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.

         

        UK financial services buildings in London, England

        UK financial services: A lucrative market for Irish companies looking for growth

         

        Consumers and companies are still coming to terms with the new restrictions, rules and regulations in the post-Brexit world. The added disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic added even more change into Ireland’s economic relationship with the UK.

        Slowly, things are beginning to settle down. We can see more clearly how our relationship with our most important trading partner has altered since their withdrawal from the EU.

        One industry that has attracted many headlines is financial services, especially in London, which has long been seen as one of the most important financial hubs in the world.

         

        Overview of the UK financial services market

        In the run-up to Brexit, there was much talk of London losing its dominance in financial services as Brexit played out, but this has certainly not been the case.

        Covid-19 had little effect on the sector too. A 3% reduction in output, 2% of eligible staff furloughed – is negligible when compared to other industries such as hospitality.

        The UK remains one of the biggest financial services markets in the sector globally, and there are many exciting opportunities there for ambitious Irish companies.

         

        Areas of opportunity in the UK financial services market

        “One of the biggest areas of opportunity is in technology, as the financial services industry in the UK is undergoing a rapid and wide-ranging modernisation cycle,” explains Jack Finucane Clarke, Senior Market Advisor, UK Financial Services/Fintech.

        “This is partly driven by the pandemic as companies grapple with remote working, retaining or attracting good staff and partly driven by exponential operability offered by AI, natural language processing and API connections.

        “This is great news for Ireland, as we have a strong reputation for innovative technology solutions, especially in fintech and cybersecurity.”

        “The UK financial services industry is looking for a wide range of technology solutions including HR technology, compliance and regtech, payments, bionic underwriting in insurance, process optimisation and especially technology that can open up new revenue streams.”

        Insurance is a sector that is really starting to embrace digitalisation. With more MGAs coming to the market that are entirely technology-based, there are plenty of opportunities.”

        “Irish companies – such as CodeEast, who recently announced a partnership with WTW and Unitek, an early-stage company based out of Malahide – are getting lucrative deals in the space. The reputation of Irish insurtech is growing in the city, and we hope to see more entrepreneurs developing scalable solutions in the future.”

        The growing influence of technology in financial services can be seen in the make-up of financial services boards of management. Previously, these boards were dominated by accountants, lawyers and bankers. Now, there is strong representation from experts in technology, often coming from other industries.

        “This gives a strong indication of the way in which the industry is going,” says Jack.

        “Technology companies should always be careful to focus on the ‘fin’ rather than the ‘tech’ to ensure the solutions are suitable for financial services.”

         

        Remote working in the UK financial services market

        According to Jack, remote working in the industry has also produced plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

        “While remote working, project managing remotely, and communicating and selling remotely were considered ‘nice to haves’ before the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s now becoming clear that they are here to stay and are now considered essential to compete within the industry and to attract talent.”

        “At Enterprise Ireland, we are working with financial services clients on adjusting their products and processes to suit remote selling.”

        This is still an area with plenty of opportunities for Irish companies with innovative solutions.

         

        Sustainability in the UK financial services market

        Sustainability is also an important area for innovation,” Jack continues. “The market is ripe with opportunities for Irish businesses to take advantage of this development.”

        At a number of recent events in the UK, Enterprise Ireland executives noted that this is a consistent topic of conversation among the most senior personnel in the industry.

        “There is clearly a strong and increasingly urgent need for solutions in the areas of sustainability and environmental, social and corporate governance.”

         

        Entering the UK financial services market

        A growing trend – and one that underlines once again the growing importance of the market for Irish companies – is the move by some Irish companies to set up a presence in the UK.

        This is generally done either to be regulated in the market or to keep a close proximity to their buyers. Most recently, Global Shares and CurrencyFair have established offices in the UK.

         

        Contact Enterprise Ireland’s Jack Finucane Clarke to learn more about the opportunities for Irish companies in the UK financial services market.

