UK Financial Institutions and Irish Fintechs Demonstrate the Profits of Collaboration

Written by: Jack F. Clarke, Financial Services and FinTech Market Advisor at Enterprise Ireland

The UK is the largest export market for Enterprise Ireland clients (€7.9 billion in 2018). The market grew by 4% in 2018 with all sectors recording growth most interestingly, fintech grew by 17%.

The very strong growth in fintech is in no small part a result of the IFS2020 strategy document, that has driven growth in the Irish financial services sector. The strategy document gave a clear mandate to the government agencies – Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Science Foundation Ireland – to grow and harness the financial services acumen within the economy.

The results we are seeing now are the culmination of many years of hard work and the many wonderful entrepreneurs who drive exports in this sector. 

Enterprise Ireland client companies have remained committed to the UK market and it’s short/medium-term growth potential. This commitment manifests itself in a number of ways; more companies are opening UK offices than before, more companies are applying for regulation with the FCA to mitigate the end of the equivalency regime that governs all EU member regulators and finally, more people – roughly 100,000 employed in the UK by exporting Irish companies.

Collaboration from Fintechs and large Financial Institutions (FI) is the trend we are seeing with more Irish companies achieving strategic partnerships with UK based firms.

Looking a little closer at that number of 17% growth in Fintech exports we can see a number of interesting trends. Namely, Ireland has developed a strong cluster of Regtech firms. Geraldine Gibson, AQ Metrics CEO has described the current climate as an ‘Era of unprecedented regulatory change.’ This has certainly been a driving factor in the widespread adoption of Regtech software.

On the larger side, companies like Fenergo are gaining global traction with their client lifecycle management software solution. Corlytics, another Irish Regtech firm views regulatory compliance as a risk, an approach that resonates with many in the finance world.

In fact, 15% of all fintech exports to the UK last year came from the Regtech cluster. That is quite a significant amount for a subsector that didn’t really exist 10 years ago.

There is no doubt that the largest driver of fintech growth from the Irish market is in the FX and payments sector. Market giants like Fexco, Monex and the quickly growing Transfermate are driving very large export numbers in the sector. Irish companies have been at the forefront of the Direct Currency Conversion (DCC). Transfermate, a spin out of Taxback is very quickly gaining traction in the UK market and were very busy in 2018 adding an e-wallet functionality for users and announcing a strategic partnership with ING.

Growth in FX and payments was in the region of 40% last year. An eye watering figure that will enhance the reputation of the companies in that sector internationally.   

Some challenges for clients in the market remain and can be grouped as follows:

  • overall Brexit uncertainty in terms of evolution of UK sectors and UK customer response in the short and medium-term
  • possibility that Brexit will make our least challenging export market more complex to trade with than has been the case to date
  • all of the other known challenges that start-ups, SMEs and early mid-cap companies face when starting in a market or seek to maximise their potential and market share (understanding the market, how it is structured, competitor mix, best route to market etc)

Now, more than ever before, Enterprise Ireland’s presence and activity in the UK is critical for client success, particularly as the UK will continue to be the market to start in and achieve scale for the majority of clients due to its proximity, common language and business culture.

Enterprise Ireland’s response in the marketplace is threefold:

  1. assist clients accessing growth opportunities in their sector or adjacent sectors/sub-sectors
  2. work with clients on a cluster basis to maximise impact and on an individual level to address specific needs
  3. assist clients to expand their customer reach and diversify their geographic footprint in the UK

We are on the wave of a technology boom. The wave hasn’t broken yet, advances in quantum computing, AI and ML will drive innovation in the next 5 years. By then, Ireland will have a new strategy – Ireland for Finance 2025 – to work off. If it is as successful as the last document, Minister Michael D’Arcy, chief patron of the strategy can be very proud of his work.

The strong tech focus of the Irish economy coupled with the large numbers of professionals working in Ireland’s International Financial Services Centre, (IFSC) means there will always be a fertile breeding ground for innovative Irish Fintech firms to sprout up and flourish.

UK financial services remains a pillar of the UK economy and is an industry that should be protected as much as possible throughout any Brexit process. According to the British Venture Capital Association, £32bn has been invested in over 2,500 companies in the past 5 years.

Sustained economic growth, rising interest rates and higher investment incomes are among the positive factors bolstering results in the insurance industry – another major export subsector for Irish fintech.

Compliance, Regtech and Security continue to grow as the regulator expands the reach of sandboxes and as new legislation such as open banking comes into effect.

Now, more than ever before, it is of the greatest importance to demonstrate the value Ireland places in maintaining the closest possible trading relationship and business ties between Ireland and the UK. This is best achieved through partnership and collaboration.

Dynamic regions need dynamic partners – Ireland is the highest growth economy in the EU and has characteristics which make it a strong partner for collaboration and knowledge exchange:

  • most innovative SMEs in the EU
  • Irish workforce ranked as most productive workforce in the world by OECD
  • 1st in the EU for getting economic value out of research
  • 10th in global rankings for quality of its scientific research

With such strong historic, cultural and heritage ties between Ireland and the UK, we are hoping that Brexit can embolden companies to drive cross-border collaboration, partnership and investment.

Enterprise Ireland will use its presence here to ensure that the UK remains a strategic and successful market for its Irish company base. The new strategy should give a mandate to companies to grow and innovate in this market.

