Mobile World Congress

Mobile innovators went worldwide at Mobile World Congress

Six Irish technology innovators showcased their products and services at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC22) earlier this year.

All exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion, the prestigious country stand supported by Enterprise Ireland for the duration of the event, which ran from 28th February to 3rd of March.

A further cohort of seven companies attended the event as visitors, also with the support of Enterprise Ireland.

World’s largest

All had good reason to be there.

“Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovation and cutting-edge technology,” says Gillian Baker, Development Adviser Digital Technologies with Enterprise Ireland.

“In 2020 it was one of the first major trade events to be shuttered as a result of the pandemic. Last year it held a scaled back version, which is why its return earlier this year, as one of the first major industry events to take place since the advent of Covid, created enormous excitement.”

Global scale

With industry leaders from around the world attending MWC22, it was only fitting that Ireland’s strength in this sector should be showcased too.

“The six Enterprise Ireland-supported companies which exhibited on the Ireland Pavilion stand were already successful in the mobile communications space, highlighting Irish capability on a global scale,” she explains.

“These Enterprise Ireland-backed companies provide products and services that cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly changing demands of mobile technology and the wider communications sectors. With over 1500 exhibitors at Mobile World Congress, it was an opportunity for them to get in front of their market and showcase their capability, raise brand awareness and gain exposure on a world stage.”

Facetime

After the challenges of the past two years, when business relationships had to be maintained or developed remotely, exhibitors were keener than ever to meet in person, says Baker.

“They were excited to get back out there in front of their business partners, to resume face-to-face business, to network and to gain exposure to potential new partners,” she says.

Enterprise Ireland supported attendees to ensure they made the most of the commercial potential such major in-person events offer.

“All scheduled back-to-back meetings over the duration of the exhibition, to ensure they maximised every opportunity the show afforded them,” she explains.

As well as providing access to its deep network of international contacts, Enterprise Ireland’s sectoral experts were on hand at to support client companies.

Six of the best

Among the companies featured at The Ireland Pavilion at MWC22 were established Enterprise Ireland client companies such as Benetel, a provider of leading-edge radio solutions for 5G disaggregated RAN and 4G/LTE Small Cells. It works with leading vendors, partners and open initiatives such as the O-RAN ALLICANCE.

Cubic Telecom develops IoT connected software solutions to the automotive, agriculture and transport manufacturing industries. Its platform, PACE, is used by leading companies around the world including Audi, Microsoft and CNH Industrial.

Druid Software, a core cellular network software company and a leader in 5G & 4G Cellular technology will be there too. Its RAEMIS platform is used by internet service providers and enterprises for mission critical environments all over the world.

Also present was Endeavour Technology, the global leader in IoT and 5G service assurance whose nSpire product is a leading-edge state of the art SaaS platform that ensures continuously reliable connectivity for customers around the globe.

Exhibiting alongside them were early-stage Enterprise Ireland clients in the mobile technology space, Ringotel and Software Radio Systems.

Ringotel’s platform turns any VoIP phone system into a cutting-edge unified communication solution without changing existing infrastructure and setup, enabling its clients to add conference communications functionality to their phone system in less than 10 minutes.

Software Radio Systems develops open software for mobile radio wireless networks. Its high-performance software radio solutions for 4G and 5G, with complete UE and RAN applications, support the creation of new mobile services. 

Value added visits

“In addition to the six Enterprise Ireland client companies taking space on the Ireland Pavilion, seven more attended Mobile World Congress as visitors,” says Baker.

“For these client companies too it was an unrivalled opportunity to meet with both new and existing partners, to showcase their latest offerings and to benchmark against the best available in the global marketplace.”

All in all, the event provided enormous value to exhibitors and visitors alike.

“We live in a connected society. Mobile connectivity solutions are already across all industries and all verticals. The advancement and roll-out of 5G will be transformative because, from smart cities to industrial IoT, the possibilities are endless,” adds Baker.

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.

 

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.

 

High-tech construction opportunities for Irish firms in France and Germany

 

Summary

  • The expertise of Irish high-tech construction companies is well-known in France and Germany, with many home-grown businesses active in the markets
  • There are opportunities for Irish firms to get involved in French and German construction projects, particularly data centre design and building
  • Enterprise Ireland is supporting clients that wish to attend the Data Centre World events in Frankfurt during May 2022 and Paris during November 2022

 

 

As global events impacted on industry across every sector, technology, and our reliance on it has never been more important, with businesses keen to learn about advances in digital solutions and data collection.

For instance, this was reflected at a range of Data Centre World events across Europe which garnered a huge amount of interest from companies around Ireland.

The largest gathering of data experts in France took place in Paris Porte de Versailles on 24 November 2021 and was attended by almost 1,700 industry experts, with 59% of attendees looking to invest more in associated products and solutions.

 

The French market

According to Alix Derigny, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction & Sustainable Build in France, more than half of the attendees, including many Irish clients, were from organisations whose primary business is data centre design and build.

“Although some had to cancel due to the pandemic, a number of Enterprise Ireland clients visited, including Mercury Engineering, who exhibited there for the second time and other client companies like Moy Materials and Cubis Systems,” she says. “It was a very busy tradeshow, with great networking and fruitful meetings with large data centre projects managers who were interested in the solutions offered by Irish companies.”

“Sustainability is a major issue for the high-tech construction sector and, with a commitment to be climate neutral by 2030, Irish innovation in this area was of particular interest.”

According to a study by the consultancy Arcadis, France now ranks fifth in Europe in terms of attractiveness for setting up data centres. Interxion has submitted plans in Les Ulis for a 130 MW campus, DATA4 is looking to construct a 100 MW campus expansion, and CloudHQ has recently submitted plans for a two-building hyperscale build in Lisses, for a total of nearly 400 possible MW coming online over the next decade.

