German Healthcare System: Telekom Healthcare Cloud

 

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

This Enterprise Ireland webinar discusses the importance of using a reliable cloud provider when providing business services to the German Healthcare System.

Watch the webinar to hear insights from Alexander Gerlach,  Telekom Healthcare Solutions on:

  • Why businesses should use a trusted cloud provider in the German healthcare sector?

  • What makes the German market so unique?

  • Open Telekom Cloud: Public LaaS for European Enterprises

  • Importance of Data protection and compliance – Certifications

 

Germany’s Hospital Future Act

     

     

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

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

    This Enterprise Ireland webinar examines

    • the opportunities arising from healthcare digitalisation

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

    • how to navigate the landscape and position your solution effectively

    This webinar is chaired by Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor Nicol Hoppe

    with expert insights from:

    Carsten Schmidt – Co- Founder of Digital Health Port

    NIVA – simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy claims process

    Horizon 2020 is an ideal funding stream as it enables cross-border collaboration and ensures that technology developed will be fit for purpose on a pan European basis.

    David Hearne, Walton Institute, NIVA Horizon 2020 project

    Key Takeouts:

    • Walton Institute (formerly TSSG), part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a project that aims to develop and implement a range of digital innovations to improve the administration of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
    • The NIVA project has received €10.5m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
    • Walton Institute is focused on developing a geo-tagged photo app to help simplify the CAP claims process for farmers and paying agencies.

    H2020 Case Study: NIVA

      The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports farmers, safeguards agri-food supplies and encourages sustainable management of land resources. Administering and controlling payments to farmers under CAP is done through the integrated administration and control system (IACS), which is the subject of the Horizon 2020 project, NIVA (New IACS Vision in Action).

      The three-year project, led by The Netherlands’ Wageningen University & Research and involving 27 partners, aims to modernise IACS by delivering a suite of digital solutions, e-tools and good practices for e-governance. These will ultimately produce more transparent, simpler processes that will reduce the administrative burden on farmers, paying agencies and other stakeholders.

      In Ireland, a multi-disciplinary team made up of The Walton Institute (formerly TSSG) – a centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation – the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – and led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is tasked with developing a geo-tagged photo app.

      The app will be used to resolve claim queries by enabling farmers to send digital photos of their land parcels directly to the paying agency, which will reduce the need for inspections and accelerate claim processing.

      “Our app is one of nine innovations in this project with different countries working on each,” explains David Hearne of Walton Institute’s Creative Design Unit. “Other areas include decision support systems, machine data and a solution for simplifying payments, but in the end they will all come together in one ecosystem, which will be used by paying agencies across Europe.”

      Although it won’t be the first geo-tagged photo app on the market, Hearne explains that what sets this one apart is the user-centric, multi-actor design.

      “We take the approach that we don’t know what the users want; we can’t decide what’s best for a farmer in the west of Ireland who needs to send a photo to the Dept of Agriculture. So the project started by gathering data about the needs of all stakeholders, not just in Ireland but across Europe. It’s an iterative process, so when we’d developed the first version of the app, it was tested by users across Europe and their feedback informed the next iteration and so on.

      “The fact that farmers and other stakeholders have been involved from the beginning gives them a sense of ownership, and that should result in a higher adoption rate at the end,” adds Hearne.

       

      Horizon benefits  

      Horizon 2020 has provided €10.5m in funding for the project, but beyond the financial investment the programme offers multiple other benefits.

      Horizon 2020 is an ideal funding stream as it enables cross-border collaboration and ensures that technology developed will be fit for purpose on a pan European basis,” says Hearne

      “Currently, our app is being tested across nine EU countries with over 200 users, and other solutions being developed under NIVA will likewise be tested across different countries, so there’s a lot of interaction, integration and learning across the project.”

      Monthly work package meetings and bi-monthly project meetings, all virtual at the minute, keep the project on course and ensure that innovation is shared across the partners.

      On a personal and professional level, Hearne believes his involvement in Horizon 2020 projects has been highly advantageous.

