Japan

Irish firms winning big in Japan and Singapore

Asia is resolutely open for business for Irish companies. That was the clear lesson learned during Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s visit to Japan and Singapore last month.

 

While pandemic-related restrictions on tourists remain in some countries, business travellers are welcome to visit these rapidly growing export markets and join the ranks of leading Irish companies successfully winning in the region, such as Kingspan, Morgan McKinley and ICON PLC.

 

A G7 country and the world’s third largest economy, Japan is home to 125m people, so the market presents significant ongoing opportunities for Irish exporters, says Neil Cooney, Director, Japan, Enterprise Ireland.

 

“In fact, the recent Enterprise Ireland Annual Business Review for 2021, confirmed that exports from Enterprise Ireland-backed companies to Japan increased to record levels last year,” he says. “They reached an all-time high of €277m, which represented an increase of 11.1 percent on the previous year.“

 

There are approximately 200 Enterprise Ireland-supported client companies regularly exporting to Japan, with more than 50 local presences established to support their growth in the market and employing up to 2,000 people in Japan.

Japan seeks green and digital innovation

Digital transformation is a core focus for Japan, meaning the government and private sector there are keen to discover innovative solutions in this area.

 

As in so many other markets around the world, sustainability is also high on the agenda there, with digital and data-driven green solutions in high demand. This adds to the opportunities for well-established firms in life sciences, fintech, software, and advanced manufacturing.

 

The Taoiseach led the Irish delegation on the visit to the region in July and was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. During the visit, both countries signed a joint declaration on economic collaboration and co-operation, entitled “Taking Forward Partnership with Shared Ambition”.

 

While in Japan, the Taoiseach hosted roundtables with Enterprise Ireland client companies to recognise significant market milestones and achievements.

“These included a new office opening in Japan for energy tech firm GridBeyond, a new partnership for infrastructure automation specialists Ubiqube with Japanese firm Alaxala and ICON PLC’s major acquisition in Japan and plans to scale in the market,” says Cooney.

Singapore an ideal launching pad for Southeast Asia

From Japan, the Taoiseach travelled to Singapore, where he met Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong.

 

Exports to Southeast Asia rose by 8% to €392m in 2021, with Singapore accounting for €116million of that and seeing a rise in exports from Irish companies of 10 percent on the previous year.

 

“While Singapore is a relatively small island nation of 5m people, English is widely spoken there making it an ideal launching pad for Irish companies to enter the massive trading bloc of Southeast Asia,” says Kevin Ryan, Director, ASEAN, Enterprise Ireland.

 

This region is home to over 682 million people and includes huge markets such as Indonesia (273m people), Vietnam (97m people) and Thailand (70m people).

 

“Fintech, regtech, pharma and health tech are key sectors in Singapore, along with high-tech construction, education and food, while agritech is also a huge opportunity as you go further into Southeast Asia,” explains Ryan.

 

During the visit, nine Irish companies participated in contract signings in Singapore. These included PM Group, which is supporting a first-of-its-kind vaccine plant in Singapore, along with ICDL, Intuition Publishing, Know Your Customer, NUIG, CurrencyFair (Zai), Aero Inspection, Ubiqube and Mackin EHS.

Understanding local market norms

To operate in Japan and Southeast Asia, Irish exporters need to expect they will have to operate differently than they may do in other export markets in Europe or North America. They will need to be respectful of local business norms and cultural nuances, for example. The Enterprise Ireland teams on the ground regularly provide local support and advice on this front.

 

It’s also vital to have sufficient financial resources to commit to the market, win business and be highly responsive to customers. To make any headway, Irish firms typically find they need to set up a direct market presence and hire locally.

 

This effort pays off, however, for Irish firms that gain traction in the region. At least 300 Irish companies are exporting to Southeast Asia, while about 200 are active in Japan, with 50 or so of those having a local presence.

 

“For any companies interested in exporting to APAC markets, there’s one key question – are you world class in what you do? Those who can confidently answer that they are should talk to Enterprise Ireland to assess potential opportunities in the region,” says Cooney.