 

Success for Irish companies in France

Derigny, whose role involves supporting Irish capabilities across the construction industry in France, says there is plenty of Irish success in the region and many opportunities up for grabs.

“2020 and 2021 have been synonymous with great success stories for Irish companies in France,” she says, “There are several Enterprise Ireland clients active in the French market including Ethos Engineering, E&I Engineering, Anord Mardix, LPI Group, Enersol, Fireblock, King Environmental, CET Connect and Evercam.

 

Trends in the French high-tech construction sector

“There are two major trends in the French construction market which present opportunities to Irish companies: the roll-out of the largest transport project in Europe, the ‘Grand Paris Express’ (2015-2030), and a move towards sustainability through certifications, CO2 reduction targets and market-led initiatives in ‘green building’.

Long considered as a potential hub for hyperscale construction, Paris could potentially more than double in size as a data centre area. Existing investment is heavily centered in its capital, with Paris accounting for over 70% of the country’s current data center footprint. Equinix, Interxion, Orange, Mipih, Colt DCS, Digital Realty and Atos are the prominent investors in the market.

 

The German market

France isn’t the only option for Irish firms in this space. Tim Flache, Enterprise Ireland Market Advisor – Construction in Germany and Austria, says there is also plenty of opportunity for Irish high-tech construction companies in that market.

“After the US, Germany is the second largest data centre market worldwide,” he says.

“The main data centre hub in Germany is Frankfurt, and with the DE-CIX the city has the internet exchange with the most data throughput worldwide and it has not reached its peak yet, with 230 MW under construction and a potential of another 500 MW – so there will be plenty of business over the coming years.

Equinix alone announced in 2021 its intention to build five new data centres and invest $1.14 billion USD in Frankfurt over the next years. Other locations in Germany like Berlin (37 MW under construction) and Munich (12 MW under construction) also present opportunities.

 

Success for Irish companies in Germany

There are many success stories already in the region with Irish contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers active in the German data centre market. Some of these include well-known Irish companies likes Mercury, Winthrop, and Collen.

“These companies deliver large scale co-location data centre projects all over Europe and have been active in Germany for several years. Smaller subcontractors and suppliers are also active in the German market and are winning projects.”

 

Trends in the German high-tech construction sector

Flache, who is based in Dusseldorf, says the biggest topic at Data Centre World is sustainability.

“As in many other countries, the data centre industry in Germany is under pressure to become more sustainable and climate friendly,” he says.

“With the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, the industry committed, on a European level, to a more sustainable future for data centres and to become climate neutral by 2030.”

“This ambitious goal also impacts the design and construction of data centres, which is where Irish capabilities lie.”

Beyond data centre projects, the high-tech construction market in Germany has more to offer. Over the last years, several battery manufacturing facilities have been announced and large semiconductor manufacturers are looking for suitable sites in Germany. The main pull factor for these projects is the German automotive industry.

 

Differences between the French and German markets

While the European single market makes both Germany and France attractive target markets for Irish companies, there are some differences clients should be aware of when it comes to labour law, taxation, and certification.

“Companies beginning operations in France must ensure all contracts adhere to French law, for legal and commercial reasons”, says Alix Derigny.

“France is among the easiest countries to set up a business. The guichet-entreprises.fr service encourages business creation in France by enabling anyone to complete the formalities necessary to create their activity in one place online. Only a few days are required.

“With regard to tax structures: corporate tax rates in France are gradually reducing. In 2021, the standard corporate income tax rate is 26.5%, a figure which will fall to 25% in 2022. Corporations with profits of more than €500,000 must pay a rate of 27.5%. A reduced rate of 15% is also available to small companies on the first €38,120 of taxable profits.”

Tim Flache says the federal system in Germany influences certification and safety standards in the construction industry.

“Fire safety regulations, for instance, can differ between the different states (Bundeslaender),” he says. “Companies should be aware of these differences, even within the German market. Also, when it comes to sending staff to Germany, certain time limitations and country specific labour agreements have to be considered.”

 

Business culture

The market experts say Irish businesses looking to expand in Europe should be aware of both the opportunities and requirements.

“Irish companies may face challenges in the French market because of the time and patience needed to manage lengthy sales cycles and due diligence processes. However, if approached correctly, France can be a very significant and lucrative market for innovative, leading-edge Irish companies.” says Derigny.

“A partnership agreement with a local organisation may act as a way of gaining foothold in the market or building sales opportunities in sectors that might be difficult to penetrate as a new entrant.”

 

The Irish Advantage in high-tech construction

Tim Flache agrees and says there is plenty of help on offer from Enterprise Ireland.

“The unique experience and know-how of the Irish high-tech construction sector is well known in the German data centre sector, which is a great foundation for every Irish company active in this field.”

“However, Germany is a mature market, so, for many of our clients, a proven route to market is the existing relationship to Irish contractors, who are already active in Germany. This can be helpful to win an initial project and build a track record.”

“I am more than happy to help further clients with their business in Germany. Enterprise Ireland clients can either get in touch with me directly or through their Development Advisor.”

 

Want to find out more about high-tech construction opportunities in France or Germany? Contact Alix Derigny or Tim Flache respectively.

 

In 2022, Data Centre World will be back in Frankfurt (11 – 12 May) and Paris (16 – 17 November). Enterprise Ireland are supporting clients at this event. If you are interested in attending, or learning more about our plans, get in touch with Alix or Tim.

