GA Bringing Irish healthcare innovation to the world - Minister Stephen Donnelly attends Arab Health expo

Bringing Irish healthcare innovation to the world

 

There have been many headlines about the strength of the Irish medtech sector, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of our indigenous life sciences companies are making waves in every corner of the world, and big economies such as the US are looking to Ireland for innovative solutions for every aspect of healthcare.

 

The Arab Health exhibition

 

This strength was demonstrated at this year’s Arab Health, the leading exhibition in the MENA region for the healthcare industry. The 2022 event took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 January and was followed by an online event from 31 January – 10 February.

Enterprise Ireland had a significant presence at the event, showcasing the work of 14 companies. An additional six client companies also attended the show.

The influence of Arab Health cannot be underestimated. For many years, it has been a major event for connecting clinicians, procurement professionals, dealers and distributors from all over the world. This year, more than 3,500 exhibitors took part and over 56,000 healthcare professionals attended, all eager to see the latest innovations.

 

The changing healthcare landscape

 

The theme of this year’s event was ‘United by Business, Forging Ahead’, which reflected the importance that new technologies and innovation have in today’s rapidly changing global healthcare industry. According to Eamon Sikafi, Commercial Counsellor – Middle East & North Africa at Enterprise Ireland, this means plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.

“The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a prosperous region with plenty of opportunities for Irish healthcare innovators,” Eamon explains.

“For example, digitalisation is very much at a pilot stage in most GCC countries, offering significant opportunities for Irish companies working in this sector.”

“Another trend is the move to domestic drug production. Currently, over 90% of the market is driven by imported drugs, but a rising number of collaborations between multinational companies and domestic manufacturing looks set to change this.”

“A third area in which Irish companies are particularly strong is medical technologies. The GCC medical technologies market accounts for 2.7% of global revenues, but currently the sector is dominated by imports. Domestic manufacturing is still in its early stages and accounts for less than 20% of market revenues.”

 

Opportunities for Irish companies in healthcare innovation

 

Enterprise Ireland market advisors have identified areas in the region that are filled with opportunities for Irish companies between now and 2030.

Electronic Health Records (EHR), artificial intelligence for radiology, robotic surgeries and patient engagement platforms for pharmaceutical companies are predicted to become a $2 billion market by 2030,” Eamon says.

“The number of hospitals across the GCC is expected to triple by 2030. Primary care clinics, e-clinics and micro hospitals will represent new areas of investment focus over the next decade.”

Public Private Partnership (PPP) opportunities will support growth across the region, with at least 40% of private sector healthcare growth driven by PPP. Investment in cancer treatment technologies will surge as early diagnosis of cancer is likely to increase by 10% by 2030.”

“Collaboration between hospitals and companies to develop corporate wellness programs will become a $2 billion market by 2030. And, medical consumables manufacturing is likely to emerge as a $30 billion market by end of 2030, with Saudi Arabia poised to become a regional hub by 2023.”

 

Irish success stories in healthcare innovation

 

AceTech

Irish company AceTech has built up business in the region worth €10 million, working in the areas of safety, patient care and AI software for several ambulance services in GCC countries and cities.

 

Aerogen

Galway-based Aerogen, a leader in aerosol medication delivery systems, opened an office in Dubai in 2018 and has grown significantly in the region since the start of the pandemic. Most recently, the company announced a major deal with Gulf Medical, a market leader in medical device distribution in Saudi Arabia.

 

Fleming Medical

Fleming Medical began operating in the region in 2014 and currently services several GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman. This year, the company plans to expand operations into Iraq and North Africa, growing business by 25% by the end of 2023.

 

Contact Eamon Sikafi to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you explore healthcare innovation opportunities in the Middle East.

 

A man and woman wearing headsets for immersive entertainment purposes

The Irish businesses making waves in the immersive entertainment sector

 

Irish people have a long and proud history of storytelling. From the ancient seanchaí to poets, musicians and novelists, the Irish ability to tell a story in an unforgettable and imaginative way is famous across the world.

With storytelling at the core of today’s artificial reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and immersive experiences, combined with Ireland’s reputation for excellence in technological innovation, it should come as no surprise that several Irish companies are making waves in this sector.

