Neil Cooney

Market Watch – A view from Canada

Market Watch Canada Neil Cooney

Key Takeaways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webinars – Brexit Customs Briefing Series

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

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

Register Below:

Evolve UK: Establishing a UK presence

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

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

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

Innovating for Recovery: CW Applied Technology

On the first episode in our new series Innovating for Recovery, we are joined by the Managing Director of electronics company CW Applied Technology, John O’Connell. In response to the Covid-19 crisis, CW Applied Technology designed and manufactured a portable Room UV-C Steriliser. 

The portable steriliser is designed for virtually any room that needs air and surface disinfection, including sterile areas, laboratories, unoccupied patient room. On the show, we discuss, the origins of the idea, and its variety of uses, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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

 

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

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

– Deirdre McPartlin, UK Manager at Enterprise Ireland

– Margaret Whitby, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at BPDG

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

– Ruth Potter, Partner at Ecovis

– Gerry Collins, Managing Partner at Ecovis

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

Automotive supply chain and purchasing strategy changes in the Covid era

Simon Schwengle is a partner at KBC (Kemeny Boehme and Company) and an expert in purchasing and supply chain issues with focus on automotive. Project objectives include supply chain/purchasing strategies, preventive supply chain management, cost initiatives, and reactive supply security. in the following interview with Global Ambition Simon talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and the changes it will bring. 

 

  • Global Ambition: The current supply chain structures in the automotive industry is changing drastically due to the COVID19 situation. In general, in which areas of the relationships between OEMs and related Tiers do you see the biggest impact?               

Simon Schwengle: We are currently in the second phase of the impact of COVID-19 on OEMs and their multi-tier supply chains. The focus has been on ensuring the short-term, highly critical supply of series production requirements, on supplying development/research and protection requirements as well as keeping to industrialisation schedules for tool and system suppliers. It is the second phase that has a much greater impact on supplier relationships along the entire supply chain in the long term by focusing on costs. Many suppliers are already attempting to request reimbursement from OEMs for additional costs both in upkeep and general continuation of production as well as for the discontinuation of previously agreed discounts. The OEMs will take a tough approach in this regard, while always precisely assessing the risk of impacting supply. Suppliers with professional claim management will have an advantage over competitors. A general restructuring of the supply chain in line with geographical considerations (as some reports in the press have suggested) will not be possible in the short or medium term, and in the long term, cost pressure will continue to be the deciding factor when selecting locations and therefore when developing supply chains. However, OEMs will be much more interested in transparency across the entire supply chain (from second to n-tier suppliers), as well as the chain’s management and price structure.

              

  • Global Ambition: Demands in all areas are shifting and in most cases they unexpectedly dropped. What challenges do you see suppliers facing in their dealings with buyers and customers, considering pre-placed orders, long-term contracts, related claims and their overall annual planning?  

Simon Schwengle: At the moment, suppliers are, more than ever, having to manage conflicting objectives, including ensuring liquidity, maintaining supply outputs and controlling costs. As things stand, there are far fewer insolvencies than expected. The tools offered by governments are effective and reserves set aside by the OEMs are less strained than expected so far. As a result, the first big cases of insolvency have all been ailing companies struggling with problems that go beyond the impact of COVID-19. However, liquidity measures still need to be taken in good time, both with regard to customers and concerning a company’s own suppliers. These measures can reach from amending terms of payment to detecting the need/option for shifts early on. To ensure supply – an objective that can sometimes stand in stark contrast to ensuring liquidity – suppliers that have a great deal of flexibility within their own production and along their supply chains are at a clear advantage compared to the competition. As a general rule, agreements and EDIs should always be documented/archived, customers’ terms of purchase need to be interpreted correctly and additional costs always need to be approved to provide a professional basis for processing claims. Controlling costs will start to become the main focus in the fourth quarter of 2020. The volumes required by OEMs will fall by 20% to 30% in the current and coming year. Any and all part prices and investment calculations will need to be revised. This is another area where suppliers need to be professional in order to present plausible claims to customers and effectively guard against claims by their own suppliers and OEMs.