Healthcare digitalisation

Eurozone Recovery, Irish Opportunity: New EU funding and national initiatives drive healthcare digitalisation

Summary

  • NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
  • EU member states are seeking to digitalise their healthcare systems as rapidly as possible, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years
  • The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right healthcare digitalisation projects to target
  • Click or scroll down for more information about the healthcare digitalisation market in:

 

Estimated article reading time: 12 minutes

New EU funding

Across Europe, EU member states are seeking to digitalise their healthcare systems as rapidly as possible over the next three years. This is not only spurred by the pandemic, but also by an extraordinary increase in funding under the €750 billion NextGenerationEU plan, which seeks to build a more resilient Europe.

Two key goals of this plan are to make Europe digital and to make it healthy, with the development of digital healthcare an engine driving both of those. France, for example, is dedicating €2 billion to digital health alone in its national recovery and resilience plan.

“This unprecedented public funding across the EU represents an extraordinary opportunity for Irish businesses,” says Anne Lanigan, regional director, Eurozone at Enterprise Ireland. “Digitalising healthcare is now a core focus across the region, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years.”

Enabling 21st century healthcare

Within the digital goal, the EU wants to see artificial intelligence (AI) being used to improve healthcare and for public services to become digital where possible, taking advantage of 5G and EU-wide ultra-fast broadband.

The EU is also keen for member states to modernise their health systems with better access to new technology and medical supplies, and to invest more in research and innovation to develop vaccines and treatments.

Expanding digital health exports

With significant tranches of funding dedicated to both of these goals in individual member state recovery and resilience plans, this clearly presents a huge opportunity for Irish companies who produce or develop digital health products and services. That’s true whether they want to start exporting or diversify their export markets.

“The opportunities can differ from market to market and there are challenges to overcome,” says Lanigan, “but the message is clear from our offices around the region – strong Irish healthcare players with disruptive, niche or market-leading products, services or components can thrive while taking advantage of NextGenerationEU-funded opportunities.”

Given the need to pursue a market diversification strategy post-Brexit, she adds that it makes sense for companies that want to export or to expand their export activities to look to EU markets and try to take advantage of this huge increase in funded projects.

Priority areas of funding

Telemedicine

Everywhere in Europe, the pandemic has seen a huge surge in telemedicine, remote care and  remote monitoring, as both citizens seek to protect themselves and healthcare providers look to maximise resources. This sector is expanding rapidly, meaning that opportunities abound for businesses keen to export.

Optimising data and processes

Across the region, governments are also seeking to optimise processes in healthcare, making the most of software and apps, and aiming for a high level of interoperability and better co-ordination between all the different strands of healthcare systems.

They want to make better use of data, with most countries seeking to introduce or improve digital health profiles, which offer a single source of truth to each citizen and all their healthcare providers.

Other priorities

In most markets, both preventative and personalised medicine, including the use of AI in medicine, are also beginning to boom. As ever, any innovation in medical devices and device components is also going to be of interest to European customers, especially in Germany and Italy.

Innovation in medical imaging is also highly sought after, particularly in France, where it is a core focus. Medical areas in particular focus include: cardiac health; diabetes; oncology; and respiratory diseases.

In some less mature markets, such as Italy, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide innovative solutions around connectivity for healthcare locations and digital skills across the health and medical workforce.

Understanding the challenges

National healthcare systems are never straightforward, and the level and nature of the complexity involved varies from market to market. Most have both public and private healthcare systems running in parallel, although the public/private split varies significantly.

In some countries, such as Germany and Spain, private hospital chains and large insurance companies that offer branded clinics and digital products are significant actors.

While the increase in EU funding is primarily focused on public healthcare, it is worth bearing in mind that a private healthcare company can often make faster decisions and be less hamstrung by legacy and regulatory processes.

Where healthcare is concerned, localisation is important in every market, even in those with a high degree of fluency in English.

The value of local partnership

Those seeking to sell into the public healthcare system in any EU market typically need to work with a local systems integrator, who is used to navigating the complexity of the national system and national tender processes.

“Whether your company is focusing on securing public or private customers, you will need a local partner who understands the healthcare system and you may need a local office or representative,” says Lanigan.

“Part of Enterprise Ireland’s remit is to make introductions locally and to enable Irish companies set up the partnerships they need to succeed. Talk to us and we can help you.”

Digital healthcare: The Irish Advantage

While any Irish company operating in the digital healthcare space needs to offer a standout product or service to gain traction in export markets, the good news is that Irish firms are typically keeping pace with local competitors and can garner market share fast when their offering has the edge over those developed in-market.

Market snapshots

Belgium

Digitalisation of the healthcare system is a huge priority in Belgium, but language and regulatory complexity pose a challenge to exporters.

Overview

  • €5.9 billion national recovery and resilience plan
    • 27% allocated to digital initiatives

Opportunities

€40m digital healthcare funding allocated across:

  • Teleconsulting
  • E-prescribing platforms
  • Making existing eHealth applications more user-friendly

Medical priority areas:

  • Cardiac health
  • Diabetes
  • Oncology
  • Respiratory diseases

Belgian healthcare system

  • This is a fragmented market, subject to federal and regional oversight, and companies need to be ready to operate in three languages
  • Digital health products and services must be approved for reimbursement or are unlikely to be prescribed to patients

Digitalising Belgian healthcare

  • Belgium’s national recovery and resilience plan sets a key goal of making the national healthcare system more resilient, through modernisation and digitalisation
  • Its eHealth Roadmap sets out how that will happen across government, industry, service providers and patients
  • A planned Health Data Authority will make healthcare data available for research and product development

Relative digital maturity

  • Broadly speaking, the Belgian population has good digital skills but it lags behind the neighbouring Netherlands, and is also further behind in digital transformation

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France

Determined to lead the region in digital healthcare, France has introduced numerous eHealth initiatives, backed by substantial funding.