This article originally appeared on the The Fintech Times.

Enterprise Ireland’s experienced market advisors (MAs) provide expert guidance to Irish businesses expanding into the UK market and engaging with their British clients. In the first of our series of MA Q & As, we get to know David Corcoran, Senior UK Market Advisor for the talent and technology sectors.

Hi David, let’s jump straight in – what can you tell us about the talent and technology sector?

“Well, talent affects every single industry – so the first thing I would say is, that makes it a really interesting space to work in. Right now, there is a strong cluster of Irish businesses coming through at the intersection between talent and technology with impressive solutions to offer in supporting UK companies to realise their potential.

“The UK is usually the first port of call for these Irish companies looking to grow overseas. Where I come in is helping to facilitate the relationships between those UK businesses with talent challenges and the Irish technology companies who can solve these challenges for them.”

That does sound like an interesting role. What led you to it?

“My background is in technology and business. Before moving to the UK, I lived in the Netherlands for 9 years, and have worked in a number of different industries including financial services and pharma.

“I joined Enterprise Ireland originally in 2008, and what I really enjoy is that my role pulls together those different skill sets, interests and experiences I have. Specialising in talent management allows me to work closely with an impressive group of entrepreneurs, innovators, and thought leaders, while taking deep dives into a range of businesses. The technology side is fast-paced; it’s always evolving and never gets boring.”

And what does a typical day look like working for Enterprise Ireland?

“I try and structure my days in two halves. In the morning I work with Irish companies, advising strategically on how to develop and scale into the UK, or strengthen their existing UK presence. I try to help them craft their value proposition and validate opportunities within the British marketplace.

“In the afternoons I make time to research industries and engage with my broader network to connect capable Irish businesses with UK opportunities. A couple of evenings a week I can be be found at peer-to-peer and technology networking events.”

You’re a busy man! What are you working on at the moment?

“I’m helping redesign our talent management portfolio at the moment and to identify the Irish companies who have the capacity to scale and diversify further internationally, and as part of this I’m in regular contact with my Enterprise Ireland counterparts in the US and Ireland to share knowledge and develop a strategy for the redesign.

“I’m really excited about an employee engagement focused event that I’m developing in Ireland. I’m organizing the agenda and topics at the moment and identifying UK companies who have an interest in this topic and would be keen to travel to Ireland to meet with companies in our portfolio.

“Later this year, we will have an Irish area at the well known TRU recruitment conference in the UK, which will enable our client companies to demo their technology to talent acquisition directors so I’m planning our approach for this event, and already beginning to lay the foundations for our own talent event in London, NexTech20 in January 2020, which will be a follow up to our very successful NexTech19 event earlier this year.”

You mention industry trends – what are the main ones you’re seeing right now?

“It’s hard to avoid AI at the moment as it is discussed at every technology and talent conference. How it can be used to aid the recruitment process and find the best talent ahead of the competition is very relevant. Any technology that can automate and accelerate processes that will, in turn, allow recruiters to free up time to focus on securing the best fit, will always be appealing to industry.

“Engaging and retaining talent is another focus point for Irish companies in this sector, particularly programmes and solutions built around developing employee wellbeing and recognition. I’ve also seen a huge amount of growth for companies and technologies that are specialising in remote working. More and more people seek flexible working environments and having the right tech to support and enable this is essential.”

Are there any companies you’re really excited about working with right now?

“I support over 120 Irish talent management companies operating in the UK – so it’s hard to make a choice like that! My portfolio spans everything from employee engagement, and professional learning to talent acquisition, and workforce management.

“Some of the most innovative companies that I’m currently working with are a number of our high potential start-up companies, including BidRecruit, HireUp, and Wrkit, all of whom have made impressive entries to the UK market. BidRecruit is smart, fast and cost-effective A.I. and automation recruitment software for HR and hiring managers. HireUp provides a cloud-based solution that simplifies and revolutionises employee referral programmes, and Wrkit has developed an employee engagement platform that inspires better, healthier, working environments and counts Deliveroo as one of their leading clients in the UK.

“All three are at a really exciting point in their UK growth and are just a snapshot of the impressive calibre of Irish companies we have in our talent management portfolio.”

And your thoughts on industry challenges in the future?

“The war for talent will continue, but it has evolved into a war for skilled workers. The power in the recruitment process has certainly switched sides to the candidate, so employers will need to distinguish themselves throughout the recruitment and onboarding process, and then offer flexible solutions, such as remote working to retain their best talent once they find it.

This will be a challenge for some traditional employers in the UK initially, but there is a wealth of innovative talent technologies available, with Irish companies leading the charge, and the UK companies who adapt to the new world of work will have a bright future in these uncertain times.”

Following a meeting of the British Irish Council this morning in Manchester, Ireland’s Prime Minister, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar will this afternoon meet with six CEOs of leading Irish companies who are growing their business in Manchester, part of the dynamic growing ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region of the UK. The Enterprise Ireland roundtable event will take place at ESB Energy’s new office in Manchester, which An Taoiseach will officially open today.

The Irish companies taking part in the roundtable engagement with An Taoiseach include; Malone Group, John Sisk & Son, Glanbia Cheese, ESB Energy, TTM Healthcare, Nolan Transport who all have a strong and growing presence in Manchester. Discussions at the roundtable will focus on Irish capability and achievements in the region as well discussions on the current view of the market, including future challenges and opportunities.

