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MENTORS SERIES AUTUMN

2021

SANDRA HEALY, CO-FOUNDER OF INCLUSIO, ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AS A BUSINESS IMPERATIVE

CONNECTING IRISH BUSINESS

MAKING THE GRADE EDTECH START-UPS ON THE RISE

InBUSINESS AUTUMN 2021

MANNA FROM HEAVEN

Drone delivery company taking off

SIXTH SENSE

How Cubbie Sensory Hub is extending its reach

€2.70

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Oonagh O’Hagan, Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, on omnichannel success

772009 393018

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02/11/2021 16:12


It’s time to invest in you. Talk to us about a retirement plan that works for you and your financial wellbeing.

Let’s chat about your pension. bankofireland.com/pensions

Terms and conditions apply. Life assurance and pensions products are provided by New Ireland Assurance Company plc, trading as Bank of Ireland Life. New Ireland Assurance Company plc, trading as Bank of Ireland Life is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Member of Bank of Ireland Group. Advice on Bank of Ireland Life products is provided by Bank of Ireland. Bank of Ireland trading as Bank of Ireland Insurance & Investments, Insurance & Investments, Bank of Ireland Private or Premier is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Bank of Ireland is a tied agent of New Ireland Assurance Company plc for life assurance and pension business. Members of Bank of Ireland Group. Information correct as of August 2021.

WARNING: The value of your investment may go down as well as up. WARNING: If you invest in a pension you may lose some or all of the money you invest. WARNING: If you invest in a pension you will not have access to your money until your retirement date.

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Editor: Sorcha Corcoran Creative Director: Jane Matthews Editorial Assistant: Jonathan Baxter (Chambers Ireland) Designer: Lenny Rooney

Contents

Advertising Design: Neasa Daly

COVER STORY

COVER STORY

“My whole purpose is to ensure our culture stays alive every day and that everyone believes in our vision and our plan to get there and feels safe to shine.”

Photography: iStock Photo

COVER STORY

Infographics: www.flaticon.com

The

Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Sales Director: Diarmaid Lennon

Celebrating 20 years in business this year, Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, believes in empowering her team and listening to customer needs and demands, offering solutions through education and innovation.

I

n September, Meaghers Pharmacy Group launched an innovative new concept, reflecting its increasing emphasis on providing customers with an all-encompassing offering on holistic health and wellness – The 'SkinLab at Meaghers’, located in its Churchtown store, where it is being piloted before a potential rollout across other Meaghers stores. “This concept is all about personal consultation and moving away from the ‘self-select’ model for skincare products. In our treatment rooms, trained skin experts use specialised skin analysis machines to identify what is going on with a customer’s skin and then educate them on their skincare conditions and design bespoke treatment and product plans to address their concerns," explains Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group. “We see skincare as being about much more than just skin; if your skin isn’t as healthy as you would like it to be, this can have a negative effect on your self-esteem and self-confidence as well as your physical and mental health. Our aim is to provide a bespoke skincare consultation service together with solutions for our customers’ skincare concerns. “Everybody’s skin is different and our experts look at a full picture on your stage of life, lifestyle, sleep and diet. We talk a lot about tackling problems from within and provide cosmeceutical

Managing Director: Gerry Tynan

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Published by: Ashville Media Group, Unit 55 Park West Road, Park West Industrial Park, D12 X9F9 Tel: +353 1 432 2200 Email: info@ashville.com Web: www.ashville.com On behalf of: Chambers Ireland, 11 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 FY84 Tel: +353 1 400 4300 Email: info@chambers.ie Web: www.chambers.ie All articles © Ashville Media Group 2021. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. Opinion and comments expressed herein are not necessarily those of Ashville Media or Chambers Ireland. ISSN 20093934

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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COVER STORY:

THE RIGHT COMBINATION

InBUSINESS speaks to Oonagh O’Hagan, Founder and Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, about omnichannel success

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Entrepreneur Bobby Healy, Founder of drone delivery company Manna, which is taking off in Ireland

SMALL BUSINESS

Sixth Sense

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Industry

Cubbie Sensory Hub is making a difference to people with sensory processing disorder

Irish edtech companies embracing the new era of blended education Words: Kieran O’Daly

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58 Ballina 2023 website launches with a special celebration, N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin road opens in Sligo, and Leitrim gets €320k CLÁR funding

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LEINSTER

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Castletroy Urban Greenway opens in Limerick, Mid-West filmmakers receive backing, and Cork community groups and projects receive important funding

Belfast City Council commits to climate action and Donegal welcomes Streetscape Enhancement funding and WiFi4EU zones across the county

In Association with

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The Shackleton Garden officially opens in Fingal

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CORK STREET ENHANCEMENT

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SLIGO WATERWASTE PLANTS OPEN

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD and Mayor of Fingal Seána Ó Rodaigh unveil The Shackleton Garden plaque

Since acquiring The Shackleton Garden in Clonsilla in 2017, Fingal County Council has been working on its restoration with a view to opening the garden up to the public as an important local amenity, visitor attraction and tourism asset in the Dublin 15 area. The restoration works have involved the rebuilding of large sections of the garden walls, upgrading of paths and the restoration of garden buildings. The works are part of a €400,000 investment from Fingal County Council and Fáilte Ireland. Mayor of Fingal Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh officially opened The Shackleton Garden in the presence of the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, Fingal County Councillors, Oireachtas members, volunteers and members of the Shackleton family. The gardens, which are inside a 1.5-acre walled garden, are home to a wide range of rare and exotic plants including an important collection of herbaceous perennials, grown in large flower borders. During the 1980s, the gardens were included in The Good Gardens Guide and were awarded two stars – the highest accolade awarded by the guide. The history of the Shackleton family and their connection with the garden is also of significant public interest. The council will continue to use the detailed 1994 plant list compiled by the family as a baseline for the continued management of the plant collection. “Developing mustvisit attractions for domestic and international visitors is a key part of our recovery post-Covid,” says Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

MUNSTER

Smart mobility solutions for Dublin, new Library and Cultural Centre for Trim, and streetscape enhancement funding for Fingal

CONNACHT

Our Local Government InBUSINESS supplement continues to look at the important role played by local authorities in Irish enterprise

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BELFAST CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS

In Association with

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Living leaves a mark. But it doesn’t have to leave a scar. At An Post, we’re building a postal and delivery service for the future. Through Ireland’s largest electric fleet, we’re delivering e-commerce with zero emissions. With the Green Hub, we’re helping people transform their homes for greener living while also offering services that help keep our communities connected and thriving. Living leaves a mark. Together, let’s leave one we’re proud of.

For more information about the mark we are leaving and on our zero emission deliveries in Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford visit anpost.com/sustainability

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26/10/2021 30/09/2021 16:44 12:57 28/09/2021 14:49


MENTORS SERIES AUTUMN

2021

SANDRA HEALY, CO-FOUNDER OF INCLUSIO, ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AS A BUSINESS IMPERATIVE

CONNECTING IRISH BUSINESS

MAKING THE GRADE EDTECH START-UPS ON THE RISE

InBUSINESS AUTUMN 2021

MANNA FROM HEAVEN

Drone delivery company taking off

SIXTH SENSE

How Cubbie Sensory Hub is extending its reach

Contents

€2.70

The

03

9

Oonagh O’Hagan, Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, on omnichannel success

772009 393018

Go to chambers.ie for the online edition

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MENTORS:

Sandra Healy [LIFESTYLE] 104 INNOVATION Latest audio gadgets to make life easier

Diversity dynamo How Irish organisations are embracing the latest thinking on diversity and inclusion

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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Business news

7

Opportunity Ireland

8

The Hot Topic

10

Start-up Central

12

Keen on Green

17

Movers & Shakers

31

Snapchat

65 Chambers Catch Up

TO

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Y’ ‘ D I F FA F BILIT

With the launch of a new course designed for people with disabilities, Prof Tom Cooney of TU Dublin hopes self employment and entrepreneurship will become more of an option for this section of society, writes SORCHA CORCORAN

F

ormer Dragon Seán Gallagher, Derek Walker, Co-founder of nutrition company Natnoot and Sinead Kane, athlete and Founder of The Kane Ability – three of the 12 guest speakers who are taking part in a groundbreaking new self employment and entrepreneurship course for people with disabilities, which started in September. The TU Dublin course is funded by Towards Work, a new employment and further education support for

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people with disabilities launched on 23 September as part of the Open Doors Initiative. Minister for State with Special Responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte opened the event, which included contributions from tech entrepreneur Stephen Cluskey and author and motivational speaker Tracey McCann. According to the latest census (2016), 52,115 people with disabilities were self-employed (40% of the total working population with disabilities) with one-third of these having employees. However, the visibility of role models to inspire others has been relatively poor to date – something Professor of Entrepreneurship at TU Dublin Tom Cooney is keen to address. “Successful entrepreneurs with disabilities do exist, but sometimes they don’t want to self-identify as InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

DISTINCTIVE CHALLENGES “In Ireland, 13.5% of the population have a disability and we are one of the poorest countries in the EU for rates of employment for people with disabilities [30%, according to an OECD study released in September]. The pandemic disproportionately affected people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds in terms of employment and has significantly reduced their opportunities for getting back into the workforce,” says Cooney. “In all of this discussion, nobody has been talking about self employment as an option. It is assumed that existing supports

Pro

through Local Enterprise Offices [LEOs] are sufficient to cater for the needs of people with disabilities. The notion that the door is open to everyone is not appropriate in this situation as people with disabilities have additional and distinctive challenges compared to other aspiring entrepreneurs.” The “welfare benefits trap” has been identified by the OECD as the single biggest barrier to people with disabilities starting a business in Ireland. “The welfare system is binary in that you’re viewed as being able or not able to work. There is no recognition of the grey area in between; you’re either in or out of the workforce. So people with disabilities are disinclined to start a business for fear of losing the medical card and other supports,” Cooney explains. On top of this, because of the poor rates of employment, people with disabilities are unlikely to have prior managerial experience or a reserve of funding and mobility issues might mean they don’t have the same level of networks. Then there could be extra costs; one of the guest speakers on the TU Dublin course, photographer Eddie Hennessy, for example, requires somebody to go with him to photo shoots to carry the equipment. However, Cooney points out that there are also positive developments to consider: “There is a wider acceptance of working from home following the pandemic and assistive technology has improved dramatically in recent years. Both of these trends will allow people with disabilities to be more proactive in the entrepreneurship space.”

Front row, left to right: Eileen Daly, The AT Network, Noelle Day, Mobility Mojo. Back row, left to right: Helen McQuillan, Employability Clare, Des Henry, WALK , Brian Aird, TeamWork Cooperative, Canada, Prof Thomas Cooney, Marion Wilkinson (National Disability Authority), Prof Yvonne Galligan and Fergus Finlay (Disability strategy implementation group)

fT om ey

INNOVATION & TECH

SKILLS& TALENT

Successful entrepreneurs with disabilities do exist, but sometimes they don’t want to self-identify as such. Giving participants access to role models is one of the big things we are doing with this course.”

on

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SKILLS AND TALENT

such as they may think it is not something attractive to discuss openly. Giving participants access to role models is one of the big things we are doing with this course,” he says. The 24 participants have each been assigned a mentor who has been trained by Kaleidoscope Investments – a UK company which only invests in businesses founded by people with disabilities. The speciallydesigned online programme includes a variety of workshops and expert advice, culminating in the completion of a business plan and the pitching of ideas to a panel of potential investors. “We don’t expect 24 new businesses to come out of this; the purpose of the programme is to help people to evaluate and develop their ideas. We are not advocating that they go ahead if at the end they aren’t sustainable,” says Cooney, who is also Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. “All I have ever argued for is to give people the opportunity to maximise their economic and social potential. That is my ambition.” The report ‘Pathways to Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities’, co-authored by Cooney and published in February 2020, highlighted the need for tailored supports for people with disabilities who want to start a business.

Co

112 PODCASTS The Other Hand political and economic podcast

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109 BOOKS Insights on decisionmaking, science and the pandemic and philanthropy

Words: Sorcha Corcoran

D E D I C AT E

106 BOOK EXTRACT An extract from How Confidence Works: The new science of selfbelief, why some people learn it and others don’t by Ian Robertson

Co-founder and CEO of Inclusio Sandra Healy discusses why a practical, employee-led approach to diversity and inclusion is now a business imperative.

A DIFFERENT VIEW A long-term advocate of diversity and inclusion, Prof Tom Cooney of TU Dublin prefers to talk about ‘diffability’ (i.e. different ability) rather than disability and how this should be viewed as a strength. He has observed evidence of employers hiring people with disabilities with this in mind. “Danish company Specialisterne harnesses the special characteristics and talents of people with autism and uses them as a competitive advantage – for example, solving particularly challenging issues for IT companies that others are unable to solve,” he says. With an office in Dublin, the majority of Specialisterne’s employees have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Cooney also notes that Google is making a point of trying to attract people with disabilities because of the value they will bring to the organisation. “We know that people with disabilities make great Googlers, and we intentionally seek out people with different backgrounds and experiences,” its careers website states.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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SKILLS & TALENT Prof Tom Cooney from TU Dublin on empowering entrepreneurs with disabilities

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MEDIA & MARKETING Jerry Daykin, EMEA Senior Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare, on representation in advertising

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28/10/2021 17:30


BUSINESS NEWS

CWSI on growth and acquisition trail

“We strive to be a team of ‘day makers’ rather than ‘transaction takers’. It requires an empathetic approach to customer service.”

Mobile and cloud security specialist CWSI is investing €1.2m to support growth plans, which include 25 new jobs in Ireland and the UK by the end of 2022. Headquartered in Sandyford, Dublin, CWSI acquired AVR, a cyber and cloud security services provider based in Berkshire in the UK, in May. It has entered into a new partnership with SentinelOne, which recently completed the largest-ever cybersecurity IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. According to CEO Ronan Murphy, CWSI is actively pursuing further acquisitions across the UK and Europe. “Our longer-term vision is to become a pan-European leader in modern security through a combination of organic growth and M&A activity,” he said.

Ronan Murphy, CEO, CWSI

HOUSE PRICES

Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group

COVER STORY PAGE 18

Residential property prices increased by 10.9% nationally in the year to August – the largest annual change in prices since June 2018 – according to the Central Statistics Office.

Digital transformation in construction

Philip Maguire, CEO, Auxilion and Ken Kennedy, Group IT Director, Sisk

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Sisk has completed a digital transformation programme in partnership with Irish firm Auxilion to help drive productivity and growth. With multiple offices throughout Ireland and projects across the UK and Europe, the company opens around 40 new building sites every year. Sisk has revamped its IT infrastructure, including all systems, networks and devices to enhance dayto-day operations and eliminate IT downtime for its 2,500 users across 14 countries. “We wanted to be closer to the leading edge of technology. Rather than simply waiting for solutions to be rolled out, we are now a forerunner and have changed the way we operate,” said Michael Ryan, IT Projects Director, Sisk.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

28/10/2021 17:37


BUSINESS NEWS

Exporting optimism A survey of over 700 companies which took part in Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week event in October revealed that 91% expect export sales to increase next year. Despite the challenges of our new trading relationship with the UK and Covid-19, 56% of businesses indicated they had seen an increase in exports this year compared to 2020. The key growth markets identified by Enterprise Ireland client companies are North America, Europe and the UK. “So far in 2021, we have seen these companies win a total of 965 new contracts and establish 375 new overseas presences,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

SHOPPING HABITS

Research released by Kinetic Insight has revealed that 58% of Irish shoppers aim to spend money saved over the Covid-19 pandemic on Christmas gifts.

Esri Ireland’s interactive digital mapping system is now being used by Cork-based Simply Blue to pioneer projects such as floating wind farms, wave power and aquaculture schemes. Pictured are Brian FitzGerald, Simply Blue, Dermot O’Kane, Esri Ireland and Sam Bouma, Simply Blue.

PICTURE

THIS MEDIA MOVES

A groundbreaking joint initiative between RTÉ and the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, Radiocentre Ireland, has been launched to promote radio as a medium.

CARBON NEUTRALITY

A survey of tech leaders by Datasolutions has shown that 85% plan to be carbon neutral by the end of 2025, with 60% believing this will make them more attractive to customers.

ALTADA SECURES US$11.5M INVESTMENT

Representatives from Altada and its investors

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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Artificial intelligence (AI) platform solution provider Altada has raised US$11.5m in funding, led by Rocktop Partners alongside Elkstone Partners and Enterprise Ireland. Founded by Allan Beechinor and Niamh Parker in Cork in 2018, Altada creates operational efficiencies for clients by leveraging AI to unlock value in data. The new infusion of capital will allow it to add over 100 people to its workforce, which currently stands at 70 employees across Europe and the US. The company is focused on building on its work in financial services while also responding to a rapidly increasing demand for AI solutions in healthcare, security and travel.

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BUSINESS NEWS

DOMESTIC DEMAND REBOUNDING The Central Bank of Ireland’s latest Quarterly Bulletin has revised its forecast for growth in domestic demand for this year to 5.5% (from 3.4% previously), and expects it to go up by 7.1% next year (from 5.6% previously). In 2023, the growth rate is expected to decelerate slightly as economic conditions normalise, but it is still forecast to be 4.1%. A recovery in consumption will play a substantial role in this, as household spending relative to incomes normalises. Consumption is forecast to grow by 6.2% this year and by 8.3% in 2022 and 5.1% in 2023.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Managing Partner Seamus Hand and Partner Emer McGrath, KPMG in Ireland

New KPMG innovation hub in the IFSC Professional services firm KPMG is investing in a global innovation hub in Dublin’s IFSC and plans to hire 350 tech-focused professionals in Ireland over the next year. Called Platform X, the new hub aims to support businesses dealing with new and emerging threats driven by advancements in digital adoption following the Covid-19 pandemic. It will provide state-of-the-art workspace and the latest in collaborative technology and design to accelerate growth ideas and incubate new products and services. “Many of the challenges we’re helping our clients overcome are complex and benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving,” said KPMG’s Managing Partner, Seamus Hand.

BOSTON SCIENTIFIC RAMPS UP R&D IN CORK Boston Scientific Corporation is to invest €30m in its Cork facility to accelerate the development and manufacturing of minimally-invasive medical technologies that treat patients suffering from cancer and peripheral arterial diseases. This research, development, and innovation (RD&I) investment will further diversify the range of technologies developed and manufactured at the Boston Scientific Cork site and is expected to generate around 70 new jobs over the next three years. Currently employing more than 1,200 people, the site makes medical devices for interventional oncology, coronary artery disease, digestive disorders and severe asthma.