Overview

  • EU financing €40 billion of the overall €100 billion France Relance recovery plan
    • €7 billion going to health, with €2 billion in public and private funding specifically allocated to digital health initiatives

Opportunities

  • Digital prevention
  • Medical devices based on artificial intelligence
  • Innovative remote monitoring solutions
  • Imaging solutions

Digital health initiatives and innovation

  • As part of France’s intense drive to lead in digital health, it has introduced new agencies for digital transformation of health, particularly the Agence du numérique en santé (ANS), along with a national health ID and a national eHealth platform for patients & healthcare professionals
  • It is also seeking to fast-track innovation in health products and medical devices, and has recently launched a national portal for eHealth innovation
  • A new agency, the Agence de l’innovation en santé (AIS) or Agency for Healthcare Innovation aims to simplify and unify the ecosystem, to make it easier for scientists, healthcare professionals, industry and investors to collaborate
  • Reimbursement is a huge issue in France – if your digital health product or service is not on the reimbursement list, it’s extremely difficult to gain traction

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Germany

With an approvals fast track in place, Germany is committed to digital health but the competitive local scene is hard to crack.

Overview

  • €25.6 billion in grants for recovery and resilience projects
    • €3 billion to digitalise hospitals
    • €814 million to modernise public healthcare offices, with vaccine development also a key focus

Opportunities

  • Sub-supply in medical devices (supplying device components), as Germany seeks to become a medical device hub
  • Optimising administration and operational efficiency to free up the time of medical staff to focus on clinical issues

Germany’s healthcare system

  • People in Germany are generally insured by one of more than 100 public health insurers, with many also choosing to opt for private insurance
  • Large hospital chains such as Helios are key players
  • As elsewhere, reimbursement is crucial and products and services must be included on the Hilfsmittelliste – bear in mind the approvals process can be complicated

Privacy concerns

  • While the same GDPR principles apply in Germany as anywhere else in Europe, people there are particularly concerned about data privacy and need reassurance around any potential sharing of their data

Relative digital maturity

  • Germany is advanced in digital terms
  • Wearables are extremely popular for health monitoring and there is a reimbursement fast track for what are known as DiGA (Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen or digital health applications). International companies are encouraged to seek DiGA approvals
  • That said, given Germany’s size and how advanced the local scene is, those wishing to enter the market need to have an exceptional niche product and be extremely clear on its USP

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Italy

While it has lagged on the digital front, Italy is committed to modernising its healthcare system and is open to external innovation.

Overview

€191.6 billion in grants and loans for recovery and resilience

  • €15.6 billion to modernise and digitalise the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), the public health system
    • €7 billion to develop proximity networks, infrastructures and telemedicine for local care
    • €8.63 billion for research, innovation and digitalisation

Digital connectivity is also a priority, with 12,279 healthcare facilities slated to be provided with 1GBPS connectivity by 2026

Relative digital maturity

  • Italy continues to have lower digital literacy and lower investment in digital innovation than elsewhere
  • Digital skills among healthcare professionals are markedly low and only 38% of population knows about electronic health records
  • The recovery and resilience plan seeks to address this, with a core focus on modernising the healthcare system and building the digital skills of its workforce

Focus on senior care

  • With an aging population, Italy sees a significant need for digital health solutions that can support elder care
  • Large insurance companies such as Generali and Reale Mutua are already developing senior living complexes designed to incorporate digital healthcare

Local healthcare system

  • Italy is a fragmented market with considerable decentralised administration in healthcare and substantial regional differences in terms of digital maturity and healthcare ecosystems
  • Enterprise Ireland typically recommends that Irish companies enter the market by focusing on a single area in the north of the country, such as Milan
  • Across the board, public sector decision-making tends to be slower than in the private sector

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Netherlands

The Netherlands has not yet submitted a national recovery and resilience plan – the only EU member state not to do so.

With one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, the Netherlands has a strong focus on digital health innovation.

Medical priority areas

  • Cardiac health
  • Diabetes
  • Oncology
  • Respiratory diseases

Nature of healthcare system

  • Both individual and public sector spending on healthcare is much higher than the EU average and the Dutch spend the most of all EU countries on long-term care
  • All residents are mandated to buy insurance from private insurers as part of a government scheme

Relative digital maturity

  • The Netherlands is one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of both digital skills, and public and private digital transformation
  • It has many advanced solutions already in place, which can be a barrier to entry for international companies

Support for digital health

  • Digital healthcare is a huge focus, with an eHealth at home incentive scheme in place and more flexible rules introduced around reimbursement for digital health apps and services
  • The Dutch government has built an extensive Care for Innovation online portal for eHealth innovators
  • Note there is already a strong collaborative ecosystem in the Netherlands between research institutes, healthcare institutes/professionals, organisations and public bodies
  • The government is also organising a countrywide Smart Health Relay event to educate healthcare providers on innovation in healthcare solutions from Jan 31 to Feb 25 2022

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Spain

While Spain is a fragmented market due to strong regional government, opportunity abounds as digital healthcare is less advanced than elsewhere.

Overview

  • €69.5 billion national recovery and resilience plan
    • 17% going to science, innovation and modernising and strengthening the national healthcare system – together one of 10 priority policies for NextGenEU funding in Spain

Priority investment areas

  • Advanced therapies for diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, ALS and other conditions
  • Personalised precision medicine, incorporating genomic data
  • National Digital Health System with integrated database
  • Promoting primary healthcare through digital transformation

Understanding PERTE

  • Within the overall Spanish plan is PERTE (Proyectos Estratégicos para la Recuperación y Transformación Económica or strategic projects for economic recovery and transformation) to which €1.469 billion in public/private funds is being devoted until the end of 2023)
  • While Spain is the second largest recipient of funds in the EU, not many projects have been properly specced out and made available for tender yet