      “It’s great to focus on these large projects with so many moving parts. You learn so much, for example, the various technologies used in different countries, how they are implemented and what the issues are.

      Hearne confirms “The opportunity to collaborate with researchers in other countries is also invaluable. You build up a huge contact base, which gives you the opportunity to collaborate on more projects.”

      To others who have not yet dipped their toe in the Horizon water, Hearne simply says “Do it”.

      “It’s a great opportunity to be involved in projects that can actually change people’s lives. With NIVA we’re reducing the burden on farmers, so we’re making a difference. My advice would be to focus on something that you’re really passionate about.”

      His other advice is to seek out the right partners at the start and use the supports that are available to help with putting the proposal together.

      “I was involved in writing sections of the NIVA proposal. It was a new experience for me because I come from a very technical background, but I had the support of people in WIT to guide me in how to approach it. And the more you do it the easier it gets.

      “We’re also in close contact with Enterprise Ireland, who have a real interest in the project, and we know that they’re there to help us if we need it.”

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

       

      One Planet. One Health – Danone and GreenPlus

      “The health of people and the planet are intertwined.  You can’t have one without the other”, states Mark Stafford, Nature and Sustainability Manager at Danone, Wexford.

      Danone’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible with high quality products contributing to all life stages. This is where sustainability and the environment comes in and it is one of the four key pillars at the company – they have now adopted ‘nature’ as a business fundamental for all supply points and sustainability roadmaps for their brands.

      The company used Enterprise Ireland’s GreenPlus scheme to empower line management and teams to manage and improve energy performance at basic unit level and they have now achieved certification to the prestigious ISO 50001 International Energy Management Standard.  This standard aims to help organisations to continually reduce their energy use and therefore their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.

      Through their work with GreenPlus, the Energy Management System (EnMS) at Danone has now been implemented successfully across the site, system accreditation has taken place and a number of energy saving opportunities have been identified. This has enabled the company to implement solutions and their annual energy savings are now measured and verified.

      So how was their journey with Enterprise Ireland’s GreenPlus and what were their main challenges? Peter Pearson, Nature Co-ordinator explains: “We started looking at the gaps and found the biggest gap was metering.  Data monitoring and reporting systems presented a challenge as the metering available on-site did not satisfy our requirements with regard to reporting detail and frequency”.

      “Going down the ISO 50001 route focused our minds on the areas we needed to tackle. It raised awareness within the company.  It identified savings and improved our knowledge on the use of energy onsite.  We found the process easy to navigate and it was fairly straightforward. It was great to have the support of Enterprise Ireland and it was very helpful.”

      Danone aims to become carbon zero across their value chain by 2050 and to do that all elements of the business need to become carbon neutral. “Our plant in Co. Wexford has become the first infant formula production site in the world to be certified as carbon neutral.”

      “Our net zero carbon rating has been certified by the Carbon Trust, an independent global climate change and sustainability consultancy,”  said Stafford

      Explaining the benefits across Danone of engaging with GreenPlus, he pointed out that “We needed buy in from management which we quickly achieved and it was also important to make all employees aware of where we needed to get to and our ambitions. We weren’t surprised that through the GreenPlus process we identified many opportunities – we knew they were there but just didn’t have visibility of them.  The process helped us to pinpoint exactly where we needed to make improvements”.

      “As part of our roadmap for the project there was also a huge focus on energy reduction and efficiencies and implementation of the ISO 50001 was crucial to that journey”.

      From a business perspective, Mark Stafford and Peter Pearson point out that consumers and customers are looking for sustainability more and more and all the research backs this up.  The expectation is there and that goes for all activities within a company.

      “The feedback is that people want more sustainably produced products and environmentally friendly products.” 

      “All employees are now aware of where we need to get to.  We have nature champions across our business units and they are now bringing in their own ideas in relation to sustainability and the environment for our brands.  There are a lot of projects now going on in the company. This includes our intention for all of our supply points and business units to be BCorp certified. We know where we are and where we need to get to and what we want to achieve.  We are very focused.”