The Taoiseach will also visit Sisk’s ‘Circle Square’ development, which is one of the largest schemes in Central Manchester. Sisk is due to complete all current contract works on the project during 2021. Valued at £240 million, at its peak the project will employ a workforce of 1,300.

This visit comes at a time when Enterprise Ireland recently announced its Irish client base increased exports to the UK by 4% to €7.9bn in 2018.  The Irish construction sector recorded the fastest growth up 14% on 2017, while Ireland’s fintech sector exports grew by 15%, cleantech grew by 9% and engineering grew by 5%. Enterprise Ireland client companies are employing more than 100,000 people in the UK.

Speaking during the visit to Manchester today, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said: “This afternoon’s meetings provide me with a valuable opportunity to hear directly from a number of top Irish companies who are among our biggest exporters to the UK. The UK market is evolving and there are significant opportunities for Irish companies operating in the growing Northern Powerhouse region. Despite the major challenges posed by Brexit, Irish companies are part of the UK business landscape, and the Government, through Enterprise Ireland, wants to help them diversify and grow that business in the years ahead.”

Hosting Enterprise Ireland’s CEO Roundtable, Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland’s Director of UK, Nordics, CEECIS & Russia, said “An Taoiseach’s trade visit to Manchester, supports Enterprise Ireland’s diversification agenda by raising awareness of the opportunities in the UK, particularly in Manchester. Although Brexit introduces challenges and complexity to the market, the UK will continue to be a key market for Irish companies and our exports results to the UK in 2018 reflect this, with a 4% increase on 2017. The opening of Enterprise Ireland’s office in Manchester this year highlights our commitment to the region and the new office will be dedicated to securing business in areas of growth throughout the Northern Powerhouse region.”

Today, An Taoiseach will also officially open the new ESB Energy offices in Manchester during his visit. In 2017 ESB Energy was launched in Great Britain, offering electricity and gas supply to residential customers. The opening of the new ESB Energy office in Manchester provides a base for their UK team to support growth in the Northern UK region, with over 50,000 customers and plans to grow substantially over the next 3 years.

Marguerite Sayers, ESB Executive Director, Customer Solutions, says that the opening of the ESB Energy’s Manchester office by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD marks a significant milestone in the company’s longstanding presence in the UK: “ESB Energy entered the UK retail energy market in 2017 with a pledge to be the most innovative, responsible and easy-to-deal-with energy supplier for electricity and gas customers in Great Britain. With a customer base now in excess of 50,000, ESB Energy’s presence builds on our investment in Britain’s energy sector for over the last 27 years. In that time, we have invested in flexible and renewable generation assets in gas, wind and biomass, including the UK’s most efficient thermal power plant at nearby Carrington. With ESB electric vehicle rapid chargers already on the streets of London and Coventry, we are also developing an extensive network of car charging points across Great Britain. This network – along with the services offered by our new low carbon heating team based in Coventry – supports ESB’s vision of a brighter, low-carbon future for all the communities we serve.”

Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s trade and innovation agency, today announced that its Irish client base increased exports to the UK by 4% to €7.9bn in 2018. With increased business to the UK, Irish companies continue to contribute significantly to the economic success of the UK, with Enterprise Ireland clients employing over 100,000 people in the UK.

Commenting on the results, Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland Director of the UK, Nordics, CEECIS & Russia said: “Irish companies are proven to be dynamic partners to their UK counterparts and in a post-Brexit era, Ireland wants the closest possible trading relationship with the UK as this benefits business on both sides of the Irish sea. Irish companies’ commitment to the UK market and maintaining the strongest trading relationship with the UK, is very much reflected in our clients export results and the opportunities that we see in the market. Despite the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, we are pleased to see that exports to the UK, our number one trading partner, have remained steady and have increased by 4%. The growth was particularly strong across a number of key sectors for Irish exporters including construction and cleantech infrastructure, fintech, digital, aerospace and lifesciences. We are also seeing strong growth in the Northern Powerhouse region, and this year Enterprise Ireland opened a second office in the UK, based in Manchester, to support growth opportunities in this region.”

Globally, Enterprise Ireland announced that the agency’s clients recorded export sales of €23.8bn in 2018, representing a 6 percent increase on 2017. The Irish construction sector recorded the fastest growth up 14% on 2017. Ireland’s fintech sector exports grew by 15%, while cleantech grew by 9%and engineering grew by 5%. Consumer retail saw growth of 6%.

Enterprise Ireland Award recognises most impressive emerging disruptive technology companies

London: EdgeTier, a cutting-edge artificial intelligence company whose technology revolutionises customer care organisation, has won the prestigious Digital Disruptor Award run by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government trade and innovation agency. The Digital Disruptor Award, hosted at Deloitte Digital’s London office, is bestowed upon companies that are disrupting the marketplace through the innovative deployment of technology.

The finalists included Webio, Data Chemist, VRAI, UrbanFox alongside EdgeTier. The finalists were selected based on their capacity to introduce innovative technologies, with the potential to disrupt their market. Each of the finalists delivered a pitch, depicting how their business’ solutions and technology has the potential to better their unique marketplace.