J&J EXPANDS WISTEM2D IN IRELAND

UL graduate Jessica Dino, UCC graduate Amy O’Reilly, Anna Rafferty, J&J Campus Ireland and Aoibhín Sheedy of NUI Galway

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Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has expanded its global WiSTEM2D programme to NUI Galway. WiSTEM2D stands for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design. The J&J WiSTEM2D programme fuels the development of the female STEM2D talent pipeline by awarding and sponsoring girls and women at critical points in their education and careers. First introduced in University of Limerick in 2016 and University College Cork in 2018, it has supported over 290 female students to date through a range of initiatives, including leadership training, mentoring, internships, site tours and recruitment workshops.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

28/10/2021 17:37


JOB CREATION COMPANY: EY

COMPANY: Ethos SECTOR: Construction and engineering

SECTOR: Professional services

LOCATION: Across Ireland

ANNOUNCEMENT: EY is creating 816 jobs across its seven offices on the island of Ireland, 414 of which are experienced hires and the rest graduate roles. The jobs are in several areas, including consulting, audit, tax, corporate finance, technology, analytics, cyber security and sustainability.

COMPANY: Amazon SECTOR: E-commerce LOCATION: Dublin

LOCATION: Dublin and Galway

ANNOUNCEMENT: Amazon is opening its first Irish fulfilment centre in Baldonnell Business Park in Dublin, creating 500 permanent jobs. Recruitment has started for a range of new roles, including engineers, HR and IT professionals through to health and safety and finance specialists and operations managers.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Mechanical and electrical consultancy Ethos is to hire 150 new people in Ireland in the next four years as part of an expansion programme. The firm has restructured the business to focus on six key areas of expertise, including data centre design and smart buildings.

OpportunityIRELAND INBUSINESS highlights some of the companies that are expanding operations and generating new employment opportunities across the country.

COMPANY: Stripe SECTOR: Payments technology

SECTOR: Medical devices

LOCATION: Dublin ANNOUNCEMENT: Payments pioneer Stripe is to add hundreds of highly skilled engineering jobs at its Dublin hub over the next three years. Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, described Stripe as “a leader in its industry and growing rapidly at scale with clear ambitions for continued expansion”.

LOCATION: Galway COMPANY: AstraZeneca

SECTOR: Pharma and biotechnology

Vodafone, ESB, eBay and Liberty Insurance have joined Grow Remote initiative the Remote Alliance, committing to work together to enable remote and hybrid working to become embedded within their organisations on a long-term basis. Grow Remote will provide practical advice for members of the alliance on how to move from reactionary remote working as a result of Covid-19 to embedding “remote-first” working policies into their organisations.

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LOCATION: Dublin

ANNOUNCEMENT: AstraZeneca is to invest US$360m in a new manufacturing facility at the Alexion Campus in Dublin, creating 100 jobs. It will serve as the next-generation active pharmaceutical ingredient commercialisation and manufacturing facility for small molecules, positioning AstraZeneca’s global supply network for future growth.

Employers join new remote working alliance

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021 InBUSINESS

COMPANY: Integer

ANNOUNCEMENT: Medical device outsource manufacturer Integer is building a new innovation and manufacturing facility in Parkmore East in Galway, which will result in the creation of 100-200 jobs in the coming years. Integer already has an R&D centre in Galway and manufacturing facilities in Galway and Wexford.

Remote working has the power to transform and reinvigorate local communities by giving people access to job opportunities regardless of where they live in Ireland.” Renate Kohlmann, Director, Grow Remote

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28/10/2021 17:41


TOP TRENDS

SHIFT IN ATTITUDES

Research by flexible work and office space provider IWG has revealed that 72% of office

workers would prefer a hybrid model over going back to the office full time with a 10% pay rise. The figure is even higher for young employees, with 84%

THE HOT TOPIC

Return Work TO

of 18- to 24-year-olds electing for flexible working practices over more money. Two-thirds of those aged 25-34 would not consider applying for a job if it did not offer such terms and 83% of the 1,000 office workers surveyed would now be more likely to apply for a job if it offered a flexible way of working.

Commentary and findings on the latest workplace trends impacting employers and employees

Companies will need to assess the impact that remote working has had on company culture and look for ways to maintain productivity and a sense of belonging in new hybrid work environments. Even with a hybrid model of working, it’s important to encourage people to take the time, not only to step away from work, but also to make room for important human moments whether that’s in the office or online. Because, at the end of the day, if human connection is lacking, then productivity and employee wellbeing will go down.”

Niamh Graham

Niamh Graham, Senior Vice President of Global Human Experience, Workhuman on the return to workplaces which started on 20 September

Managing mental health The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has declared that workplace mental health is now a safety issue following the release of the new occupational health and safety management standard ISO 45003 in July. This standard provides guidance for managing psychological health and psychosocial risks in the workplace. The Irish branch of IOSH is urging its members to think safety, compliance, risk assessments, and employee support therapy to address the mental health issues that are now impacting the workplace. Meanwhile, a survey released by tech firm Auxilion has revealed that 35% of the 500 workers surveyed said that working from home has had an overall positive impact on their mental health.

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InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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Skills to Advance Make skills work for you

Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism Boost the retention and development of key talent Avail of highly subsidised training for enterprise Contact your local Education and Training Board or visit skillstoadvance.ie

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26/10/2021 21/09/2021 16:45 16:59


START-UPS

GIGABIT HUB EXTENDS TO DONEGAL NEWS, VIEWS AND PROFILES ON THE LATEST START-UPS IN IRELAND

€932m

The amount raised by Irish tech companies in the first half of 2021, almost equal to the whole of 2019, according to Tech Ireland’s Start-up Funding Review.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

SIRO and Vodafone have expanded their Gigabit Hub initiative to Stranorlar, Co Donegal with the connection of The DigiHub at The BASE Enterprise Centre – a new 1,600 sq ft space dedicated to supporting the growth of ICT and digital businesses in the county. The DigiHub at The BASE was developed as part of the Digiwest programme with funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in partnership with Donegal County Council and the Western Development Commission.

JEROME FORDE,

MANAGING DIRECTOR, HR DUO What is the background to HR Duo?

My time in the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission showed me first-hand how challenging HR is for SMEs. The first hint of HR Duo came when I was closely involved in one of Ireland’s first HR shared services centres, in AIB Group. The real potential became clear when I established a central HR office and software platform serving 200 small employers in Dublin.

How has the business grown since it started?

We attracted really good clients from the start who have stuck with us as we built the platform. The business exploded after an angel investment in 2019. We’re now four times the size we were back then and are in the process of raising Series A funding to facilitate further expansion.

What’s the best advice you were given? A business cannot manage itself.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned? Believe in your vision, believe in yourself and plan accordingly.

Your biggest make or break moment?

The realisation that the thousands of HR solutions aimed at SMEs were trying to solve the wrong problems – they all assume the availability of big company resources and try to make existing processes faster.

Company: HR Duo Location: Dunshaughlin Business Park, Unit 8, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath Product: Full-service HR solution Staff: 26 Website: www.hrduo.com

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SIGNS OF START-UP RECOVERY There was a 42% increase in the number of new companies registered in the first half of 2021 to reach nearly 14,000, according to CRIF VisionNet. Almost every county in the Republic of Ireland experienced a rise in start-up registrations with public administration and defence (+150%) and retail (+144%) the sectors with the largest growth. “While the pandemic provides incalculable challenges, the tenacity of the Irish entrepreneur is an encouraging force for economic recovery,” said Christine Cullen, MD of CRIF Vision-Net.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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START-UPS

Brian Martin and Alan Foy of VentureWave with James Ives and Karen May of Xocean

PepTalk founders James Brogan, Michelle Fogarty and Bernard Brogan

Major boost for ocean data specialist Xocean

BioSimulytics set for growth with seed funding University College Dublin spin-out BioSimulytics has secured €595,000 in initial seed funding from angel investors and Enterprise Ireland. The start-up has developed a novel software solution to enable the pharma industry to advance potential molecules to approved medicines quicker and with a much greater probability of success. It uses a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, computational chemistry, quantum physics and high-performance computing. BioSimulytics has already secured its first commercial contract with a major pharma company in Europe and signed evaluation agreements with several others. It will use the funding to support the growth of its team and client base and plans to complete a Series A funding round within the next 18-24 months.

Phuc Le Khac, Mohammad Reza Ghaani, Peter Doyle, Mozhdeh Shiranirad, Alan Cuev¡a Mora, Niall English and Christian Burnham, members of the BioSimulytics team

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NE TO WATCH: PEPTALK

Irish-based ocean data company Xocean has received an €8m investment led by VentureWave Capital, which launched its ‘Impact Ireland’ fund in June 2020. Xocean is driving down emissions in the offshore industry using its proprietary marine robotic technology to collect ocean data. Founded in 2017, Xocean has successfully delivered over 100 projects to date. The new funding will accelerate its growth, with plans to increase headcount from over 100 to 350 in the next 24 months while tripling the size of the fleet to over 60 un-crewed surface vessels. The business is on track to displace the emission of one million tons of carbon within the next five years, while simultaneously improving safety by avoiding over five million seafarer exposure hours.

In September, PepTalk completed a €1.2m funding round and has announced plans to increase its workforce from 20 to 35 people in the next 12 months. Described as a “culture tech” company, PepTalk was founded in 2017 by ex-Twitter executive Michelle Fogarty, former lawyer James Brogan and former Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan. The platform helps companies to embed positive behaviours and habits designed to enhance team engagement and performance, especially in a hybrid work environment. PepTalk has doubled turnover in the past 12 months, reaching over 10,000 users across four continents and adding multi-year partnerships with clients such Linesight, Nitro (in the US) and Northern Trust. The funding will be used to fast-track further enhancements to the platform as the company continues its aggressive expansion across EMEA and the UK. “Hybrid culture needs to be built with much more proactivity and intentionality and that is where our platform is now essential,” said CEO James Brogan.

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SUSTAINABILITY

IT recycling on the rise

GREEN TALK: FAYE THOMAS

InBUSINESS

PLASTIC POLLUTION

Liz Bonin

Current global recycling infrastructure is not fit for purpose and the suggestion that the problem of plastic pollution can be solved through recycling is a myth. So believes science, natural history and environmental broadcaster Liz Bonin, who hosted a Climate Ready Academy masterclass in September entitled ‘The Problem with Plastic’. “Even if single-use plastics were manufactured in a way that made them truly recyclable, no recycling infrastructure in the world could cope with the staggering volumes we throw away every day,” she said. “Globally, only 9% of all plastic in circulation is recycled or repurposed in some way, and it’s often downcycled to produce lower-grade items such as flower pots or carpet bagging, so that more virgin plastic still needs to be used to ‘remake’ the original product. There is a real opportunity for 21st Century business leaders to lead the charge with bold and impactful action.”

Irish IT recycling company Vyta has reported an 11% increase in group revenues to reach €8m for the year ending 31 May 2021, reflecting the growth in demand for its services across Ireland and the UK – largely driven by organisations carrying out major IT refreshes to enable remote working. Established in 2001 as AMI, Vyta’s customers include central and local government agencies, as well as 25% of Ireland’s top 200 ICT user companies. “We want to educate our customers about the benefits of recycling and using refurbished devices that not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also comply with stringent and everchanging data regulations,” said Faye Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer. Vyta has implemented new asset tracking software that streamlines the collection process and has led to an increase in referrals; the new software enables the company to carry out 12 months’ work in nine months.

Faye Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer, Vyta

THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTIC – KEY TAKEAWAYS

IRELAND UNDERPERFORMING

BE THE VOICE OF CHANGE

INVEST IN BIODIVERSITY

Ireland produces the most plastic waste per person in the EU and has the fourthlowest recycling rate of plastics in the EU.

Identify and implement changes to recycling practices and call on policymakers to tackle the lack of infrastructure for dealing with plastic waste.

Seek opportunities to invest in biodiversity and conservation; simply allowing wild meadows grow on your unused land or planting trees is a start.

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This masterclass was one in a series hosted by the Climate Ready Academy, which is part of the Skillnet Ireland Climate Ready initiative. The next one in November will look at biodiversity.

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WINNERS ANNOUNCED Congratulations to all our winners in the

Energia Family Business Awards showcasing the best of Irish family businesses Discover more at

www.familybusinessawards.ie

251232_1C_Energia_CI Autumn_ND_V1.indd 1 Energia FBA 2021_Winners_A4_V1.indd 1 Ad Template.indd 1

15:59 21/10/2021 17:31 11:34 26/10/2021


ENTREPRENEUR

MANNA FROM ENTREPRENEUR: BOBBY HEALY Further to success with Eland Technologies and CarTrawler, Bobby Healy’s latest venture is drone delivery company Manna, which was recently deemed to be the most sought-after Irish start-up to work for in LinkedIn’s inaugural Top Startups List for Ireland.

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Q: Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from? BH: I always wanted to build things and had a very curious mind. From a young age I taught myself how to write code and built video games as I wanted to understand the technology beneath them. At the time, if you wanted to be at the forefront of programming, video games were at the leading edge of software development. I didn’t go to college as I didn’t want to learn about business or other topics as part of a wider course. My first job was with an Irish company in Waterford writing code for video games. While working in the South of France for a travel tech company I came up with the idea for a travel tech product. I was confident I could build this product to solve a problem and it would cost me nothing. A 50-year old businessman friend of mine advised me to sell the idea to an airline, so I went to Mexico and sold it to a domestic airline there. This was the first contract for Eland Technologies, my first proper commercial business. It took me nine months to build the product and I ended up selling the company 12 years later (in 2003).

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ENTREPRENEUR

“I didn’t go to college as I didn’t want to learn about business or other topics as part of a wider course. My first job was with an Irish company in Waterford writing code for video games”.

Bobby Healy, CEO and Founder, Manna

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ENTREPRENEUR

INVESTMENT JOURNEY Founded in 2018 by CEO Bobby Healy, Manna has developed patented, aviation-grade drones that fly at 80km/h and deliver goods such as takeaways within a three-kilometre radius in less than three minutes. A single Manna employee operating multiple drones is able to operate nearly 20 deliveries per hour – 10 times what can be done with traditional road-based delivery. Last April, the company raised US$25m in a Series A funding round, bringing the total investment to date to over US$30m. “The funding will allow us to hire more engineers. It isn’t cheap to build and design aircraft and there is a gigantic overhead of safety regulation. We’re going to need hundreds of millions of dollars to successfully get it to scale,” says Healy.

Q: Are there common factors with the ideas you have pursued since? BH: It’s about seeing a problem in a large industry and saying you can solve that problem with technology. In the case of CarTrawler, the problem was airlines wanted to do more than just sell flights and nobody had dealt with that missing link of merchandising car rental on airline websites. Because of my previous business Eland I knew this was a big issue for all of my airline customers. I had the programming ability to build the solution but also good access to airline execs around the world. It was a natural next step for me. Again, technical curiosity started things off for me with Manna. The drone technology was relatively simple once I broke it apart and understood it. Then I thought about the problems of delivery by road and saw how I could replace that in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way with this capability. I could see this was a core piece of technology that I could apply to a trillion-dollar problem and solve it. Q: How are you growing and developing Manna as a business? BH: Last October, we started a pilot in Oranmore, Co Galway where 32% of the population of 10,000 are now using the service regularly. We recently started operating in Balbriggan, Co Dublin where we expect to be making 400-500 deliveries a day for the population of 35,000. We are not in a rush to scale as we want to prove everything and perfect the product.

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We will review in six months; then look at moving into five or six more towns in Ireland, with a view to rolling out across Europe towards the end of 2022. Currently we employ 75 people with offices in Dublin and Wales and are using a bog in Co Offaly for flight testing. The team is likely to grow to around 200 people in the next 18 months. When we start to scale we expect to be a bit like Uber, with offices in every city in Europe from 2023 onwards. Our core R&D and manufacturing will likely be in Ireland and/or the UK. Q: What potential to you see into the future for drone delivery? BH: As mad as it may seem, I believe that in five to ten years’ time drones will be the main way to get deliveries of the size we’re dealing with to households. We are currently happy to share the market with Alphabet (parent of Google) and Amazon. Our business model is different; we’re providing our partner businesses with the tools to compete with each other with more efficient delivery. The drone will be a commodity in ten years’ time. That’s not what makes us different. It is more about the service; we are a delivery company that just happens to use a really efficient autonomous robot. We have done a pharmacy prescription delivery pilot in Monegal, Co Offaly with the HSE and are working with the HSE and the Government on how to expand on that. There is a lot of regulation around the transportation of medicines and we need to find a way for the technology and regulation to fit together. There is no pharmacy regulator in the world thinking about robots for delivery, so we have quite a hurdle to get over, but I am pretty confident that our platform will be used to transport prescription medicines around Europe in the next few years. It will be the key way of the future as we live with Covid-19.

“THE DRONE WILL BE A COMMODITY IN TEN YEARS’ TIME. THAT’S NOT WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT. IT IS MORE ABOUT THE SERVICE; WE ARE A DELIVERY COMPANY THAT JUST HAPPENS TO USE A REALLY EFFICIENT AUTONOMOUS ROBOT.”

Bobby Healy, CEO and Founder with members of the Manna team

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

26/10/2021 18:18


MOVERS & SHAKERS

NEW APPOINTMENTS IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY NATIONWIDE

DR THORSTEN GIESECKE

MYLES O’GRADY

MICHAEL GAUGHAN

BRIAN DOHERTY

NEW TITLE: General Manager, Commercial Business

NEW TITLE: Chief Financial Officer

NEW TITLE: Head of Strategic Growth – Risk Solutions

NEW TITLE: Operations Director

EMPLOYER: Janssen Sciences Ireland UC PREVIOUS ROLE: Director of Global Commercial Strategy, Janssen Janssen has appointed Dr Thorsten Giesecke as General Manager, Commercial Business, Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, which is responsible for commercialising six areas of medicines, including oncology and infectious diseases and vaccines. Having first joined Janssen in 2006, Giesecke has spearheaded several strategic projects such as ensuring a transformational pipeline in prostate cancer through earlier and better commercial input.

EMPLOYER: Musgrave Group PREVIOUS ROLE: Group Chief Financial Officer, Bank of Ireland

Musgrave Group has announced the appointment of Myles O’Grady as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with effect from 4 April next year. Group CFO at Bank of Ireland Group since 2019, O’Grady has also held senior roles at Citibank, Bord Gáis and AIB Group, is a non-executive director of New Ireland Assurance Company and a fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

“DEVELOPMENT DIP” AMONG YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

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EMPLOYER: Gamma

EMPLOYER: OSSM

EXISITNG ROLE: Director, Insurecore

PREVIOUS ROLE: Project Manager, OSSM

Dublin-based location intelligence specialist Gamma has appointed Michael Gaughan as its Head of Strategic Growth – Risk Solutions, with responsibility for leading the international expansion of the company’s insurance offering. Gaughan has 35 years’ experience in a variety of roles spanning underwriting, marketing, business development, corporate strategy and general management. In addition, he has experience in the insurance sector in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Part of The Noledge Group, NetSuite solutions provider OSSM has promoted Brian Doherty to Operations Director. In his new role, Doherty will lead the execution and delivery of client projects, while ensuring best practices and procedures are maintained as the team grows. He has been with the The Noledge Group for over 20 years, delivering enterprise resource planning systems for businesses in Ireland and the UK.