              

  • Global Ambition: Do you have any suggestions or common practices in mind for companies that deal with claims, either on the supplier or the customer side?

Simon: For us, there are two important dimensions: The analytical dimension and the strategic/tactical dimension. Analytical and detailed preparation is the foundation of claim management. In this regard, “players” with a good basis of facts will also be able to assess situations correctly and generate a coherent external perspective. In our experience, suppliers with professional change management are much more successful here. Remnant costs should become the focus for suppliers if quantities fall. Additional information, such as the progression of raw material prices (traded or not listed) or public company ratings, can also be helpful. However, the strategic, tactical dimension is usually the more important one. The key questions here are: What is my position at the customer compared to competitors? Which tenders are outstanding? Which pending payments can I use? The OEMs are traditionally in a very strong position in this regard. They will attempt to use the pessimistic forecasts as a way to pressure the suppliers in their portfolios.

 

  • Global Ambition: How could the procurement of products in the industry change – considering price competition and development/implementation of new technologies?  

Simon Schwengle: I don’t have a very precise answer for you: It really depends… Generally speaking, OEMs align their supply chains with the target dimensions of cost, quality, flexibility, innovation and sustainability. The last aspect, in particular, will see the pressure on supply chains with high energy consumption increase the most. Depending on the product/component groups, the contributions are designed for the target dimensions in order to avoid cost increases in favour of achieving other objectives. New technology, either on the product or in the production process, is therefore generally an opportunity to increase prices or reduce costs. However, this only applies if old technologies made the biggest contribution to achieving cost objectives prior to COVID-19 – either in skipping new development cycles (negative for supplier development revenue) or in part prices.

 

  • Global Ambition: Speaking about technological development: Which areas of the modern technologies do you think will be pushed out by OEMs and Tiers, and are there sub-sectors where you expect somewhat ‘normal investment’ even in the near future?

Simon Schwengle: We differentiate between the following clusters: New technologies, regulatory requirements and classic automotive. The latter will become more and more difficult to place on the market in the near future. There will be big players offering scaled options for unprofitable/unattractive scopes, resulting in new dependencies between OEMs and suppliers. For products depending on regulatory requirements, there will continue to be moderate growth. Requirements are on the rise (and can quickly lead to big problems and pose big risks, as the example of the RDE introduction shows) in end-customer markets across the globe. New technologies are following the major e-mobility trends with regard to drive concepts, autonomous driving and expanded functions for automated driving assistance – that is to say increasing E/E scopes in vehicles – and the expansion of networked services and mobility services for vehicle users.

 

  • Global Ambition: Lastly, what do you recommend companies to consider when positioning themselves towards their customers after the industry ramped up again?

Simon Schwengle: Recovery and return to old volumes for conventional automotive is not realistic until at least 2022, and the ordered volume scenarios for the coming years will not be achieved for the time being. The price demands, as well as all other requirements from OEMs, will still remain unchanged, however. There will be adjustments in supplier markets – so make sure your reaction to short-term enquiries from customers is quick and well-considered. Use opportunities offered by your existing customers – horizontal integration can be an important driver for revenue. Find sensible ways of diversifying without making big investments – vertical cooperation can also contribute to a better cost structure along your own supply chain. Increase flexibility for manufacturing companies – if this did not already happen before COVID-19.

 

The African opportunity for Irish firms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vast opportunities in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enterprise Ireland supports

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

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

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

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

Hannah Fraser Nordics

Market Watch – Nordics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get key insights on the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020 a virtual, and real, success

 

Covid couldn’t stop Ireland’s most successful female entrepreneurs from stepping up to inspire more

National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices, was like no other in that, because of Covid, for the first time in its 14-year history, it took place entirely online.