 

With Enterprise Ireland offices in Tokyo and Singapore, our teams are available to support Irish enterprises to start, scale and grow in the region. Learn more about the opportunities for Irish firms in Japan and Singapore.

India offers huge export potential to Irish firms

India offers huge export potential to Irish firms

Whether they’re in aviation or agritech, education or healthcare, or indeed innovating in any sector, export-focussed Irish firms should take the time to examine the vast opportunities offered by India.

 

“Irish companies can’t really afford to ignore a tech-savvy, increasingly English-speaking market of this size,” says Ross Curran, Director, India and South Asia at Enterprise Ireland. “India should be on the agenda of any Irish firm keen to expand internationally.”

 

This is indeed a huge market, with a population of more than 1.4 billion, meaning it will soon be the most populous in the world. It also has a rapidly growing middle class of 300m people, meaning it’s well on the way to becoming the third largest consumer market in the world by 2025, as forecast by Boston Consulting Group.

 

It has also been among the fastest growing economies in the world in recent years, with a growth rate of over 7% forecast this year. “It’s also a young country,” says Curran. “More than half the population is under 30 and this has led to a ‘demographic dividend’, which happens when economic growth follows an increase in the size of the working population.”

Understanding the opportunity for Irish firms

Exports to India by Enterprise Ireland client companies topped €145m in 2021. While exports from Ireland to India have been growing in recent years, that figure still represents a fraction of the true opportunity for Irish firms.

 

This was clearly evident at the recent India Ireland Business Seminar in Dublin, when Indian business leaders, corporate executives and academics joined Enterprise Ireland client companies and universities to discuss potential collaboration and partnership opportunities.

 

“India is a dynamic and technologically advanced market,” says Curran. “It has the world’s most affordable data, for example, and this has underpinned a huge digital transformation in recent years.”

 

Aviation, agritech, construction, education, edtech, healthcare, ICT, and pharmaceuticals offer particular potential for Irish companies, he adds, pointing out that Indian clients in any sector will welcome any innovative digital solutions.

Government pushes for digital transformation

Indian government investment programmes such as the US$18 billion (€17.7 billion) Digital India initiative, for example, are also driving digital transformation and economic growth.

 

This is creating clear opportunities for Irish firms in IT services (hardware and software), fintech, shared service centres, knowledge services, data analytics, mobile and wireless services, business process management and IT consulting.

 

The Indian government is also investing US$7.5 billion in smart cities initiatives across 100 cities over five years. This points to further tangible opportunities for Irish firms with expertise in Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cleantech, as well as energy infrastructure and management.

Shared language and cultural connections

Ireland and India are quite similar culturally, and there is already a 50,000-strong community of Indian-born people in Ireland, many of whom have come here to work for Irish companies.

 

“At Enterprise Ireland, we have seen many Indian graduates begin their career working here in Ireland before returning to India to open the Irish company’s India office,” says Curran.

 

While Hindi is the official language of India and there are 22 other regional languages, English is the predominant language of business, making India more accessible for Irish firms than any other markets.

 

“While people in business tend to speak English, localisation is key,” adds Curran. “Even the biggest brands in the world must do things differently when they go to India. They have to adapt to local cultural norms, traditions and preferences. McDonalds, for example, had to devise alternatives to standard menu items it sells in other countries.”

Tailoring your offer to the market

Pricing in this value-focused market deserves special consideration, which means sales prices typically need to be significantly lower than in more familiar markets. The sheer scale of India, however, means that developing a bespoke market entry strategy is worth the effort.

 

Furthermore, this is a diverse and complex market. It’s a democracy, but the process of liberalising the economy only began gaining momentum in the 1990s. Those business reforms are still ongoing and some sectors remain protected. There can also be challenges in the form of red tape and administrative burden in some sectors.

 

The complexity and scale of the Indian marketplace means it is vital for Irish companies considering India as an export market to work with Enterprise Ireland from the earliest stages.

 

“Our market advisors can be the gateway to local knowledge and expert advice, which can help your company to determine if your offering would be suited to the Indian market,” explains Curran. “We can also help to identify local partners and distributors, a key success factor in India.”