A study released by LinkedIn of 103 C-level executives at companies with over 1,000 employees in Ireland has revealed that 96% say young people have been hit by a “development dip” during Covid-19. Meanwhile, a complementary survey of over 1,000 workers in Ireland finds that 75% of people aged 16-34 believe their professional learning experience has been impacted by the pandemic. Three quarters ultimately feel “out of practice” when it comes to office life, particularly with delivering presentations (31%) and speaking to customers or clients (20%).

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COVER STORY

COVER STORY

Celebrating 20 years in business, EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 finalist Oonagh O’ Hagan, Owner and Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, believes in empowering her team and listening intently to customer needs, offering solutions through education and innovation.

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n September, Meaghers Pharmacy Group launched an innovative new concept, reflecting its increasing emphasis on providing customers with an all-encompassing offering on holistic health and wellness – The 'SkinLab at Meaghers’, located in its Churchtown store, where it is being piloted before a potential rollout across other Meaghers stores. “This concept is all about personal consultation and moving away from the ‘self-select’ model for skincare products. In our treatment rooms, trained skin therapists use specialised skin analysis machines to identify what is really going on and then educate our customers on their skincare conditions, designing bespoke treatment and product plans to address their concerns,” explains Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group. “We see skincare as being about much more than just skin; if your skin isn’t as healthy as you would like it to be, this can have a negative effect on your self-esteem and self-confidence. Our aim is to provide a bespoke skincare consultation service together with solutions for our customers’ skincare concerns. “Everybody’s skin is different and our experts look at a full picture on your stage of life, lifestyle,

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COVER STORY

“My whole purpose as a leader is to ensure our culture stays alive every day and that everyone is bought into our vision and our strategy to get there whilst feeling safe and trusted to shine.”

Oonagh O’Hagan, Owner and Managing Director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group

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“One of the drivers of our success is a strong focus on making our online customers feel a very personal service – just as they would when visiting one of our pharmacies. When a customer comes through our door, our aim is to make them feel so much better and to really surprise and delight them.” sleep and diet. We talk a lot about tackling problems from within and provide cosmeceutical solutions, which contain very active ingredients proven to optimise skin health. Meaghers was the first pharmacy in Ireland to be approached by SkinCeuticals, the largest cosmeceutical skincare brand in the world, with clinically-driven products developed by dermatologists.” The other two brands available at The SkinLab are Image Skincare and Murad Skincare. “There is a real demand for the expertise we’re providing. Our customers really value the time spent with our skincare experts, the consultation and fast results they’re experiencing from using the treatments and products,” she notes. The SkinLab is the latest example of how Meaghers Pharmacy Group has adapted in innovative ways to changing consumer demands and market conditions since O’Hagan got the keys of her first store on Baggot Street in 2001. She bought the business from Pierce Meagher having served her preregistration year under his mentorship. Based on its reputation as a “community pharmacy”, it was important to O’Hagan to retain the Meaghers Pharmacy family name and to build on the strong community ethos it already represented.

KEY MILESTONE “When I look back on the past 20 years and the various ups and downs I can’t believe where the time has gone. Twenty years is an important milestone. Time flies when you love what you do. Growth has been significant, with

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a new store being added every few years and we have built a very strong online business. A lot of people have been involved in our success – my hugely committed team, our suppliers and partners and our incredibly loyal customers who choose to come to visit us in both the physical and virtual worlds,” she reflects. “Staying close to our customers and consistently adding value to their lives is something we have worked really hard at; we always ask our customers their views before rolling out a strategy with polls on social media and surveys through our loyalty programme MPlus. I make a point of visiting stores regularly to spend time with my team and our customers to listen and engage with them and find out how we can do things better. “Some of our greatest innovations have come from listening intently to our team and our customers and adapting our services to match their everchanging needs. A great example of this was the launch of our digital doctor and digital pharmacist services during the

pandemic to enable our customers to stay safely at home yet still access all the professional care they needed.”

E-COMMERCE EDGE Meaghers was among the earliest adopters of e-commerce in the pharmacy sector in Ireland, introducing its online offering in 2014 in response to customer surveys. “We quickly became a destination for exclusive brands with great value and orders came in from customers all over the island of Ireland,” O’Hagan explains. “One of the drivers of our success is a strong focus on making our online customers feel a very personal service – just as they would when visiting one of our pharmacies. When a customer comes through our door, our aim is to make them feel so much better and to really surprise and delight them. We strive to be a team of ‘day makers’ rather than ‘transaction takers’. This requires a very empathetic and caring approach to our customers, which our team are exceptional at delivering.” To bring the element of “surprise InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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COVER STORY

and delight” into the online experience, Meaghers has invested in high quality branding and packaging. They include free samples and what has become its legendary Mars or “Meaghers” bar to bring a smile to customers’ faces – and all with the message ‘Hello beautiful, you’ve been expecting me’ when the customer opens their box. “We work really hard to bring a personal touch with the online offering. With every box, the online team thinks of the person who will open it, including samples applicable to them. Our customers told us how frustrating it can be not being able to deal with a person when ordering online. We stand out from the crowd through our Helpline service to assist customers in choosing what they need and our customer service team deliver an exceptional personal customer experience, albeit virtually,” says O’ Hagan. Meaghers received over 1.5 million new visitors to its website last year. It has the highest Instagram presence in the pharmacy sector, with over 70,000 followers and almost 50,000 Facebook fans. Having invested hugely in education, it has a team of 12 content creators, continuously creating educational content discussing relevant topics across its social media channels. In October, it released its first podcast series – ‘Meaghers Matters’, which is a deep-dive into key health topics bringing a wealth of knowledge from healthcare experts from across Ireland and the UK to its customers. “We have a hugely engaged online community, with millions of page impressions across all of our channels each week. We work really hard to add value to our online community, educating on timely and relevant topics such as anxiety, sleep, or how to support our immunity this winter – and be part of key campaigns in Ireland and around the world, including Menopause Month,” notes O’Hagan. “We also firmly believe in collaboration with other experts – our GP colleagues, dermatologists and other key opinion leaders. Our goal is to be a respected and trusted voice in a lot of white noise, articulating messages in a professional and reassuring way.” InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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IRISH INSPIRATION Now shipping to 58 different countries all around the world, O’Hagan is keen to showcase home-grown Irish businesses abroad via its growing online presence. “In line with our core company value of giving back to the community, we feel it is hugely important to support, coach and mentor Irish entrepreneurs to get their product onto shelves and compete on a global stage. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing an idea or passion project originally pitched to us coming alive and being sold in Ireland and beyond,” says O’Hagan. “We have been part of the growth journey of many Irish brands, including Pestle & Mortar, Skingredients, Sculpted by Aimee, Revive Active and Spotlight Oral Care, and are happy to give many Irish businesses an opportunity to be listed on our website and access to the thousands of customers who visit our website every single day.” So what does the future hold? O’Hagan says that there are three prongs to her strategy for growth. “We will continue to focus our growth in new markets, opening new pharmacies in areas where we feel the Meaghers brand will add value to the local community. Secondly, we will also pursue further acquisitions. Many pharmacists are interested in retiring as a result of the intensely challenging period we have all faced throughout the pandemic and there may be an opportunity for further acquisitions as a result. “Pharmacy is our core business and that will always be central to who we are, but pharmacy is changing and we are embracing that change. Our customers are looking for a much more proactive approach to health. We intend to lead that change, offering further vaccination services and innovative screening clinics to support our customers in staying healthy. “We are on a journey of digital transformation with many new digital healthcare services available through our website and social media channels. So thirdly, we will continue to lead a multichannel approach to healthcare, providing our customers across the world with the expertise they value, enabling them to make more informed decisions to proactively improve their health and wellbeing."

HIGH-TRUST CULTURE Meaghers Pharmacy Group has been a winner in the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards programme for seven years, reaching Platinum status this year, and was named as one of Ireland's Top 30 places to work by Great Place to Work for 2021. “All of our people are empowered and trusted to perform their roles while staying true to our values,” says Owner and Managing Director Oonagh O’Hagan. “My whole purpose as a leader is to ensure our culture stays alive every day and that everyone is bought into our vision and our strategy to get there whilst feeling safe and trusted to shine. The Meaghers team are exceptional and are not afraid to do things differently to how I would myself to get the same result, but often their way is much better. “This kind of trust is the golden thread that connects us. Our team are not afraid to make mistakes, truly push the boundaries and then learn from whatever happens. We spend a lot of time recruiting people who exhibit our values. I learned the critical importance of establishing this high-trust culture over the years.”

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INDUSTRY FEATURE

Making

the Grade

The Irish edtech market has grown exponentially over the past few years with more and more companies providing an ever-increasing array of IT-centric education solutions to students, teachers, schools and universities, writes KIERAN O’DALY.

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INDUSTRY FEATURE

T There’s plenty of opportunity out there and we will be tweaking our products to suit the UK and European markets as required.

here is no doubt that edtech has completely changed the education landscape, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve come a long way from the ‘miss-it-and-you-miss-out’ days of students furiously taking notes as teachers scrawl noisily on the blackboard. Technology has facilitated a more user-friendly style of lesson delivery, remotely and in the classroom, which has helped both students and teachers alike. However, it’s not just the way lessons are delivered that has changed – the subjects on the curriculum have changed too, with increased emphasis now on key computer and IT skills. The global edtech market had an estimated value of US$75bn in 2019, according to the latest data from US-based research firm Market Study Report LLC. The report predicts strong double-digit per annum growth (up to 20%) over the next five years and claims it could be worth up to US$318.8bn by 2027. Irish companies are well positioned to capitalise on this growth. With a long-established reputation for software development for business, Ireland’s biggest and best IT brains have now turned their attention to education and have created and adapted a wide range of innovative products and services to meet the needs of what, in technology terms anyway, is an emerging market. These include everything from learning and assessment platforms to virtual reality teaching aids, technology training and virtual tutorials. The strong growth that the edtech sector has enjoyed in recent times looks set to continue as technology becomes an integral part of the learning and education process from pre-school right up to thirdlevel and beyond. There are currently over 150 Irish companies involved in this burgeoning sector, many of whom have already made significant inroads into the UK and European markets as well. PANDEMIC PUSH Technology was becoming increasingly important before Covid-19 struck, but

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the pandemic has changed everything as students, teachers and edtech solutions providers have been forced to adapt to a completely new environment. “Covid-19 has advanced the edtech sector by around ten years in just a matter of months,” says Olus Education CEO Diarmuid O’Muirgheasa. “It was extremely challenging. We deal with a lot of schools and suddenly they were forced to manage a situation that nobody could have anticipated, but they rose to the challenge superbly and most were up and running online within a matter of weeks. Hopefully that will give them the willingness and confidence to embrace further changes going forward as technology becomes even more integrated into the sector.” While there may have been initial concerns in some quarters about moving to an online learning model, the experience has been mostly positive for all concerned. On the extra-curricular side, there has been strong buy-in from parents (relieved of their taxi duties at last!) and from students as well. “We learned that students still wanted to retain the student-teacher relationship and we have tailored our lesson delivery accordingly to keep as much of a classroom feel as possible so that they, particularly in the younger age groups, feel comfortable and have all the supports they need,” O’Muirgheasa explains. Formed earlier this year following a merger between Cocoon Education and the Academy of Code, Olus Education offers a full, 360-degree edtech service to both schools and individual students. This includes an integrated platform through which institutions can manage and deliver online learning along with the ‘Pathway to Computer Science’ programme for students aged seven-18 looking to develop their coding and technology skills on an extracurricular basis. Classes can be delivered either online or in person, depending on requirements. O’Muirgheasa sees huge potential for growth and says the company is looking to bring 250,000 students from Ireland, the

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INDUSTRY FEATURE

Wriggle Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Sean Glynn Olus Education CEO Diarmuid O’Muirgheasa

UK and further afield onto its platform over the next five years. “There’s plenty of opportunity out there and we will be tweaking our products to suit the UK and European markets as required,” he says. “Thousands of students are already signed up to our coding courses.”

“Educators have dealt very successfully with some significant challenges in adapting to new technologies, but they need a roadmap for the future.”

CATALYST FOR CHANGE While schools and other learning institutions have made dramatic progress over the past two years in adapting to new technology and work practices, how the education sector progresses from here remains uncertain. “Schools and universities need government guidance on what to do,” O’Muirgheasa adds. “They want to do the right thing and do it well. They have dealt very successfully with some significant challenges since the pandemic began, but they need a roadmap for the future and that has to come from government.” Wriggle Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Sean Glynn agrees that the pandemic has been a major catalyst for change in the education sector with schools and other learning institutions forced to adapt or risk being left behind. “I don’t think things will ever be the same again, so now is a good opportunity to reflect on where we go from here,” he says. “What have we learned

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from the pandemic? What do we want to keep and what do we want to get rid of going forward? These are key questions as we move towards a more blended approach to learning where technology will be used to enhance the classroom experience.” Like O’Muirgheasa, Glynn believes that government needs to play a more decisive role in determining future direction. “We need to ensure that the curriculum gives young people the skills they will need for the future,” he says. “We also need to know how that will be delivered. Once we have that, the edtech sector will be better placed to respond with innovative new products and solutions.” With a customer base of around 1,500 schools and colleges, Wriggle Learning supplies laptops, tablets, iPads and other hardware to students and schools. An Apple, Microsoft and Google certified partner, it also provides a wide range of IT-related courses for students and continuous professional development (CPD) training for teachers which helps them to integrate new IT systems and products into lesson delivery. Nearly all of Wriggle’s teacher training was classroom-based prior to the pandemic, but everything has since moved online. This has enabled the company to reach more customers InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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INDUSTRY FEATURE

than ever before – between February and June 2020 Wriggle delivered CPD training to almost 10,000 teachers. Uptake was such that earlier this year it launched ‘Wriggle Connect’, a dedicated CPD training platform for teachers, with over 50 ‘ambassadors’ joining the team to create content and facilitate training delivery. NEED FOR INCLUSION Westport-based Edtech Software has been serving the Irish education market for over two decades, with particular focus on helping students with special needs. Its main product is TextHelp’s Read&Write literacy software package which helps dyslexic students with their spelling and grammar. It also provides a similar product for the workplace via its www.workability.ie website and is set to launch a coding tuition software offering for school and third-level students. According to Liam Mac Réamoinn, one of the founders of Edtech, demand for its products rebounded after an initial dip following the onset of the pandemic. “I think the entire sector was shocked by how suddenly it all happened,” he says. “One minute everything was normal, the next we were in lockdown, so it took customers a little while to respond.” Mac Réamoinn puts the initial dip down to the fact that institutions are acting in isolation

“There are a lot of institutions that have invested in edtech packages that they don’t know how to use. The Department [of Education] allocates funds for purchase but not for training. That is something that needs to be looked at.”

rather than in response to any Department of Education spending guidelines. Another issue, he says, is funding and how it is allocated. “There are a lot of institutions out there that have invested in edtech packages that they don’t know how to use,” he says. “The Department allocates funds for purchase but not for training. That is something that needs to be looked at.” There is no doubt that technology will be front and centre in the education sector going forward as remote and blended learning become an integral part of curriculum delivery. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Ireland’s indigenous crop of edtech solutions providers, but one which, if their response to the pandemic is anything to go by, they are well able for.

Liam Mac Réamoinn, Co-founder, Edtech

Wriggle Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Sean Glynn

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SMALL BUSINESS FEATURE

David McIntyre

Mayo entrepreneur David McIntyre has developed an innovative booth to support people with sensory processing disorder. Now used in a range of settings in Ireland, Cubbie Sensory Hub is primed for growth following a seed funding round.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the Cubbie Sensory Hub? DMcI: The concept came about after my daughter Ava’s autism diagnosis in 2015 when she was two and a half years old. My wife and I attended EarlyBird training, designed to help parents better understand autism, what to look out for and help plan for the future. At these classes I first heard of the barriers facing autistic students. Many were being isolated or expelled because of behavioural issues stemming from sensory processing disorder (SPD). Around the same time I was approached by a school to design a sensory room. As a product designer, my first action was to research sensory rooms

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and how they helped people with SPD. It occurred to me that they worked best when there was an expert user, i.e. an occupational therapist, who would adapt the environment to calm or alert the student as needed. Sadly, many schools wouldn’t be able to afford an occupational therapist. And so the concept for Cubbie Sensory Hub was born – a standard sensory space that could adapt to each user’s bespoke sensory needs. We spent four years researching and developing the product. Using a team of occupational therapists, we have created unique sensory portraits delivered to the individual through our easyto-use and intuitive sensory management software system. I’m dyslexic myself,

which is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about inclusion in education. Q: What are you doing that is particularly compelling? DMcI: Cubbie is based on research-driven innovation and we have partnered with third-level institutions in Ireland and the UK that will support our innovation far into the future. There are many innovative aspects to Cubbie, however it is the digital connection to the occupational therapist that is changing lives in schools across Ireland. A case study done in partnership with Gaelscoil Dara in Galway showed that Cubbie’s platform reduced sensory overloads by 75% and increased classroom participation by 50% overall. Driven by UN Article 24 – Education, mainstream schools in the 165 signatory countries are experiencing a large enrolment increase of students with SPD. Many schools are now losing 20% of their day

to disruption caused by SPD. Cubbie alleviates this disruption by 66%, and so helps schools meet their obligations and provide an inclusive learning environment to all. Q: How have you grown and developed the business? DMcI: Since our launch in 2019, revenues have doubled annually. We have three full-time employees and are currently advertising for a software product manager, with plans for 20 full-time employees by 2023. We believe in local manufacturing. This strategy gives us control and agility in our design and research and development (R&D). Today there are Cubbies supporting sports fans in Aviva Stadium, patients in Temple Street Hospital, communities in their local libraries and students in all levels of education. Our vision is to support a person through their life journey. This means creating a InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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SMALL BUSINESS FEATURE

Cubbie community that supports all aspects of daily activities such as education, healthcare, work and play. We’re well on our way and have many innovations to come that will further support our vision for the future. Q: Where are you at in terms of outside investment? DMcI: Cubbie is currently closing an investment seed round. This money will enable us to hire key employees, continue our R&D plans and enable our move into the UK. Building on our success here in Ireland, Cubbie has quickly attracted attention from

the UK market, where we have already made our first deliveries. These first installations have led to a study with University College London’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education. The seed round is the first step in our investment journey; more investment could be needed as we continue to grow at a fast pace. Q: What potential do you see for the Cubbie Sensory Hub? DMcI: I wanted a platform that would follow and support my daughter’s life journey and so designed Cubbie from the ground up to be inclusive. Universally-designed

Universally-designed Cubbies are wheelchair accessible and fit in any space as standard, each accommodating young and old alike. Cubbie is being used for sensory regulation, anxiety and mindfulness and by both neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals.

