efficiency, how to better understand their carbon footprint and how to implement an environmental management system to reduce costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    Driving change

    “We are acutely aware of the pressure that companies have been under facing up to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and our fundamentally changed trading relationship with the UK. While companies see the value in adopting more sustainable processes in principle, finding the time and resources to dedicate to that mission can be difficult. That is why our new initiative is designed to provide companies with tangible baseline information and a route map of what a low-carbon, sustainable future looks like for them. Having the low-carbon concept broken down into achievable actions makes the journey all that more realistic and the business wins all that more attainable.”

    “The global trading environment is tough and competitive,” says Aidan. “To succeed, companies need to think not just about the next order, but about how their sector will develop in the next five to ten years. Environmental sustainability and responsible production will be key drivers of business success into the future. Now is the time for all Irish businesses to prepare for that future.”

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

     

    Scale 21 – Helping businesses to get established in the UK

    The UK has always been and remains Irelands largest single trading partner with a wealth of opportunities for Irish companies.

    To support Irish companies to establish themselves in the UK, Enterprise Ireland has run the Scale UK mentoring programme since 2012.

    This year’s Scale 21 invites companies to advance their businesses by finessing their strategies, developing their UK messaging, analysing their sales channels and becoming pitch ready with inputs from our experienced mentors.

    Download more information on Scale 21 or watch our programme overview below.

    Gain insights from a previous participant and mentor who discuss their experiences with Scale UK.

    Gillian Doyle, CEO Cerebreon discusses her experience of participating on Scale UK and gives her advice for companies applying for next year’s programme.

    Carol Ward, President at Man GLG and Scale UK mentor shares her experience of Scale UK, working with fellow mentors and Irish diaspora and the importance of supporting companies with growth ambition for the UK.

     

    To learn more about the Scale 21 programme download our guide.

    2021 virtual trade mission – Reaching a global audience

    In the not-too-distant past, companies wishing to establish a successful business relationship with firms overseas, would have relied heavily on international travel and perhaps an office or ‘boots-on-the-ground’ in the country in question.

    But these days, there is also another option as there are many international companies located across Ireland who are more than willing to do business with local businesses – and Gerard, Fenner, Senior Executive of Global Sourcing for Enterprise Ireland, says his team can help to bring Irish SMEs and multinational firms together.

    “The combination of modern technology and accessible travel has made the world a much smaller place and opened up a myriad of global opportunities for Irish businesses,” he says.

     

    Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland collaboration

    “But travelling to or even selling out of this country isn’t the only means for companies at home to expand into the international market as there are hundreds of multinationals right here in Ireland, which are willing and able to engage with indigenous firms. Since its formation in 2012, the Enterprise Ireland Global Sourcing team has been working with colleagues in IDA Ireland to introduce Irish owned businesses to international firms to respond to their specific requirements.

    “Working with companies across every sector, including pharma, medtech, ICT, engineering, financial services and energy, our team helps to develop relationships between Irish companies who are seeking to sell their product or service and multinational firms who wish to purchase same – so our particular focus is on providing sales opportunities and partnerships between Enterprise Ireland client companies and Ireland-based multinationals, predominantly IDA firms.”

    According to Fenner, there are many benefits to both the seller and the buyer in these business relationships and apart from supporting industry at home, it can also lead to opportunities in export markets – and winning a contract with a multinational gives a scaling Irish company a valuable reference site for its move into export markets.

    “We have found that one of the most productive means of securing relationships between Irish firms and multinationals based here is by means of events where introductions can be made, and sellers can have pre-arranged face to face meetings with potential buyers,” he says.

     

    Developing international relationships

    “In 2014 we organised the first Trade Mission in Ireland. The event was minister led and took place in various regional locations across the country over the course of a couple of days – and since then, it has taken place every year, apart from 2020, due to lockdown restrictions. It has always garnered a lot of interest and helped to develop contracts and future relationships.”

    So it seems that trade missions have long been an effective means of introducing businesses to prospective clients, but since the onset of the pandemic, industry across every sector has had to pivot online and learn how to do business in a virtual world.

