Helping Irish Businesses to Grow and Export

Trade missions to major and emerging export markets, and group stands at important trade fairs and exhibitions worldwide, are key aspects of Enterprise Ireland’s efforts to support Irish businesses in the manufacturing and internationally traded service sectors. Neil Steedman reports.

Enterprise Ireland’s international office network has access to more than 60 countries worldwide. In addition to providing market / sector advice and information, including country reports, export and import regulations, taxes and procedures, as well as managing a number of social media platforms focused on particular sectors and markets, Enterprise Ireland also provides a range of funding supports for companies to explore export opportunities.

A programme of overseas trade missions and national pavilions at trade fairs gives clients the opportunity to connect with existing and new customers, access key decision makers, and increase sales in international markets. At these events, Enterprise Ireland organises individual, customised in-market meetings between clients and international buyers.

As well as organising group trade missions, led by a member of government, to Ireland’s major and emerging export markets, Enterprise Ireland also organises networking events to enable clients to retain and build relationships with their international customers. Forthcoming trade missions include Saudi Arabia (30th October) and Brazil (21st November).

Cathal Gaffney of Brown Bag Films, one of the Irish companies nominated for an Oscar this year, with Minister for Trade and Commerce Billy Kelleher TD at a networking event during a trade mission to the USA in February 2010

Group stands at some of the most important trade fairs and exhibitions across the world are also organised. Clients take space on the stand to showcase their products and services, and also attend to obtain market intelligence on new and emerging trends, competitors, etc. Forthcoming events include HealthAchieve in Toronto (8th November) and Greenbuild in Chicago (17th November).

Grant support is offered to companies attending international trade fairs under a Trade Fair Participation Grant initiative.

Overseas Missions and National Pavilions

‘Business Travel’ asked Brendan Flood, Head of Promotions and Event Management, to outline how the programme of overseas events is organised:

“Enterprise Ireland organises about 160 events a year overall, of which five or six a year would be substantive overseas missions and between 12 and 15 would be trade fairs. The lead-in time is about one year – we are currently planning the 2011 programme and have already firmed up events for the first quarter.

“In 2009 we held five missions involving 193 companies and attended 13 trade fairs with 150 companies. These participants almost all come from Enterprise Ireland’s existing client base of indigenous manufacturing and service companies involved in overseas markets. We already know their track record and whether they qualify to avail of the initiatives available. However, some other companies may be recommended by one of the other agencies with which we co-operate – such as the IDA, Science Foundation Ireland, Bord Bhia and Failte Ireland.

“We also liaise with the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the availability of the President, Taoiseach or relevant Minister. We find it extremely beneficial to have such a presence on a mission – it does open official doors quickly.

“Most of the ‘targeted’ countries already have, or will have, an Enterprise Ireland office presence and our executives on the ground submit proposals for future missions to head office – and a cohort of client base companies may also make a business case for a particular country or trade fair. Our guideline when assessing their viability is that we expect every ?1 investment in a mission to create ?30 in future sales, while for trade fairs the expectation would be ?12. We survey outcomes closely and these ratios are what have been achieved on average by previous events.

“By the way, we also organise inward missions of potential clients to meet qualifying supplier companies in Ireland. These tend to be in financial service areas, but in September, for example, we brought a delegation involved in the construction and upgrading of soccer stadia from France to meet architects, engineers, contractors, etc.

“Overseas missions tend to be to more distant markets, including the Middle East / Africa, Asia/Pacific and South America. For trade fairs there are between 20 – 26 core events, most biennial, but trade fairs tend to be cyclical in their importance.

“Our events unit puts together the many and varied elements, with great attention to detail, and they are a very professional team – with or without me! As regards organising the actual travel, we have an implant travel agency, currently Neenan Travel, that makes all Enterprise Ireland’s bookings and those of participating companies if they so choose – or they can make their own arrangements.”