 

From our Enterprise Ireland office in Mumbai, our team is always available to support Irish companies interested in building their presence in India with local market knowledge and expertise. Learn more about the opportunities for Irish firms in India. 

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.

         

        Woman scientist in the lab in a lab coat

        Knowledge Transfer Ireland: Turning cutting-edge research into profitable business

        It is widely acknowledged that investing in research and development (R&D) is essential for every company in order to stay relevant and competitive in today’s fast-moving world. Us Irish thrive on exciting and innovative ideas, and our colleges and universities are producing some of the most exciting cutting-edge R&D. But while we have the ideas and the talent to develop them, R&D can be costly, in terms of both time and money, and many SMEs struggle in funding adequate R&D.

        The Irish Government and Enterprise Ireland has long recognised that the key to ensuring that great ideas can evolve into new products and solutions is developing and strengthening links between public research opportunities and business. To help, in 2013, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment established Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) to help get technology, ideas and expertise from State-funded research into the hands of every business.

        “We believe that our potential as a country can be unlimited when the forces of third level research and businesses are combined with a common goal and purpose to deliver more advanced solutions for industry and society,” explains Elizabeth Carvill, Senior Executive at KTI.

        Essentially, KTI acts as a signpost for all businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, allowing them access to Ireland’s research system quickly, easily and effectively and allowing them to engage in the process of knowledge transfer.

        “Knowledge transfer is an effective way to help companies build on key areas of innovation capability,” says Elizabeth. “Knowledge transfer is enabled through collaborative or contract research engagements between business and the third level. Outputs from these engagements, such as new technologies or intellectual property, can be used to develop new products, processes and services. This research also underpins the creation of spin-out companies.”

        KTI is based in Enterprise Ireland’s headquarters in Dublin and acts as a national office making the knowledge transfer system more simple for business to access. “Part of this is to manage a funding programme on behalf of Enterprise Ireland to support Ireland’s network of Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), also known at Innovation Offices,” says Elizabeth. “These skilled teams based in universities and Institutes of Technology oversee the process of knowledge transfer and managing relationships with companies seeking to benefit from the access to skills, technology and intellectual property from within Ireland’s third level and other research organisations.’

         

        Quantifiable success

        The success of KTI can be seen in the Annual Knowledge Transfer Survey, which is produced every year by KTI. The latest report covered 2020, a challenging year for many thanks to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the statistics are impressive. “The 2020 Survey revealed that 3,681 new R&D and consultancy agreements were made between companies and non-commercial entities and higher education institutions during the year, an increase of 39% on the previous year,” says Elizabeth. “Three-quarters of these agreements involved Irish SMEs.

        “The survey also revealed that 30 spin-out companies were formed in 2020, and that there are now 128 spin-out companies still active three-plus years after incorporation. The same year saw a record number of spin-out company acquisitions (nine) with a combined value of €7.9 million, proving how attractive Irish spin-outs are to external investment.”

        Elizabeth explains that many of these spin-out companies go on to become High-Potential Start-Ups, supported by Enterprise Ireland. “Some recent examples include TU Dublin spin-out Ocumetra, UCD spin-out Sirius XT, NUI Galway spin-out Neurent Medical, and Dundalk IT spin-out Nova Leah. In fact, Ocumetra, which developed a pioneering eye monitoring tool that can identify abnormal (myopic) eye growth, became an HPSU just six months after its foundation.”

         

        Exciting success stories

        And when research bodies work with commercial enterprises, some really exciting products and solutions are produced. “For example, Inferneco Ltd and IT Carlow to bring to market a bottle-sanitising system for the hospitality industry using UV light,” says Elizabeth. “Another great example is the collaboration between Grian Water and Letterkenny IT, to develop a new prototype of its MyGug water treatment product, which turns organic matter into renewable fuel.”

        To enable as many businesses as possible benefit from the innovative ideas produced by our research bodies, KTI has worked hard to ensure that companies can quickly and easily find the right support for them.