        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

        Creating innovative solutions to new and emerging threats

        Cybersecurity solutions that address new and emerging threats

        The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rapid shift for many to virtual ways of doing work – and the recognition – finally – that remote and hybrid working is a very viable possibility in many industries. And, that offering flexible ways of working can actually give companies an edge when it comes to attracting talent. Unfortunately, however, with more flexibility comes a very real problem – the increased risk of cybercrime and cyberattacks. And the need for effective cybersecurity solutions is becoming more urgent by the day.

        According to a study by McKinsey & Co, only 16% of executives felt that their organisations are well prepared to deal with cyber risk. Plus, the United Nations has warned that cybercrime increased by nearly 600% during the pandemic.

        “Globally, there has never been a more challenging time for organisations in relation to cybersecurity,” says Pat O’Grady, Senior Business Advisor and Global Lead for Cybersecurity at Enterprise Ireland. “A higher level of cyber threats and attacks, security challenges linked to remote working, and increasingly sophisticated attacks on personal accounts have all put systems under immense pressure.”

         

        Irish cybersecurity solutions

        Ireland has long been a leader in technology innovation, with our advances in medtech, agritech, fintech and more in high demand across the globe. So it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of ambitious Irish companies is coming up with some very clever solutions to cybercrime. As an example, Cork-based Velona Systems has developed a solution that protects large call centres in the US against brute force call spam attacks, ghost calling and robocalling, a growing challenge in this sector.

        Velona is just an example of our strength in the area, which is highlighted in the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021, which this year is titled ‘Creating Innovative Solutions to New and Emerging Threats’. Taking place over six separate events in November and December, covering different world regions, the series features talks by leading cybersecurity experts, pitches by innovative Enterprise Ireland client companies, and opportunities for individual client-buyer meetings.

        “All the participating Irish companies have identified the most urgent areas within cybersecurity and come up with intelligent solutions that potentially have a worldwide customer base,” says Pat. “For instance, one of the biggest issues now is the sharp rise in phishing emails. Cyber Risk Aware is an Irish business offering learning platforms that can build training programmes within Microsoft Office 365 to raise staff awareness regarding phishing and teach them how to spot a dangerous email. The company also offers a phishing simulation platform, which can build email templates and schedule simulation campaigns to test the level of awareness within the organisation and to offer additional focused learning for staff when required.”

        Like all good responses to security threats, many solutions are based on prevention rather than cure – and with the cost of cyber crime rising sharply as the attacks get more sophisticated, this is sure to be a massive area of growth. “EdgeScan is leading the way in pen testing, or vulnerability scanning,” says Pat. “This includes scanning company IPs or carrying out pen tests on company websites or client portals to find any potential weaknesses – therefore stopping the threat before it happens.”

         

        Remote working challenges

        With remote and hybrid working looking likely to stay in the long term, many companies are looking for ways to boost their security with staff working on devices away from the office and even out on the road. “Remote working has brought with it many challenges; one issue is providing the same amount of security as in the office,” says Pat. “Web and email filtering identifies new malware sites and can block specific categories of websites, such as gambling sites. Galway-based TitanHQ offers advanced solutions for this issue, currently helping businesses in over 120 countries.”

        A big issue for companies is our increasing reliance on mobile phones for work purposes – now a company has to look into protecting these as well as laptops and computers. “Many companies have introduced a controlled ‘Bring Your Own Device’, or BYOD, policy in which company apps are locked down or secured on the device, while others have restricted access to only corporate devices to allow for full control. And yes, there’s an Irish company involved in this area too: CWSI are experts in the field of mobile device management and offer guidance on both policy and the technical aspects of managing devices.”

        It’s clear that Irish companies are leading the way in cybersecurity solutions. Many companies are finding it difficult to acquire and retain staff with skills in the areas of compliance, ISO certification, incident response, forensics and investigations – and, as Pat explains, there are several Irish companies in a great position to help. “Irish innovators such as Integrity360, SmartTech 24/7, Kontex and Evros are providing a solution to this issue by providing expert security consultant services. These companies’ Security Operations Centre (SOC service) offers uninterrupted monitoring of their clients‘ IT networks.”