In all other ways, it was exactly the same – providing women with the inspiration, support and confidence to start and grow a business.

Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland, has been involved in this flagship event for women in business right from the start.

National Women’s Enterprise Day was an initiative set up by the Local Enterprise Offices in 2007, supported by Enterprise Ireland.

“Back then the landscape was quite different in that there was a dearth of female entrepreneurial role models. If you went back and looked at the newspapers, for example, there weren’t many women being profiled in a business or entrepreneurial setting,” says Daly.

Providing role models 

“Research shows that role models are an important way to inspire women and give them the confidence to start a business.  So we knew we needed to profile women who had done it successfully already. It was that whole concept of ‘to be it you have to see it’,” she says.

But a lack of role models wasn’t the only challenge.

“At the time there was also a real lack of access to business networks for women. While the Chambers of Commerce were, of course, important, they tended to be for more established businesses. More informal networks, such as rugby clubs and golf clubs, didn’t provide the same level of access to women.”

There was a need for “a mechanism to provide women with access to networks in order to inspire, demonstrate and build confidence in female entrepreneurship,” she says.

National Women’s Enterprise Day was just the mechanism.

Showcasing success – and support

“It was also a means to disseminate the huge range of supports available from lots of different government agencies, not just from Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland, but from Intreo, Failte Ireland and the Credit Review Office,” she explains.

“The idea was to bring all these things under one roof, on one day, with one big bang that would put female entrepreneurship on the map.”

It did just that.  “The first event was held in Mullingar and was fantastic, and overbooked, so we carried on.”

Indeed, the event grew so much that in recent years the Local Enterprise Offices have run regional versions too, to enable even more women to attend.

All followed the same proven format of enabling participants to listen to successful women at different stages of their business journey, to gain an understanding of the supports available to them, and to have an opportunity for networking.

“Then, in 2020, we had Covid,” she says.

Covid can’t stop it

Having supported so many businesses to ‘pivot’ to online to cope with the pandemic, the network of Local Enterprise Offices were quick to do the same with National Women’s Enterprise Day. It took place on Wednesday 14th October, entirely remotely, and was a huge success.

“We saw an enormous attendance of 1641 people which was amazing and well reflected this year’s theme of ‘Stronger Together’,” says Daly.

Speakers included Olympian turned businesswoman Derval O’Rourke, who talked about the strength, discipline and resilience required to deliver peak performance in one sector before pivoting to another.

Sonia Deasy, founder of international beauty brand Mortar & Pestle, spoke about her journey taking a brand from “local to global”.

A series of ‘leading lights’ included successful female entrepreneurs across a range of sectors, from Clare Hughes of CF Pharma in Kilkenny to Mary Walsh of Ire-Wel Pallets in Wexford and Odilon Hunt of AVA Audio Visual in Sligo.

Exploring overseas markets

Sheelagh Daly hosted a panel discussion entitled “Exploring Overseas Markets”, featuring expert commentary from Anne Lanigan, Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Director Eurozone, and Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland’s Director for UK and Northern Europe.

As well as exhorting female entrepreneurs to explore Eurozone markets, they pointed out that the UK will always be hugely important to Irish businesses too.

Marcella Rudden, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Cavan explained the questions to address when starting your export journey.

“She spoke about how to choose a market to target and how the Local Enterprise Office should be your first port of call because it has the supports to help you, both financial and otherwise,” says Daly.

One of the main threads running through the day was not to be afraid of exporting, she says. “The message was that it isn’t something that should be seen as intimidating and that there is help available.”

That help is not just from Local Enterprise Offices but from all sorts of sources, including networks for women in business in countries such as France and Spain, delegates heard.

“Before you commit to a market do the research, make sure that it’s the right market for you and that you can compete in it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Daly.

Information is crucial. Both men and women have similar business ambitions but research indicates that women take a more cautious approach, including in areas such as borrowing for business. They typically “prefer more information before they take a risk”, says Daly.