        “Our website contains a range of downloadable materials and resources including a research map of Ireland, a downloadable national directory of research supports and an interactive funding finder tool,” Elizabeth finishes.

         

        For more on KTI and the range of R&D supports available for companies, log on to www.knowledgetransferireland.com

        Enter the Eurozone

        How Enter the Eurozone is helping Irish companies just like yours to do just that

         

        Companies all over Ireland are winning new business across Europe with the help of Enter the Eurozone, an innovative business development programme from Enterprise Ireland that provides tailored market entry support.

        The five-month programme was launched in 2019 and is currently on its fifth intake.

        To date 102 companies have come through it. Of these 37 have taken steps towards operating in European markets.

        “When you consider that typical business to business cycles take 18-months to complete, and that the bulk of participants have been on the programme during Covid, that’s a remarkable success rate,” says Paul Browne, Programme Manager International Partnering at Enterprise Ireland, who runs Enter the Eurozone.

         

        Opportunity on your doorstep

         

        The programme is designed to help Irish companies take advantage of the fact that one of the most dynamic, prosperous and stable markets in the world is on their doorstep.

        “As a region with a population in excess of 340 million, the opportunity the Eurozone presents to Irish business is enormous,” he adds.

        “Yet we are still merely scratching the surface. Despite the fact that the Eurozone has five times the population of the UK, it has less than two thirds of the exports from Irish companies.”

        Brexit has encouraged many businesses to see the Eurozone with fresh eyes, appreciative of the fact that it offers a single market, freedom of movement for people, goods and services, a single currency, regulatory alignment and zero customs barriers.

        “The Eurozone offers significant and untapped opportunities for Irish companies and Enterprise Ireland has developed a unique programme to help you take advantage of them,” says Browne.

         

        Market entry plan

         

        The five-month programme opens Europe’s doors to ambitious Irish exporters. It is delivered by ESMT European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, Germany’s number one business school.

        It is supported by IMS Marketing, seasoned providers of one-to-one business advice for those developing a European market entry plan.

        “In developing the programme, we recognised that while management teams know training is great, what they really want to know is what will it mean for their business,” says Browne.

        “So, at the end of this programme, each participant comes out with a clearly defined market entry plan bespoke to their business. It contains clear, practical steps which, if taken, will see them win contracts abroad.”

         

        Enterprise Ireland’s Eurozone team, based in market, then works with the client to help them to execute that plan, backed by its network of in-market expertise.

         

        Unique products and services sought

        Irish companies have unique products and services in an array of areas, including software, data centre systems, medical devices, and ag-tech.

        “We take for granted that our companies are exposed to US multinational companies without realising that it gives us enormous advantages in terms of experience, standards and service levels. Irish companies are already selling to the best in the world at home. That level of expertise and experience is sought all over Europe too,” he adds.

        Campion Pumps in Tipperary used the Enter the Eurozone programme to develop a market entry strategy for Italy.

        Its experience in pumping equipment led it to develop software that allows pumps to communicate with computers. It has hundreds of pumping station customers linked to its cloud-based server. What’s innovative about its solutions is that its software can work with anyone’s equipment, providing it with a valuable USP (unique selling point).

        Having a unique solution is hugely compelling, in any market, says Browne. “If I go to a potential customer in, say, the Netherlands, the first thing he or she will say to me is ‘Why should I buy from you, when I’ve five guys down the road I could go to? But when you go in pitching something that is innovative and unique, why wouldn’t they talk to you?”

        In Leitrim, Archway Products already had success working with local authorities in the UK, attracted by its highly innovative, cost effective and environmentally sound processes for fixing road defects.  The inventor of the Roadmaster Spray Injection Patching machine, which fixes all types of road defects, is now gaining traction in Germany too.

        Shamrock Farm Enterprises, a maker of equine and agricultural supplements, also in Tipperary, recently secured a distributor in France.

        Louth firm Aphix Software has developed an integrated suite of eCommerce and mobile ordering products.

        “Any solution that helps with stock control, and whose software helps you move online, is a pitch to which a lot of companies across the Eurozone are very open to now,” says Browne.