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

      Evolve UK Webinar – Pricing

      This webinar,  in  conjunction with Simon-Kucher & Partners, examines the most important profit driver; Pricing. It will also discuss how professionally managing pricing can add millions to your bottom line.

      Chaired by Deirdre McPartlin, Manager of Enterprise Ireland UK, with expert insights from Simon-Kucher & Partners, a leading global consultancy specialising in top-line growth strategies with 35 years of experience with monetization topics of all kinds – from pricing strategies, customer segmentation, user experience, offer design, and packaging, to negotiation techniques, and sales excellence.

        • Mark Billige – CEO

        • Peter Colman – Partner

        • Phil Derby – Business Partner, Ireland

         

        How digital health companies can navigate and enter the NHS

        This Enterprise Ireland webinar examines how to successfully enter and scale digital health solutions in the UK market, drawing from the experience of our panel.  

        The webinar will outline the key challenges and opportunities for digital health companies entering the NHS from both a supplier and NHS procurement perspective. With expert insights from:

        –             Sonia Neary, CEO and Founder of Wellola

        –             Niall Rafferty, CEO and Founder Medxnote

        –             Dr Sam Shah – Chief Medical Strategy Officer at Numan & previous        Director of Digital Development for NHSX

        –             Andy Kinnear – Former CIO, NHS

         

        Regulations in the German healthcare sector

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

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

          • accessing opportunities in the German market

          • the opportunities emerging with digitalisation

          • how to manage budgets and timelines effectively

          with expert insights from:

          • Christoph Bischoff-Everding of HGC

          • Andrea Seidel of Dr. Seidel Lifesciences

          Opportunities in the German healthcare market

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

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

          This webinar will examine

          • How to use GPOs when entering the German market

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

          • How using GPOs can help to address various target groups

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

          AgROBOfood – stimulating the uptake of robotics in the agri-food sector

          “The Horizon 2020 & Horizon Europe funding streams give participants exposure to a large European network of relevant research organisations, business advisory services, investors and companies.”

           

          Christine O’Meara, Walton Institute, AgROBOfood, Horizon 2020 project

          Key Takeouts:

          • Walton Institute, formerly TSSG, part of the Waterford Institute of Technology, is involved in a major project to encourage and facilitate the uptake of robotics in the agri-food sector.
          • The AgROBOfood project is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
          • Acting as a Digital Innovation Hub, The Walton Institute, is a one-stop-shop, supporting those in the Agri-food sector in locating and accessing robotics services or expertise and is mapping out the robotics ecosystem in Ireland.

          Case Study: AgROBOfood

          By 2050, our planet will be home to almost 10 billion people and the pressure on food production will be immense. There is now an urgent need to find and develop smart ways to farm and process food, and this underlies the European Union’s huge investment in agri-food-related innovation projects.

          AgROBOfood is one such project. Focused on helping the Agri-food sector become more efficient through the use of robotics, the four-year, €16.3m Horizon 2020 project involves 39 partners and is led by Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands.

          The project team is broken into seven territorial clusters enabling more agile and effective group sizes. Ireland, represented by The Walton Institute (formerly TSSG) – an internationally recognised centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation and part of the Waterford Institute of Technology is in the North West cluster. This cluster comprises the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, United Kingdom and Ireland.

          AgROBOfood has three aims: to build a network of digital innovation hubs and competency centres; to load this network with a catalogue of services; and to showcase what robotics can do for the sector.

          “Walton Institute is the Digital Innovation Hub for Ireland. We can signpost stakeholders to competency or research centres or other hubs in Ireland or across Europe that can provide the services or expertise they need. And as an R&D centre itself, Walton can also provide services directly,” explains Christine O’Meara, Walton Institute project lead.

          “There’s definitely an appetite for digitization and automation, and Ireland has strong national players in, for example, the dairy sector where smart technologies are well advanced.” says O’Meara

          “There are a lot of exciting start-ups in Ireland working in robotics in diverse areas from pasture management to sustainable poultry production. Across Europe, great progress has been made across agri-food with areas like robotic weeding and harvesting set to advance quickly.”