EdgeTier was recognised by the panel of expert judges for its customer experience innovation. EdgeTier picked up the award for its innovative software that works seamlessly with customer service staff, guiding them through complex customer queries while raising the quality of consumer experience for each of its clients. EdgeTier’s automated agent assistant, ‘Arthur’, uses AI, analytics, automation and machine learning to generate personalised and accurate responses to every customer query. In turn, this drastically decreases response time while delivering better customer service.

This is the second year Enterprise Ireland has hosted the Digital Disruptor Award as part of its mission to help develop a pipeline of cutting-edge Irish companies, with the capacity to innovate the UK marketplace. As the second biggest investor in Fintechs worldwide and the third largest seed investor in Europe, Enterprise Ireland is one of the key driving forces behind the push to increase the adoption of innovative technologies; across a multitude of marketplaces.

Bart Lehane, CTO and co-founder of EdgeTier said: “We’re extremely proud to have been recognised by this incredible award, it’s a true stamp of approval of our product and it validates both our approach and USPs. The UK market has huge potential for us with over 6,000 customer care organisations, so to have the value of our proposition for the UK market recognised by such an esteemed set of judges, is a massive boost for EdgeTier.”

Padraic Geraghty, Senior Market Advisor for Digital Technology at Enterprise Ireland said: “This was our second year running the Digital Disruption Awards and once again, we had a fantastic cohort of companies showcasing the great talent emerging from Ireland in the Deep Tech and Disruptive Technology space. This year’s winner, EdgeTier, truly personified the high standard of Irish Tech companies, and the potential they hold for markets across the globe.”

Last year’s winner, Louella Morton, Executive Director at TestReach said: “Taking part in the Enterprise Ireland and Deloitte Digital Disruptor event last year was a great opportunity for TestReach. We were delighted to be awarded the top prize of Digital Disruptor 2018, as it was a strong validation of how we are disrupting the exam industry for the better. This award has also been a great point of interest for our customers and prospects as they are very keen to embrace new technology.”

With Enterprise Ireland’s NexTech19 event in London, the agency set out a unique offer for UK companies who can benefit from Ireland’s talent acquisition technology. The agency’s Global Lead for talent management, David Corcoran, is excited about the range and breadth of innovative solutions presented.

Few things are certain in life, and fewer still in the year ahead – but the acceleration of decisions in recruitment is pretty much guaranteed. More hires, faster hires, smarter hires, the pressure to find the very best candidate in a fiercely competitive and noisy marketplace continues to build and has had tech platform builders hard at work. Now we see a world-class array of companies offering specialised software and cloud solutions. In the talent management sector, it is an open secret that the best and brightest of those solutions are coming from Ireland.

Irish companies have cornered the market for talent platforms with speed and agility, thanks in part to a highly skilled tech workforce seasoned in attracting global companies and multinational HQs. Add a culture of entrepreneurship and a need for SMEs to scale up and punch above their weight very quickly and you have a winning combination. UK companies who need very particular solutions to their talent issues now have world-class technology operators on their doorstep.

However, that range and quality of choice also brings its own challenges. In a busy marketplace, where AI, machine learning, and cognitive computing tools are becoming the norm, making a distinction between one service provider and another has become a difficult hurdle to negotiate. Irish companies in the talent tech sector offer real track records in personalised experiences, optimisation, speed of execution, value and insight but finding the right one for your business can be a daunting prospect.

It inspires a curious question; if hirers turn to talent acquisition specialists to home in on the staff they need, then who do the specialists turn to? In the UK, more and more of them are turning to Enterprise Ireland for guidance on the best in talent management technology, for everything from remote working solutions to referral systems. Enterprise Ireland also supports UK companies in their digital HR and future of work journeys by offering a gateway to connect them to the most disruptive Irish HR tech providers.

Anyone in doubt about the speed of change in both HR and recruitment should see how the talent landscape has changed in just the last few months. The drive for talent acquisition is fast being matched by the need to retain and reward talent once hired. And it’s the companies that specialise in employee engagement who have been providing some of the most stimulating discussions at industry gatherings in the first quarter of 2019.

Irish veteran Globoforce, rebranded as Workhuman,  and Dublin-based employee engagement specialist Wrkit are two very different companies that give complementary slants on the same objective.

Workhuman offers a cloud-based performance management platform with peer-led approval or social recognition as a key element. Making employees feel valued, with not just a sense of connection through tech innovation, but positive reinforcement and appreciation from colleagues, is now crucial. Platforms that acknowledge the need for human-centric work cultures are set to dominate retention strategies.

For its part, Wrkit is clear that cracking the problem of creating a happy work culture is a major business win and uses the phrase ‘holistic engagement’ to differentiate its product. It integrates employee benefits in financial wellbeing, nutrition, mental health or fitness in the workplace with an accent on retention as a key advantage for employers. With over 200 companies signed up, it boasts a 93% retention rate.

It’s a cliche that a company is only as good as its people, but it is a useful one to appreciate that constant change in business is inevitably affected by the changes in the working life of the people who run it. Technology, culture, demographics, and new products shape increasingly dynamic workforces that HR and recruitment professionals have to keep up with. Ireland’s tech sector offers an unrivalled diversity and sophistication of talent management tools to equip companies in the race to do that. Supporting them in choosing the right ones is the team at Enterprise Ireland.

New Research Reveals Disruptive impact of technology needed to harness new payment opportunities

29 April 2019, LONDON: The UK payments industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, driven by the twin engines of growing adoption of technology and changing consumer expectations. This has led to a race to launch innovative new payment products, services and business models to meet growing customer demand.