Cubbies are wheelchair accessible and fit in any space as standard, each accommodating young and old alike. Cubbie is being used for sensory regulation, anxiety and mindfulness and by both neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals. We are also working with experts in dementia and are testing Cubbie technology in this area; the

results are very promising. We’re forecasting strong growth in the Irish and UK markets in 2022 and beyond. The US is also showing strong interest. We are in early-stage discussions with the Southern Autism Research & Resource Center and hope to kick-start our American dream in 2023. Q: Any other key achievements you would like to highlight? DMcI: In November last year, Cubbie won the Disability Inclusion Award at the inaugural Diversity in Tech Awards in association with Microsoft for Startups. These awards recognise companies from around the world for impactful work within their organisation and communities. Over 300 submissions from 24 countries were received and the awards were adjudicated by a panel of 15 digital thinkers, creators, innovators and diversity, equity and inclusion experts.

We are also working with experts in dementia and are testing Cubbie technology in this area; the results are very promising.

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MENTORS

MENTOR: SANDRA HEALY

Sandra Healy

TURNING

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Inclusio Co-founders Deborah Murphy, Sandra Healy and Arthur Lubambo

TALK ACTION

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INTO

Having spent 15 years driving the diversity and inclusion agenda in the workplace, Sandra Healy is now at the helm of a university spinout company which aims to transform organisational culture from the ground up using cutting-edge technologies, writes SORCHA CORCORAN. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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MENTORS

DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion. One of the first centres of its type in the world, it focuses on helping organisations build cultures of inclusion by providing access to the very latest in academic research, insights and tools. Healy agreed to make the move to DCU on the basis that she would be allowed to research, design and build what is now Inclusio from the centre. “The idea for Inclusio came from my frustration as a D&I practitioner of having no way to evidence the business impact of the meaningful work I was doing. I wanted to combine technology, behavioural science and psychology and bring that evidenced-based approach to D&I by linking it to key performance indicators [KPIs],” explains Healy, who is now CEO of Inclusio full-time.

While working as a sales manager at Telefónica O2 in Ireland, Sandra Healy went to the HR Director with a suggestion which turned out to be a pivotal moment on her journey of championing diversity and inclusion (D&I) across industry. “I was studying organisational psychology at the time and proposed writing a white paper on what D&I meant to leaders in technology and using that to set up a dedicated D&I team,” she recalls. Healy was appointed as the Irish operation’s first Diversity and Inclusion Lead in 2010 and former CEO Danuta Gray subsequently represented Ireland on Telefónica’s Global Diversity Council. An organisational psychologist and master practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming, Healy’s career spans 20 years in the global telecoms industry. In 2014, she was instrumental in establishing the EU’s Diversity Charter in Ireland and has delivered keynote InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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presentations at the International Academic Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations. “In the early part of my career as a technical engineer in the late nineties there was no such thing as D&I – one of the main things that brought me to it was the lack of fairness I witnessed and that I felt I didn’t have an equal chance of competing for promotions,” says Healy. Five years ago, she was approached by Dublin City University (DCU) to be its Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and in 2018 established the

“Covid-19 has highlighted that people’s needs are more individualised. On a day-to-day basis people managers are dealing with the very difficult task of balancing the needs of the business and making sure employees are OK.”

GIVING EVERYONE A VOICE “For me, Inclusio is about creating the opportunity for everyone in an organisation to have a voice – to provide people who have felt disconnected, marginalised and maybe silenced with a safe, secure and anonymous way to give feedback and be counted. We see ourselves as a social impact organisation, with the mission of creating workplaces where people want to work.” Essentially, Inclusio is a software tool that looks and behaves like a gamified app on your phone. Employees can input information and build their profile, read articles, watch videos and avail of bite-sized learning taking 3-5 minutes each day. “The key thing people love is the learning. There are 120 different topics on human difference. The artificial intelligence engine sits in the middle, driving personalised, targeted content. People know it’s anonymous and not plugged into any other system,” Healy explains. Over a three-week period, rich data involving 100 different demographic data points is compiled. From this deep demographic profile, Inclusio helps the organisation to build a communications plan and culture action plan and later link the intervention to KPIs such as innovation or recruitment.

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MENTORS

Sandra Healy, CEO and Co-founder, Inclusio

SANDRA HEALY ON… EMBRACING AN EMPLOYEE-LED APPROACH “Reaching out to a group of people who look the same and asking them to set up an employee resource group [ERG] is not the way to go about things; ERGs need to come organically from the grassroots level, rather than being constructed by senior management.” PEOPLE MANAGERS AS CUSTODIANS OF CULTURE

“One global construction company we worked with didn’t know that their secondhighest nationality was Indian,” Healy notes. “Organisations tend to start with what they can see and measure, which is generally gender and age. Beyond that you move into tricky waters because the data isn’t available and that is where Inclusio comes in.” BUSINESS MINDSET SHIFT Healy has observed the shift from D&I being a ‘nice-to-have’ to being a business imperative over the past five years. “Companies increasingly want to have a sustainable organisation that is reflective of its customers and community. In order to achieve this, they have to consider D&I in every aspect of the business, including strategic planning, hiring and succession planning,” she argues. “Covid-19 has highlighted that people’s needs are more individualised. On a day-to-day basis people managers are dealing with the very difficult task of balancing the needs of the business and making sure employees are OK. When it comes to culture,

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“The most important thing you can do when creating an inclusive environment is support your people managers – plug them in to whatever programmes you have, make sure they’re well equipped and build D&I conversations into their development scorecard.” PRESENTEEISM AS A MAJOR D&I CHALLENGE “This relates to people showing up for work every day but not being well enough to deliver or give 100% because they are physically disconnected and feel overwhelmed. The Covid-19 effect on this will probably only really be fully felt by organisations next year.”

you can no longer have a directive, push it down and presume people are going to live by that.” The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ brings this point into sharp focus. Global research has revealed high percentages of employees surveyed are thinking of changing jobs – for example, the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index showed 41% of the global workforce is considering resigning this year. “If organisations don’t tap into the individualised flexibility people need and don’t adapt to this, people will leave them – particularly the younger generation – and they will find it more difficult to attract diverse talent,” says Healy. RE-EVALUATING RECRUITMENT “At the same time, if companies do hire in diversity but don’t have an inclusive culture, those people will feel disconnected if their individual needs are not being met. Research has shown that 70-80% of candidates actively research the culture of an organisation. Attracting, retaining and promoting talent needs to be viewed through a D&I lens. This means looking in different places for diverse talent and creating a universally designed hiring process to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity of success.” The Hays Ireland Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2021 published in September found that just 12% of professionals believe their organisation’s workforce demographic is a fair reflection of today’s society and only 60% of professionals believe there are sufficient efforts across their organisation to recruit diverse talent. Healy was a guest speaker on a webinar to coincide with the release of the Hays Ireland report. Inclusio has been deliberate about having a diverse workforce of its own. It currently employs 26 people from various backgrounds and countries and 70% of its developers are women. “I changed where I looked for talent and went to meet these women where they were, such as part of mentoring programmes,” says Healy. Further to securing Enterprise Ireland commercialisation funding in 2019, Inclusio spun out as a company from DCU last December and recently closed its first funding round. It is now a high-potential start-up client of Enterprise Ireland and has worked with banks, insurance companies and public sector organisations, tapping into their mandatory compliance reporting requirements. “Having bootstrapped since last December, we have attracted attention from venture capitalists and private investors from across the globe. It is obvious what we have built is innovative and disruptive technology,” says Healy. “Thankfully, we had the foresight to recognise that D&I would become a business imperative.” InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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FEATURE

Nathan Adams, Founder, Sweet King

“I was always a fan of pick ‘n’ mix and thought there was a gap for an online store with speedy delivery to your door. A big part of the concept was having re-sealable bags, so people could dip in and retain the product’s freshness.”

Founded in June 2020 by 26-year old Nathan Adams, Cork-based online confectionary retailer Sweet King recently announced plans to increase staff from 23 to around 50 people while simultaneously doubling sales over the next 12 months.

Sourcing sweets from Ireland, Belgium, Spain and the UK, Sweet King’s most popular 1kg classic bag contains a mix of 12 different types and is part of a growing product range. I had already established my own digital marketing agency, RMPR, which gave me the expertise needed to rapidly boost the profile of Sweet King through social media and online marketing. Influencer brand ambassadors are very important to us.

“Reaching €1.6m in sales in the first year was well beyond our best estimates. We have sold 150,000 bags of sweets to over 50,000 customers over the past 12 months.”

All of our sales have been online so far, but our plan is to launch into retail this year. We are talking with a number of supermarket stores and distributors. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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Brexit did throw problems at us in terms of getting goods into Ireland, but we solved that pretty quickly by setting up a base in Northern Ireland. Over the next six to nine months, we’re planning to take on a second warehouse in the UK. Sweet King has taken over an 11,000 sq ft unit in Little Island, Co Cork – the former Xerox building – where €100,000 has been invested across infrastructure and staff facilities.

The ambition is to achieve €5m in annual turnover within the next three to five years, while expanding our geographical footprint beyond Ireland and the UK and into the wider EU. The real dream is to take Sweet King to the US, but that is all down the line at this stage.

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INNOVATION & TECH

Global developments have shined a light on diversity and inclusion in ways we’ve never seen before and there is an increasing appetite for the latest thinking and approaches in this space in Ireland, writes SORCHA CORCORAN.

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he level of interest in the Investors in Diversity accreditation in Ireland has been “staggering” in the past year and a half, according to the key driving force behind its creation, Solat Chaudhry, Chief Executive of the Irish Centre for Diversity (ICFD). He sees this as a clear sign that organisations here are actively seeking help, guidance and expertise in diversity and inclusion (D&I). “Previously, even in large corporations, there would usually be only one or two people leading the D&I agenda. They tended to be middle managers without the influence or authority to force through decisions that would be beneficial. The biggest change in the past couple of years is that senior leaders are saying, ‘This is something for us. We need to start getting good, confident and competent at it’,” he says. “In all my 44 years of working, I always saw cultural change happening from the top down. After the death of George Floyd, it was being forced from two places: at grassroots level across all sectors and in all countries with people saying to their managers, ‘What are we doing about Black Lives Matter?’; and in the media and social media. Many business leaders felt they should be doing something and lots of them issued statements, with some seeing it as an opportunity to make changes.”

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IREAND ADVANCING The ICFD launched Investors in Diversity almost three years ago. Since then, over 200 companies from a range of sectors have either attained, are working through or have engaged with the framework of Ireland’s only D&I accreditation mark for business. The programme lays out defined outcomes on the journey of continuous improvement through three progressive levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Four companies have achieved the Gold standard (Matheson, Aon, Nestlé Ireland and Laya Healthcare). “Bronze is about an organisation taking D&I steps it never had before. Silver means real engagement with the whole workforce while Gold takes things to the next level, measuring improvements and enabling organisations to be high performing. It takes time to work through the three levels and companies in Ireland are doing this carefully and steadily,” says Chaudhry. “Ireland is still playing catch-up with D&I, but it clearly has an advantage over Europe and North America as it can learn from the mistakes other countries have made. There is a real opportunity now for Ireland to have a competitive advantage in attracting the best talent if it gains a reputation for being inclusive.” Chaudhry founded the UK’s National Centre for Diversity in 2005. One of the advances he InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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INNOVATION & TECH

Solat Chaudhry, Chief Executive, Irish Centre for Diversity

has observed there is how the training model has been disrupted. “Previously, the norm was for people to do half a day’s general D&I training a year. With e-learning, organisations have increased this to five or ten sessions a year to make sure the learning is reinforced and everyone feels included,” he says. “The pandemic has highlighted how inclusion is a survival instinct, as defined in neuroscience research. Just like in the days of the cavemen, people are more vulnerable on their own and their chances of survival increase exponentially when they are included as part of a group.”

“There is a real opportunity now for Ireland to have a competitive advantage in attracting the best talent if it gains a reputation for being inclusive.”

INCLUSIVE INTELLIGENCE Chaudhry believes the key innovation in D&I going forward will be around understanding and responding to people’s needs, making

inclusive intelligence a more important leadership trait. “Inclusive intelligence is about your ability to be inclusive of all people on a daily basis. Someone with high emotional intelligence can connect with people like themselves, but not necessarily with those who are different. Individuals who demonstrate high inclusive intelligence have been exposed to different types of people and have a desire to meet new people and find out new perspectives,” Chaudhry explains. “As leaders, these people are more likely to get new ideas and promote innovation. They will have a keener understanding of new product development and ultimately sell more because of their rounder view.” Chaudhry cites groundbreaking research by Coqual (previously the Center for Talent Innovation) in Canada which backs this up. Coqual identified two types of diversity: inherent (race, gender, sexual orientation) and acquired (travel experience, language skills, cross-functional knowledge) and defined two-dimensional (2D) diversity as describing leadership that exhibits at least three kinds of both. The research found that companies that harness both innate diversity in their workforce and acquired diversity in leadership are measurably more innovative than companies that fail to harness these drivers. Employees at companies with 2D diversity are more likely than employees at non-diverse companies to take risks, challenge the status quo, and embrace a diverse array of inputs. They’re also 75% more likely to see their ideas move through the pipeline and make it to the marketplace.

MATHESON FIRST TO GET GOLD In February 2020, law firm Matheson was the first organisation in Ireland to be awarded the Investors in Diversity Gold standard by the Irish Centre for Diversity. The Matheson D&I philosophy is built on six pillars: Generational; Gender; Family and Working Parents; Disability; LGBTQ+; Multiculturalism and Social Mobility. Matheson has established a range of initiatives across each of the pillars, including the formation of a D&I Ambassador Committee; Open Doors Month and Matheson Week – a celebration of people, values, and culture. The firm was also one of Ireland’s founding members of the OutLaw Network, which is aimed at promoting the inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees across the legal sector in Ireland. “Our approach is to harness collaboration across the business, with inputs from all of our people to ensure cross-firm representation and tangible outputs”, said Lorraine Roche, HR Director, Matheson.

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SKILLS && TALENT

D E D I C AT E

D

TO

‘D I F FA B

With the launch of a new course designed for people with disabilities, Prof Tom Cooney of TU Dublin hopes self employment and entrepreneurship will become more of an option for this section of society, writes SORCHA CORCORAN

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ormer Dragon Seán Gallagher, Derek Walker, Co-founder of nutrition company Natnoot and Sinead Kane, athlete and Founder of The Kane Ability – three of the 12 guest speakers who are taking part in a groundbreaking new self employment and entrepreneurship course for people with disabilities, which started in September. The TU Dublin course is funded by Towards Work, a new employment and further education support for

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’ Y LI I T people with disabilities launched on 23 September as part of the Open Doors Initiative. Minister for State with Special Responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte opened the event, which included contributions from tech entrepreneur Stephen Cluskey and author and motivational speaker Tracey McCann. According to the latest census (2016), 52,115 people with disabilities were self-employed (40% of the total working population with disabilities) with one-third of these having employees. However, the visibility of role models to inspire others has been relatively poor to date – something Professor of Entrepreneurship at TU Dublin Tom Cooney is keen to address. “Successful entrepreneurs with disabilities do exist, but sometimes they don’t want to self-identify as InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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SKILLS AND TALENT

Successful entrepreneurs with disabilities do exist, but sometimes they don’t want to self-identify as such. Giving participants access to role models is one of the big things we are doing with this course.”

Front row, left to right: Eileen Daly, The AT Network, Noelle Day, Mobility Mojo. Back row, left to right: Helen McQuillan, Employability Clare, Des Henry, WALK , Brian Aird, TeamWork Cooperative, Canada, Prof Thomas Cooney, Marion Wilkinson (National Disability Authority), Prof Yvonne Galligan and Fergus Finlay (Disability strategy implementation group)

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ey

through Local Enterprise Offices [LEOs] are sufficient to cater for the needs of people with disabilities. The notion that the door is open to everyone is not appropriate in this situation as people with disabilities have additional and distinctive challenges compared to other aspiring entrepreneurs.” The “welfare benefits trap” has been identified by the OECD as the single biggest barrier to people with disabilities starting a business in Ireland. “The welfare system is binary in that you’re viewed as being able or not able to work. There is no recognition of the grey area in between; you’re either in or out of the workforce. So people with disabilities are disinclined to start a business for fear of losing the medical card and other supports,” Cooney explains. On top of this, because of the poor rates of employment, people with disabilities are unlikely to have prior managerial experience or a reserve of funding and mobility issues might mean they don’t have the same level of networks. Then there could be extra costs; one of the guest speakers on the TU Dublin course, photographer Eddie Hennessy, for example, requires somebody to go with him to photo shoots to carry the equipment. However, Cooney points out that there are also positive developments to consider: “There is a wider acceptance of working from home following the pandemic and assistive technology has improved dramatically in recent years. Both of these trends will allow people with disabilities to be more proactive in the entrepreneurship space.”

fT om on

DISTINCTIVE CHALLENGES “In Ireland, 13.5% of the population have a disability and we are one of the poorest countries in the EU for rates of employment for people with disabilities [30%, according to an OECD study released in September]. The pandemic disproportionately affected people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds in terms of employment and has significantly reduced their opportunities for getting back into the workforce,” says Cooney. “In all of this discussion, nobody has been talking about self employment as an option. It is assumed that existing supports

Pro

Co

such as they may think it is not something attractive to discuss openly. Giving participants access to role models is one of the big things we are doing with this course,” he says. The 24 participants have each been assigned a mentor who has been trained by Kaleidoscope Investments – a UK company which only invests in businesses founded by people with disabilities. The speciallydesigned online programme includes a variety of workshops and expert advice, culminating in the completion of a business plan and the pitching of ideas to a panel of potential investors. “We don’t expect 24 new businesses to come out of this; the purpose of the programme is to help people to evaluate and develop their ideas. We are not advocating that they go ahead if at the end they aren’t sustainable,” says Cooney, who is also Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. “All I have ever argued for is to give people the opportunity to maximise their economic and social potential. That is my ambition.” The report ‘Pathways to Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities’, co-authored by Cooney and published in February 2020, highlighted the need for tailored supports for people with disabilities who want to start a business.

A DIFFERENT VIEW A long-term advocate of diversity and inclusion, Prof Tom Cooney of TU Dublin prefers to talk about ‘diffability’ (i.e. different ability) rather than disability and how this should be viewed as a strength. He has observed evidence of employers hiring people with disabilities with this in mind. “Danish company Specialisterne harnesses the special characteristics and talents of people with autism and uses them as a competitive advantage – for example, solving particularly challenging issues for IT companies that others are unable to solve,” he says. With an office in Dublin, the majority of Specialisterne’s employees have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Cooney also notes that Google is making a point of trying to attract people with disabilities because of the value they will bring to the organisation. “We know that people with disabilities make great Googlers, and we intentionally seek out people with different backgrounds and experiences,” its careers website states.