“The ambition is very much there but the approach is different.”

Women’s success is Ireland’s success

National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020 took place in a year which also saw the launch of Enterprise Ireland 2020 Action Plan for Women in Business. This important six-year strategy to support female entrepreneurship was launched in February, just before Covid.

“The reason such emphasis is being put on women is because we are still looking at a much higher proportion of men in leadership and entrepreneurship,” explains Daly.

This needs addressing because, both as an economy and a society, we “need the skills and talents of all our population to be realised,” she says.

We also need those businesses that are started to be the best they can. “All the research demonstrates that the greater the diversity the stronger, more profitable and faster-growing the business,” says Daly.

“That leads to wider economic benefits, so it’s a real economic imperative that everybody, regardless of gender or other diversities, does not face barriers when it comes to starting or growing a business.”

 

Watch the ‘National Women’s Enterprise Day Virtual Event’ sessions on-demand here

 

David Eccles Regional Director Australia and New Zealand

Market Watch – Australia and New Zealand

Overview

•  Australia and New Zealand have amongst the lowest cases of Covid-19 in the world
•  There have been some second wave cases and local lockdowns
•  Most businesses still working remotely where possible
•  Australia is experiencing its first recession in three decades and the New Zealand economy has also been affected, but plans have been put in      place to mitigate this.
•  Government stimuli put into effect in March will begin to be phased out over the coming months.
•  There are business opportunities for Irish companies in the MedTech and Lifesciences sectors.

Nowhere has been left unscathed by the global pandemic but Australia and New Zealand have been fortunate to have some of the lowest case numbers in the world. However, regional Enterprise Ireland manager, David Eccles, says while the two countries have managed to escape the worst of the infections, there is still a note of caution about the future.

“Australia is 75th on W.H.O data table of cases and New Zealand is 153rd, but we are not out of the woods yet with some second wave cases across both countries,” he says. “Both countries have closed their borders to all except for citizens, residents and immediate family members and 14-day quarantine measures are strictly enforced.

“Australians had been slowly emerging from Covid-19 lockdowns since May but a recent second wave has seen the State of Victoria in stage 4 restrictions while the other seven States and Territories have lighter restrictions and there are some border closures between States, with each being in a very different position.

“And in New Zealand, which was COVID free for over 100 days, a recent wave had seen Auckland go into lockdown and Level 3 restrictions, but this week they have returned to Level 2 restrictions with the rest of the country. So, most companies are continuing to work remotely and enforce social distancing where possible.”

But while the cases of Covid-19 were noticeably less in the region, Eccles says economies in both countries have been affected.

“Australia is now experiencing its first recession in nearly 30 years, thanks to the economic fallout from coronavirus, bushfires and drought,” he says. “And the New Zealand economy is poised to contract severely for the first time in over a decade this year – again due to the coronavirus.

“In addition, they both also boast large tourism, hospitality, and education industries, and these have been severely impacted by the near elimination of international travel. But in other areas, business activity remains robust with construction and financial services leading the way.”

The area manager says Australian and New Zealand Governments invested in numerous cash-stimulus measures for business since March, but these will be withdrawn across three phases from September 2020 to March 2021.

And the Australian government has increased the instant asset write off from $30k to $150k for businesses making capital expenditures and this has given a boost to some Irish companies.

However he says, while there have certainly been an array of challenges and opportunities for exporters to the region, Irish companies have shown remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of these challenges. And the Antipodean market is no exception.

“We have found multiple opportunities for Enterprise Ireland clients, as all sectors increase their digital transformation,” said Eccles. “In fact, some clients have brought forward their entry into our markets due to demand, particularly across digital health, EduTech and FinTech. And in MedTech and Lifesciences, Irish companies have scaled rapidly to meet new demand for product and have accelerated their market entry here.