This is according to new research, Paytech: Reinventing Transactions. Commissioned by Enterprise Ireland, the second largest investor in fintech companies in the world by deal count. The research demonstrates traditional banks are being increasingly disrupted, as technology-enabled businesses carve out a completely different payments ecosystem. The result is a proliferation of new opportunities, as banks, long the cornerstone of the payments sector, are both challenged by – and themselves embrace – new digital payment options.

The customer demand and business case for an improved payment experience is clear. The UK market, in the past 10 years, has seen a 33% decline in the number of cash payments.[1] 2018 alone representing a 15% drop.[2] The changing consumer preference in the UK is further exemplified as the UK ranks higher than every other EU market for cashless payments. In addition, a consumer survey[3] showed 82% of respondents were dissatisfied with the service received from incumbent money transfer operators and banks, citing slow, complex, non-transparent and inflexible traditional payment options.

Due to the slow pace of innovation over the years, incumbents are seen to lack the agility and capabilities needed to enable a seamless transition to more open, intuitive and secure methods for card-based payments, cross border payments and account-to-account payments. However, according to J.F. Clarke, Fintech Market Advisor at Enterprise Ireland, collaboration between the traditional banks and fintech companies is essential.

“In an environment where smart phones are ubiquitous, consumers have come to expect payment solutions that are seamless and available 24/7 across different channels. The UK market is no different. The pace of life in the UK has changed, consumers are more cash-rich and time-poor than ever before and businesses must adapt effectively to maintain their customer base. Traditional forms of banking have become almost obsolete, particularly across the younger generations who are far more familiar with digital software like Apps than cheques. UK banks must employ fintechs to modernise their systems and ensure the Paytech industry is striving for greater stakeholder collaboration and creating a more unique, innovative and competitive solution for customers.”

With a strong cluster of multinational and Irish-owned payments companies, Ireland is playing a driving role in the transformation of the UK’s payments industry. Webio, The Conversational Middleware Company, recently launched WebioPay which enables enterprises to take payments directly within conversational messaging streams such as SMS, Messenger and Whatsapp; across 120 Payment Service Providers. “It makes perfect sense to combine the explosion in messaging apps with the revolution that’s now taking place in the payments industry.” Said Cormac O’Neill, CEO of Webio. “British consumers are more comfortable conversing with brands via messaging so why not empower them to make payments within the same conversation? That’s what WebioPay does, it’s an exciting opportunity for businesses and consumers alike”. Webio are currently deploying WebioPay in some of the UKs leading brands in Retail, Utilities and Financial services.

Nuapay, a subsidiary of Irish-based Sentenial, is a pioneer of Open Banking and a leading Account-2-Account payment environment. As the authorised Payment Institution Nuapay is fully licenced by The Financial Conduct Authority in London and offers clients a fully comprehensive, integrated payment solution that removes traditional banking inefficiencies and costs. Brian Hanrahan, Chief Strategic Officer at Nuapay explains: “Nuapay is ideal for handling recurring payments driven by the expanding subscription-economy. Last year we were delighted to announce that we had extended our partnership with WorldPay, the world’s largest PSP, to support their merchants get the most out of direct debit payments across Europe.”

The research also outlines how recent mandatory regulations such as PSD2 and GDPR and their impact on the payments industry, will encourage the use of technology, such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics and Blockchain.

“As the global payments industry undergoes unprecedented transformation, Irish innovation is helping to reinvent payments around the world. This is due to the expertise that has emerged in Ireland, as an internationally acknowledged global fintech hub” added J.F. Clarke.

“Implementation of advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analytics facilitate automation and predictive analytics; applications based on these capabilities add value across multiple functions. Innovative products, services and business models create new growth opportunities and increase agility of enterprises,” said Adrian Drozd, ICT Research Director at Frost & Sullivan and author of the new research.

[1] Telegraph, 2018

[2] UKTN, 2018

[3] Amdocs Consumer Survey, 2016

New Enterprise Ireland office in Manchester makes Ireland the first country to open a dedicated trade agency presence in Northern Powerhouse region to strengthen presence in the UK’s major growth region.

55 Enterprise Ireland clients participating in Trade Mission focused on strengthening business ties through collaboration and partnership.

Thursday, 11th April 2019: Reaffirming Ireland’s commitment to maintaining the strongest trading relationship with the UK, in a post Brexit era, the Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys will lead Ireland’s trade and innovation agency Enterprise Ireland’s three-day trade mission to Manchester, as part of the “Northern Powerhouse” and Birmingham and the West Midlands as part of the “Midlands Engine”.  Commencing today, the trade mission will focus on key growth regions in the UK and growth opportunities across construction, manufacturing, digital technologies and smart solutions, with fifty-five Enterprise Ireland clients participating on the trade mission, from major players; PM Group and Mergon, to innovative new high growth companies; Over-C and CitySwifter.

Enterprise Ireland today also announced the opening of a new Enterprise Ireland office in Manchester, its second office in the UK.  With Ireland being the first country to establish a trade office within the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, Enterprise Ireland will be focused on strengthening ties and boosting Irish companies’ contribution to the region. Irish companies contribute significantly to the economic success of the UK, with Enterprise Ireland clients employing over 100,000 people in the UK. The new office will provide an opportunity for local businesses in the region to partner and collaborate with some of the most innovative SMEs in the EU and access an Irish workforce that the OECD ranked as the most productive in the world.