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MEDIA & MARKETING

MIX AND MATCH The representation of different types of people and minority groups has become more noticeable in advertising, with brands increasingly recognising that it makes business SORCHA CORCORAN. sense, writes S

A

Jerry Daykin, EMEA Senior Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare

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TV ad for Ben’s Original is currently running in Ireland explicitly communicating the rice brand’s desire to enhance diversity and inclusion. “Original not only speaks to the quality of the brand, but also our vision of inclusivity that celebrates individuality. We are not defined by our age, gender, sexuality or race – what defines us are the personality traits and quirks that make us all unique,” said Rafael Narvaez, Global CMO and R&D Officer, Mars Food, launching the ‘Everyone’s Original’ global campaign in August. The commercials feature six families, including a black nuclear family, a pair of friends, three roommates, a single-parent family, a family who uses sign-language and a multi-generational Pakistani family. Following the death of George Floyd, Mars Food announced the rebrand of Uncle Ben’s to Ben’s Original last year, understanding “the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand”. The Ben’s Original campaign is a deliberate example of a general shift towards increased diversity and inclusion in advertising, which Jerry Daykin, EMEA Senior Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare, has observed and is keen to drive. He InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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MEDIA & MARKETING

is a member of the Diversity Council of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), which in March released the world’s first-ever guide to tackling diversity and representation issues throughout the entire creative process. “In the past couple of years, advertisers are talking more about diversity and inclusion and doing more in concrete ways. Casual representation of LGBTQ+ people and different types of families has become more common in supermarket, banking and telecoms campaigns. And sometimes, brands are going one step further and purposely supporting a charity or cause,” says Daykin. During his career, Daykin has held senior marketing roles at brand heavyweights such as Diageo and Cadbury. “Senior marketing professionals for high-profile brands are taking diversity and inclusion really seriously. Gráinne Wafer, Global Brand Director for Guinness, sits with me on the WFA Diversity Council. The Guinness ad featuring Gareth Thomas, the first rugby player in the UK to come out as gay, was groundbreaking, while Smirnoff ads have featured LGBTQ+ nightlife. The big brands are showing what is possible in this space and others can learn from them and be inspired.” In the case of GSK Consumer Healthcare brands, casual casting has been used in Voltarol advertising, featuring a “family who just happened to be black”. The company worked with influencers to find a mix of people including a lesbian couple and a drag queen to appear in ads for Sensodyne. Taking a more purposeful approach, Voltarol partnered with Gay Times to tell the story of LGBTQ+ sports groups empowered by charity Pride Sports during Covid-19. “At GSK Consumer Healthcare, we are about ‘building brands with humanity’ and really trying to think holistically about people. We start by listening to different voices and assessing how that informs the brief and then make sure there is diversity behind the camera to influence how a story will be told,” says Daykin. EFFECTIVE INGREDIENT “Ultimately, the job of an ad is to stand out by being different, while also honing in on human truths. Good, strong, emotional stories including people from different backgrounds cut through to the wider audience. The move away from always showing a white, middleclass, stereotypical family makes business sense, rather than just being the right thing to do.” In April, in its ‘5 habits of highly effective advertisers’, Kantar highlighted that diversity InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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FROM THE INSIDE OUT Jerry Daykin volunteers as Director of Partnerships for Outvertising, an organisation which supports LGBTQ+ people working in marketing/ advertising while also encouraging brands to build more inclusion into the advertising they create through training and sharing best practice. “Over the past two years, we have trained or contacted over 2,000 marketers and I have presented on their behalf as part of DMX Dublin and IAB Ireland,” he says. “The ‘Reimagine Award’ in September involved over 200 creatives taking ads from iconic brands and reimagining them with more inclusion. We do believe the organisation has both supported those working in the industry globally, as well as inspired more work.”

“Ultimately, the job of an ad is to stand out by being different, while also honing in on human truths. Good, strong, emotional stories including people from different backgrounds cut through to the wider audience.”

and inclusion is one of the ingredients, or creative devices, used by brands to make their ads both creative and effective. “In 2021, we predict that this ingredient will be elevated to a habit for more advertisers. That’s because being inclusive in advertising isn’t only socially and morally right, it’s also good for brand return on investment,” said Daren Poole, Global Head of Creative, Insights Division at Kantar, in a recent blog. “According to Global Monitor, 65% of consumers say that it’s important that the companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their own business or society as a whole.” Meanwhile, an Accenture consumer survey released in August found that 51% of Irish consumers consider it important for a brand they shop with to actively support values such as diversity and social justice. GSK Consumer Healthcare uses a scale promoted by the WFA called the Unstereotype Metric to help measure gender portrayal in its advertising. “The scale goes from exclusion and stereotyping through to positive representation and even purposeful campaigning. It’s more of a general principle/philosophy versus something you can easily measure, but we do look to measure the inclusion of the creative we produce,” says Daykin.

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

Measuring the ROI on your Network Infrastructure IT networks must transform to keep up, but how effectively can you make your return on investment case, asks Niall Lynch of Cisco.

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W

hen you invest in your IT network infrastructure, can you reliably and confidently measure your return on investment (ROI) in advance? Measuring how technology will not only impact your processes but also your profit would indeed be a knight in shining armour for any struggling ROI cases. Cisco, the global leader in networking, collaboration and security can help you do just that—but before we get

into that, let’s discuss a most likely and crucial investment. Digital transformation trends including Mobility1, IoT2, Cloud3 and Security4 present immense complexity, scale and cost5 challenges to existing networks and IT teams. It’s also important to consider how applications are hosted across public and private clouds, how users and devices are truly distributed, and how the users expect to securely access any application from any device at any time. When you take all this into account, it’s no surprise networks and IT teams are being outpaced. Yes, it would appear the promise of digitisation comes with a little baggage at times. The

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

bottom line is that IT networks must transform to keep pace. The good news is that transforming your infrastructure with Cisco’s software defined networking—Intent-Based Networking (IBN)—is guaranteed to ensure your network and IT teams won’t be left behind. Cisco IBN addresses these challenges whilst freeing up your network and operational teams to introduce new innovative business-relevant technologies. Cisco IBN is multi domain across LAN (fixed & wireless), WAN and Data Center networks. It captures business intent and translates it to policy. Intent could be, for example, security policies, application service levels, regulation and compliance, and other operational processes or business needs. Policies are automatically deployed and activated consistently network-wide. IBN then continuously aligns the end-to-end network with that intent, providing greater assurance through artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), continuous monitoring, and verification. The elements to IBN for the LAN are Cisco DNA Center which is the central management platform and Cisco Catalyst Switching and Wireless running Cisco DNA Software, which combine to enable an open, extensible, software-driven network. At a high level you can expect returns in the following ways: • Speed and agility. The network is able to rapidly respond to an organisation’s needs with little manual intervention; • Business value. The reduced time and effort required to maintain the network translates into more time for IT innovations that provide real value to the business; • Reduced risk. Improved network visibility, analytics and automation result in faster threat detection and containment, continuous compliance, and reduced downtime.

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Niall Lynch, Enterprise Networking Specialist, Cisco

Time (measures time savings realised by simplified processes); Risk (measures risk impact such as reduced errors, and improved compliance); and Experience (measures user satisfaction with better network quality and performance) areas. There’s a full and detailed breakdown behind all high level ROI metrics. Making your strongest and most impactful ROI case for your Cisco IBN investment will cost you minimal time investment only. Contact your Cisco representative

SEE WHAT VALUE YOUR IT TEAMS COULD BE DRIVING WITH CISCO. AFTER ALL, TECHNOLOGY ISN’T A PRODUCT FOR A PRICE, IT’S AN INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE. Super, right? Well, this is still high-level isn’t it, and to quote Steve Jobs, “Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” Accurate detail is what will enable you to reliably and confidently measure the ROI—but how do we get to this point easily and efficiently? Cisco uses the business value analysis (BVA) approach which empowers you with the right level of detail and accuracy to make your ROI case. The accuracy comes from thousands of past engagements with similar customer deployment scenarios, profiles and outcomes. For example, say you’re transforming your LAN with Cisco IBN. BVA will present a personalised set of key metrics including ROI %, cost savings, with a breakeven period and timeline. The collaborative process takes less than an hour with information garnered directly from you using a simple Q&A tool. Cisco DNA capabilities are mapped with your input and multiple technical and business use cases for your organisation are identified. Use cases calculate multiple benefits to your organisation across multiple verticals: Financial (measures bottom line impact such as productivity gain and cost savings);

to see what value your IT teams could be driving with Cisco. After all, technology isn’t a product for a price, it’s an investment for the future. With over 20 plus years of experience as a Cisco distributor, Exertis Ireland has the expertise, depth of knowledge and strong relationships that will help you strengthen your Cisco practice or establish a new one. It can supply and deliver our full end user portfolio. The team are highly trained and on hand to assist or advise you in any aspect of enterprise networking including IT network infrastructures. For details e-mail: Ireland. Cisco@exertis.com or visit www.exertis.ie/cisco-info

1: 5-7X business mobile traffic growth through 2022. 2019 Cisco VNI: Global Fixed and Mobile Internet Traffic Forecasts. 2: 28.5 billion networked devices and connections will exist by 2022. 2019 Cisco VNI: Global Fixed and Mobile Internet Traffic Forecasts. 3: 93% of public cloud users have two or more providers. 2019 Gartner survey: Why choose multiple clouds. 4: 50-70% of web malware will be encrypted. 2017 Gartner: Gartner Predicts 2017: Network and Gateway Security, Dec 13 2016, ID G00317597 5: 3:1 is the ratio of OpEx to CapEx on network operations, labour and tools. McKinsey Study of Network Operations for Cisco, 2016

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EXPERT ADVICE

TIPS TO:

Optimise your website for eCommerce success Online retailers must continuously optimise the shopping experience to entice customers to buy, says Roisin Keenan, Project Manager for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme.

A

Top Tips:

successful e-commerce website follows a different set of rules to a traditional B2B website and there are a number of different elements to consider. 1. IMPROVE THE CHECKOUT PROCESS In bricks and mortar retail, store owners Creating a simple checkout process will improve your on-site conversion rate. are continuously improving the in-store Similar to in-store, asking customers for too much information can lead to a poor experience to entice customers to buy, and user experience or lost sales. the same should go for online retailers, To streamline the process, businesses should remove outdated or unnecessary says Roisin Keenan, Project Manager for fields, only requesting information that is relevant to the order. To save the customer InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme. time, use ‘auto-filling’ where possible and collapse minority fields. It’s also important For businesses in Northern Ireland this to offer flexible payment including ‘single-click’ options like Apple Pay or PayPal. may seem like a daunting task, especially for those that have just recently taken their 2. ENHANCE PRODUCT PAGES products or services online. The good news Product pages should provide potential buyers with all the information needed to is, you’re not alone. confidently make a purchase. Poorly designed pages with sparse information or InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme low quality product images are unlikely to inspire website visitors to ‘add to bag’. can provide companies with up to €2,800 To ensure sales, every product page should have high quality photos and videos, fully-funded consultancy support, to help informative and unique product descriptions, product reviews and a clear call to develop online sales and e-commerce action (CTA). solutions. Assistance can be provided in a number of 3. FOCUS ON USER EXPERIENCE areas, including website Your website should be optimised for desktop and mobile to ensure a great management, SEO user experience. Mobile commerce is set to overtake desktop shopping by optimisation, online 2023 and responsive design across your website will directly improve payment systems, conversions. products listing/ Site speed is another critical factor to e-commerce success and pricing and more. online shoppers expect a super-fast experience. Using tools like Google To get you started, PageSpeed Insights is a great way to uncover errors with site speed. here are three There’s never been a more exciting time to get started in e-commerce. fundamental tips For businesses that need support with developing that you can use to online sales and e-marketing solutions, reach Roisin Keenan, optimise your website out to InterTradeIreland. Project Manager, InterTradeIreland for success.

Contact the E-Merge team on emerge@intertradeireland.com or phone 028 3083 4110. For more information, visit www.intertradeireland.com.

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02/11/2021 13:12


DROGHEDA CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Digital

Drogheda: Driving Innovation

InBUSINESS looks at Drogheda's plans for driving digital innovation to elevate the town on a regional and national platform, making ready for business of the future.

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DROGHEDA CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Elevating Drogheda Robert Murray, President of Drogheda Chamber, on supporting local businesses and driving digital innovation.

“O

ur mission is simple–to elevate Drogheda locally, regionally and nationally by promoting, engaging, supporting and ultimately making business better for our members and the wider business community,” says Drogheda Chamber President Robert Murray. Just over a year ago, the Chamber Council team set up a number of sub-committees within the Chamber to help drive cross-sectoral activity within the region. There are seven internal teams, across Membership Value, Arts & Tourism, Industry & Professional Services, Retail & Hospitality, Agri & Commercial Food, Tech & Digital and Community & Inclusion, all running various projects to support and stimulate positive outcomes for Drogheda town and district. The Chamber also supports events such as the Drogheda Motor Show, which saw nine local dealerships team up to bring over 70 new cars on display from 15 motor brands in the centre of the town on Saturday, 23 October.

DIGITAL DROGHEDA Digital innovation became an ever-more pressing matter and has led to increased engagement with digital business. “Tapit (www. tapit.ie) has been one local business we’ve really enjoyed working with over the past year,” notes Murray. “Co-founders Gavin Duffy and Garrett Gunn have a wonderful cashback product, now live in the local market, which we helped launch back in the summer of 2020.” One feature, the Very Important Member (VIM) scheme, allows

SKILLS AND SUPPORTS “The Chamber serves our business community in lots of different ways—supporting all sizes of business organisations, including both indigenous and FDI companies that position themselves in our region. For instance, for our local exporting companies we operate a sameday service for Certificates of Origin—a vital export service for those businesses.”

Robert Murray, President, Drogheda Chamber

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A recent initiative to support Chamber members is a partnership with Adare HRM, which will provide human resource management advice and support and an education programme with a series of webinars, which will be invaluable to small business owners. In 2018 the Chamber established the M1 Drogheda Chamber Skillnet in response to the training needs that members had flagged and this was a cornerstone of the support mechanisms offered to help businesses in the region adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drogheda & District Team (Council and Office staff)

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DROGHEDA CHAMBER OVERVIEW

The Chamber serves our business community in lots of different ways— supporting all sizes of business organisations, including both indigenous and FDI companies that position themselves in our region.”

Drogheda Chamber and Adare HRM launch partnership employees of Drogheda Chamber member businesses receive a higher level of cash back on transactions. “This is very exciting news for Chamber members and has already won a national Chambers Ireland award this year for Best Membership Initiative.” The product also caught the attention of the judges in the .IE Digital Town Awards a couple of months ago, when Drogheda won top prize for its ‘Making Drogheda Digital’ initiative, a submission led by Drogheda Chamber. A prize of €9,000 was awarded and the Chamber will be putting this straight back into supporting

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local digital initiatives over the coming months. “We are committed to developing our ‘Making Drogheda Digital’ initiative working in close collaboration with other local organisations, including the Mill Enterprise Hub and the Business Improvement District Scheme (BIDS), to assist our local business community in achieving their digital goals,” Murray states. “Over the past number of months we have also engaged with Government Ministers, meeting with them to discuss and explore how best we can work together towards improving local infrastructure and facilities.”

Breanndan Casey (Secretary), Robert Murray (President), Miriam Simon (Vice President) and Ken Rooney (Treasurer)

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IB PARTNER PROFILE: DROGHEDA CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Asset Finance of Things The management team of First Citizen Finance bring decades of success in consumer finance to bear, offering SMEs ready-to-go asset-backed solutions.

F

irst Citizen Finance DAC was established in Dublin in October 2012 by the former senior management team of Permanent tsb Finance, led by Chris Hanlon. Prior to its sale in 2012, this management team ran the largest consumer finance company in Ireland, with a market share in excess of 35%. First Citizen, having acquired the operational platform, retained and enhanced its capabilities over the past nine years. This allows it to service a wide

range of asset-backed loan portfolios, comprising of consumer and nonconsumer hire purchase, leasing and contract hire products across a variety of different asset classes. The company now operates across four key product divisions in the Republic of Ireland – Motor Finance, Agri Finance, SME Equipment Finance and Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Finance. George Ormsby, who heads up the SME division at First Citizen, sees the SME sector leading the way for

George Ormsby, Head of SME Finance, First Citizen Finance

growth, “Our lending platform has full ‘cradle to grave’ functionality, including distribution, origination, underwriting, customer service and collections/special servicing. At the heart of First Citizen is Asset Finance. Whether an individual or business is purchasing a new or used car, van, forklift truck, bus or piece of machinery, this company has an assetbacked solution ready to go. A nationwide, highly driven team of experienced account managers are locally engaged delivering a strong national result.”

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01/11/2021 11:28


IB PARTNER PROFILE: DROGHEDA CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Arts at the Heart of Drogheda Droichead Arts Centre puts the arts at the heart of the local community across Drogheda, East Meath and Louth.

D

roichead Arts Centre is a multidisciplinary arts centre in the heart of Drogheda Town, and a member of Drogheda Chamber. Housed over two buildings, we provide an extensive curated arts and cultural programme of theatre, music, film, visual arts, opera, dance, comedy, literature, family and children’s events, outreach and festivals. Our purpose is to put art at the heart of people’s lives and ambitions. Our mission is to be a creative hub, nurturing, presenting and promoting art of, by and for the many diverse communities across Drogheda, East Meath and Louth.

Droichead Arts Centre actively supports artists and arts organisations through residencies, bursaries and other bespoke supports, again with a focus on the North East Region. In line with government guidelines, we are slowly easing restrictions and increasing our capacity in a safe and considered way. Programmes include our Leanbh Children’s Festival, sponsored by Flogas; our Theatre Club featuring five award-winning productions, and five new works in progress, and our First Solo exhibition with Olga Duka, supporting a local artist with their first exhibition. In

partnership with Love Drogheda Business Improvement District Scheme and Louth County Council, and with funding from the Arts Council under In the Open | Faoin Spéir Initiative, we are producing DRAWDA, a curated multidisciplinary public arts programme that will take place in Drogheda, between Sept 2021, and April 2022. Drawing on Drogheda’s rich heritage, mythology and architecture, the first strand sees the creation of six murals in public spaces. For more info see www.droichead.com

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07/10/2021 19:12 28/10/2021 15:56


IB PARTNER PROFILE: KILKENNY CHAMBER OVERVIEW

The Invisible Role of the Chamber Kilkenny Chamber CEO John Hurley on representing business behind the scenes, lobbying for pro-business decision-making in the corridors of power.

K

ilkenny has always been a vibrant small city, nestled in the south east of Ireland, and one that is ripe to rebound from the tough times of the pandemic. Kilkenny Chamber CEO John Hurley, while optimistic for recovery, reflects that some have fared better than others though challenging times. “The whole Covid-19 experience from a business perspective has been varied. Some businesses have been absolutely decimated, while others have identified opportunities, and others are somewhere in between, they have adjusted, adapted and pivoted.” PROMOTING BUSINESS The usual modus operandi of the Chamber has been severely restricted, as Hurley says, “We would normally be very prolific in running events which facilitate networking, and the promotion of the business dynamic for Kilkenny generally.” However, he states, “We have never been busier.” He notes that, “It’s really when businesses are under pressure and being challenged—which they have been right through the pandemic—that’s when they need representation. When they need support and guidance, that’s something that Chambers of Commerce have been very much to the fore in providing.”