A fragmented market

  • With 17 autonomous communities and five official languages, Spain is not a market where a one-size-fits-all approach works
  • In fact, 55% of the national recovery and resilience funding will be managed by the Spanish state, with 45% being administered by regional authorities
  • Irish companies should begin by seeking a foothold in one area, such as Madrid, before trying to expand across the country. Note many regions have their own systems integrators
  • While targeting an often-fragmented public healthcare system can be challenging, recent reforms to speed up public sector contracting go some way to mitigating that

Spanish healthcare system

  • Almost everyone in Spain is covered by the national health system, while many also have private health insurance
  • Insurance companies such as Sanitas are particularly active in areas such as telemedicine
  • In 2019, health spending per capita in Spain was 15% lower than the EU average, while out-of-pocket payments for prescriptions and medical devices were much higher than average

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Three EU flags in front of a Eurozone recovery banner on the Berlaymont building of the European Commission

Eurozone Recovery, Irish Opportunity: How Irish companies can benefit from the EU’s recovery plan

 

Key takeouts

  • NextGenerationEU funding represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
  • From digital health care and green technology to smart cities and cybersecurity, there are hundreds of Eurozone recovery projects that will be fully funded by the EU
  • The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right markets and projects to target

 


 

What is NextGenerationEU?

We are living in extraordinary times, but it’s not all bad news for Irish business. Over the next couple of years, those who can or who are keen to export can take advantage of a significant opportunity, fuelled by the NextGenerationEU funding package put in place by the European Commission. At €750 billion*, it’s the largest ever stimulus package in Europe and some is directly aimed at SMEs.

“The objective is twofold,” explains Marco Lopriore, at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA). “It is recovery, to help the European economy recover from the past year, but it is also resilience.

“This is a push for a radical transformation of consumption and production to prepare European economies to withstand future crises in a better way. We’re speaking in Brussels about a paradigm shift. This is basically changing the way we function completely.”

Within the overall project, the EU level of investment is supplemented by the agendas and priorities of each national government.

*The current value of the funding is €806.9 billion. It was €750 billion when agreed in 2018.

 


 

What does the Eurozone recovery plan mean for Irish SMEs?

This Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) means a wave of funding unrolling across all 27 EU member states to support investment in public services and infrastructure, to make Europe greener, more digital and more resilient.

As Ireland seeks to build a deeper trade relationship with Europe, that funding represents an excellent opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or to deepen and scale their presence in existing markets.

Across everything from digital health care and green technology to smart cities and cybersecurity, there are hundreds of Eurozone recovery projects to complete across the EU over the next few years. All of them will be fully funded.

“SMEs are not always directly affected by macroeconomics,” says Anne Lanigan, regional director, Eurozone at Enterprise Ireland, “but when that volume of money is going into it, especially to drive the green and digital agenda, it has to have an impact on what is happening at a business level.”

 


 

Core focus on green and digital

European Commission bannerThe overall fund is focused on six pillars, with the green transition and digital transformation being top of the list. The European Commission has specified that each country must assign at least 37% and 20% of their spending to those pillars, respectively.

“Several member states have gone beyond those minimum thresholds,” says Lopriore. “Luxembourg, for example, is putting 60% to green, while Germany is putting 50% to digital.

The green transition covers everything from clean tech, renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable transport, improving water quality to creating greener cities and making farming more eco-friendly.

Digital projects to get funding span 5G, digitalisation of public service, cloud computing, smart cities, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, including projects focused on reskilling and upskilling to improve digital literacy.

 


 

Leaning into Irish tech expertise

Areas in which many Irish firms specialise, such as cybersecurity and the digitalisation of health are a significant focus in many plans, says Lopriore, who wrote extensively on national areas of focus for NextGenerationEU funding in a recent paper.

“In Belgium, for example, the plan is to spend €585m on digitalisation, of which almost €80m is allocated to cybersecurity. Spain wants to reinforce cybersecurity on its rail network, its air traffic control, its central public administration and in the tourism sector.”

When it comes to providing health and medical services online, France will invest €2 billion in the digitalisation of health, while Germany will invest €3.8 billion.

 


 

Breaking into a new European market

The funding offers new momentum to Irish exporters targeting Europe, a trend that was already soaring, says Lanigan.

Anne Lanigan, Patrick Torrekins, Leo Varadkar, Leo Clancy“Since we implemented our Eurozone strategy in 2017, we’ve seen a 33% jump in exports from Ireland to the Eurozone,” she says. “Even in 2020, when some sectors were hit very hard, we still saw a 1.6% growth in exports, which is significant considering economies across Europe shrunk.

For companies that want to export for the first time or to diversify their export markets, Enterprise Ireland can offer support and advice. This includes everything from market research and helping a company to get export-ready to tapping into a wide network of contacts and making the right introductions.

“The easiest model is where a client is looking for a customer and we can introduce them,” says Lanigan. “Exporting often involves a local partner and we introduce companies to the right people– the local influencers, the potential partners and those they could collaborate with, including other Irish companies.

“We work to build clusters that bring companies in the same space together,” she explains. “If there is an opportunity around smart mobility, for example, we can bring companies working in that area together and introduce them to the right people.”

 


 

Finding the right market to target

The markets of interest to individual companies will depend on the nature of the products and services they offer. Those selling into the tourism and hospitality sector, for example, will find more extensive opportunities in Southern Europe, where governments are placing more emphasis on this sector.

Many countries mention renovating buildings to be more energy-efficient and installing more electric vehicle charging situations, but Germany is putting particular emphasis on hydrogen production and AI, for example.

Detailed country-by-country information in English on the plans and priorities of each Member State can be found here.

 


 

How will the Eurozone recovery funding work in practice?