 

Overview of the immersive entertainment sector

 

“The immersive entertainment sector actually grew during the Covid-19 pandemic,” notes Bartosz Siepracki, Senior ICT Market Advisor, Poland and Baltics, and Global Digital Entertainment Sector Lead at Enterprise Ireland.

Cinema restrictions resulted in more people looking for immersive entertainment experiences at home. As a result, consumers worldwide spent $9.9 billion on AR and VR during 2020.”

“During the same period, just $7 billion was spent on cinema attendance. Investors are recognising this growth and responding accordingly. This means there are plenty of opportunities for Irish companies looking to enter the sector.”

These opportunities become even more significant when the impressive long-term predictions are taken into account.

A report on Statistica predicts that the global immersive market will grow to almost $300 billion by 2024. This means that immersive media will be as significant to us as mobile apps are today.”

“There is another piece to this fast growth,” notes Bartosz. “With this being such a rapidly growing and developing industry, companies entering the sector today will play a valuable role in shaping the world of immersive entertainment over the coming decades.”

 

Opportunities for Irish companies in immersive entertainment

 

Recognising the massive potential of this growing sector, Enterprise Ireland is supporting Irish companies that wish to enter or increase their presence in the industry.

As part of this, a new guide, ‘Opportunities in Immersive Media Entertainment’, has been developed by the UK-based Limina Immersive consultancy in partnership with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish entertainment companies recognise, prepare for and take advantage of these opportunities globally.

Headed by globally recognised expert Catherine Allen, Limina is also currently working with several Irish SMEs branching out into the sector.

“The guide looks at the current immersive entertainment market and the areas of growth over the coming years, along with the digital technology trends, investment opportunities and advice on getting your immersive entertainment projects off the ground.”

 

Irish businesses that found success in the sector

 

Engage XR

“Many Irish companies are already finding success in the area,” says Bartosz. “For example, Engage XR (previously known as Immersive VR Education) launched a VR documentary in April 2016, ‘Apollo 11’, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s based on NASA’s original material from the first lunar expedition in 1969. It allows the user to fly the command module, operate the lunar lander and carry out experiments on the moon.”

“Since then, the company has developed its ENGAGE platform, which enables VR education, collaboration and events. This is now used by over 130 commercial customers including Fortune 500 companies Meta and 3M.”

 

Volograms

Another area of growth is in volumetric filmmaking, most notably how to make it easy and affordable for both professional headsets and mobile experiences. “Volograms has developed state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms powering 3D reconstruction, multi-view texture mapping and many more important features,” says Bartosz. “Its mobile app allows anyone to capture volumetric video of someone, resize it and place it in a different context.”

 

Pink Kong Studio

Ireland’s animation industry has long been admired for its carefully crafted stories for both adults and children. Naturally, this sector is playing a big role in advancing the world of immersive entertainment too. “Most famous of all is Aurora, developed by Pink Kong Studio in 2018,” says Bartosz. “Aurora is an emotional story about a family of three living in a forest and has received multiple accolades around the world. These include the 2018 Monolith Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Immersive VR’ from Infinity Film Festival Beverly Hills.”

 

Algorithm

Irish companies are taking the technology to the outdoors too, for everyone to enjoy. “Living Canvas was developed by Algorithm and is noted for bringing technology into the cultural sphere,” explains Bartosz. “It’s one of the world’s first outdoor digital screens used exclusively for artistic and cultural content. It’s currently located in Wilton Park where it operates as an exciting open-air gallery. Anyone living in or visiting Dublin can experience this wonderful new technology for themselves.”

“People don’t need a complicated entertainment system or even a top-of-the-range phone to experience this new world.”

 

Contact Bartosz Siepracki to find out how Enterprise Ireland can help you explore opportunities in the immersive entertainment sector.

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.

 

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.

The Level Project: Promoting gender balance in leadership teams

The Level Project: Promoting gender balance in leadership roles

 

Gender balance, diversity and inclusion is something we strive to promote as much as possible as a society, but in the world of business, having gender balance in a leadership team has been proved to have a very real and positive impact on a company.

As a result, gender balance in management is something that Enterprise Ireland is widely advocating and supporting through a major new initiative, The Level Project.

 

What is The Level Project?