John Hurley, CEO, Kilkenny Chamber

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Linked to this is what Hurley terms the “invisible” role of the Chamber: “The whole area of lobbying, and engaging with key decision makers and influencers in terms of what’s going to happen next, what the plan is going forward.” According to Hurley, “We’ve been there in all of those places where decisions are being made, making sure that the voice of businesses in Kilkenny is heard and factored into those decision-making processes. We’ve made more returns to the Lobbying Regulator in the last two years than ever before.” DESTINATION OF CHOICE While Hurley believes that business-people don’t want handouts—they want to make money—after being prevented from doing business during lockdowns, there are some who will need ongoing support. “It was part of our Budget submission and on an ongoing basis the feedback we give to government is that some of those reliefs and supports are necessary to continue going forward.” In tandem with this he notes that in order to maintain Kilkenny as a “destination of choice” the Chamber supports the work of the local council: “Part and parcel of what we’re lobbying government for is to make sure that our local authorities are adequately resourced to enable them continue to deliver their services that keep our city as vibrant and as attractive as it has always been.” With the Kilkenny Business Awards set to return as a real-life gala event in the Lyrath Estate Hotel at the end of November, Hurley looks forward to ending the year on a celebratory note, bringing together Chamber members after a long absence of gatherings, “celebrating the best of business, the best of successes, the most fantastic people in business in Kilkenny”. With a strong tradition of networking among the Chamber members, and a busy calendar of festivals in the city, from the Kilkenny Arts Festival to the Cat Laughs, there will hopefully be much more to look forward to in the year to come.

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IB PARTNER PROFILE: KILKENNY CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Rising to the Challenges Taking on the presidency of Kilkenny Chamber at the start of the pandemic, Colin Ahern had to quickly reprioritise his goals, but remains determined to rebuild the city’s vibrancy.

C

olin Ahern, President of Kilkenny Chamber, is also the General Manager of the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, and as a business representative, he understands the harsh realities and the great pressures that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to bear, and what is needed to rebuild businesses that have suffered. After eight years on the Chamber board he was elected President in spring of 2020, at a time when strategic goals had to be quickly reprioritised. “The goals that I was looking at were the revitalisation of the city centre, the development of the Chamber vouchers and spend local campaigns, but my goals very quickly became survival.”

I SEE IT AS REALLY IMPORTANT TO USE THE POSITION THAT I HAVE RIGHT NOW AND THE OPPORTUNITIES I HAVE TO SPEAK TO OUR TDS LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY.

PEOPLE THAT HELP PEOPLE After working closely with the Kilkenny Chamber staff through such a challenging time, he says, “Our Chamber is successful because of the people that are in it—people that help people.” Moving to a digital environment had its upsides, as he says it has boosted productivity with more frequent and fruitful meetings, less time spent on the road and at events and more dynamic reactions to responding to the needs of members. “We’ve retained 90% of our members through the pandemic, and the 10% that we’ve lost for one reason or another, we’ve replaced with new new members during that time. I think considering everything, it’s been a very successful, interesting and challenging time for the Chamber.”

Colin Ahern, President, Kilkenny Chamber

GOOD NEWS STORIES One highlight over the past year has been the uptick in the Chamber’s gift voucher scheme—vouchers which can be redeemed in over 150 businesses in Kilkenny. “Through the work that the Chamber did in promoting it as a Christmas gift idea and to promote spending in Kilkenny, we doubled our sales last year, to just shy of €250,000,” he states. “I think it’s something that will grow from strength to strength over the coming years. It’s certainly a message that everyone’s buying into from a sustainability point of view, being responsible towards our locality and our local economy.” Although the annual business awards did not go ahead as usual, another positive highlight in difficult times was honouring two wellknown Kilkenny people. “We gave the Lifetime Achievement Award to Kitty Donohoe from Goresbridge Horse Sales and the President’s Award went to Bobby Kerr. That generated a lot of goodwill and was a good news story.” While there were some good news stories that brightened up tough times, he realises the road ahead is still uphill. “It’s going to take some businesses, some industries years to recover. I see it as really important to use the position that I have right now and the opportunities I have to speak to our TDs locally and nationally. “We’ll be working very closely with our local authority to ensure that Kilkenny city and our towns and villages remain as vibrant as they can.”

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IB PARTNER PROFILE: KILKENNY CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Miguel Ponce De Leon, Technology Gateway Manager, Walton Institute; Kathryn Kiely, Head of Industry Services in WIT; Niall O’Reilly, Manager, PMBRC; Dr Ramesh Raghavendra, Centre Director, SEAM.

The Industry Gateway to the South East South East industry is to benefit from equipment worth almost €1m awarded to Waterford Institute of Technology under the Enterprise Ireland Capital Call.

W

aterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is unique in the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network as it hosts hosts three of the 16 technology gateways; SEAM (South Eastern Applied Materials), PMBRC (Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biology Research Centre) and TSSG in the Walton Institute, each of which works in conjunction with industry to aid the research and development of innovative products and services through a dedicated team of full-time researchers and engineers. Each gateway within WIT specialises in very different areas from advanced manufacturing, pharmaceutical science to ICT, creating a diverse ecosystem of innovative research within the

region. Since 2019, WIT’s technology gateways have secured over €2.9m in funding from the Enterprise Ireland Capital Call, meaning new state-of-the-art equipment will be available for industry to access in the South East, including a Digital Photogrammetry Unit at the TSSG Technology Gateway at Walton Institute; a Near-Infrared Spectrometer in the PMBRC; and an X-Ray Fluoroscope, Coordinate Measurement Machine and White Light Interferometry at SEAM. ENHANCING CAPACITY Kathryn Kiely, Head of Industry Services in WIT, credits the continued success and growth of industry in the region to funding programmes such as this Capital Call for research infrastructure. “Funding

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which WIT’s technology gateways have secured in recent years through this programme has played a critical role in enabling our research centres to very effectively collaborate with companies on a range of R&D activities. Much of the equipment we provide companies access to is unique to the South East and, in some cases, unique to Ireland and we thank Enterprise Ireland for supporting our research and regional business.” Technology Gateways are accessed by companies of all sizes. Typical projects focus on the development of a new product or service or the optimisation of a process. The project sizes vary; 60% are between €5,000 and €10,000, with bigger projects ranging up to €900,000, typically funded from the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme. For businesses—and for Ireland Inc— the impact of these collaborations can be big. LEVERAGING EXPERTISE Through the Technology Gateways in WIT, the expertise of almost 120 industry-focused researchers, together with the specialist equipment and facilities of the wider institute are being leveraged to access near-tomarket innovation and solutions. Since 2013, over 3,700 Irish-based companies have used Technology Gateways to complete more than 5,250 innovation-based projects at a total value of over €47m, 49% of which has come directly from industry. Martin Corkery, Enterprise Ireland Regional Director for the South & South East Region, says: “This important investment coupled with the support and expertise of our technology gateways in WIT will enable industry across the region to pursue their own innovation agendas particularly on challenges where they don’t have all of the resources in-house. This capital investment is essential to serving the R&D needs of industry across the South East region and will give them an opportunity to utilise state-of-the-art equipment as they look towards developing new innovative products and services.”

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IB PARTNER PROFILE: KILKENNY CHAMBER OVERVIEW

Kilkenny: a City of the Future

The Brewhouse Building is due for completion in Q1 2022

With a rich heritage and history behind it, the charm of Kilkenny City is being underpinned by strategic plans to secure long-term, placebased change for a sustainable future.

I

nvest Kilkenny is an initiative established by Kilkenny County Council to promote and facilitate investment from new and existing companies in Kilkenny. Kilkenny is a unique commercial location thanks to its exceptional connectivity, with quality infrastructure, access to high calibre talent and a low-cost business environment. Kilkenny has a rich diversity of enterprises across the full spectrum of industry sectors and the city is an administration centre for Sstate and semi-state agencies including the regional headquarters of the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) and the Health Services Executive (HSE), the national headquarters of the Patents Office, the Design and Crafts Council Ireland and The

Heritage Council. Its vibrant city and rich medieval history make Kilkenny a place where people come not only to make a living but to make a life. STRONG PROPOSITION In recent years, Kilkenny City has developed a strong profile as a services centre with companies such as State Street, The Carne Group, VHI and Clune Technology Group making Kilkenny their home. The county as a whole boasts a strong indigenous industry in sectors such as food and drink (Glanbia, Connolly Red Mills) and artisan food producers, as well as the craft sector, with Kilkenny being recently recognised as a World Craft Council Craft City & Region, one of only four regions to achieve this recognition in Europe.

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OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, THE ABBEY QUARTER OF KILKENNY CITY IS SET TO BE A SIGNIFICANT REGENERATION SITE AND A KEY LOCATION FOR EMPLOYMENT AND BUSINESS USE IN PARTICULAR.

Start-up enterprises and international companies operating out of Kilkenny benefit from substantially lower business costs than Dublin and excellent amenities, all just 70 minutes from Dublin Airport. “We have a variety of commercialready serviced land, including business and technology parks and warehousing land and a choice of properties ideal for corporate headquarters,” notes Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise at Kilkenny Local Enterprise Office (LEO). The development-ready strategic industrial investment zone at Belview Port also boasts existing water, wastewater, gas and power infrastructure, sea port access and direct access to the national motorway system. ABBEY QUARTER “We are currently developing an outstanding 10-acre, mixed-use development site with significant business opportunity in the heart of Kilkenny City on the former Smithwick’s Brewery site – the Abbey Quarter,” says Deegan. “Over the next few years, the Abbey Quarter of Kilkenny City is set to be a significant regeneration site and a key location for employment and business use in particular.” The strategic brownfield site, adjacent to the heart of the City Centre, requires significant investment in enabling infrastructure in order to secure long-term, placebased change, providing for improved liveability and quality of life, as well as jobs, amenities, services and residential units. To this end, the council has developed a Masterplan and an Urban Design Code for the Abbey Quarter. The redevelopment of the Brewhouse building, which is due for completion in Q1, 2022, comprises 6,500 square metres of office space and the public realm associated with same. The mixed-use development envisaged in the Abbey Quarter will complement and reinforce the 10-minute city concept, reducing travel distances and commute times, securing Kilkenny’s place as a city of the future.

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Get your business ready for a green future THE CLIMATE ENTERPRISE ACTION FUND As industries and governments work towards a net zero carbon future, no business can ignore sustainability: customers, investors and regulators are all demanding stronger green credentials. Irish companies that have introduced more sustainable practices are winning new business and positioning themselves for the low-carbon future. As part of the €10 million Climate Enterprise Action Fund, our new range of supports provide the advice and funding your company needs to take immediate action: from measuring your carbon footprint to developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy. For full details, contact Enterprise Ireland or your Local Enterprise Office Advisor or visit globalambition.ie/climateaction

#GlobalAmbition

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58 Ballina 2023 website launches with a special celebration, N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin road opens in Sligo, and Leitrim gets €320k CLÁR funding

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Castletroy Urban Greenway opens in Limerick, Mid-West filmmakers receive backing, and Cork community groups and projects receive important funding

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Smart mobility solutions for Dublin, new Library and Cultural Centre for Trim, and streetscape enhancement funding for Fingal

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The Shackleton Garden officially opens in Fingal

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CORK STREET ENHANCEMENT

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SLIGO WATERWASTE PLANTS OPEN

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD and Mayor of Fingal Seána Ó Rodaigh unveil The Shackleton Garden plaque

Since acquiring The Shackleton Garden in Clonsilla in 2017, Fingal County Council has been working on its restoration with a view to opening the garden up to the public as an important local amenity, visitor attraction and tourism asset in the Dublin 15 area. The restoration works have involved the rebuilding of large sections of the garden walls, upgrading of paths and the restoration of garden buildings. The works are part of a €400,000 investment from Fingal County Council and Fáilte Ireland. Mayor of Fingal Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh officially opened The Shackleton Garden in the presence of the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, Fingal County Councillors, Oireachtas members, volunteers and members of the Shackleton family. The gardens, which are inside a 1.5-acre walled garden, are home to a wide range of rare and exotic plants including an important collection of herbaceous perennials, grown in large flower borders. During the 1980s, the gardens were included in The Good Gardens Guide and were awarded two stars – the highest accolade awarded by the guide. The history of the Shackleton family and their connection with the garden is also of significant public interest. The council will continue to use the detailed 1994 plant list compiled by the family as a baseline for the continued management of the plant collection. “Developing mustvisit attractions for domestic and international visitors is a key part of our recovery post-Covid,” says Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland.

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BELFAST CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS

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[ COUNTY DUBLIN ]

From left: Jamie Cudden, Smart City Programme Manager, Dublin City Council; Dominic Byrne, Assistant Head of IT, Fingal County Council; Yvonne Pearse, Business Analyst, Smart Dublin; Brian Purcell, Business Development Manager, ZERO Emissions, Nissan Ireland; Tom Kelly, Head of Innovation and Competitiveness, Enterprise Ireland; Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland; John Buckley, Head of Operations, Bleeper; Trevor Toner, Commercial Director, NiftiBusiness; Catherine Guy, CEO, NiftiBusiness; and Peter Soutter, CEO, Good Travel Software (GTS)

Dublin councils investing in shared mobility solutions as part of workplace re-design As council offices prepare for a return of all staff, Dublin’s local authorities are promoting a pilot programme that aims to give greater flexibility to employees, reduce traffic congestion and cut carbon emissions across the region. Smart Dublin and Dublin City Council are leading a consortium of councils, businesses and researchers in delivering smart mobility solutions for workplaces. Offering e-vehicles which are free for staff to use and booked via a single mobile app, the Smart Mobility Hub is designed to reduce the use of personal cars for site visits and inspections. “At Dublin City Council, we are fully committed to climate action and are proud to be championing this smart mobility collaboration to reshape the workplace of the future,” says Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland. “I am delighted to see the local authorities leading by example, and driving innovative solutions that support new workplace practices, helping reduce our contribution to traffic congestion and carbon emissions in the city.” The pilot scheme, which is being run with the support of Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, relaunched at the end of September in Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council. It connects a fleet of 30 e-bikes, eight e-cars and two e-cargo bikes to a real-time booking platform for staff. Researchers at University College Dublin will then examine the possible implications for carbon emissions savings. “The

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purpose of SBIR is to stimulate research and development within public sector bodies, ultimately to help transform societal problems. It promotes a hands-on approach and a codesign process between local businesses and local authorities, to better understand what works in practice. The Smart Mobility Hub is a great example of this,” says Tom Kelly, Head of Innovation and Competitiveness for Enterprise Ireland. The pilot brings together multiple partners – local software and mobility app development company Good Travel Software (GTS), NiftiBusiness car rental, Nissan, Bleeperbike, UCD and Science Foundation Ireland – to develop a shared mobility solution that is adaptable to different workplaces and makes both economic and environmental sense. “The challenges of reducing congestion, carbon and costs are universal and we have built the technology underpinning the Smart Mobility Hub to adapt to any organisation’s mobility needs,” says GTS CEO Peter Soutter. Initially, Smart Mobility Hubs will be tested in council offices across the Dublin region, with plans to extend it to public and private workplaces. As Phase Two concludes in Spring 2022, Smart Dublin and UCD will evaluate its success and create a playbook for expansion. The project has been match-funded by the Dublin City Council Smart Cities programme and is supported by Smart Dublin, UCD and Enterprise Ireland as part of its Small Business Innovation Research Programme.

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[ COUNTY MEATH ]

Sod turned on new state-of-the-art Library and Cultural Centre in Trim Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD led a sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of the works on Trim Library and Cultural Centre, supported by Damien English TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail; Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council Cllr Sean Drew; Cathaoirleach of Trim MD Cllr Joe Fox; and Chief Executive Jackie Maguire. The development includes refurbishment of the former St Patrick’s Chapel for use as part of the centre and will provide additional facilities for the library, including new reception, study and multipurpose rooms and support services. “I’m really pleased that my Department has been able to fund this exciting project to the tune of over €4.3m, with Meath County Council providing €1.5m. This funding is being delivered under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund, which is supporting large-scale infrastructural projects which will be game changers for communities across rural Ireland.”

FROM LEFT: Cathaoirleach of Trim MD Cllr Joe Fox, Meath County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Sean Drew, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD, and Meath County Council Chief Executive Jackie Maguire

[ FINGAL ]

€260K Streetscape Enhancement funding awarded to Fingal

Deputy Mayor of Fingal Cllr Daniel Whooley launched the second part of The Weather Stations for Schools project at Rush and Lusk Educate Together National School when he presented third class with the first of the automatic weather stations that are being rolled out to primary schools across Fingal. As part of the project, 16 primary schools across Fingal County Council’s seven Local Electoral Areas will receive automatic weather stations – which produce real-time information about rainfall, temperature, wind speed and wind direction. FROM LEFT: David Storey, Director of Services for Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel; Kevin Vallely, Fingal County Council Executive Engineer; Joanna Donnelly from Met Éireann; Deputy Mayor Cllr Daniel Whooley; Oliver Nicholson from the Office of Public Works; and Deirdre Hurley, third class teacher at Rush and Lusk Educate Together.

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Fingal County Council has been awarded €260,000 in funding by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the new Town and Village Streetscape Enhancement Scheme 2021. This Scheme is providing €7m nationally as part of Our Rural Future, a five-year strategy to revitalise rural Ireland and make our rural towns and villages more vibrant and attractive places to live, work and visit. 55

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[ COUNTY LIMERICK ]

Castletroy Urban Greenway opens Noel Fennelly, NTA; Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton; Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Daniel Butler; and Brian Kennedy, Limerick City and County Council with Gaelscoil Chaladh an Treoigh pupils. Photo: Alan Place

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he Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Daniel Butler has officially opened the new Castletroy Urban Greenway, which connects people’s homes with their local schools, shops and amenities and forms part of Limerick City and County Council’s Active Travel cycling and walking network. The main north-south spine provides connectivity between Castletroy College and Gaelscoil Chaladh an Treoigh. The Greenway, which extends to approximately 1.3km, includes a western link to Castletroy Town Centre and an eastern link to the nearby residential area of Walkers Road. The Active Travel project has been funded by the National Transport Authority and managed and delivered by Limerick City and County Council. The 3.5m wide cycleway and 2.5m wide footpath has taken nine months to complete. “The Castletroy Urban Greenway is just one part of a wider plan for Limerick that will see the council develop a high-quality, accessible and connected network of cycling and walking routes over the coming years,” says Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Daniel Butler. “We are transforming how we travel with a renewed focus on walking and cycling infrastructure across the country,” says Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton.

€298K CLÁR funding for Cork County

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD on the eight successful Cork County Community projects to be funded under the 2021 CLÁR Programme. This funding, totalling over €298,000, will support local groups in developing community and sensory gardens, outdoor spaces and allotments in rural towns and villages. The 2021 CLÁR Programme is a key part of the Government’s five-year rural development strategy, Our Rural Future.

