Business Plus


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

 ?? ?? Margaret Hearty,
Chief Executive Officer, InterTrade­Ireland
Margaret Hearty, Chief Executive Officer, InterTrade­Ireland

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