     

    Online introductions and meetings

    As current guidelines continue to prevent physical events of this nature taking place, this year, on May 12th, the first ever virtual Global Sourcing Trade Mission became the alternative.

    Launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, the event proved as popular as ever with 65 multinationals and 240 Irish companies registered with over 350 meetings. And according to Gerard Fenner, the online system was popular with both the variety of different international firms and indigenous companies looking to set up new business relationships.

    “When the Enterprise Ireland companies registered on the event platform, they provided some company information about what they do and what their offer is, and this allowed suppliers to search through this information and put in a request for a meeting,” says the international trade expert. “Similarly, the supplier was also able to request a meeting with a buyer in order to pitch a product or service.

    “Although these 15-minute meeting slots were different to how things normally work at a physical trade mission, it proved to be very successful with feedback from both sides indicating their positivity – and early signs show the possibility of new business relationships and further revenue to add to the €32 million in contracts which have been secured from these trade missions.”

    The Global Sourcing Team lead says there was also the added positive bonus of no travel, which meant that the multinational could bring in individuals from different areas of their business to meet potential suppliers – so rather than just one representative attending the event, firms could bring in someone from finance or with technical expertise to liaise directly with companies pitching a particular service.

    “Overall it was a great success and we have run smaller online events similar to this over the past year and many multinational firms have come back to us to say they were impressed with the fact that they got to meet so many different businesses,” he says.

    “So, the trade mission, whether it takes place at a venue or online, is an important platform for raising awareness about the capabilities of innovative Irish SMEs and helping them to establish future business relationships. And given the interest in this year’s event, despite the difficulties surrounding the current global situation, the future looks bright.”

    Webinar Series: Free Trade Agreements

    EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea enable Ireland to increase its trade, GDP and national income. The FTAs allow Irish exporters to explore new opportunities as market access increases and they benefit from competitive advantage in doing business in these countries.

    Join Enterprise Ireland as it hosts a webinar series on Free Trade Agreements and doing business in these four export markets: Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea.

    Each webinar will be opened by Robert Troy TD, Minister of State Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Trade Promotion. The webinars feature contributions from market experts and guest speakers from Irish companies who will share their experiences on doing business in specific markets.

    If you’re considering exporting to these markets, or scaling your existing export business, these webinars are for you.

    Click on the links below to register for upcoming webinars.

    Doing Business in Japan

    Thursday, 17 June 2021, 9am BST

    The EU Japan Economic Partnership Agreement provides a positive backdrop to Ireland Japan trading relations. This webinar will explore the experiences of key Irish business interests in Japan, and will outline the knowledge, networks and access supports available to capitalise on what is an increasingly important market for ambitious Irish exporters.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

     

    Doing Business in Mexico

    Tuesday, 22 June 2021, 3pm BST

    With duty-free trade on most goods and a simplification of the customs procedures, the latest 2018 EU-Mexico trade agreement has improved the already positive and prosperous relationship between Ireland and Mexico. This webinar features two market experts who will highlight opportunities and explain business culture and processes, as well as providing practical guidance for market entry.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

     

    Doing Business in South Korea

    Thursday, 24 June 2021, 9am BST

    The EU-South Korea FTA can provide enhanced business opportunities for Irish businesses. This webinar brings together experts on the topic to provide knowledge and insights on key elements of the FTA, and to enable Irish businesses to make use of the FTA to its fullest in doing business in South Korea.

    For the full agenda and to register, click here.

    Doing Business in Canada


    Tuesday, 25 May 2021, 3pm BST

    Attendees will learn more about the opportunities available in the Greater Montreal region, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe, and what incentives are available to Irish companies looking to expand in North America.

    Watch back on-demand, available here.

    SmartAgriHubs connecting European agricultural and IT innovation

    “The SmartAgriHubs project has been invaluable not just to Walton but to Ireland, as it’s allowed us to build a network of contacts and strong strategic relations with similar partners across Europe.”

    Hazel Peavoy, Walton Institute, SmartAgriHubs Horizon 2020 project

    Key Takeouts:

    • Walton Institute, part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a major project that is driving the digitisation of the agricultural sector in Europe.
    • The SmartAgriHubs project has received €20m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
    • With 164 partners, the ambitious project aims to build a network of over 2000 Competence Centres supported by 250 Digital Innovation Hubs and deliver 80 new digital solutions to the market.

