LOOK BACK AND LEARN AS WE MOVE FORWARD
As the new year brings new challenges, InterTradeIreland CEO Margaret Hearty outlines the agency’s support programmes to assist enterprise growth
Another year is coming to an end, and, following a challenging 2021, most of us are looking forward to the new year. When planning ahead, companies should be strategic, and moving forward, we should look back and learn. The past 20 months saw firms trying to survive, pivot and improvise. The new year will bring challenges and opportunities, too. In order to succeed, companies should arm themselves with knowledge of trends that will impact growth in 2022.
RAPID GROWTH OF E-COMMERCE
The pandemic accelerated the shift to online, and OFCOM data shows that UK e-commerce sales increased by 48% in 2020. According to the Central Bank of Ireland, e-commerce card purchases have increased by 25% p.a., and the total value of payment transactions increased by 52% last year. For smallbusiness owners, Covid-19 highlighted the importance of being online. With this trend set to continue, it’s worth thinking about how you can expand and improve your customers’ user experience. InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme was launched in response to the pandemic, to help SMEs improve their online presence, and has supported over 1,000 companies. One firm that benefitted was artisanal food company Filligans, in Co. Donegal, which was able to bring its products online, giving access to its customers during lockdowns.
BOOST YOUR INNOVATION
Covid-19 disrupted the organisational structure in many firms and impacted collaboration, however, the Global Innovation report reveals that innovation has been resilient and, in some sectors, has exceeded expectations. In 2022, the green economy is expected to become a key driver for business. Across Ireland, breakthroughs in science and technology will be required to achieve carbon emission reduction targets, and cross-border collaboration will be crucial. Through our Synergy programme, InterTradeIreland has committed to funding projects such as the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation to develop an all-island biomap. Additionally, we’re offering collaboration through our Innovation Boost programme, which helps fund a high-calibre science, engineering or technology graduate and partners your company with a third-level institution.
ACCELERATE YOUR CROSS-BORDER TRADE
Cross-border trade is vital to economic recovery, and the value of trading to the opposite jurisdiction is at an all-time high. For enterprises that require assistance, InterTradeIreland has supports available, including our postBrexit advice. We can also help firms gain the knowledge and skills to win new business through our sales development programmes, such as the Trade Accelerator Voucher, Elevate and Acumen.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Going forward, your business strategy should reflect how you can increase your sales and funding. Public procurement on the island of Ireland is valued in excess of €13bn per annum, with €9bn in Ireland and c.€4bn in Northern Ireland, and presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses. InterTradeIreland can help SMEs win public-sector contracts through our Go-2-Tender programme, and our Supplier Engagement events provide access to key public-sector buyers.
For early-stage companies, InterTradeIreland can assist with funding for growth. Our annual Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition mirrors the real-life investment process, and participants receive valuable feedback. Established firms can also benefit from advice and expertise on finance through our Equity Advisory and Funding Advisory services.
The year 2022 will bring challenges and, more importantly, new opportunities for enterprises across the island of Ireland. For companies that wish to re-enter productive growth phases, ‘new normal’ business opportunities are ready to be explored, and InterTradeIreland is here to help.