Sheelagh Daly, Enterprise IrelandThe Level Project has its origins in Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan for Women in Business, which recognised that increasing the number of women in middle and senior management, as well as on boards, leads to more successful, sustainable and profitable businesses. “The Plan saw that there are considerable economic benefits that lie, untapped, in women in their roles both as customers and as talent,” says Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. “In essence, by achieving gender balance, a company is tapping into 100% of the talent pool and 100% of the market.”

The findings of the report is reflected in numerous studies that show that gender-balanced leadership teams can help businesses grow on a global scale. But despite all these studies and their clear conclusions, Irish companies are a long way from achieving gender balance in senior teams.

There are numerous reasons why, but in the interests of helping companies progress and work towards their own individual gender-balance goals, The Level Project is a practical initiative that includes an online Action Planning Toolkit. Free to all companies, this toolkit helps companies assess their current situation and put in place real actions to enhance gender balance in senior teams.

“Achieving gender balance is certainly harder in some industries than others, but simply taking some steps to enhance the gender balance of your leadership team can have tangible benefits for your business,” explains Sheelagh.

“For example, visibly championing gender balance can have a positive effect on attracting and retaining talent. Gender balance in leadership also leads to increased creativity and innovation, thanks to diversity in thought and mindset, as well as a greater understanding of your customer base.”

 

Striving for better

These advantages are already being experienced by four early champions of The Level Project.

VRAI is a fast-growing tech firm in the field of data-driven VR simulation training, and believes that a diversity of mindset is essential to help mitigate the complexity of what they are trying to achieve.

Similarly, Spearline, a leader in telecommunication technology, credits a better understanding of their diverse customer base to diversity within their senior teams.

For CLS, Ireland’s largest contract laboratory, having gender balance throughout the company, especially in leadership teams, creates harmony in the workplace, which can only lead to success.

Vivian Farrell, CEO Modular AutomationHowever, achieving gender balance is very much a long-term plan for a lot of companies, especially those in industries that are traditionally male dominated. For example, Shannon-based Modular Automation has recognised that gender balance is hard to reach if girls are not seeing engineering as a viable career choice in school – a key part of their strategy is therefore demonstrating the advantages of studying engineering to girls at Junior Cert stage and lower.

“All four of these companies have implemented very real strategies to enhance gender balance in senior leadership,” says Sheelagh. “While they recognise that this is a long-term project, the advantages of such strategies are already being experienced.”

 

Introducing the Toolkit

A key part of The Level Project is the Action Planning Toolkit, which is suitable for all companies, big and small, whether they are just starting out on their gender balance journey or want to improve and target their efforts even further. The Toolkit consists of six themes (Strategy, Attract, Retain, Develop, Engage, Measure), each of which is divided into two levels according to how advanced a company is. “We recommend that every company should start with the Strategy theme,” explains Sheelagh.

A series of questions is included within each theme; answering ‘No’ to a question presents the user with suggested actions to include in their plan. Each theme also includes links to helpful resources such as guides, templates and expert insights. Once finished, an editable Action Plan for the company can be downloaded, which includes all the actions chosen  as well as space for notes.

The online toolkit can be used free of charge by ALL companies.

Enterprise Ireland client companies can also apply for several supports to help develop and implement their gender balance plan. Details of these supports can be found here or by talking to your Development Advisor.

 

More information on The Level Project, including access to the Action Planning Toolkit and details of financial aids available, can be found here

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.

 

Insights into the Commercialisation of Diagnostice webinar

Insights to the Commercialisation of Diagnostics

Enterprise Ireland UK in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics, the world’s largest biotech company and the world leader in in vitro diagnostics, examined the route to commercialisation, market access and economic modelling in this Insights into the Commercialisation of Diagnostics webinar.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Farrell, CEO Modular Automation

Modular Automation: Creating and nurturing the women leaders of tomorrow in Ireland’s engineering sector  

What do you do to promote gender balance in an industry when there are simply not enough women actually coming through the educational process? This was the issue faced by Shannon-based Modular Automation, a cutting-edge provider of complete automation integration solutions for the medtech sector in Ireland, Europe, North America and beyond. Engineering, particularly electrical and mechanical, tends to be very male-dominated, a fact discovered by Modular’s CEO, Vivian Farrell.