          A key driver in the growth of the robotics ecosystem will be the results of three funding open calls. Two of these (Open Calls for Innovation Experiments) will involve a technology provider and a technology user coming together to advance and demonstrate their solution. The third open call will be targeted at a range of specific industrial challenges, for example, asking if robots can improve working conditions in the food industry.

          “From a TSSG perspective, the opportunity to reach out to, and build relationships with, start-ups and SMEs in the agri-food space through these open calls is really important,” says O’Meara.

           

          The Horizon advantage

          One of the advantages of the Horizon 2020 approach, says O’Meara, is that it presents a means of looking at broader impacts, beyond the local and across disciplines.

          “The Horizon 2020 funding stream gives participants exposure to a large European network of relevant research organisations, business advisory services, investors, technology companies, agri-food start-ups and large enterprises,” says O’Meara.

          “Although in this project each cluster is working somewhat independently, we’re collaborating through a shared technology platform to ensure best practices are replicated and everyone has full visibility of progress and developments.”

          O’Meara is involved in several Horizon 2020-funded projects, including Demeter and NIVA, and is keen to encourage others to explore the opportunities such projects present.

          “As well as giving access to a breadth of expertise, Horizon projects provide a way of broadening your network and extending your skills,” confirms O’Meara

           

          Don’t be daunted

          For some, however, the Horizon process remains an intimidating prospect.

          “Don’t be daunted by the proposal process. It’s quite structured and it’s clear what the EU wants to see. But you need to give yourself plenty of time. As soon as a call comes out you need to start thinking about what topics you’re interested in, what partners you’ll need and get the right team on board. Remember that there’s a lot of support available,” O’Meara advises.

          Most research institutes have in-house support for Horizon 2020 applicants but another excellent source of support is Enterprise Ireland’s National Contact Points These provide information and guidance on all aspects of Horizon 2020 from signposting to webinars about areas of interest, to helping identify partners and reviewing proposals.

          “Begin by identifying what supports are available to you and speak to someone who’s been involved in the process before. If you or your organization need help in writing the proposal, Enterprise Ireland can also provide consultancy support,” adds O’Meara.

          “If you’re successful in getting Horizon 2020 funding, you will have a  very well defined plan of action set out in your implementation description and detailed work packages and you’ll have specific deliverables. So you’ll know exactly what to do from day one.”

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

           

          SpeakingNGI – Shaping the internet of the future

          “We are delighted and proud to have contributed to the successful building of the EU’s flagship Next Generation Internet – An Open Internet Initiative (NGI)”.

          TSSG’s Strategic EU Liaison Manager and coordinator of the SpeakNGI.eu project, James Clarke

          Key Takeouts:

          • TSSG (Telecommunications Software & Systems Group), an internationally recognised centre of excellence for ICT research and innovation at the Waterford Institute of Technology, led the influential SpeakNGI.eu project, which was a Pathfinder Project for the European Commission’s large-scale, flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative.
          • The project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation ICT work programme 2018-2020 (WP2018-20).
          • SpeakNGI.eu’s NGI Consultation Platform and Knowledge Base were among numerous contributing projects helping to shape the internet of the future into an Internet of humans that responds to people’s fundamental needs, including trust, security and inclusion, and reflects the values and the norms that we enjoy in Europe.

          Case Study: SpeakingNGI

          Evolving the internet from its current problem-strewn form into a human-centric, secure, inclusive space that supports people’s needs and addresses global sustainability challenges is a European Commission (EC) priority.  It’s an ambitious goal, now embodied in the EC’s flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative.

          SpeakNGI.eu, a partnership between TSSG and Trust-IT Services Ltd, was one of three Horizon 2020-funded Pathfinder Projects that aimed to identify research topics, enable dynamic consultation, and shape the programme for the NGI initiative. For more information on the initiative, please consult the NGI Brochure.