“The most impactful of the COVID factors to our clients is the border closures and the cessation of international travel. The borders to international travellers will definitely not reopen this year but exemptions are possible, while very difficult to achieve.

“Interestingly, a key challenge for our clients in the past has been making the decision about when to invest in a local presence and the time and cost involved in flying to the region for important meetings – but with everyone now meeting virtually, this removes that pressure.”

Since March when the lockdown began, 20 Enterprise Ireland clients have established a presence in Australia and New Zealand, including WayFlyer, Vizor, Swoop and MagGrow and over 50 new contracts were won by Irish enterprises across Australia and New Zealand.

“This is as clear a sign as you can hope for, to show that Australia and New Zealand are still open for business, still the gateway into the wider AsiaPac region,” says Eccles. “And Irish companies are showing the strength, determination, adaptability and resilience to win business 17,000 kilometres from home.

“We, Enterprise Ireland Australia / New Zealand, have started new ideas and initiatives to try and help clients during the current situation. We have started a mentoring programme ‘Scale Up, Down Under’ with six companies taking part in a 6-month programme to accelerate their entry into market.

We have also run a series of sector specific Advisory Panels across Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand, giving a range of Irish companies the opportunity to present their product to sector experts and often senior Irish diaspora in the market to seek guidance and advice.
“So there is light on the horizon for both companies doing business here currently and those planning their market entry.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Irish innovation and its application in the Australian market can visit www.irishadvantage.com.au

Get key insights on the supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

Graduate Stories – Delivering results with internal communications and employee engagement

Ennae O’Connor is in first year with the National Graduate Programme, working in the Organisational Development department.

During my Business and Management course in Maynooth, I completed an internship in Enterprise Ireland working in the High Potential Start-Ups division. This gave me real exposure into the type of work that Enterprise Ireland does – its culture, its people and so on – and so I knew from then that the graduate programme was something I was really interested in pursuing. I could see what an important role Enterprise Ireland has both within Ireland and overseas for Irish companies.

At Enterprise Ireland, our purpose statement is supporting Irish enterprises to start, innovate and succeed globally but the line that really resonates the most with me is “driving prosperity throughout Ireland”. Witnessing that impact first-hand is something that really inspired me during my internship and made me want to come back. 

“Enterprise Ireland is very fast-paced; you’re taking on real responsibilities and making a real impact for businesses.” Ennae O’Connor, National Graduate Programme participant.

 

Applying for the Graduate Programme

The application process can be intensive and I’d really recommend doing your homework. Look at the Enterprise Ireland corporate website, their social media and their values as a company. Be prepared ahead of each round, leverage any relevant experience you may have, no matter how big or small – education, internships, personal interests – anything that demonstrates your competencies. Reach out to the graduates on the current programme – I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help out and share any advice they have. Keep positive and confident throughout – it is a long process but it’s definitely worth it.

 

Every day is different!

My role is a little different from other graduate roles as it’s internally focused rather than client-facing. I absolutely adore it. My department is organisational development and I’m involved in internal communications and employee engagement. During my internship I was very client-focused, dealing with entrepreneurs and companies, but in my final year in college I became very interested in organisational development – and that translated into me getting involved in this area. It’s completely different from the client-facing roles, but I think the whole area of internal communications is really interesting.

The primary focus of my role is to keep employees connected and informed, creating a shared understanding of Enterprise Ireland’s purpose and values and keeping colleagues updated on company decisions, initiatives, programmes and executive messages. No two days are the same. We have over 40 international offices, as well as regional offices, so my day-to-day role is creating editorial content and executing wellbeing programs and campaigns to promote our company values.

As an example of the typical work I would do, yesterday I was putting together our virtual Pride Parade; today I was preparing a presentation to present to our Executive Director. There’s a lot of creative thinking. Over the last four weeks my main focus has been coordinating our global wellness challenge – similar to a step challenge, we had 44 teams competing to maximise their daily activity. I was giving weekly updates, the highly anticipated Leader Board reveal and sharing photos and videos of the teams getting active. The challenge coincided with our Pride Run, which saw our colleagues all across the world Rock the Rainbow and run, walk or jog 5k to celebrate inclusion and diversity of LGBTQ+ people and their families.