  • While SMEs may believe trying to tender for public contracts is too complex and likely to be choked by red tape, 15% of the NextGenerationEU funding will benefit SMEs – more than half of that in direct business.
  • Furthermore, Enterprise Ireland can advise on the tendering process.
  • In practice, each EU state has its own national Resilience and Recovery Plan (RRP), with all projects in it open to public tender on an online portal.
  • Some of these portals, such as those of France, Italy and Portugal, are already up and running.
  • Every project linked to this Eurozone recovery funding must be completed by 2026.

 


 

Rising to the export challenge

While deciding to expand export operations can seem daunting to some, Lanigan encourages Irish business owners and managers to examine the RRP options open to them. That includes going beyond the UK, even as a first export market.

“Diversifying our export markets has become even more important since Brexit,” she says. “Now, 29% of our clients’ exports go to the UK, but that is down from 45% a decade ago.

A marked improvement in marine links is helping, she adds, as more routes with more capacity mean it is much easier to trade directly with EU customers.

“We have a huge market on our doorstep. After all, we have the biggest free trade agreement in the world, with no customs, no tariffs and no regulatory challenges. And, of course, for 19 countries in the Eurozone, there are no currency costs.”

“Irish companies have a great reputation across Europe, with customers having a really positive view of them. And when you see the Irish products and services selling into Europe – they are top notch and born of incredible innovation – it’s evident why they are well regarded.”

 

If you’re interested in starting to export to the Eurozone or in growing your exports to the Eurozone, get in touch.

Irish Aviation House at Dubai Airshow

How innovative Irish companies are leading the world in aviation

Every industry has been affected by the twin challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit, but it’s fair to say that one of the industries affected the most by the pandemic, in particular, is aviation. Eighteen months of grounded fleets, changing restrictions, lockdowns and reduced capacity took its toll on the industry resulting in redundancies, closures and mass disruption.

But travel remains a necessity in today’s business world, and thankfully things are finally looking up for global aviation. Mass vaccination programmes and the easing of restrictions mean that people are once again travelling abroad, and there has even been reports of pent-up demand in both business and leisure travel. While virtual platforms kept the business world ticking over during the pandemic, there appears to be a general realisation that these could never replace the power of face-to-face meetings – thus resulting in a big increase in air transit activity once restrictions were eased.

But while some semblance of normality has returned, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has resulted in huge changes for the industry.

“Companies and stakeholders are now looking for innovative solutions to substantial challenges in many areas,” says Alan O’Mahony, International Market Advisor in the Middle East and North Africa.

“With a strong and growing ecosystem that covers virtually every area of the sector, Irish companies can now offer a compelling package of solutions for every challenge faced by global aviation companies.”

 

A proud tradition

It’s no surprise that Ireland is leading the way once more as aviation enters a new age. Our long and proud history in aviation dates way back to when pioneering aviators Alcock and Brown landed in Ireland after the world’s first transatlantic flight. We also introduced the concept of duty free shopping to the world at Shannon Airport in the 1940s. Most significantly, Ireland’s Guinness Peat Aviation launched the concept of aircraft leasing in the 1970s – today Ireland commands around 60% of the global leasing market, with more than 50 aircraft leasing companies with a presence in Ireland.

 In more recent years, the concept of low-cost flying was pioneered by Ryanair in the 1990s, turning the airline into Europe’s largest by passenger numbers. We have also produced some of the most important people in global aviation today, including Alan Joyce, Chief Executive of Qantas Airways; Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA; and Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair.

 Today, Ireland is home to a thriving ecosystem of 250 aviation and aerospace companies that spans all aspects of the sector, from maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) to simulation training.

“These companies have proved their resilience and flexibility by producing solutions to some of the most serious and urgent issues faced by the global aviation industry today,” explains Alan. “These include travel tech solutions, such as the world’s first widely adopted mobile health passport, VeriFLY from Daon; technical textiles, such as anti-microbial carpets from aircraft interior experts Botany Weaving; and training and development, such as simulator training for pilots and crews from Simtech Aviation. In addition, Irish MRO operators such as Atlantic Aviation Group, Dublin Aerospace and Eirtech Aviation Services have made acquisitions of facilities in Ireland and the UK to increase their capacity for international business and take advantage of the impending sharp rebound in air travel.”

 

Irish Aviation House at the Dubai Airshow 2021

To demonstrate our strong offerings in aviation’s new dawn, Enterprise Ireland launched the Irish Aviation House at the Dubai Airshow in November, the only international airshow to be held in 2021. This world-class show is known for facilitating thousands of face-to-face meetings, commercial deals and new partnerships. For example, the 2019 Dubai Airshow achieved an order book worth a staggering $54.5 billion.

The Irish Aviation House was a new collaborative concept that brought together the best of Ireland’s aviation and aerospace ecosystem under the one roof. It was designed to showcase the strength of Irish aviation stakeholders in every area of the industry, such as MRO, aircraft interiors, training & recruitment, technology, aerospace manufacturing, drones and, of course, aircraft leasing.

“Our aim was to build stronger ties between Irish aviation and aerospace companies and global aircraft lessors headquartered in Ireland,” says Alan. “We have an incredibly strong complementary offering, which along with our traditional strengths, makes up a truly compelling offer for international airlines and aviation stakeholders. Even before the show, the Irish Aviation House attracted a lot of attention from leading airlines and companies in the Middle East and worldwide.”

The Irish Aviation House proved to be the perfect showcase for innovative Irish companies in the world of aviation; a showcase that was strengthened even further by Enterprise Ireland’s hosting of a symposium event in conjunction with IATA at the Dubai Airshow, which was attended by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar. Attendees included CEOs from some of the world’s biggest airlines, including Emirates, Fly Dubai, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways and Kuwait Airways.

Showcasing such innovative talent in the Irish aviation industry in Dubai cements Ireland’s reputation in global aviation – a reputation that we intend to nurture and grow right into 2022.