          Begun in 2017 and running for just 18 months, SpeakNGI.eu addressed the dynamic consultation aspect of the pathfinder programme, by building a platform with mechanisms for engagement with the NGI stakeholder communities, creating a knowledge base and establishing a 16-strong European Champions Panel of thought-leaders.

          “These pathfinder projects were important cogs in a bigger wheel and a very important step towards the establishment of the EU’s flagship NGI initiative and directly contributing to the selection of priority NGI topics for the open calls being funded by the larger scaled NGI Research and Innovation Action projects,” explains James Clarke, SpeakNGI.eu project coordinator.

          “We were considering what the Internet will look like 10 years from now, dealing with mounting concerns about security and privacy, and anticipating radically new functionalities. Our platform enabled organisations and individuals to share their ideas and we collated the information and published it in a readable format, essentially building the topics that would eventually be funded through cascade funded open calls by the NGI RIAs.”

           

          From data gathering to experimentation

          Following the successful conclusion of the Pathfinder Projects, the EC launched Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) as the next step towards its vision of creating the ‘internet of humans’.

          In the first tranche of the NGI RIAs, they funded open-call NGI projects based on the topics the pathfinders identified, such as privacy and trust technologies, decentralized data governance, and better search and discovery technologies.

          On the back of SpeakNGI.eu’s success, Clarke led a five-partner team that secured an NGI RIA project covering EU – US cooperation. The project, NGIAtlantic.eu, which runs until June 2022, is funding EU-based researchers and innovators to carry out NGI-related experiments in collaboration with US research teams.

          “We have a 3.5 million budget, 80% of which is dedicated for open calls funding third-party projects. We select, fund and monitor the projects, which are building on research results and moving to the experimentation stage on EU and US experimental platforms,” says Clarke.

          “The vision of a new initiative, launched by the EC in 2016, is now at the stage of funding innovators through RIAs with an overall budget of €75 million over a three-year period. We are delighted and proud to have been part of this long-term strategic action and to have contributed to the successful building of the EU’s flagship NGI initiative.”

          Building on experience

          The two NGI projects are not Clarke’s first foray into the world of EU funding and he has a wealth of experience to call upon.

          “I’ve been involved in EU-funded projects back to the early-nineties so this wasn’t a first for me. For the most part, the experience has been good and challenging. Where it hasn’t been so good, it can be down to teaming up with the wrong partners, perhaps with not enough foresight into the strategy and team building experiences when working in the proposal stages. With experience, I’ve learned how to pick the right partners every time, which is very important,” says Clarke.

          Clarke says “There is certainly a lot of work involved in putting a proposal together for projects. I found the Enterprise Ireland Coordinator Grant to be a huge support in helping prepare a successful Horizon proposal.”

          It has enabled me to bring in great mentors to help with not just the reviewing process, but also to generate content, where needed. And if I couldn’t find someone suitable, who was also available, in Ireland, I could go further into Europe to get the right person.

          “Before Covid-19, I would meet the mentor and spend a couple of days working with them on the proposal and I found that much more effective than relying on feedback from written drafts. Since I started taking that approach, I’ve been winning more projects.”

          Although he admits that being a coordinator on a Horizon 2020 project can be sometimes difficult, Clarke firmly believes the experience has many rewards.

          “Working with like-minded researchers and innovators from around Europe has been a big thrill for me. Coordinating a Horizon 2020 project also frequently offers the opportunity to be invited to participate in more projects, events and follow-up activities. The more you succeed, the more invites you get. Overall, it’s very fulfilling and enjoyable.”

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

          Plenty to celebrate stateside this St Patrick’s Day

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

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

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

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

           

          The Pandemic Pivot

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

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

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

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

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

           

          Building Back Better

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

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

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

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

           

          Virtual St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

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

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

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

           

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

           

          Getting There: Strategies to promote gender diversity in business

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Promoting female entrepreneurs

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

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

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

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

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

           

          Accessible help

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

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

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