Irish Business Minister Heather Humphreys who is leading the trade mission said: “The UK is our long-standing trading partner and the Irish Government, through Enterprise Ireland, is committed to consolidating our exports to the UK market and continuing to contribute to the success of the UK. Currently over 100,000 people are employed by Enterprise Ireland backed companies in the UK. With such strong historic, business, cultural and heritage ties between Ireland and Manchester, we are delighted to witness its renaissance and we are committed to the strengthening ties and building new partnerships into the future. The opening of Enterprise Ireland’s office in Manchester will be instrumental to this.”

“Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, Ireland wants the closest possible trading relationship with the UK after Brexit because this works for businesses on both sides of the Irish sea. It remains our strong hope that the UK parliament will ratify the Withdrawal Agreement to make for as seamless as possible a transition to a new trading relationship between the EU and the UK.” added Minister Humphreys.

Welcoming the Irish trade mission to Manchester and the opening of Enterprise Ireland’s new office in Manchester, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council said: “The opening of a new base for Enterprise Ireland in Manchester is a significant boost to our close trading and cultural relationships with Ireland, which have endured for many years and will continue to flourish in the future.  As a proudly outward-looking city, we will continue to welcome close partnerships with friends from around the globe and so this mutually beneficial development, with the potential to foster new economic opportunities and technological innovation both here and in Ireland, is hugely welcome.”

Deirdre McPartlin, UK Manager, Enterprise Ireland said: “We are pleased to announce the opening of our new office in Manchester and I believe that Ireland is the first country to establish a trade agency presence in the region. The establishment of a new Enterprise Ireland office, outside of London, very much reflects that Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse region is an exciting and dynamic growth region in the UK. We have strong business ties in the North-West and many Irish companies, proven to be dynamic partners, have committed to the region by establishing their own local presence. The trade mission this week will demonstrate Irish capabilities across construction, manufacturing, industry 4.0 and digital technology, with a focus on deepening mutually beneficial collaboration with our UK partners.”

The opening of the office was celebrated at a business networking dinner in Manchester with guests including Sir Richard Leese, Irish Minister for Business Heather Humphreys and a number of Irish companies that have opened an office in Manchester over the last 2-3 years.

Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government agency responsible for trade and innovation, has announced it is embarking on a fourth 16-week City Insights Programme with partner, the London Irish Business Society (LIBS). Following another successful programme in 2017 and popular demand for new inclusions, the 2019 programme has been extended to incorporate two further sectors, digital tech and talent tech. The programme’s finalists are divided across these three sectors.

The programme has handpicked 10 companies who have been selected for their high potential and capacity to develop at an increased rate as a result of working with mentors and, to enable each company to successfully grow and scale internationally. Previous alumni of the programme include Assure Hedge and Corlytics who have achieved huge international scale since participating on this programme.

The companies selected for the 2019 programme, include; DataChemist, a company building the database of the future, BidRecruit, a smart, fast and cost-effective recruiting software for HR departments & hiring managers and Webio – who bring Artificial Intelligence driven conversations to the enterprise. Webio’s conversational interface uses AI to streamline inbound and outbound customer communications across new and existing channels.

Commencing on 14 March in London, Minister Paschal Donohoe attended an event in Islington, London, celebrating both the launch of the latest programme and St Patricks Day.

The 10 finalists as part of the programme have each been assigned three mentors from the pool of 30, who are offering their expertise and experience having worked at the helm of some of the UK’s fastest rising SMEs. Eamonn Carey – MD of Techstars and Andrew Barrie – Experienced Mentor in the UK & founder of numerous successful start-ups are just two examples of the available mentors.

The pairing of mentors with the finalists aims to provide SMEs with the innovation know-how, but who perhaps lack access to the required experience that is needed to take an SME to the next level and make their product globally accessible and desirable.

Padraic Geraghty, Enterprise Ireland’s Digital Technology Market Advisor said, “Throughout the partnership, the 10 selected finalists have a rare opportunity to exploit their mentor’s qualities and implement said qualities into their business strategy and operation. The companies involved will also be able to learn from another as they are embarking on their scaling strategy within the UK.”

Jack Finucane-Clarke, Enterprise Ireland’s Fintech and Financial Services Market Advisor said, “This year’s cohort of companies represents a broader scope of businesses. The programme has traditionally been for finance and fintech companies. The fact that we are seeing more digital tech companies in the City Insights Programme this year reflects how the industry is evolving. As the financial services industry innovates, the pool of technology provider widens Irish companies are developing innovative solutions for tomorrow’s marketplace.”

As Irish communities around the world celebrated St Patrick’s Day, Minister Paschal Donohue visited the UK to help launch the City Insights Programme, on behalf of Enterprise Ireland and the London Irish Business School (LIBS). The programme focuses on mentoring selected companies in the industries of Fintech, Digital Tech, Talent Tech.

On a wider scale, Enterprise Ireland looks at how the country’s expertise in technology can be adopted across many industries.

“What kind of future do we want to imagine for ourselves – and for the planet? How can we improve the quality of life for all humanity? These are the kinds of future-facing questions that innovative Irish companies are answering right now,” says Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency.

