A total of 63 Irish SMEs were today awarded ‘Business Ambassador’ status by InterTradeIreland for their enterprise and innovation across the island of Ireland. The event was held in the Mansion House in Dublin and was hosted by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.
Every county in Ireland was represented by the Business Ambassadors, who were nominated as companies that had successfully embraced innovation; developed new cross-border markets or secured venture capital with InterTradeIreland’s support. Representing the full spectrum of industries, the companies have generated approximately €20m in additional business value to the Irish economy to date.
Speaking at the event, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “At the heart of our Action Plan for Jobs is supporting the creation of a powerful engine of Irish enterprise. InterTradeIreland, which is funded by my Department as well as its sister-Department in Northern Ireland, has a key role in this. By supporting SMEs right across the island and by exposing them to the possibilities offered by North-South trade, InterTradeIreland plays a key role in driving enterprise growth, exports and job-creation in both jurisdictions. For small businesses in the Republic, Northern Ireland can play a key role as a first foray into export markets, and vice versa.
“Today’s announcement that these 63 small businesses have generated a total of €20m in trade is a great example of what can be achieved by our innovative SMEs, helped by some supports from Government. I am delighted to congratulate them on their achievements. Their tenacity and energy to persevere through challenging economic times is to be commended and as we embrace economic growth, and I wish them every success in the future.”
InterTradeIreland, the cross-border body that helps SMEs with funding, information, advice and support has greatly helped businesses to identify and develop trade and business opportunities across the island. InterTradeIreland is the only organisation which has been given responsibility by both Governments to boost North /South economic co-operation to the mutual benefit of Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Since 2003, InterTradeIreland has helped more than 25,000 companies with cross-border information and services, supporting over 6,000 SMEs through its trade and innovation programmes. The result has been over €885m worth of trade and business development and the creation of 3,000 jobs through its programmes. For every €1 invested in InterTradeIreland, it provides a twelve-fold return in business development value.
Companies recognised at the event included Java Republic, an independent Irish coffee roasting company and the second largest roaster and distributor of roasted coffee in Ireland. Java Republic participated in InterTradeIreland’s flagship sales and marketing programme, Acumen. The company hired a sales graduate to focus solely on the Northern Ireland market – the result was an increase in market share from 8% to 13% and over €140,000 in trade for Java Republic in Northern Ireland.
Speaking following the event, Margaret Hearty, acting CEO, InterTradeIreland said: ‘We have supported businesses from a diverse range of sectors right across Ireland and we are extremely proud of their achievements. These firms represent many of Ireland’s most resilient and ambitious SMEs that are a testament of what can be achieved through enterprise and innovation. It is important that we recognise their success which we hope in turn will inspire other businesses to seek the support needed to develop and take their business to the next level.
She continued: “While the value of cross-border trade has not been immune to the recession, we are encouraged by the recent upturn. The cross-border market is an important export market for many first time exporters with one in five companies from Ireland trading in the Northern market – generating nearly €1.2bn in 2012 in cross-border trade of manufactured goods alone. These companies show what can be achieved through North-South collaboration and business development.
The 63 companies acknowledged at the Dublin event bring the total number of InterTradeIreland Business Ambassador companies to almost 100 when combined with the existing representatives from Northern Ireland who were recognised at an event in Stormont earlier in the year. The ambassador companies were nominated as firms that have successfully embraced innovation, developed new cross-border markets or secured venture capital through InterTradeIreland’s support.
The group of InterTradeIreland Business Ambassadors were also invited to meet President Michael D. Higgins at a special reception at Áras an Uachtaráin to mark their achievements where he described the companies as “the finest of Irish entrepreneurial spirit and innovation”.