 

 

Med in Ireland 2021

Med in Ireland: Showcasing Ireland’s strength in the global medtech industry

Med in Ireland 2021

Ireland has long been known as one of the epicentres of the medtech world. Not only has our country been chosen as a base for many of the biggest medtech companies in the world, thanks to our excellent talent base and reputation for timely research and development, but we have also been responsible for producing our own ground-breaking companies, some of which have made a real impact on a global scale.

In fact, Ireland is now one of the top five global medtech hubs and home to up to 350 companies in the sector, including 14 of the world’s top 15 medtech companies. We are also the largest medtech employer per capita in Europe, with 45,000 people employed in the sector. Our medtech industry exports over €13 billion to over 100 countries every year, positioning Ireland as the second-largest exporter of medtech products in Europe.

Over 200 of those medtech companies are Irish, and one in five of those working in the sector are employed directly by Irish-owned medtech companies. The impact of these companies on the economy is significant – in 2020, Enterprise Ireland life sciences clients achieved exports of €1.9 billion.

“Ireland has long been a leader in the medtech world,” says Deirdre Glenn, Director, Life Sciences Sector at Enterprise Ireland.

“Our success is down to a combination of track record and forward thinking and a deep pool of experience and highly trained talent. This is boosted by a fertile ecosystem that integrates industry, research and the clinical community to promote high-quality innovation.”

Never has our strength in medtech been so needed than over the last 18 months, when the world found itself in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous Irish companies reacted quickly to the crisis, pivoting their offerings to create valuable solutions to aspects of the pandemic or ramping up production to supply essential devices to hospitals around the world. In fact, Ireland is currently ranked fifth in the world for Covid-19 related goods, with companies such as, Aerogen, patientMPower and PMD Solutions leading the way in medtech innovation.

 

Med in Ireland

Now, however, we are moving into a post-pandemic world, a world where healthcare needs have changed significantly and medtech innovations are needed more than ever before. And once again, Irish innovators are responding quickly with some great innovations.

“Irish medtech companies proved how agile and flexible they were during the pandemic,” says Deirdre. “Our focus has now turned to the post-Covid world, and how the pandemic has changed healthcare, both in terms of how we access it and in terms of how it is delivered. A lot of eyes are on Irish innovators, some of whom have already come up with exciting solutions.”

Many of these were showcased in Med in Ireland, which took place virtually on 3-4 November 2021. A biennial event, Med in Ireland is a high-profile national showcase for the entire spectrum of the Irish medtech sector, encompassing medical devices, medical sub-supply,  diagnostics, digital health, healthcare providers, clinicians and research professionals. This year, 81 Irish manufacturing and healthcare solution providers took part in the event, meeting with international healthcare buyers in a series of virtual one-to-one meetings arranged by Enterprise Ireland. Ireland’s collaborative supports that drive company innovation were also a key focus of the event, while the Innovation Zone showcased some truly exciting start-ups of the future.

“The focus at this year’s Med in Ireland is very much on the themes shaping the post-pandemic healthcare world,” says Deirdre. “These include industry changes such as the move to preventative care, the role of digitalisation in the shift to healthcare outside of hospital settings, the emergence of technologies that reduce environmental impact and improve competitiveness, and the development of new distribution and inventory management models to supply chain weaknesses.”

These themes were at the forefront of the event from the very start, with a special conference featuring a keynote speech from Lorna Ross, Chief Innovation Officer at VHI Health & Wellbeing, and a panel discussion on the future of global healthcare.

Participants could then enjoy example after example of how Irish innovators are responding the needs of healthcare in the post-Covid world. “We have a number of really impressive client companies producing solutions that are required on a global scale,” says Deirdre. “These include LetsGetChecked, a virtual care company that offers over 30 different at-home tests that act as an alternative to traditional in-person medical visits; Swiftqueue, a company offering a self-service portal that allows patients to manage medical appointments across multiple clinic settings; and Vitalograph, a global leader in respiratory diagnostics and clinical trials that offers remote monitoring of lung function and disorders.”

Once again, Med in Ireland attracted leading healthcare providers from all over the world, all of whom look to Ireland for solutions, with the hope of co-developing and commercialising new medical technologies with Irish innovation at its core. Ireland has clearly played a huge role in shaping global healthcare – and that role looks to be growing even further as we move through this period of recovery.

Visit www.medinireland.ie or watch the conference below.

Creating innovative solutions to new and emerging threats

Cybersecurity solutions that address new and emerging threats

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

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

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

 

Irish cybersecurity solutions

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

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

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

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

 

Remote working challenges

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

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

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

 

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

NearForm

Nearform – necessity is the mother of invention

“We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly.”

– Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions, NearForm.

Case Study: NearForm

Every growing company juggles day-to-day demands with the need to innovate. NearForm, a Waterford-based global software consultancy with 200 staff in 29 countries, had the vision and ability to scale, but they needed help and found it in Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund.

Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions at NearForm explains: “”The potential for us was to develop software tools to help us deliver more solutions at higher speed and scale in a repeatable way. While we had all the skills and leadership to do this, we needed some commercial space to be able to take staff off client work and dedicate them to research and development.”

Seeing the potential

In 2019, the team at NearForm started to look at how they could evolve their services, but they needed to innovate quickly to make their growth plans a reality. In Q4, they applied, and were approved, for Enterprise Ireland’s (Business Innovation Initiative) under the Agile Innovation Fund. Nearform’s Development Advisor  guided them through the application and approval process.

The company has a global client list: London banks, US pharmaceutical companies, retail chains in South America, as well as blue chip brands like American Express, The New York Times and closer to home, the Health Service Executive (HSE).  But despite the wide variety of fields, all these organisations face the same challenge.

