New fund aims to widen export reach

Enterprise Ireland has launched another of its so-called Brexit response measures via a new fund aimed at supporting export-related companies’ efforts to tap new geographical markets, writes Geoff Percival.

The ‘Market Discovery Fund’ — which features three funding ceilings of €35,000, €75,000 and €150,000 — will help businesses attend and exhibit at overseas trade shows, pay for marketing and market research and establish local offices.

File image.

“In the context of Brexit, consolidating exports to the UK — while also expanding the Irish export footprint in markets beyond the UK — is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland,” said the agency’s chief executive Julie Sinnamon.

Ms Sinnamon said the fund will be instrumental in helping more companies reach new export markets and “further underpins” Enterprise Ireland’s aim of increasing exports at client firms by €5 billion by 2020.

She was speaking at the publication of Enterprise Ireland’s annual review, which showed that companies supported by the agency created a combined 19,332 jobs during 2017.

Taking account for job losses, the figure represents a net increase of 10,309 jobs; the highest net rise on record which takes total employment in Enterprise Ireland-related companies to 209,338.

“Despite the challenge and uncertainty created by Brexit, Irish companies have continued to grow their global exports, supporting strong job creation across all of the regions of Ireland,” said Ms Sinnamon.

She said the overall figures represent “another year of strong performance” by client companies and act as “a barometer of the robust health of Irish businesses”.

However, Ms Sinnamon also warned: “It is imperative, however, that Irish businesses continue to build on the strength of their 2017 performance and implement robust plans to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

As much as 64% of this year’s jobs were created outside of Dublin; with the west, mid-west and north-west seeing the largest levels of increase.

On a sectoral basis, the strongest gains were seen in the areas of construction, electronics, food, engineering, information and communications technology (ICT) and life-sciences.

On the back of the latest Enterprise Ireland figures, Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys said: “Whatever the outcome of the complex Brexit negotiations that lie ahead, it is vital that as a country we are ready, and that the Government continues to take initiatives to bolster the capacity of our enterprise agencies to drive exports and support investment.”

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