        Applied Concepts, Ireland’s sole manufacturer of CE approved blasting machines, has already developed an international presence, driven by innovations such as a compressed air machine that sits on a tractor and uses less carbon.

        “Ireland is already renowned for food, so if you are going to Europe and say your farm equipment is terrific too, people will listen,” says Browne.

         

        Start your export journey

        His message to innovative Irish businesses looking to start their export journey is clear.

        “Enterprise Ireland is very open to helping companies that want to export. We have a range of programmes and workshops to help, including Enter the Eurozone. Remember, it’s companies like yours that are doing this, so get in touch,” he adds.

         

        To find out how you could expand into the Eurozone, see our Enter the Eurozone Programme.

         

        Managing people, driving performance - Implementing successful performance management practices

        Implementing successful performance management practices in the new workplace

         

        The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the way we work in Ireland. We were suddenly thrown into an emergency situation, during which many of us had to work remotely.

        Thanks to the success of the vaccination rollout, we are now entering into the recovery phase of the pandemic. However, it’s clear that what’s normal in the world of work has shifted.

         

        Changed working practices

         

        Several surveys have indicated a strong preference by employees for continuing remote or hybrid working into the future, and many companies are now looking at how to make these new working practices sustainable into the future – both to attract and retain talent and to ensure that strategic goals are achieved. But with this change comes a number of challenges.

        “One such concern is how to drive employee performance to continue to deliver business results as we move into the new world of work,” explains Lola Ade-Onojobi, People & Management Specialist at Enterprise Ireland.

        “Pre-pandemic, performance management practices had already evolved significantly, and the pandemic only further accelerated this evolution. A sudden move to remote working, along with significant personal upheaval such as having childcare responsibilities during the day or looking after vulnerable family members, forced many employers to adjust their management and leadership practices to better support their employees during this time of uncertainty.”

        “Now that we are moving into a period of recovery, it is essential for companies to focus their efforts on building sustainable practices to support employee engagement, performance and, ultimately, business growth.”

         

        Implementing successful performance management

         

        To help companies implement successful performance management in the new workplace, Enterprise Ireland has launched a new guide in partnership with performance management experts ‘Our Tandem’.

        Entitled ‘Managing People, Driving Performance: A Good Practice Guide’, this is the latest in a series of guides for employers on navigating the post-Covid workplace and is free for all employers to download.

        “While recognising that performance management requires a tailored approach by every company, this guide provides valuable information, based on best practice and latest business theory, that helps employers rethink their approach to performance management,” says Lola.

        “The guide examines the evolution of performance management best practice over the years and how it has been affected by the pandemic. It also highlights the foundations of good performance management such as goal setting, check-in conversations, fluid feedback, performance reviews, and reward and recognition practices.”

        “Crucially, the guide provides relevant tips on embedding a strong performance culture within a company, on how managers can become coaching leaders, and on building communication to ensure that the changes are implemented successfully.”

        This is a practical guide, with templates that are useful for every company, regardless of sector, size or maturity, to identify the changes needed within their own performance management process and implement them successfully and sustainably.

         

        Supports to complement our performance management guide

         

        For Enterprise Ireland-supported companies, the guide complements a range of financial and non-financial supports currently available.

        “Non-financial support includes access to our e-learning platform (eiLearn.ie), which contains many articles, podcasts, videos and downloadable content on people management,” Lola says.

        “We also offer a range of financial supports such as business growth advisor and strategic consultancy grants, which contribute to the cost of engaging external consultants to help companies address business challenges. More details on these supports are available from your Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor.”

        It’s clear that every company must carefully examine the way in which they operate and ensure that it’s suitable for the new world of work – and to do this as soon as possible in order to maintain optimal performance and retain and attract talent.

        A key part of this, according to Lola, is enacting the right performance management framework, both for the company’s sake and to support employees during this time of change.

        “The benefits of a performance management framework are clear – for employee engagement, retention, team spirit and ultimately positive bottom-line results for the business.”

         

        Download Enterprise Ireland’s performance management guide here.

        Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry - Image of space and galaxies

        How Irish companies are rocketing into the space industry

         

        Ireland may not be the first country to spring to mind when you talk about space travel or exploration, but recently this industry has proved itself to have plenty of opportunities for Irish innovation, both from companies and research bodies.

         

        The James Webb Space Telescope

         

        Many businesses based in Ireland are already working in the area, thanks to our involvement with the European Space Agency (ESA). What’s more, several Irish companies are now playing a pivotal role in some of the most thrilling and high-profile space missions.

        One such mission was the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or simply Webb), the next great space science observatory following the famous Hubble Telescope.

        The Webb was launched from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Christmas Day 2021. It now resides one-and-a-half million kilometres from Earth, hovering in line with our planet as it orbits the sun.

        Over 25 years in development, the Webb telescope has the ability to look back 13.5 billion years in time to observe the birth of the first galaxies and the lifecycle of stars and exoplanets.

        Webb follows the Hubble Telescope in the line of great space observatories. Both have different scientific capabilities and will operate together, complementing each other, for several years.

        In fact, according to Bryan Rodgers, Senior Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland and a member of the Irish delegation to the ESA, Webb has the capacity to do far more than the Hubble.

        “The Webb has over six times the light-gathering capacity and is a hundred times more sensitive, with the ability to peer through clouds of dust by capturing light in the infrared part of the spectrum.”

        “By looking back to the early universe using infrared detectors, Webb hopes to answer some vital questions about the formation of our universe, the make-up of so-called dark matter, and what the development of galaxies can tell us about the future of the universe.”

         

        How Irish companies contributed to the development and launch of the JWST

         

        Webb is the result of an international project led by NASA with the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Within the ESA’s contribution, two Irish companies and an Irish research institute played significant roles in the development of the Webb’s scientific instruments and in its launch into space.

        “Firstly, there was significant Irish input into the development of the infrared detector technology,” comments Bryan. “Professor Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) was Co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on Webb, which will produce images and spectra with unprecedented sharpness and sensitivity.”

        “Professor Tom Ray and his team from DIAS also provided MIRI’s infrared filters, which breaks up the light into its various components, and imaging software that will analyse the instrument data sent back to Earth and produce scientific images.”

        An Irish company also played an important role in Webb’s launch into space via an Ariane 5 launcher.

        Réaltra Space Systems Engineering designed and manufactured the video imaging system onboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, which gave us impressive high-definition video images of the separation of the launcher’s fairing and separation of the telescope itself,” says Bryan.

        “The final images of Webb moving into space on Christmas Day in 2021 came from Réaltra’s technology.”

        Interestingly, Réaltra’s system was originally designed for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which is due its first flight in the second half of 2022.

        “In addition, a second Irish company, Nammo Ireland, provided structural supports for the Vulcain engine that powers Ariane 5 – and will be involved in producing components for both the Vulcain and Vinci engines on the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle.”

         

        Opportunities for Irish businesses in the space industry

         

        The involvement of these Irish entities came about as a result of Ireland’s membership of the ESA, which is managed through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

        Enterprise Ireland plays a huge role in enabling this work, by supporting and guiding Irish companies and research institutes in developing technologies through ESA programmes, and in commercialising these technologies in the worldwide space market, with over 100 companies supported to date.

        “The success of the Irish entities involved in the ground-breaking JWST project underlines the growth in opportunities in the commercial space market for innovative Irish companies with exciting technologies that can be used in many different sectors, such as automotive and medical,” notes Bryan.

        “These opportunities will only become more plentiful as our understanding of space grows and develops. We are confident that more Irish companies will be involved in such thrilling projects in the future.”

         

        Contact Bryan Rodgers to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you successfully bid for European Space Agency contracts or explore other opportunities in the space industry.

         

        People working at a co-working hub in the National Hub Network

        National Hub Network: Bringing Irish workplaces into a new era

         

        There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. While we’re not out of the woods just yet, slowly but surely we are all looking to recovery and what work might look like post-pandemic. And it’s looking like a whole new world for many.