         

        Details of the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series 2021 can be found here

        Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity

        International Markets Week 2021: Green agenda and digitalisation key areas for growth  

        Global Recovery - Irish Opportunity

        It’s been said many times that exports are crucial to Ireland’s recovery in the post-pandemic world – and Enterprise Ireland is committed to ensuring that Irish companies take advantage of the many opportunities around the world to increase their business and bolster our economy as a result.

        A crucial event in the Enterprise Ireland year is International Markets Week, and this year, for the second year running, it was held as a virtual event over five busy days in October 2021.

        “When Covid hit, we decided that the event was too important to miss, particularly in the context of a global pandemic,” explains Anne Lanigan, Regional Director, Eurozone, at Enterprise Ireland. “This is a time when it’s even more important for our clients to keep their exports going, so we decided to go onto a virtual platform, with our market advisors available for a full week.

        “The market advisors are the boots on the floor, the people who can introduce client companies to potential buyers, so it’s a very practical week for people who want to do business.”

        This year, the theme of the event was Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity, recognising that the global economy is experiencing significant disruption – but while this disruption brings challenges, there are also significant opportunities.

        “Enterprise Ireland client companies enjoyed excellent overall export growth in 2019 of 8%,  with particularly strong growth in the Eurozone and North America of 15% and 16% respectively,” says Anne

         “In 2020, these figures stabilised, which was a very good result in the context of a global pandemic, but now we need to get back to 2019 levels of growth.”

        Opportunities for Irish companies lie in many areas, including the green agenda and digitisation. Throughout the world, companies are investing in green and digital strategies and governments are putting stimulus packages in place to drive a recovery based on a green and digital future. This investment represents huge opportunity for innovative Irish companies.

        “The current disruption in global supply chains also poses significant opportunity,” says Anne. “The drive by manufacturers in developed economies, in particular, to strengthen the reliability of their supply chains so that they are more easily accessed from a geographic and an administrative perspective, creates the opportunity for Ireland to embed themselves in these new supply chains. Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe puts us in a key position to capitalise on this move towards regionalisation of supply chains.”

         

        Finding opportunities

        It’s clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Enterprise Ireland client companies have recognised the importance of building a robust strategy to take advantage of these growth opportunities. A total of 710 Enterprise Ireland client companies registered for the event, booking a total of 1,663 meetings with market advisors from across the world.

        To get an indication of how companies were faring as the world’s economy recovers from the challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Enterprise Ireland conducted a survey of the participants ahead of the event. The results were positive: 56% of businesses indicated that they have seen an increase in exports in 2021 compared to 2020, with only 11% reporting a decrease. And, 91% of companies expect sales to increase again in 2022. In terms of trends, the survey revealed that 80% of businesses viewed digitalisation as vital over the next 12 months, while 63% said that advancing their sustainability agenda was a priority.

        These results proved accurate throughout the event, which was officially launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy. Lydia Rogers, country manager for Enterprise Ireland in Canada, reported a real hunger in Irish companies to take advantage of the many opportunities out there. “I met many client companies at various stages of their export journey, from those accelerating their international growth and diversifying into new global markets to ambitious start-ups keen to explore the export opportunities in Canada. The week proved that Canada is a very attractive market for Irish companies in many sectors, including cleantech, consumer retail, engineering, life sciences, fintech and BPO, and a large proportion of digital technologies companies.

        “In addition, Canada was also identified by many client companies as an entry point and as a lower-cost gateway into the wider North America market.”

        And, as predicted, the green agenda and digitalisation opportunities were noted by Lydia as strong trends for Irish companies looking to Canada for growth. “Our team met many companies with innovative digitalisation solutions across travel tech, retail tech, ed tech, digital health, fintech, HR & talent tech, and IoT. There were also many SMEs with innovative solutions in areas including cleantech, mobility, smart energy and environment. Consumer retail was also a significant area of interest – a sector that experienced growth in 2020 despite the challenges of Covid-19. All in all, it was clear from this year’s International Markets Week that Irish companies have recognised Ireland and Canada make great business partners and are ready to reap the rewards from this vibrant and welcoming country.”