With a background in strategic marketing and working at a management level in Bank of Ireland, Sherry Fitzgerald and Vodafone, Vivian joined Modular seven years ago to head up their brand marketing and communications. “After spending 11 years with Vodafone in their headquarters, I wanted to explore something different as I had three small children by then. I decided to move back to Tipperary, near to where I was from, and discovered that the west of the country was a hotbed for medtech, with a lot of big names here. I didn’t know a lot about the industry but I was interested, and when a marketing role came up in Modular, I decided to go for it.”

As a non-engineer and a woman, Vivian found herself something of a rarity in the industry. “It’s unusual to come across another female CEO in these circles, or women in leadership roles, because engineering tends to be quite male-dominated. Things are changing but it’s slow.

Currently, there are 170 people on the Modular team. Creating a gender balance is extremely important to us and we have a number of initiatives to boost this.” says Farrell.

“Currently we’re at 10%, which isn’t exactly where we want to be, but it reflects the type of business that we’re in. We’ve set ourselves a target as a management team of getting to 30% by 2025. The 10% are mostly outside of the core engineering roles in our business.”

 

New initiatives

Their gender-balance target is ambitious, but Vivian says they are working hard to achieve it. “In the last 12 months we introduced paid maternity leave, something that’s very common in the multinational space, but more unusual for an SME. We put this into place to promote a better gender balance – but also to compete with those multinationals for talent. We also celebrate any big days, for instance, we celebrated International Women’s Day by giving every woman in the business a copy of Michelle Obama’s book, ‘Becoming’.

“We’re also very vocal about being inclusive as a company and talking about our 30% goal – this in a way is setting out our stall for potential employees.” says Farrell.

Like many companies in the sector, Modular also offers an apprentice scheme. “Traditionally our apprentice schemes would be in electrical engineering and tool-making – we have not had even a single female application for these. But we are rolling out new apprenticeships to other areas of the business, and I think that will provide another career path for women.”

 

Back to the start

In such a male-dominated industry, change takes time, and Vivian believes it needs to go back to the schools. “Female applicants are still few and far between. So it’s a long game – we need to be engaging with girls at Junior Cert stage or even earlier. We are seeing little glimmers of success; for me, in the role that I’m in, I feel the responsibility of showing girls that they can get to a leadership role in the industry.

“I’m involved in an initiative called Explore Engineering, which is led by key business leaders in the Midwest, along with the two main educators, UL and LIT. Our role is to increase the supply of engineers into the Midwest region; a key part of that is to get girls to consider engineering as a career choice. So for us at Modular, we are going to schools and talking to the students, building relationships with the principals and career guidance teachers, encouraging skill-building visits to us and other businesses, getting them to meet some of our younger engineers to learn more about the job.”

The battle, then, is to get women into the industry first, then to nurture their talent to get them into a leadership role. “It’s not easy to be the only woman in a big team of men and it’s about nurturing them and keeping an eye on them to make sure they progress. As a leader, you have to be aware of that and ensure you have strategies in place to help them prosper in those types of environments. For instance, offering greater flexibility so parents can juggle caring and their jobs by offering working from home options or allowing flexible working hours to accommodate the school run – which I have myself.

“Being a working mum myself, I know what it’s like and what you need, so I can bring that understanding to the organisation to try and make it a better place for women to work.”

Ultimately, however, getting that balance is worthwhile on a business level, Vivian explains.

“Our business is built on designing and building equipment, creating new solutions; that environment requires a high level of creativity and idea generation so therefore needs as much diversity of thought and opinions as possible.

But while organisations can make a change on a small and local level, ultimately, we need to change on a national level. “This is such a difficult, complicated topic, and it has to be a national conversation in order to change things,” says Vivian. “Organisations like Enterprise Ireland have a part to play, and something like The Level Project will certainly help to bring the topic into the spotlight. Having two daughters myself, I’ve seen the lack of awareness as they go through school. It’s a cultural change so it takes time.”

 

Start improving gender balance in your company with The Level Project Toolkit.

Paul McCloskey, Tyndall Institute

LEDLUM, a shining light in LED efficiency  

LEDLUM

Horizon 2020 was about putting together the right consortium that could do cutting-edge research and also produce something that can be commercialized in the near future.