Facing the challenge

Ger says: “All of our clients want to be modern digital enterprises with market leading digital services. It’s the number one challenge in our market, not just for growth but for survival, as the world is dominated by fast-moving digital companies.”

“We’ve always been able to deliver change for clients with great digital solutions. What we came to realise – in the age of Amazon – was that delivering a great solution was not enough. We wanted to create digital platforms to deliver new features and services continuously for clients, so they could move as fast or faster than the digital native disruptors that might take their market,” he adds.

What NearForm hoped to achieve was ambitious. A lot of their work was, and still is, delivered from the open web platform – a global shared ecosystem for coders – using open source components. The team at NearForm realised that if they wanted faster, reliable solutions for their clients, they needed to move the existing open source technology forward.  By doing so, the technology would be more ‘enterprise ready’.

NearForm wanted to “advance the whole open source platform and make it available to everybody, not just our clients,” Ger says.

“Because we’re a tech services company, there’s always a pressure to be billable. We were able to do it because of the commercial cover afforded by the fund,” he says.

Learning from the process

The speedy application process for the Business Innovation Initiative (Agile Innovation Fund) had an unexpected benefit. “It made us think about our own approach and outcomes carefully,” Ger says.  “It was literally applied for in October and approved in December of the same year.”

The project kicked off in December 2019 – the timing proved to be serendipitous. Amongst the many benefits envisioned, the project aimed to accelerate their solutions. Once Covid hit, speed became even more important for their clients. And new clients soon came their way.

NearForm were approached by the HSE to create the Covid tracking app for Ireland and went on to create similar apps for nine jurisdictions. Ger says: “Everywhere from Jersey to New Jersey. We created the software, but we also donated it to the Linux Foundation so that every country could have the Covid tracking app as open source code.”

Overall, across all sectors, the impact of the innovation fund was faster delivery of high quality solutions and of course, increased revenue.  “We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly,” Ger says.

Their unique understanding of the open source code they advanced has caught the attention of global investors. They recently secured funding from a US venture capital firm. “One of the reasons we got investment is that they were so interested in our expertise in open source. Being able to show that we were investing in that was definitely a contributing factor to getting funding.”

What advice would he give to anyone thinking of applying for the Agile Innovation Fund and pursuing an innovation project? “It’s an opportunity to create longer-term value,” Ger says. “Our view is that if you’re not innovating then your competitors will be. Innovation is not just a nice to have, but a necessity for growth.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.

 

Delmec

Delmec find a way to make their data capture and sharing process more efficient

“People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there. The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

– Damien Kelly, Head of Engineering & Innovation, Delmec.

Case Study: Delmec

Delmec, a global telecoms solutions company, headquartered in Carlow, was faced with a problem. Their engineers were recording data manually while doing survey work for tower owners and mobile network operators in Africa. It was leading to vast amounts of paperwork and it was unsustainable.

Head of Engineering and Innovation Damien Kelly explains: “It was a long drawn out process, our teams had to capture all the details on site, on paper. They’d then go back to the hotel or office, take photographs or scans of the survey and send it all to our design office, who had to try to read the information, model the tower, analyse it and write up a report.”

Handwritten data resulted in inconsistencies and the sharing of data post-survey led to delays.

Delmec had to find a way to make their data capture and sharing process more efficient. By doing so, they could speed up their operations and then scale the business. Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund was there to help.

Taking the leap

Delmec has a Telecoms Infrastructure Management system (TiMS). A cloud based assessment management system; it allows clients to monitor tower capacity, view
maintenance schedules and input trouble-tickets for thousands of telecommunications masts around the world. The company wanted to develop an app that would replace the old paper-based and manual way of working, and work in tandem with TiMS.

“The teams all had phones, we wanted to see if there was a way to automate things onsite and to capture the information digitally by tapping into the TiMS system,” Damien says. “We knew it was going to be a large undertaking. But we needed to jump on it because it was going to build the business for the next five to ten years.” he says. But there were doubts over changing familiar ways of working and the level of investment required. “We knew it was going to be a long journey and we needed buy-in from everyone to be able to do it,” Damien says.

A partner in change

After some research, Delmec signed up to a webinar to find out about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund. The company liked what it saw and applied. The process from application to decision was quick, only taking four months to complete.

The application for the fund also helped Delmec map out the project. “Part of the application process involves scoping. By doing that, you’re then visualising what it is and you’re identifying problems,” he says.

“Enterprise Ireland holds your hand through the whole thing, there’s a lot of work but you’re not on your own,” Damien says.

Once the Agile Innovation Fund was secured, the internally-named ‘Eiffel’ project got underway. As with any app build, there were different iterations; it took eight months to complete its first stage.

A towering success

“It opened the floodgates to everything,” Damien says. Their design teams could access data in real-time and client partners were wowed by the speed of the process. The Agile Innovation Fund enabled Delmec to scale, they secured new contracts in Asia and the Middle East and they are now planning to expand to Europe.

The streamlined process means it can work with contractors in remote locations if needed. This proved to be essential when Delmec couldn’t dispatch their teams to towers due to local COVID-19 lockdowns. “If we didn’t have the app, I don’t know what position we’d be in now. We rely heavily on it,” Damien adds.

Delmec has built on the functionality of the app, moving it from a real-time data capture and sharing tool to something much more powerful. It not only drives efficiency throughout the entire business, it now drives ideas. The app tracks suggestions from team members who think something could be done better, everyone from accountants to engineers are encouraged to input.

The Eiffel project has also changed the mindset of the team. They have seen the benefits of embracing innovation and want to continue to evolve. It has given the business an edge over risk-averse competitors who are slow to embrace change.

How can other businesses nurture an innovative mindset? “People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there,” Damien says. “The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.

 

Global Recovery. Irish Opportunity

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

Global Recovery - Irish Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Finding opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

 

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