         

        View the virtual launch event from Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week 2021 below:

         

         

         

         

         

        Map of EU with padlock

        GDPR and Data transfer to or through the UK

        The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018 and unifies data protection law throughout the EU. It gives individuals control over their personal data and requires businesses and other organisations to put in place processes that protect and safeguard that data. The regulation also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA.

         

        Dealing with the UK, USA and other third countries

        GDPR came into sharp focus this year as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. GDPR still applies in the UK, however as it is now a third country it is subject to the GDPR rules governing the transfer of data outside the EU and EEA.

         

        Data transfer to/through the UK

        The first thing for firms to do is to establish exactly where their data goes. Companies may not realise that their cloud storage provider is actually located in Britain or Northern Ireland. Their pension schemes, payroll, healthcare plans may all be run out of the UK and involve the regular transfer of personal data. Workplace benefits databases could also be held in Britain or Northern Ireland. Even translation services might be covered if personal data is included in the material to be translated.

        Having established that data is being transferred to the UK, the next step is to decide if that needs to continue. There may be options to look for another service provider in Ireland or another EU Member State and these should be explored.

        Standard Contractual Clauses

        If it is not possible or if it is too difficult to take this option, there is a ready solution to hand. There is a tool that can be used to solve this problem and it is available on the Data Protection Commission website. It is known as the standard contractual clauses (SCCs). This is a set of off-the-shelf clauses developed by the European Commission and which are recognised as an appropriate safeguard to ensure that firms remain compliant with GDPR.

        The SCCs are already written and only require firms to fill in the blanks with their details. They can be appended to existing contracts and come into force when both parties sign them. Once signed, this enables firms to continue transferring data to the UK in full compliance with GDPR, and people still have their rights.

        The data subject is also given certain specific rights under the SCCs even though they are not party to the relevant contract. Firms are also advised to update their privacy statements to indicate that the data is transferring to the UK under the terms of the SCCs.

        The SCCs will cover most situations, but there are certain more complex cases where they may not apply. These are relatively rare, but firms in doubt should consult the Data Protection Commission or seek their own legal advice  to check out their particular situation.

        There are also certain situations where the data transfer is not covered by contract. These include cases where data is being transferred from a UK Controller to an Irish processor for processing and then transferred back to the Controller. This has been a relatively routine process up until now, as the data remained within the EU at all times. The best advice for firms based in Ireland who find themselves in this situation is to look at the clauses within the SCCs and insert them into the service level agreement governing the activity. This will demonstrate an intention to be GDPR compliant in the new situation.

        The same will apply to Irish shared services centres carrying out global back and middle office functions for multinational parents. They should update the terms of service to UK-based affiliates to include the SCCs.

         

        Data Protection Policies

        Some very large organisations use what are known as Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs). These are legally binding internal codes of conduct operating within a multinational group, which applies to transfers of personal data from the group’s EEA entities to the group’s non-EEA entities. The approval of BCRs can take a significant period of time and also, given the cost and complexity of BCRs, they are not a suitable transfer tool for most Irish companies.

        The only remaining questions for Irish firms transferring data to the UK concern adequacy. Certain ‘third countries’, such as Japan, have received what is known as an ‘adequacy decision’ from the European Commission. This allows a cross-border personal data transfer from the EU to that country because it has been determined to have an adequate level of data protection safeguards compared to the EU. It could take some time before the European Commission completes its negotiations with the UK Government in order to deem the UK adequate as a jurisdiction to which data can be transferred under GDPR. Therefore, companies need to explore the options available to them when transferring data to the UK.

        Export Compass webinar series

        Export Compass: the first step to export success

        Export Compass webinar series

        The export economy is widely seen as vital to the success of the Irish economy – and even more so now we are looking into a period of recovery after the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid-19. There’s no better time to look at the possibilities afforded by exporting, and the opportunities that are available for ambitious Irish companies.