    H2020 Case Study: SmartAgriHubs

       

      Increasing the competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of Europe’s agri-food sector is a prime focus for the European Union as it looks ahead to the challenges of climate change and feeding a growing population. Central to the future success of the sector will be the widespread adoption of innovation and smart-farming techniques but this will rely heavily on interconnectivity and knowledge-sharing across a multitude of stakeholders.

      This is the focus of the ambitious €20m SmartAgriHubs Horizon 2020 project. Involving a consortium of 164 partners, including start-ups, SMEs, service providers, technology experts and end-users spread over nine Regional Clusters, the project aims to build a network of over 2000 Competence Centres supported by some 250 Digital Innovation Hubs and deliver 80 new digital solutions to the market.

      Walton Institute, a centre for information and communication systems science and part of the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), is leading the Ireland & UK Regional Cluster, with Hazel Peavoy at the helm.

      “Part of our role is to identify the Digital Innovation Hubs and Competency Centres across Ireland to build our local network. Digital Innovation Hubs are larger centres that bring together research, funding, business models and services, while the smaller Competency Centres tend to have a single technical service,” she explains.

      “The aim is to create a network that will work together on ground-breaking research and innovation. We want to be able to give farmers a clear view of the technologies that may be coming down the line and to ensure they get assistance to apply whatever technology they need to support their activities.”

      SmartAgriHubs is also funding a number of Flagship Innovation Experiments through which technology solutions are tested with a view to eventually bringing them to market. The experiments are conducted with the help of the Digital Innovation Hubs and Competence Centres.

      The Ireland & UK Regional Cluster is currently running two Flagship Innovation Experiments. The Farm Sustainability Audit is measuring a range of metrics in the dairy industry related to energy and water use, nutrient use efficiency, animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions, while STREAM is applying digital technologies to simplify the production of farmland habitat reports.

      “These experiments are helping to bring innovation to the fore. Currently there are three more open calls under SmartAgriHubs that are offering funding for experiments that will drive digital innovation,” says Peavoy.

       

      Connecting the dots

      SmartAgriHubs’s full project title is ‘Connecting the dots to unleash the innovation potential for digital transformation of the European agri-food sector’, which highlights the importance of excellent communication and dissemination of information across project partners and stakeholders.

      “The project has been very successful with regards to communication. The Regional Cluster leads attend monthly meetings and then we disseminate the information down to other elements of the project. And there are also monthly meetings with the Flagship Innovation Experiments. So we can quite clearly see what’s happening across Europe with the other partners and with agriculture and we can learn from each other,” says Peavoy.

      “Having such a large number of partners meant, at an early stage, it took some time to mobilise the consortium but once that was achieved the network has become invaluable to all involved in this sector globally.”

       

      The value to Walton Institute and Ireland

      Peavoy believes that taking part in SmartAgriHubs has positioned Ireland and the UK as key drivers for the agri-tech sector across Europe.

      “This project has been invaluable not just to Walton but to Ireland, as it’s allowed us to build a network of contacts and strong strategic relations with similar partners across Europe.”

      “From a personal perspective, it’s very interesting to see how other countries approach particular problems and to get an insight into what research is required by the sector to meet its future needs,” says Peavoy.

      “Likewise, we can see that our partners in SmartAgriHubs are learning from us. For example, the Competency Centres we’ve identified through SmartAgriHubs are often start-ups and SMEs and through WIT’s Technology Gateway they’ve been able to benefit from Enterprise Ireland funding. Our partners in Germany were very interested in how our Technology Gateways function because they don’t have anything like that.

      “The SmartAgriHubs partners are also looking at how we’ve created a culture of multi-disciplinary collaboration in Ireland. What was once a landscape of competition has become a landscape of collaboration; A perfect example of that is the VistaMilk Research Centre which has brought together a number of RPO’s to develop new technologies for the dairy sector. I believe that in many ways Ireland is leading the charge in this space and is well-positioned to lead on future Horizon Europe projects linked to agriculture” says Peavoy.