“They are big questions. They challenge and perplex all of us but they also drive us on to find big answers. It is those answers that will help create a brighter future for everyone.”

Watch the video: Small Country, Big Impact

As the pace of change accelerates, the need for questioning grows.  “People are increasingly searching for ways to capitalise on change while at the same time ensuring it is the right kind of change – the kind that helps people and the environment, that promotes diversity or improves conditions for those in need,” says Sinnamon.

Such existential questions require vision from innovators who can look into the future and see the bigger picture, but also get things done in the here and now.

“Irish businesses are at the centre of technological innovation and are driven by commercial imperatives but also by a desire for a fairer, more equitable future,” says Sinnamon.

“This is not just an aspiration. It’s something Irish businesses are achieving right now. It’s why Ireland is the second largest medtech exporter in Europe and is a fintech leader across payments, regtech and funds. Ireland is also a global centre for agritech innovation and has a world-class track record delivering large and complex high-tech construction projects around the world,” says Sinnamon.

“Whatever the sector, Irish businesses are out in the world developing solutions to meet the toughest challenges facing it, bringing what we know to be the ‘Irish Advantage’ to business partners around the world.”

Irish companies are currently achieving international sales at record levels. “They are doing that by driving innovation,” says Carol Gibbons, Department Manager Digital Technology & Director ICT Commercialisation at Enterprise Ireland.

“Innovation is a game changer in relation to a company’s ability to compete and, in the 2017 European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland was ranked number one for innovative capability. That is what distinguishes us and enables us compete in global markets.”

It’s not just Enterprise Ireland saying that. “We have a global presence with offices around the world and people on the ground. We spend a lot of time talking to the international customers of our client companies. The feedback we consistently get is that Irish companies all go ‘the extra mile’,” says Gibbons.

“We hear time and again that Irish companies work as trusted partners. They look at the demands their customers are facing, talk to them about the markets they are in and the products they need, and then innovate new products and services to suit. That is how Irish companies compete globally and why so many are leaders in their market segments, with technology playing a key role.”

So, how will we improve quality of life for all of humanity?

With innovators such as Aerogen, the world’s leading medical device company specialising in aerosol drug delivery systems; and Nuritas, which combines artificial intelligence and genomics to discover and unlock natural bioactive peptides, changing the lives of billions of people worldwide.

How will we sustain our growing global population?

Through companies such as Moocall, a specialist in sensor based herd management software, and TerraNutriTECH, which automates animal nutrition to improve herd health.

How can we grow yet preserve the environment for the next generation?

Thanks to businesses like C&F Green Energy, which is powered by a mission to make wind energy affordable, and NVP Energy, whose smart business solutions take wastewater from production lines and turn it into an energy source.

Can we get the most from machines, without losing our essential humanness?

Absolutely, with companies such as Aylien, a developer of AI-driven content analysis solutions that make it easy to understand vast amounts of human text using deep learning and advanced natural language processing; Artomatix, creator of the world’s first 3D art engine; and Pointy, a revolutionary new system that automatically displays retailers’ products online, using algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels and helping traditional retailers compete with e-commerce ones.

How will our physical world merge with our digital world?

With the help of innovators such as Soapbox Labs, who develops speech recognition solutions specifically for children’s voices to ensure the highest accuracy possible; RecommenderX, who uses machine learning to guide enterprise teams to better, data driven decision making; and VR Education, whose virtual and augmented software is changing how educational and training is delivered.

Is it possible to connect people so that they can transact more easily, securely – and fairly?

Yes, as a result of pioneers such as AID:Tech, who uses blockchain technology to revolutionise how governments, corporate and NGOs deliver charitable aid and benefits across the world; and Sysnet Global Solutions, developer of compliance security solutions that protect us online.

That there are many more innovative Irish companies just like these is down to a unique environment. “Ireland has a strong entrepreneurial agenda, is very agile in looking for international opportunities and has a highly educated, flexible workforce with a forward looking mindset,” says Gibbons.

“They are supported by initiatives such as Technology Centres, which bridge commercial knowledge with academic research, ensuring Irish companies are ready for future developments, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Its business community is supported by a world class R&D ecosystem and operates alongside some of the world’ biggest names in technology, life sciences and financial services, all areas for which Ireland is a global hub. The result is that Irish companies grow up meeting the standards of global leaders.

Ireland is a country where entrepreneurs are held in high esteem at home, and are ambitious for success abroad.

They succeed not despite coming from a small island in the Atlantic but because of it. “We have always been outward looking,” says Gibbons. “We are natural networkers and we gain through our networks. It means that when we look at a new market, we can gain good entry quickly. That’s a real positive.”

Ireland makes an impact on the world stage in all walks of life, from arts and literature to humanitarianism, so it’s no surprise to that it does so in business too. “We are a small country but we have big ideas – global ones,” Gibbons says.

“Don’t be deceived by our size”, cautions Sinnamon: “we’re a small country that makes a big impact.”

A leading figure in construction has set out his vision for modernisation of the industry. Speaking at an Enterprise Ireland event at the Embassy of Ireland in London, Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy said ‘the platform is on fire’ and warned that complacency is not an option for construction firms that want to survive.