        Plus, there are more markets that ever before that are actively welcoming innovative and ambitious Irish export partners. The UK market continues to be an important market, while our ongoing commitment to the EU has made trading within the Eurozone easy and accessible. What’s more, Brexit has created more opportunities for Irish companies to increase business within the Eurozone.

        But while it’s clear that now is the time to develop an export strategy, getting started is the most difficult step – and that’s where Enterprise Ireland’s Export Compass series of webinars can help.

        “Exports are critical to the Irish economy,” says Keelin Fagan, Head of Exporter Development at Enterprise Ireland. 

        “As micro, small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy, it’s a key focus for us and other agencies such as the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) to support these types of businesses when thinking about exporting and during their export journey. The Export Compass webinars are a first step for any company even considering exporting.

        “The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for SMEs and micro businesses. The pandemic has resulted in the digital economy completely opening up, and there’s been a dramatic shift in how people buy goods. But this has also created opportunities for businesses that weren’t there before, whether in terms of mindset or in in terms of the market itself. In short, Export Compass is a chance for companies to really explore the possibility of developing an export strategy, and what are the right next steps for them.”

        The series of five webinars cover every aspect of developing an export plan, including research into different markets and opportunities, culture and doing business in other countries, sales and marketing techniques to win export customers in a digital world and financing your export plan through funding and pricing. The final session aims to bring all the information together, with a chance for participants to interact with a panel of experts.

         

        Essential first steps

        Export Compass is open to any company considering exporting, or perhaps in the very early stages of developing an export plan, as Keelin explains: “The Export Compass webinars aim to show companies the benefits of exporting, as well as where companies can get support in overcoming any potential barriers or challenges, for instance, language or business culture. The purpose of the series is to explain the key facts when it comes to exporting and how to get into the mindset of developing an export plan.

        “Participants will hear from other companies that have started their export journey, or perhaps are even a little further along.”

        “We touch on areas such as market research, the ideal customer from an international point of view, cultural differences in each of the market, and tips and tools to win customers in a competitive digital world. These are the fundamentals of what you need to think about if you want to move forward in developing an export plan.” says Keelin.

        Introduction to supports

        The series features interviews with companies who have successfully exported to a variety of different countries, giving participants a valuable opportunity to learn from other Irish businesses and network with those in similar situations – something that has been hugely missed over the last 18 months.

        A pivotal part of the series is the introduction to the many available supports for Irish companies considering an export strategy. Enterprise Ireland has over 40 international locations, which facilitate access to more than 60 countries worldwide; each of the international offices are there to help Irish companies overcome any obstacles to trading in each country, from facilitating introductions and meetings with potential export partners to researching a chosen sector or overcoming language barriers. The Export Compass series features insights from many of the personnel available to help Irish companies implement an export strategy in their chosen country.

        We also bring in some of the Enterprise Ireland staff from the offices around the world so participants can hear first-hand how they can support client companies as they begin their export journey,” says Keelin. “We want participants to leave the series of webinars with a clear idea of what support is available to help them during their export journey and what next steps they need to take in order to develop their plan.”

        The webinar series is free to all micro & SME companies who are looking to take the first steps on the export journey. Watch the on-demand series here.

         

         

         

        Digitalisation: a key strategy in ensuring export success

        Start your digital journey

        During this period of recovery, Irish companies are looking at every way possible to grow and increase their business. While finding new markets for your offerings is an important strategy, the role that digital transformation can play in business growth cannot be underestimated. According to the World Economic Forum, over $3.1 trillion in productivity gains could be added to the global economy by digital initiatives by 2025.

        To ensure they share in these gains, Irish businesses are primed to drive their digital transformation strategies but it’s important that they take a holistic approach so their digital plan can evolve as the business grows.

        “Most Irish companies are somewhere along the digital maturity curve,” says Conor O’Donovan, Head of Marketing Communications and the Client Digitalisation Unit at Enterprise Ireland. “Some are at the very early stage, which means they have only begun to look at ways to optimise their business through moving to the cloud for example, or implementing a CRM to improve how they engage and record customer data and interactions. Other companies are further along the journey, and are embedding automation to streamline manual repetitive tasks, while others are adopting data analytics and AI into to improve data analysis and predicting trends that impact their businesses and providing real time customer or supplier information upon which they can make informed decisions.”