      For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

      Helping innovative Irish start-ups to flourish


         

        In 2018, the Central Statistics Office reported that small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represented 99.8pc of enterprises in Ireland. Small indigenous Irish companies are the backbone of the Irish economy, opening new markets and creating job opportunities.

        “20 years ago, sectoral definitions such as fintech, agtech and digital health were unknown,” says Claire Carroll. “Now we are constantly seeing the emergence of new technologies, be it iterative within existing industries or new and disruptive sectors such as those that are supporting driverless cars, satellites, Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning. In Ireland we must have an environment that contributes to these innovations, stays ahead and relevant so that we can drive jobs and exports.”

         

        High potential

        Claire says that the genesis for Enterprise Ireland’s Seed & Venture Capital schemes came over 27 years ago when Enterprise Ireland identified  the need for a functioning venture ecosystem to support the emergence of technology companies as it was not feasible for the state to fund a company’s journey “all the way from establishment, right up to the point where they’re able to stand on their own two feet, particularly the typical High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies that need to invest heavily in research and innovation, thereby delaying the timeline to cashflow positivity”.

        “Since then, we have had five Seed and Venture Capital Schemes, to help ensure that there is an available and effective overall funding ecosystem in Ireland. To date, €565m has been invested in funds. The most recent scheme of €175m was announced in Budget 2019, and to date four funds have received commitments, whilst a number of others have received an allocation and are scheduled to close over the coming months.”

        Enterprise Ireland recently ran an €82m Call for Expressions of Interest for venture fund managers which will lead to more funds being launched over the coming year.

        Claire says “The vision of the scheme is to foster a strong pipeline of high-growth, innovative businesses in the Irish economy, and help those indigenous companies at the early pre-seed or seed stage move into their scaling, Series A phase.

        “We need to support fast-growing and disruptive sectors such as fintech and agtech, amongst others. In 2019, we invested €10m in a new European agritech venture capital fund run by Yield Lab, a venture capital company for the sector. Up until very recently, there wasn’t a sufficient cohort of companies to require such a specialist fund. Likewise, Enterprise Ireland has invested €20m across two European fintech funds, Finch Capital and MiddleGame Ventures which will support Irish companies in these sectors and help them scale internationally. When Enterprise Ireland invests in a venture fund, the manager will invest twice what Enterprise Ireland has allocated to their fund into Irish companies – this leverage is at the centre of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy to bring external capital into the Irish SME sector.

        Claire highlights the Seed & Venture Capital schemes are also used to drive other aspects of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy such as support for women in business and regional development. The Irish venture sector has an above international average of women involved in investment decision making and we want to grow this further and also, most importantly increase the number of women-led businesses that attract VC funding. We expect our venture managers to ensure they have policies and processes that are supportive and encouraging to women entrepreneurs. Ensuring that Irish businesswomen realise their full business potential is critical to Irish economic prosperity. Likewise, Enterprise Ireland’s decision-making process around commitments to venture funds gives strong consideration to the extent to which the managers will either base themselves regionally or have a strategy to source their investments across the country and not simply around Dublin.

         

        Leverage investment

        Raising capital is often a challenge for Irish early-stage companies. A key piece of this most recent scheme is that, for those funds focused on the Pre-Seed to Seed Stages of development –  where there’s little revenue in the company – Enterprise Ireland can now invest an increased maximum share of up to 70pc of these funds. This was increased from 50pc in recognition of the challenges finding investors for early stage funds. At this stage of investment, the funds are often co-investing alongside the High Potential Start-Ups (HPSU) programme as companies raise their first external investment.

        “What we aim to do is leverage our money, rather than simply hand it out,” says Claire. “So, fund managers need to raise as much as they can from their own resources by ‘matching money’.

        For example, if they are targeting a €60m fund, they might get €20m from us and must raise the remaining €40m elsewhere. I think this is great, because depending on their strategy, that can effectively treble the leverage of Enterprise Ireland’s capital for Irish SMEs.”

        The €565m funding that has been invested to date has leveraged substantial additional external funding of over €1bn, directly benefiting over 740 Irish companies.

        To learn more about the scheme or to submit an expression of interest visit Seed & Venture Capital Fund