         

        Designing a workplace for the future

        In 2021, Enterprise Ireland released a new guide, ‘Designing a workplace for the future’, which was written to help employers navigate their way into the new world of work, including remote/hybrid working and other more flexible forms of work.

        The guide recognised that company owners are now aware that offering a degree of flexibility has many advantages for their business in attracting and retaining talent, as well as for the Irish economy overall.

        However, most are still in the early stages of working out how these can be optimised within their own companies.

         

        The right to request remote work

        What’s more, the matter is becoming more urgent, thanks to the upcoming legislation on the right to request remote work. When enacted, it will act as a lynchpin for HR strategy and implementation.

        This legislation is due to come into effect in 2022, so it’s essential that every employer considers the best solution for their company sooner rather than later.

         

        The National Hub Network

        An integral part of the new world of work is the growth of the National Hub Network, which enables workers to carry out their jobs in a social space with excellent amenities.

        The networks also play a valuable role in driving vibrant regional economies across Ireland, as Clare Power, Enterprise Ireland’s lead on Regional Remote Working, explains.

        “These hubs are far more than just buildings for workers,” Clare explains.

        “They are part of the regional ecosystem, a go-to place for local start-ups through to established SMEs looking to grow and scale their businesses.”

        “These co-working hubs are a valuable contributor to a vibrant local economy, a wonderful opportunity for employees from diverse backgrounds who want to progress their careers outside of the big cities, and an important enabler for collaboration and networking across sectors and disciplines.”

        “In short, these hubs will play a crucial role in Ireland’s future of work landscape.”

         

        The evolution of co-working hubs in Ireland

        Co-working hubs existed before the pandemic. In fact, they were highlighted in Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 ‘Powering the regions’ plan.

        However, they’ve taken on a new level of significance since Covid-19 hit in March 2020.

        “There have been examples of successful co-working hubs already,” says Clare. “These include Dogpatch Labs and Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin, The Mill in Drogheda, Wexford Enterprise Centre, Merits in Naas, PorterShed in Galway and Ludgate in Skibbereen.”

        “Their success is down to their excellent facilities, including reliable wi-fi, excellent cybersecurity, access to the latest digital tools, meeting spaces and 24-hour access.”

         

        The Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network

        Recognising the importance of these hub networks to both regional development and Irish SMEs, Enterprise Ireland has led significant infrastructural investments initiatives on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

        “We have a relationship with the Community Enterprise Association Ireland (CEAI) spanning two decades, and have supported CEAI as the co-ordinator of a world first, the development of the Quality Standards Framework for the National Hub Network, known as QHubs,” explains Clare.

        “The Quality Standards Framework aims to provide a world-class facility and service for enterprise at all stages of growth, enable hub owners and managers deliver excellent service to their users, and help the National Hub Network to work collectively towards future self-sustainability.”

        To help embed QHubs, CEAI launched a free preparatory development programme for enterprise hub owners and managers, delivered in partnership with Skillnet Ireland.

         

        Supporting co-working and remote working

        “Enterprise Ireland is also involved in many other initiatives to support the National Hub Network.”

        “These include Grow Remote, a not-for-profit agency working in the fields of networking, job market connection, community development and free nationwide remote training. Grow Remote has published a playbook to equip SMEs with the tools to successfully implement remote work permanently. We also point employers to the Western Development Commission-led ConnectedHubs portal in searching and sourcing for their ideal co-working spaces.”

        According to Clare, “it’s clear that regional hubs have a vital role to play as we slowly get back to ‘the new normal’.

        Perhaps the growth and development of these hubs – and the subsequent positive effect on our lifestyles, families and rural areas – will emerge as something positive to come out of the last two years of upheaval and change.”

         

        Download Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Designing the workplace of the future’ guide here.

        Minister Robert Troy in the Nordics attending SLUSH

        The Nordics: Opportunities abound for ambitious Irish exporters

         

        As an island nation, the export economy is essential for the health and growth of Irish companies. Our reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship has served us well in that regard, with Irish companies finding huge success in every corner of the world. Key markets such as the UK, the US, France and Germany remain hugely important, but ambitious Irish exporters are exploring other countries that are actively looking for the products and solutions produced by Irish entrepreneurs – and finding a whole new world of opportunity. A region that is growing rapidly in importance for Irish business is the Nordics, an area made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.