         

        Challenges and developing a digital mindset

        While the advantages of adopting a robust a robust digital plan are clear and plentiful, there are challenges facing SMEs. “Knowledge and awareness are key issues,” explains Conor.

        “Many businesses don’t know where to begin or who to speak with about their digital roadmap, and therefore find it challenging to select the right partner and vendor. Another key challenge is access to skills, both strategic and technical. says O’Donovan

        “Ensuring that these skills are available to the business either internally or externally are key success factors, as is developing a digital mindset across the business. Finally, the availability of finance can be a key challenge in implementing the right solutions.”

        Many businesses mistakenly believe that digitalisation is just about expensive technology, but this is only part of the story. According to Conor, there are four key aspects to a successful digital strategy, all of which need carefully addressing.

        “Firstly, ask yourself why you need a digital strategy. It’s easy to read about a new platform or technology solution but a good digital strategy must be aligned to your business strategy. Ask yourself a number of key questions. For example, what business objective can be enabled by the digital plan? Is it about finding new customers or increasing sales with existing ones? Is it about improving production efficiencies or about strategic decision-making, which requires the availability of real-time accurate information drawing from several business units or locations? These are all important questions that must be answered before you start.

        “The second key factor is process. It is hugely important to review and optimise processes before layering on digital technologies. An inefficient process before digital will remain an inefficient process after digital. Talk to Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices for help on this; we have LEAN programmes to support process optimisation.

        “The third key element is people. Digital strategies will only work if people at the senior levels and across the organisation understand digital possibilities, see the benefits to the business and champion its adoption. says O’Donovan

        “It must be driven by multiple people across the organisation and developing a digital culture and mindset across the business is key. There are multiple programmes on digital available from Skillsnet, the IMI and others to support this.

        “Then finally we get to the technology piece. This part can be daunting for companies with limited budget, so it’s vital to take the time to really assess the technology required. It’s also important to ensure interoperability as new technology comes on stream as part of a multi-year plan – so the technology ‘speaks to each other’. This will avoid expensive integration and data extraction issues at a future date.”

         

        Supports progress your digital journey

        While the above might feel daunting, especially for businesses at an early stage in their digital journey, there is plenty of help available. Enterprise Ireland can help Irish exporting businesses to focus on and develop their digital strategy. The new Digital Ready Scorecard is a short self-assessment online tool that enables businesses to assess their current digital readiness and identify any gaps. The scorecard also signposts supports from Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and across Government. More information can be found on the Enterprise Ireland website.

        Enterprise Ireland also offers a €9k fully funded Digitalisation Voucher for eligible companies to engage independent experts to develop their digital strategies before purchasing any technology. All these aids will ensure that Irish exporters can reap the significant rewards of a robust and dynamic digital strategy.

        A person gathering market intelligence by analysing graphs and statistics on a sheet of paper

        Using market intelligence to inform your export plan

        The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must use market intelligence to understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors are doing, in order to succeed.

        Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive. While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.

         

        Market Research Centre

        That is one reason Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to Enterprise Ireland supported companies.

        Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as GartnerFrost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable. Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense.

         

        Using market intelligence to assess new markets

        The Market Research Centre is staffed by information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. The specialists can track down niche market intelligence that is not available through internet research and can also facilitate access to industry analysts to provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas.

        While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.

         

        Using insights to make an impact

        An example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is workforce travel company Roomex. Over the last two years, the company has targeted the UK and Germany and is now looking at the huge potential of the US market. Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing access to global company, country, market and sector data which helped the Roomex to analyse their target customer and competitor base.

        Enterprise Ireland’s research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead.

         

        Growing your business using market intelligence

        Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy.

        If your company is considering expanding into new markets the Market Research Centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

        Contact the Market Research Centre today.