In his keynote address at the event hosted by Enterprise Ireland in association with the Constructing Excellence London and Cambridge-Oxford Clubs, Farmer, author of the UK Government Review of the Construction Labour Market Model in 2016 ‘Modernise or Die’ said the industry was still beset by outdated practices and an inability to address external factors it can’t control. An ‘unholy trinity’ of trends with the potential for a serious crisis in the industry – an ageing workforce, a lack of attraction for new entrants, and geopolitical factors like Brexit – posed a serious threat to the industry.

“We’ve had lots of clarion calls for change in the last 30, 40, 50 years but we’ve, never really had an alignment of these three things,” he said. “More people will be projected to retire from the industry than enter it; the prospect of tariffs and diminishing free movement of labour; and in London around  25 per cent of workers are from EU countries, with up to 70-80 per cent of EU workers on some building sites. The young people of today do not see construction as an aspirational career – they see it as dirty and low tech.”

An insufficiency of qualified personnel now besets the industry “from boardroom to building site” but, Farmer said, recruitment is not the whole solution. “The structural decline in our workforce, both in terms of headcount and competency, at all levels, remains for me the biggest single cause of the growing sense of crisis. But it’s not just about throwing more people at the problem, it’s about changing the entire labour model.”

Radical changes needed

Farmer also drew attention to the radical changes underway in other sectors, most notably automotive and manufacturing generally. With digital technology, machine learning and blockchain now becoming the norm in everything from design, to build and quality assurance, traditional ‘Tier One’ suppliers in construction will find radical ‘disruptors’ challenging from other sectors and from construction start-ups. Professional roles will also become redundant and entirely new skillsets will replace them. He went on to discuss the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) as a digital tool for planning and building in the industry, but said that too often it didn’t translate into efficient building on the site. “The bottom line here continues to be that we need to design differently, procure differently and build differently,” he said.

Speaking after the event, Farmer conceded that since the publication of his 2016 report ‘Modernise or Die’, UK and Irish government policy makers and industry heads had started discussions, but concrete change remained elusive for many.

“I think the industry has woken up,” he said. “Everyone is on the same page with the resourcing crisis around skills. Industry and government are recognising that we have a structural change in skills – that’s creating debate which is necessary for change.

“Although we’re out of the phoney war of people thinking we might not have to change…the issue is that some people are struggling to understand how they change and modernise. In particular, how they do that in challenging times in terms of the economy.”

Irish expertise

The event was hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s trade and innovation agency.

“Ireland has long been known for its expertise in the construction industry, from the traditional building procedures to modern methods of construction and the use of technology that is now prevalent,” says Anne Corr, market advisor for the construction sector at Enterprise Ireland UK.

“As with any industry, construction companies need to innovate in order to deliver the best outcomes for their clients. Mark Farmer has a wealth of experience in the construction industry, and we were delighted for him to share his knowledge with our Irish and UK guests.”


Enterprise Ireland and Wet Networks initiative brings UK water utilities and Irish innovation closer together

Enterprise Ireland and Wet Networks (an Arup and WRc sector initiative) hosted a water innovation seminar in Dublin on February 27th to discuss the key challenges and enablers facing the UK water industry as it approaches new investment cycles in England and Wales (2020-2025), and in Northern Ireland and Scotland (2021-2027).

UK water utilities including Welsh Water, Yorkshire Water, United Utilities, Wessex Water and South Staffordshire Water discussed their innovation priorities and challenges, while Irish supply chain companies, supported by Enterprise Ireland, presented a range of innovative products and services.

Among the Irish companies to present were SwiftComply, who provided an overview of their software platform solution, which connects water companies and food businesses to improve the management of fat, oil and grease (FOG) and reduce in line blockages. Swiftcomply has teamed up with both Yorkshire Water and Anglian Water to reduce the impact of FOG on their water systems.

Attendees also heard from NVP Energy, who have developed a unique Low Temperature Anaerobic Digestion technology. The new technology is an energy positive and carbon neutral process designed to treat low-strength wastewater effluents, while producing a high-quality biogas by-product that is 100% available for reuse in on-site heat & electricity generation. NVP Energy has recently completed a project for Welsh Water.

Another innovative company that presented was OxyMem, who has recently agreed a workplan with Severn Trent. OxyMem solves OPEX intensive wastewater treatment and makes incremental plant expansion possible using Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) modules. The OxyMem solution delivers up to 75% energy saving, up to 50% less waste sludge and can be installed within days, with no need to drain tanks or stop processes.

Darragh Cotter, Cleantech Market Advisor based in Enterprise Ireland’s London office noted that it was, “excellent to hear utilities reaffirm their commitment to innovation and to speeding up the rate of adoption. With leakage, asset health, resilience, energy and environmental considerations at the forefront of everyone’s minds, this seminar was a perfect opportunity for UK water utilities to further open the dialogue with the supply chain and become ever more aware of the solutions and technologies available in the market”.

With water utilities planning a total expenditure of £50 billion from 2020 to 2025, including more than £6 billion to be spent on environmental delivery, continued engagement between utilities and the supply chain is needed to meet Ofwat’s demands for increased adoption of innovation as well as improved customer service, affordable bills, and consistent water supply.

Darragh Cotter added that, “There was a clear consensus from both the utilities present and the supply chain that innovation should be demand led. Innovation seminars like this are an important mechanism for effective communication between utilities and the supply chain. The supply chain needs to know exactly the challenges that water utilities have so that they can respond accordingly. Irish innovators stand ready to help”.

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