[ COUNTY CORK ] Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan was joined by former Mayor Cllr Ian Doyle, who held the office at the onset of Covid-19, to unveil a commemorative sculpture, ‘Meitheal’, which recognises the solidarity and support demonstrated by communities across the county and symbolises the range of co-operation between voluntary organisations, local businesses and groups, and statutory bodies highlighted through Cork County Council’s Community Support Programme. The sculpture, a bronze cube on a limestone plinth, is named after the Irish tradition of co-operation in service of social need, was commissioned as part of a public competition, and created by Cork artists Liam and Eithne Ring. It stands in the plaza in Charleville and, the artists explain, is a “metaphor for the parcels, acts of kindness, help and support that was given by people to others in the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Six Cork towns to benefit from Streetscape Enhancement Scheme

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ork County Council has been allocated €320,000 to support the upgrade and enhancement of shopfront and street façades in six county towns through the Streetscape Enhancement Scheme, which is a key part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s fiveyear strategy to revitalise rural Ireland. Bandon, Castletownbere, Charleville, Fermoy, Macroom and Passage West are set to receive support through the scheme, funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development. Grants of up to 100% or €8,000 are available to cover works including painting, signage replacement, shopfront improvement, scaffolding, materials, lighting, street furniture and planting. “Enhancing building façades and shopfronts can lead to a distinct and memorable identity for towns, reinforcing pride of place for residents and unforgettable impressions for visitors,” says Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan.

€750K

for community groups in Cork

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan is encouraging local community groups to apply for up to €25,000 in funding to improve and enhance their facilities as part of the Cork County Community Development Initiative. The programme operates in association with the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs), which is worth €3.5m. Cork County Council has been putting its own funds aside on a yearly basis since 2016; €750,000 has been allocated as part of Phase 2 of the project. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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[ COUNTY LIMERICK ]

Mid-West filmmakers to receive €40,000 to produce documentary films

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he Engine Docs initiative, run by Innovate Limerick through Film in Limerick, with support from Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and delivered with Sheffield Doc Fest, is a training scheme aimed at supporting documentary directors and producers to create inspiring, engaging, world-class documentaries that reach a wide international audience. The four winning teams of the initiative, who’ll receive €10,000 in funding each as well as further training and support to produce their documentary projects in the MidWest, are: Focal Nua – director: Andrew Keogh, producer: Muireann de Barra; Life on the Bridge – director: Marian Morrissey; Liscannor Flagstone – director: James Skerritt, producer: Pete Moles; and Vonnie: Limerick’s Forgotten Fashion Icon – director: Renata Lima, producer: Melissa Collins. Completed films will be delivered by the end of the year for distribution to film festivals internationally.

Film makers Renata Lima, Andrew Keogh, Marian Morrissey, Paul C. Ryan (Regional Film Manager at Film in Limerick), James Skerritt, Muireann de Barra,Melissa Collins, Pete Moles pictured in Limerick City. Picture: Don Moloney

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[ COUNTY MAYO ]

Ballina 2023 launches website and logo with special celebration

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o coincide with Culture Night, Ballina 2023 launched its new website – ballina2023.ie – and logo, with a specially commissioned promotional film showcasing all that is unique and wonderful about Ballina. It also staged its first public celebration of the year-to-come, Ballina 2023: Beginnings – Live, an open-air live music event at Tom Ruane Park. The event featured a line-up of some of the best of Ballina’s local music talent performing live together for the first time as well as the first public screening of the new Ballina 2023 promo film on the banks of the River Moy. Ballina 2023 is a year-long celebration that will mark the 300th anniversary of the official founding of the town and will feature a series of large-scale public events throughout the year. It is funded by Mayo County Council and supported by Ballina Municipal District Council, Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Mayo North and Moy Valley Resources.

[ COUNTY LEITRIM ]

€320K CLÁR funding for Leitrim

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Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD announced over €4.2m in funding to support schools, playgrounds, infrastructure projects and community organisations across rural Ireland. Seven projects submitted by Leitrim County Council under Measure 1 and Measure 2 of CLÁR Scheme 2021 received funding with a cumulative value of €319,952.60.

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[ COUNTY SLIGO ]

N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin road opens in Sligo

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he long-awaited N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin road – one of the most significant road projects ever built in the Northwest Region – finally opened to traffic in August. This new type 2 dual carriageway will provide approximately 14km of new national road, built to the highest safety, environmental and infrastructural standards, and will change the future of Sligo. The new N4 will be part of a key strategic link between Dublin and Sligo and will open up the N17 Atlantic Economic Corridor network. It has the potential to boost the local economy, bring jobs to the region and make Sligo a better and safer place to live, travel, and work. Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Cllr Paul Taylor commended the project team involved in delivering the dual carriageway: “Approximately €63.9m in benefits are predicted over the 30-year appraisal period of the new 14km dual carriageway. In addition, safety benefits of €7.4m are predicted over the same period, as a result of the higher standard of road. This is a major project for our authority and our county and is the first of the key National Road Projects listed in the National Development Plan to be delivered under Project Ireland 2040.”

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Grange, Strandhill, Tubbercurry and Ballinafad Wastewater Treatment Plants officially open

Aerial photograph of the new and upgraded Strandhill Wastewater Treatment Plant, Sligo

Irish Water and Sligo County Council marked the official opening of Grange, Strandhill, Tubbercurry and Ballinafad Wastewater Treatment Plants following a €16m investment. The new infrastructure ensures that treated wastewater is now fully compliant with EU Urban Wastewater Directives before being safely discharged back into the natural environment. At a special event to mark the occasion, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Cllr Paul Taylor welcomed the investment by Irish Water, which included the upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in Strandhill: “The completion of these essential projects is vital to ensure we can provide a platform for future growth in these communities. They will also make a huge difference to the water quality of nearby coastal areas including Rosses Point and Streedagh Beach and the water quality in Tubbercurry Stream, River Moy and in Lough Arrow.” The new and upgraded treatment plants will bring huge benefits to the local communities in terms of protection of the environment and improved water quality for all watersport enthusiasts, swimmers, surfers, kayakers as well as marine life. Since 2014, Irish Water has made a significant investment in the provision of wastewater services in Sligo. However, much capital investment is needed over a sustained period of several decades to address the poor condition of Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues in line with commitments outlined in the Government’s Water Services Policy Statement and Irish Water’s Strategic Funding Plan. Irish Water has invested€€3.8bn in water and wastewater infrastructure to the end of 2019 and plans to invest a further €5.2bn under its Capital Investment Programme from 2020 to 2024 in drinking water and wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure. Left to Right: Cllr Thomas Walsh; Cllr Martin Connolly; Minister of State for the Department of Health Frank Feighan; Cathaoirleach Cllr Paul Taylor; Cllr Marie Casserly; Cllr Donal Gilroy; and Cllr Arthur Gibbons at the official opening of Grange, Strandhill, Tubbercurry and Ballinafad Wastewater Treatment Plants in Strandhill, Sligo

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[ COUNTY DONEGAL ]

WiFi4EU zones launched across Donegal

[ COUNTY ANTRIM ]

£75K climate action commitment by Belfast City Council

Launch of WiFi4EU outside Balor Arts Centre Access Point

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD officially launched the WiFi4EU network – a Pan-European network of free WiFi zones across Europe designed to increase connectivity in public spaces across the member states – at the Balor Theatre in Ballybofey. Funded by the EU Commission through a voucher scheme, and match funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and Donegal County Council, this project has enabled the implementation of 75 WiFi access points across 56 towns and villages in County Donegal. The business and community sector have welcomed and actively engaged with Donegal County Council in selecting and hosting premises on main streets, market squares and community centres across the county. This is a unique WiFi network as it will be recognisable across all EU member states. WiFi4EU will be the common SSID whether you’re doing business, on holidays or a resident, all across Europe. Free WiFi will be of huge benefit to the tourism sector, where visitors can engage on social media platforms about their holidays, find out local information and book services.“It’s great to have such a wide geographical spread of free WiFi4EU zones in a large county like Donegal,” says Minister Humphreys. “This is bringing more connectivity and accessibility to the public and visitors in every town and village, from Malin to Bundoran and Glencolmcille to Carrigans. The Department is very happy to have match-funded this EU scheme, as rural digital connectivity is a key element of the Our Rural Future development policy 2021-2025.” “This is another significant expansion to the high speed connectivity footprint in County Donegal and will be of tremendous benefit to our citizens and the many people who visit Donegal on holidays and for business purposes,” adds Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Councillor Jack Murray.

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Belfast City Council has committed £75,000 to three projects that support the city’s climate action plan in the run-up to COP26. Elected members have given the green light to three projects: Linen Quarter BID for its Festival of the Circular Economy; a legacy programme by Common Purpose; and a contract with The Woodland Trust for additional support to the Belfast One Million Trees initiative, which is co-ordinated by Belfast City Council.

InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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[ COUNTY DONEGAL ]

Lord Mayor hosts members of UK’s Climate Change Committee at City Hall

Belfast Lord Mayor Cllr Kate Nicholl met with members of the UK’s Climate Change Committee at City Hall to discuss councils’ role in tackling climate change. The Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Kate Nicholl with meeting with Lord Deben and Lord Deben (left) and Chris Stark (right) of Chris Stark came ahead of Belfast the UK’s Climate Change Committee taking part in COP26 – the UN’s annual climate change conference, being held in Glasgow this November. “Belfast City Council has made a commitment to become a carbon-neutral organisation and since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, that has become a key focus, especially as we move towards COP26 in November,” says Nicholl. The Climate Change Committee is an independent body and advises the UK and local governments on emissions targets and how to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The meeting at City Hall was also attended by Belfast City Council’s Climate Commissioner Debbie Caldwell, John Barry from Queen’s University and Aaron Wright from DAERA. The discussion focussed on the importance of local leadership across regions within the UK in driving climate action, and the actions that Belfast has taken as a city and at Council level to transition to a low-carbon and climateresilient economy.

Belfast has been officially designated as a World Health Organization European Healthy City for the seventh phase of the programme. Belfast’s ongoing inclusion was confirmed when Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Kate Nicholl signed the designation certificate with Belfast Healthy Cities Interim Chair Dr Karen Casson (pictured).

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Donegal settlements secure Streetscape Enhancement Initiative funding Donegal County Council welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD confirming 124 towns and villages will benefit from a new €7m fund to support the enhancement of streetscapes and shopfronts across the country. Five settlements have been identified and successfully secured funding in Donegal: Castlefin, Laghey, Burnfoot, Falcarragh, and Milford. The Streetscape Enhancement Initiative is a key part of Our Rural Future and is designed to make our rural towns and villages more attractive places to live, work and visit. Under the scheme, property owners will be provided with funding to improve the façades of their buildings, carry out artwork and install features such as canopies and street furniture. “Working with the businesses and communities in Donegal, this programme will improve the appearance of our towns and villages and support local communities in the hard work they do for their community,” says Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Jack Murray. “I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this programme, promoting regeneration and supporting businesses.”

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Informing you about the work of local authorities in supporting the business needs of their community... To tell us what your local council is doing for business email sorcha.corcoran@ashvillemediagroup.com

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A ROUND UP OF ALL THE NEWS AND EVENTS FROM THE CHAMBER NETWORK NATIONWIDE

CHAMBERS NEWS

New CEO for Laois Chamber

Caroline Hofman, CEO, Laois Chamber

Caroline Hofman has been appointed as CEO of Laois Chamber, taking over from Bernie Everard. A graduate of University College Cork and Dublin City University, Hofman previously worked in law firms in Dublin and was also on a Credit Union board, prior to being appointed as a special adviser to a Minister of State. She is 27 years old, making her the youngest CEO to be appointed to a Chamber in Ireland. “Laois has huge potential and plenty of appeal with a strong range of businesses throughout the county,” she said.

CHAMBER COMMENT

“Chambers Ireland welcomes the Government’s commitment to supporting businesses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This has secured jobs, prevented permanent closures and provided an opportunity for the country to recover more quickly than anticipated.” Ian Talbot, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland on Budget 2022

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An Taoiseach Micheál Martin with Jenny Beresford, CEO, D&WW Chamber, Diarmuid Ryan of DPR Associates, Oren Byrne of Totem and Chamber Vice President

Taoiseach attends Dungarvan event An Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with Dungarvan & West Waterford (D&WW) Chamber members on 1 October to discuss challenges and opportunities for the region. A wide range of businesses were represented at the event. Topics addressed included housing, education, climate and tourism. Oren Byrne, Vice President of the D&WW Chamber, said: “It was reassuring to finally meet other businesses in person after distancing for so long and talk about business issues. Equally, discussing growth and opportunities keeps us in a progressive mindset and meeting directly with An Taoiseach has been really valuable.”

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CHAMBERS NEWS

South Dublin steps up support Since the pandemic began, South Dublin Chamber has held 52 webinars focused specifically on networking, replacing its networking mornings which used to take place face-to-face in the Lucan Spa Hotel or Citywest Hotel. The Sustainable Business Programme has also adapted to the new concerns of members by providing oneto-one, in-person, telephone and online meetings as well as training and seminars online. Topics discussed in the meetings have been mainly around how Covid-19 affects each business, including cash flow, grants available and employee issues. The Sustainable Business Programme is a partnership between South Dublin Chamber, South Dublin County Council and South Dublin LEO.

Participants in the County Tipperary Chamber Golf Classic

Tipperary Chamber Golf Classic a big hit The inaugural County Tipperary Chamber Golf Classic was held on 16 September on the grounds of Dundrum House Hotel, Golf and Leisure Centre. The first ‘live’ Chamber event since 2020, a range of business sectors were represented, teeing off in teams of four. The overall winner, Thurles-based Glanta Hygiene, was presented with a trophy sponsored by A&E Jewellers in Clonmel. Dundrum House Hotel came second and Nenagh-based financial firm SYS Wealth & Financial was third. Peninsula Ireland sponsored the outing, which was also supported by County Tipperary Skillnet, Regatta Professional, Hotel Minella, The Clonmel Park Hotel, Merrys and Surecom.

Business boost in Bantry Bantry in Co Cork has enjoyed a very strong summer and autumn flow of business, according to Bantry Chamber President Neill Clarke. “Our hotels, B&Bs and rental accommodation are still seeing good bookings. Weekends are bustling with groups coming for cycling, hill walking, and water sports. Whale and dolphin watching has been busy with new rental and charter facilities available,” he said. “The Chamber has commissioned a promotional video highlighting the outdoor dining development in the town – which has proved remarkably successful since it was introduced – and new flags circling the square bring a festive air to what is a superb leisure facility.”

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CHAMBERS NEWS

CHAMBER COMMENT “The Government’s strategy has created certainty for businesses at a critical time when they are planning their post-pandemic investment plans. The unknown upper band of the proposed rate was causing some global businesses to hesitate in committing to capital investment plans.” Ian Talbot, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland on increasing the minimum corporation tax for multinationals to 15%

Séamus Power, former Waterford Chamber President Paul Nolan and Henry de Bromhead

Waterford businesses reunite Waterford’s business community came together after 557 days for the Waterford Chamber President’s Lunch at The Strand Inn, Dunmore East in September. “The South East needs a strong capital city. Being commonly referred to as the ‘Fifth City’ in the republic should not inhibit our intentions – indeed our size can in many ways give us first-mover advantage whilst other cities deal with more complex challenges,” said President John McSweeney. Horse trainer Henry de Bromhead and golfer Seamus Power were guest speakers. De Bromhead said he would much rather travel to Leopardstown than Limerick, adding “the sooner we get that road to Limerick done the better”.

CHAMBER CAPTION

County Wexford Chamber recently welcomed Indian Ambassador to Ireland Sandeep Kumar. Pictured with him are Chamber Deputy CEO Emma Dunphy, Chamber President Willie Fitzharris, John Nolan, Irish Road Haulage Association, Ed Murphy, Invest Wexford, Sean Rowe, MSSL and Brendan Crowley, Wexford Bus.

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Positive developments for Shannon aviation Shannon Chamber has welcomed the announcement that Shannonbased Atlantic Aviation Group has acquired Lufthansa Technik Shannon from its German parent Lufthansa Technik. “Lufthansa Technik Shannon has provided valuable employment in a critical area in aviation - maintenance, repair and overhaul – since its establishment and contributed greatly to the growth of this sector at Shannon. This retention of 300 skilled employees as a result of this acquisition is most welcome,” said Chamber President Stephen Keogh. In September, Ennis, Galway and Shannon Chambers welcomed the return of the Aer Lingus livery to the runways at Shannon Airport with the resumption of its London Heathrow daily service.

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CHAMBER CEO Q&A

A welcome return InBusiness caught up with Gabby Mallon, Chief Executive Officer of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber, to find out whether the easing of restrictions has meant a more positive outlook in her region. Gabby Mallon, Chief Executive Officer, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber

18 months we like others had Zoom events. It was great to be able to engage but nothing beats meeting face-to-face and making connections that help your business to grow and develop. Q: Any positive developments in your region that should stimulate business growth? A: We have a wonderful county council which engaged with our board and members with start-up supports, rate freezes and a web-based voucher scheme. It is now in the process of rolling out a management capability development programme for businesses of all sizes (see www.localenterprise.ie/DLR). Programmes such as these enable businesses to build lean and profitable companies in these uncertain times.

Q: How is the reopening of business going in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area? A: Most companies were glad to open fully, particularly in the hospitality sector, as Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is a great tourist destination from the mountains to the sea and has wonderful hotels in the catchment areas. There are plenty of activities, from skiing, mountain biking, zip wiring and golf courses to walks and cycling along the coast and fantastic boat trips – and not to forget the wide and varied cuisine that is on offer here. Q: What is the burning issue facing your members at the moment? A: Our members are looking forward to faceto-face networking events as over the past

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Q: Is the Chamber engaging in any special/different initiatives? A: Our board members hold positions on Strategic Policy Committees and I am Chairperson on the DLR County Childcare Committee and Vice-Chair/Treasurer on the DLR Town Team. Through these committees we have input and understanding of what the county needs and how to articulate these needs.

It is important that we take this opportunity to embrace the digital world and hybrid working as it has been successful for those businesses that it suited. Not all businesses thrived but most adapted and led by example.”

Q: What is your outlook for the next few months? A: The next few months will see a cautious but welcome return to a different world with hybrid working allowing a balance between working and home life. It is important that we take this opportunity to embrace the digital world and hybrid working as it has been successful for those businesses that it suited. Not all businesses thrived but most adapted and led by example. The past 18 months have shown we can adapt quickly, bringing communities together and showing that villages are as important as cities. We look forward to rolling out our calendar of events and meeting our members in person. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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CHAMBER FEATURE

Disability Inclusion in a Remote World Christabelle Feeney, Director of Employers for Change, an employer disability information service, discusses the implications of the new era of remote and hybrid working.