“It’s important to know that there are positions available for graduates in all sectors and all departments, from finance to marketing to our client-facing roles.  says O’Connor.

There are so many opportunities to get involved and develop your business, project-management, relationship-building and networking skills. You’re not expected to know everything when you come in, but you need to be energetic and enthusiastic and passionate about delivering results.

 

To learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Programme can help you take the next step in your career visit National ProgrammeInternational Programme.

Graduate Stories – The opportunity to be part of a professional & dynamic team

Currently in year two with Enterprise Ireland’s National Graduate Programme, Stephen McLoughlin describes his experience of working across the Brexit division and Covid-19 response unit.

Coming from a background in political science, I always had an interest in doing something related to government but I didn’t want to be a civil servant. Enterprise Ireland is unique in that you’re engaging with the private sector, so you’re at the cusp of where the public and the private sector meets – and that really appealed to me because you see both sides and you feel like you’re flying the Irish flag for Irish companies and really making an impact.

 

Applying for the Graduate Programme

I became interested in Enterprise Ireland after talking to some executives at the open day in the Helix while studying for a Masters in DCU in Business Management. The application process is very intense – if you’re in college, you have to set that time aside to apply for graduate programmes because they do take a lot of time to complete. It’s important to do your homework and I’d highly recommend attending the recruitment days so you can meet previous graduates working in the organisations and get an insight into their roles.

The assessment centre part of the application process is tough. It’s worth putting the time into researching what happens in an assessment centre and how it works – there are some valuable insights to learn, such as not being the most dominant person in the room, allowing everyone their chance to speak and using your limited time effectively. The experience does give you an insight into what the role entails and the challenges that it brings.

After the assessment centre, there’s an interview, and a lot of preparation should go into this, especially if you haven’t done much work in competency-based interviews. Look into what skillsets you have that would align with the type of competencies Enterprise Ireland  is looking for. All the information is there online so it’s just a matter of putting the time in to research. The interview is intense but it’s a chance to demonstrate what sort of person you are and what you can bring to the role.

About ten of us commenced the programme in August 2019. We were trained with the international grads, and it was a great chance to meet everyone and begin to network – which is central to our roles.

 

Working on the Brexit response

I was assigned to the Brexit unit – as I had studied political science in my primary degree, this was a dream for me. The Brexit Zone had a dedicated space at International Markets Week in 2019, so I was really thrown into the deep end from the very start – which was a really great experience as I think I met three or four government ministers in my second week and it gave me a huge insight into the advisory piece provided to client companies regarding the challenges posed by Brexit.

“The role gave me the opportunity to develop and enhance my skills as a communicator.” says Stephen McLoughlin

Networking takes a bit of work to master, specifically how to make the most of a conversation and optimise the time you have with a client or a buyer. It’s the professional world and everyone just wants to get the work done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

We had a lot of Brexit events, so in my first couple of weeks I was able to meet a lot of people all around the country in sectors that might be affected by Brexit. Internal networking is really important too. It’s a really big organisation and you’ll struggle during the first few weeks to meet everyone but they really encourage you to get up from your desk and get involved in projects or events – sports, charity fundraisers and so on.

My role changed dramatically in 2020 when most of the Brexit team became part of the Covid-19 response team. What was really interesting is that our Brexit insights prepared us for this, as a lot of the products and services put into place to help companies during Brexit had parallels with those developed to help clients through the Covid crisis. Advising businesses where to go for support through government agencies has been a big challenge and tough at times but it’s meaningful, practical work that really makes a difference.

If you are interested in joining the Enterprise Ireland Graduate Programmes, check your eligibility here: National ProgrammeInternational Programme.