Paul McCloskey, Head of Integrated Magnetics group at Tyndall National Institute

Key Takeouts:

  • Tyndall Institute played a key role in a recently completed project that aimed to significantly reduce the size and weight of LED drivers while increasing their lifetime expectancy.
  • The ambitious 3.5-year project received €4.1m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
  • The outcomes included near-market LED driver prototypes with 40% volume and 59% weight reduction, a research prototype with a volume of just 12% of current best in class, and significant advancement in the field of magnetics on silicon.

H2020 Case Study: LEDLUM

As the world faces the imminent impact of climate change, there has never been a greater focus on environmental issues nor a greater sense of urgency. While governments debate macro issues, some researchers are looking at small concerns that can have a big impact. One of these is LED drivers.

LED light bulbs are much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional bulbs. They can last up to 20 times longer than standard forms of lighting, so fewer bulbs need to be manufactured, they can be up to 80% more energy efficient than conventional bulbs and they contain no toxic elements that require specialist disposal.

The fly in the ointment, however, is the LED AC/DC converter, known as a driver, which is not only much less reliable than the bulbs themselves but also bulky and difficult to integrate into the light fitting.

This driver was the focus of LEDLUM, a Horizon 2020-funded project involving seven European partners drawn from business and academia, and over €4 million in EU funding. LEDLUM’s objectives were to make major improvements to the volume, weight, lifetime and size of the driver to create a more environmentally friendly product.

Among the partners was Tyndall National Institute in County Cork, which brought its expertise in the area of magnetics on silicon to the table. Paul McCloskey, Head of Integrated Magnetics group at the Institute, led the ‘passive components’ work package. He explains how the consortium took a pragmatic approach to achieving the project’s aims.

“Horizon 2020 projects are a combination of research that pushes the boundaries and the development of something that companies can commercialise.” says McCloskey

Within LEDLUM there was initially a little built of tension between those two objectives as the companies in the consortium were more focused on the commercialisation of a product and the universities on pushing the science. So as a consortium we came up with the idea of having two tracks. The development track aimed to get close to something that businesses could use in the near future to create a product, while the research track had a lower level of technology readiness and an emphasis on demonstrating how the challenging goals set might ultimately be achieved. I believe the project delivered on both.”

LEDLUM’s outcomes included the development of near-market LED driver prototypes with 40% volume and 59% weight reduction, a research prototype with a volume of just 12% of current best in class, and significant advancement in the field of magnetics on silicon.

“Horizon 2020 is a way of getting involved with companies that will ultimately use the science in a real-world application.” says McCloskey

One of the outcomes of this project was the licensing of Tyndall’s magnetics on silicon technology. We’ve developed a capability and reputation in this area over many years. Through LEDLUM we further developed the technology and were able to transfer it to one of the biggest silicon foundries in the world with the production scale up at a facility in Europe. That’s a major achievement for us. That’s tying our research into a real-world product,” says McCloskey.

 

Competition and support

Running from 2021 to 2027, Horizon 2020’s successor, Horizon Europe, has a €95 billion funding pot and the triple aim of developing scientific excellence, tackling global and industrial challenges and supporting innovation and inclusivity across Europe. And like Horizon 2020, it is a highly competitive arena.

“There are a lot of organizations chasing this funding. But Ireland performs above average in terms of winning this type of EU funding and Tyndall is one of the most successful institutes. We’ve been involved in these kinds of projects for many years as our research depends on securing this type of funding,” says McCloskey

To help research institutes and businesses to secure Horizon Europe funding, Enterprise Ireland regularly gives talks highlighting what Horizon calls are coming up, how to go about getting involved and how to build a consortium. They also fund travel costs associated with building the consortium and offer support to write the proposal.

 

Advantages of collaboration

Horizon 2020, and now Horizon Europe, is about putting together the right consortium that can do cutting-edge research and also produce something that can be commercialized in the near future.

“That opportunity for collaboration is hugely important. You get the chance to work with other universities and businesses throughout Europe. When you talk to companies you hear what the real-world problems are; understanding that is a terrific insight for a researcher. Overall, I found the LEDLUM project to be an enjoyable and instructive process,” says McCloskey.

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

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