        Currently, over 450 Enterprise Ireland supported companies export to the Nordics, with exports reaching a remarkable €1.16 billion in 2020. It’s easy to see why this region is so attractive, home to 26 million inhabitants, the Nordic region is the 11th largest economy in the world. 

         

        The Nordic market

        Irish companies have a strong track record and reputation here, says Eoghan O’Connor, Market Executive, ICT & Start Ups, Enterprise Ireland. “The Nordics are known for being progressive, stable, and open to new technology.”

        “As a region that is culturally and geographically close to Ireland, Nordic countries should be considered our home markets and natural partners in terms of trade and business cooperation. English is widely spoken and like Ireland, a huge emphasis is placed on innovation.”

        Eoghan O Connor Enterprise Ireland

        This innovation can be seen in the number of household names from the Nordics. For instance, within the Nordic ecosystem are global companies like H&MNokiaVolvo, Maersk, and Ericsson. In addition, outside of Silicon Valley, the Nordics have generated the highest number of unicorns per capita globally, including companies like Spotify, Mojang (creators of Minecraft), Oatly, and Klarna

        “The success of these companies is down to the ecosystem, which is a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Eoghan. “Their comprehensive welfare state provides citizens with free education, healthcare, and social security and their public sector provides a strong framework for the ecosystem with opportunities for funding and other supports. There is also a dedicated focus on R&D and in general they are a population of early adopters of new technology.”

        “This makes the Nordic region a great starting point for Irish companies looking to establish a foothold in the European markets and scale their businesses internationally from here.”

         

        Success for Irish companies in the Nordics

        Already there are several very successful Irish companies in the region, all of which offer clever solutions in several different areas. “These include WAZP, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) that specialises in the production of 3D printing materials, which has forged a partnership with IKEA, one of the most globally recognised brands,” says Eoghan.

        “In addition, iCabbi, a Dublin cloud-based taxi firm, have a contract with Finnish taxi company Meneva, which has grown its fleet from 100 cars to over 1,500 since joining iCabbi over two years ago.”

        Minister Robert Troy in front of a Meneva taxi

        A key term in today’s global business world is sustainability, a significant area of growth as we race towards ambitious goals of net zero emissions. The Nordic countries have been long considered leaders in this field, especially in the area of environmentally friendly transport options, such as public scooter schemes.

        “Irish companies are playing their part here also,” says Eoghan. “For instance, Luna Technologies, which develops AI tech for the e-scooter market, has partnered with Swedish scooter giant Voi, while Zeus has rolled out scooters in Oslo, Halmstad, and Karlstad.”

         

        Springboard to success

        These Irish companies have found huge success in the region – but there’s plenty more opportunity for ambitious Irish exporters who will find an open and welcoming market for their innovative products and solutions. To demonstrate the Irish Advantage to the Nordics, Enterprise Ireland showcased Irish innovation at SLUSH, a global-leading event for start-ups and the largest of its kind in the Nordics, which took place in December 2021 in Helsinki.

        The event is considered a hotbed of start-up talent; the sold-out 2021 event attracted 8,000 attendees, over 3,200 start-up founders, and 1,500 investors, all of whom travelled from every part of the world. Irish attendees included seven companies, some already successful in the region along with some newcomers that have compelling offerings for this market.

         

         

        These included Boundless (B2B SaaS technology), MyPatientSpace (life sciences), Educatly (higher education), PlantQuest (oil & gas and data centres), Zeus (transport and mobility), Social Talent (learning and development), and Tito (events & ticketing).  

        The event acted as a springboard for Irish companies looking to expand their offerings in this prosperous region, keen to avail of the positives of trading in an area that values innovation, flexible working relationships and timely solutions to the issues that really matter in today’s world – everything that Irish enterprise is revered for.

         

        If you’re interested in exporting to the Nordics, contact the Enterprise Ireland Nordics team.