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ver the past decade companies have talked more and more about diversity and inclusion with the latter often taking a back seat. The diverse groups that these policies consider are often vying for a place at the top table and the disabled community has found it tough to get close to a front row seat in this discussion. In Ireland, 13.5% of the population is living with a disability; that is one in seven people (Census, 2016). Yet you are twice as likely to be unemployed in Ireland if you have a disability compared to a nondisabled peer. There is a lot of work to be done but employers are engaging more in this topic now. With the pandemic has come a new sense of understanding, greater empathy and in some ways the breakdown of attitudinal barriers. We also have an opportunity to consider how we do our work. Pre Covid-19, remote working was a notional idea that was feared by many employers. However, this provides greater flexibility in how people do their job, which is of great benefit to people with disabilities.

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“Diversity is inviting everyone into your organisation; inclusion is ensuring a true sense of belonging by allowing them to contribute to your company’s direction and policies.” One of the first pieces of advice Employers for Change gives to employers is to keep an open mind when considering how a job can be done. Providing an option to hybrid or remote work is more attractive for many disabled people and can remove barriers such as transport or allow for greater flexibility around working hours. KEY CONSIDERATIONS However, it is important that disabled employees are involved in conversations around any company policy that will affect them. After all, diversity is inviting everyone into your organisation but inclusion is ensuring a true sense

Christabelle Feeney, Director, Employers for Change

of belonging by allowing people to contribute to your company’s direction and policies. Providing remote work or hybrid work opportunities should not leave disabled employees siloed from the rest of the workforce. It is important that this be presented as an option for the individual as opposed to an alternative to making reasonable accommodations. In fact, just because a person is working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t require reasonable accommodations. Indeed, the obligation to provide this still applies. There are a variety of grants and supports available to employers, details of which can be found at https:// employersforchange.ie/Grants. Employers for Change carried out research recently on the impact of remote working during Covid-19 on people with disabilities. It will be published in late October, details of which will be available on www.employersforchange.ie. For information on how you can support potential or existing employees with disabilities contact Employers for Change by text, WhatsApp or call on 0851579603 or by email to info@employersforchange.ie.

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Budget 2022 – politics beats policy The economic winds are in our favour, but we cannot rely on government to chart the course ahead, says Shane Conneely, Chambers Ireland Director of Policy and Communications.

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here was little in Budget 2022 that surprised anyone as most of it had been signalled long in advance, and little of what was in the ministers’ speeches suggested that there has been a fundamental change in the priorities or policies of recent

years. Given this continuity, despite the problems that impact the domestic economy and quality of life (including housing, commercial vacancies and congestion) and the overarching issues that relate to climate change, Budget 2022 should be seen as a victory of politics over policy. The headline elements of the budget seem to focus on parenting and social policy, but when digging into the effects, the ESRI found that the benefits were marginal and that lone parents and lowincome families in work are likely to have real declines in income over 2022. Energy and rent inflation are particularly likely to affect these populations, which could make this significantly worse. By focusing on easy-to-communicate actions such as ‘the fiver for the pensioners’ without connecting them to well-founded policy goals, Budget 2022 seems to aim at headlines in the short-run rather than achieving outcomes that might emerge over the course of a five-year term of government. Consequently Budget 2022 raises concerns about the likelihood of a general election in the short- to medium-term. BUSINESS CONSIDERATIONS For the business community, the most important aspect of Budget 2022 is the withdrawal of Covid-19 supports. The Chamber network has concerns that the Government may be unwinding them a little too quickly. Firstly, Brexit and Northern Ireland may become a hotter issue over the coming months as British politicians try to lay blame for shortages on the EU by instigating a trade war. This is a large unknown and Budget 2022 should ensure that the Government can respond flexibly.

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Secondly, as Irish people experience more opportunities to holiday abroad, the pressure within the domestic tourism and hospitality sector may decline heavily before foreign tourists return to take up the slack. Thirdly, inflation may see some sectors struggle to contain costs over 2022-23; supply chain problems are persisting with labour and logistic shortages at international ports resulting in inflationary hotspots. Compounding this, energy prices are experiencing spikes as governments use supply as a tool for leverage in diplomatic disputes. Should we respond to these challenges appropriately, Ireland is in a great position to benefit from the post-pandemic rebound. We may even be better placed to deal with the coming decade than we were before the coronavirus, given the number of individuals that have changed their sector of employment over the past 18 months. LABOUR FORCE REORGANISATION Typically, after recessions, the creative part of the destruction process is people finding new opportunities to use resources (including their time and labour) in different ways. The repeated lockdowns and curtailment of activities followed by rapid re-

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CHAMBER FEATURE

can take advantage of the opportunities that the unlocking of our domestic demand, economy and society presents. The unemployment challenge over the short term will not be in helping younger people find a place in the workforce as it was after the Great Recession, but it will be in keeping older workers connected to the workplace after the long Covid-19-related lockdowns.

“In coming years Budget 2022 is likely to be seen as another missed opportunity to rebalance our economy in favour of our domestic economy, and the window for doing this is closing rapidly.”

openings has given people opportunities to enter fields they may have been excluded from in ordinary times. This reorganising of the labour force is typically slow, which leads to a slower rebound involving economic scarring as many people remain unemployed or underemployed for a considerable period. It seems as though the challenge of finding skilled workers has accelerated this process which can only benefit the economy. At the same time, many people have used the pandemic period to upskill themselves or start their own businesses so that they

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TOUGH DECISIONS AVOIDED To give credit where it’s due, State supports for businesses over the last 18 months have been exceptional and are the reason why our economy is so robust. However, the decision to avoid making tough decisions in Budget 2022 (along with the absence of tough decisions in the review of the National Development Plan [NDP] and the Housing for All strategy) means that the problems of the 2010s are going to be with us for years to come. The upgrading of the electricity network to support our renewable electricity potential has not been accelerated. It is still unclear how the Exchequer is going to replace the €5bn in excise duty, VRT, and motor tax that it will lose as a result of decarbonising transport by 2030. Meanwhile the zoned land levy has been set at a level that is so low that it will incentivise the State to maintain high land values as a revenue source rather than undermine the business model of land speculation. In coming years Budget 2022 is likely to be seen as another missed opportunity to rebalance our economy in favour of our domestic economy, and the window for doing this is closing rapidly. It is likely that the OECD reform of the international taxation rules is likely to be at least neutral, and possibly good for the Irish Exchequer, particularly as the final agreement is now not likely to occur before the end of the French Presidency of the EU. These short-run gains carry large risks, given that the corporation taxes which are largely funding the NDP arise from 10 multinational corporations and so are dependent on how the US Congress alters its tax codes. Most disappointing in Budget 2022 was the lack of new funding for our cities and towns to make them the attractive places they can and should be. There are two major short-run growth opportunities for Ireland: the revival of our town centres and a renewable energy industrial policy. Their absence from Budget 2022 suggests a continued lack of ambition for our domestic economy and a lack of vision for our island.

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Flexibility promotes inclusivity Michaela Reilly, Policy and Research Executive at Chambers Ireland, discusses the benefits of flexible working and the inclusive opportunities it offers to the workforce.

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lexible, agile working is fundamental to achieving a more inclusive workforce and workplace. It is quickly becoming the preferred alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, office-based employment with both employers and employees questioning the value or need to journey to the office every day. Flexible working allows employees to shape how, when and where they work. The forms it can take are limitless, encompassing a wide range of practices, including part-time, remote working, flexihours, compressed hours, annualised hours, home working and job sharing. Pandemic aside, such new modes of working are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons. Among these are a better quality of life, a lower cost of living, reducing carbon emissions, as well as increasing labour force participation amongst women, older people, carers, and people with disabilities. What’s more, flexible policies are proven to have positive impacts on a business’s bottom line with reported productivity increases of 1.5%, or €1,342, per employee working flexibly on a one-day-a-week basis. BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS At 32%, Ireland currently has the lowest rate of employment amongst persons with disabilities in Europe. Ireland also has the highest employment gap between people with disabilities and the general population (42%). The many barriers to employment people with disabilities face are behind these statistics. These include mobility, transport and physical access issues that make attending a workplace difficult. For many people with disabilities or long-term illnesses, it can be challenging to adapt to meet the requirements of a ‘traditional office job’. Inclusive working policies can assist in overcoming this by providing opportunities and breaking down the barriers of accessibility to the workforce. The system must recognise that there are times when people with disabilities are unable to work or need to work reduced hours. The new era of remote and flexible working has opened up more opportunities for disabled and chronically ill workers who can now

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comfortably work from their homes or co-working hubs which are adapted to suit their requirements. It is important that we witness widespread adoption and normalisation of flexible working postpandemic, whether in terms of hours or location, to ease the burden on marginalised employees and provide greater paths to their inclusion in the workforce. BENEFITS TO CONSIDER The most obvious benefits of agile, inclusive working policies are increased labour force participation, a greater work-life balance and improved productivity. Providing employees with better choices to organise their work reduces the risk of them leaving the labour market altogether. The benefits don’t just stop with employees. Employers that allow their staff the freedom to work flexibly can also find themselves becoming a greener, more profitable, inclusive and desirable company that people want to work for. Companies also profit from the ability to access a more motivated and productive labour force with lower absenteeism and a wider talent pool overall. Sustainability and cost savings are also added factors. Organisations can save on high rental costs and overheads associated with office working, while improving their environmental footprint thanks to reduced commutes and electricity and heating costs. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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“It is important that we witness widespread adoption and normalisation of flexible working post-pandemic, whether in terms of hours or location, to ease the burden on marginalised employees and provide greater paths to their inclusion in the workforce.”

TIME TO ACT The low employment rates of people with disabilities needed to be addressed long before Covid-19. The benefits for employees and employers are twofold. As the nature of work and society changes post-pandemic, now is a perfect opportunity to act on this and adapt workplace models to support all of society, promoting greater inclusivity in the workforce generally. The allocation of State financial supports to people with disabilities must be changed. At present, the support is allocated to the employer to provide the necessary equipment and adaptations to the workplace required for employees. It would be more beneficial if the support was instead allocated to the employee, where possible, so that they could acquire their own personal equipment that stays with them if they choose to take up new employment. This would enable greater autonomy over future employment choices and a smoother transition to a new workplace. This too has benefits for employers who can be assured that prospective employees are accommodated before embarking on new employment within an organisation. Nonetheless, support for employers to provide accommodating, flexible workplaces must be at the centre of future employment legislation to actively encourage increased and inclusive labour force participation and productivity across all sectors and business sizes. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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NATIONAL STRATEGY The National Remote Working Strategy published earlier this year is an ambitious vision for the future of work, which has the potential to transform the workplace into one that supports quality of life, inclusion, and regional development. While this is a very welcome step, Chambers Ireland believes that a national flexible working policy – one which sufficiently supports employers in implementing these arrangements – will be the key to unlocking the potential of the entire Irish workforce. This must be paired with a flexible working framework to help guide employers in the introduction of individual company flexible working policies. A wider rollout of co-working digital hubs throughout the regions must underpin such a policy. Digital hubs provide a readymade business community, help counteract the risks of individual flexible worker isolation and have positive environmental and work-life balance benefits, as commuter journeys and carbon emissions are reduced. A rapid increase in the rollout of highspeed broadband across the country will be central to this. It is imperative that businesses and employees are supported by forward-thinking, government-led flexible working policies in the post-pandemic era.

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CHAMBER FEATURE

Next steps for the European Union Following Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the European Union speech as President of the European Commission, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland and Deputy President of Eurochambres, Ian Talbot, and President of Eurochambres, Christoph Leitl, provide a business perspective.

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he business community firmly believes that Europe must look to the future, even as it manages the impact of the past 18 months. Chambers support the European Commission’s renewed commitment to the political priorities set out before the pandemic for the 2019-2024 legislative term. These priorities must be pursued resolutely while factoring in the legacy of the deep economic crisis and the need to revive the European economy. EU policymakers deserve credit for their response to the public health and economic crisis and how they listened to calls from Chambers to address specific issues encountered by our millions of member companies. Effective policies will also be crucial to the pursuit of other important priorities and a European economic revival. The single market must be at the centre of the EU policy programme. Temporary measures to contain the pandemic led to the return of long-forgotten barriers and provided a stark reminder of what has been achieved through 30 years of integration. Nonetheless, the single market remains incomplete and obstacles present even before the crisis must be addressed. Chambers continue to advocate for better implementation and enforcement of existing rules to enable businesses and consumers to benefit from the world’s largest trading bloc. The pandemic highlighted the social and economic importance of digitalisation. Businesses and governments need to invest smartly in digital tools and literacy. Technological development, research and innovation must be prioritised. None of this will gain traction unless Europe enhances its digital skills capacity. Chambers play an important role in education, training, re-skilling and upskilling and will help to prepare the European workforce for the digital transition.

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ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE During a summer of record heatwaves, raging wildfires and catastrophic floods, the reality of a changing climate has never been more apparent. To pursue the EU’s new 2030 climate targets effectively, Chambers underline the need for an enabling framework that provides planning security for businesses while carefully balancing regulation and incentives. We also recognise the importance of achieving a more circular economy in which waste becomes a key resource. Industrial regeneration, recycling and re-manufacturing activities must be stimulated. The strategy for the transition to a sustainable economy needs to encourage investments in a cleaner economy without limiting businesses' access to finance or imposing undue administrative burdens. The NextGenerationEU recovery plan and the Recovery and Resilience Facility can provide valuable opportunities for our businesses to enhance their sustainability if rolled out correctly across the economy. The engagement of grassroots actors is essential to translate these vast EU financial instruments into support for viable projects on the ground. Public authorities must work with Chambers in the design and implementation of their plans to ensure that the necessary reforms are implemented and that our millions of SMEs benefit swiftly from the available funds. SMEs are integral to Europe’s economy and essential to the recovery. Policymakers must be conscious of this and consider SMEs as a systematic part of the solution. Otherwise, the solution will be difficult to achieve. This applies to the ambitious new industrial strategy to drive Europe’s twin green and digital transition. SMEs must be at the centre of the industrial transformation to reflect their significant contribution to innovation and competitiveness.

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CHAMBER FEATURE

EUROCHAMBRES ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT During its General Assembly in October, Eurochambres elected Luc Frieden as President for the 2022-23 term. Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland, was also re-elected to serve a further two-year term as Deputy President of Eurochambres. Frieden, President of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, will assume the role on 1 January, 2022. He takes over from current Eurochambres President, Christoph Leitl. Chairman of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce since 2019, Frieden is a member of the board of directors of several companies and organisations and a practising lawyer. From 1998 to 2013, he served as Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance of Luxembourg. He was a member of the Eurogroup and the Ecofin Council of Ministers and chaired the 2013 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He graduated in law from the University of Paris 1 Sorbonne, the University of Cambridge and Harvard Law School. EUROCHAMBRES DEPUTY PRESIDENTS The Eurochambres General Assembly also reelected its three current Deputy Presidents for a further two-year term: • Vladimir Dlouhý, President, Chamber of Commerce of Czech Republic • Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland • Stephan Müchler, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden

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“EU policymakers deserve credit for their response to the crisis and how they listened to calls from Chambers to address specific issues encountered by our millions of member companies.”

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Leading the conversation Ian Talbot, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland and Secretary General, ICC Ireland

offers leadership and skills support to enterprises that want to develop operational and strategic sustainability.

In September, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland and ICC Ireland Secretary General Ian Talbot participated in Uniting Business Live, a United Nations Global Compact event, which took place during the opening week of the UN General Assembly.

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niting Business Live featured chief executives, heads of State and Government, corporate sustainability experts and business leaders, plus heads of UN agencies and civil society organisations. Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland and ICC Ireland CEO Ian Talbot featured on a panel discussing the importance of SMEs to future growth and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also highlighted actions that local business leaders are taking to strengthen the resilience of their communities to withstand future shock. As head of the ICC in Ireland, he was asked about the mission of the organisation and its work with the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) community here. He said ICC Ireland’s “big opportunity and big challenge”

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was to provide knowledge leadership by acquiring and distilling large amounts of information that it can then “convert into things that people can really deliver locally.” “The most important thing for us is to act as the funnel to take all that information, to distil it into relevant things that could work for Irish companies and make sure we communicate that.” Describing how the organisation supports and encourages Irish businesses, he said the focus was on three areas: education, self-help and recognition. On education, a collaboration between Chambers Ireland and government training agency Skillnet Ireland has helped over 1,000 companies and 3,000 staff tackle climate change through Climate Ready. This programme

A KEY VEHICLE Talbot stressed that becoming sustainable is about more than climate action, pointing to the UN SDGs as a key vehicle for companies as they target resilience and the delivery of positive social, economic and environmental impacts. To support this, the organisation has developed an SDG Toolkit for Business to provide a ‘selfhelp’ tool for companies large and small. The toolkit provides an overview of the entire sustainability process and project management guidance to help companies identify stakeholders, build their programme and ultimately deliver results (available free to download on www.chambers.ie). Finally, Talbot spoke on the importance of recognising positive action in sustainability. For Chambers Ireland, this was achieved through the Sustainable Business Impact Awards. “Awards are great encouragement,” he said. “We need individuals within companies to take ownership and action as well as companies themselves.” He said there was a “great sense of belonging” from those who participate in the awards. They also helped to share knowledge and learnings which people could use at home. “Awards can be really valuable to let people know that what they’re doing really matters.” Natasha Mudhar, panel moderator and Founder of The World We Want, agreed, saying awards are great storytelling opportunities, help set benchmarks, create accountability and inspire others.

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CHAMBER PARTNER PROFILE

Building a brighter future together Creating a brighter future for employees, customers and the communities it operates in underpins Zurich’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, writes Kathy Cahill, HR Business Partner, Zurich Ireland.

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t Zurich, our aim is to nurture a culture where all of our employees feel included and comfortable bringing their whole self and lived experience to work. To achieve this, we have made diversity and inclusion a business priority. We believe that embracing our differences and promoting inclusion across our business ultimately achieves better outcomes for everyone. LISTENING, LEARNING AND INSPIRING ACTION We have created a Diversity and Inclusion Forum which is sponsored by members of our executive team. Made up of employees from across our business, forum members work closely with senior leaders to embed people practices that support us in creating a brighter future for everyone. The forum is there to inspire and influence our diversity and inclusion agenda but also to help us hear what is important and valued by our employees. FOCUSING ON MENTAL HEALTH INCLUSION Those from diverse backgrounds can face a lack of representation, unconscious bias, and other stressors that impact their mental health and psychological safety at work. Equally for some employees, the challenges of the past 18 months have affected their wellbeing. We have a strong record in this area with

We have continued to build on this by offering mental health first aid training to a panel of our employees, training our managers to raise awareness of how to support those with mental health concerns as well as supporting our employee wellbeing resource group. InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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Kathy Cahill, HR Business Partner, Zurich Ireland

our Tackle Your Feelings mental wellbeing programme developed in association with Rugby Players Ireland. We have continued to build on this by offering mental health first aid training to a panel of our employees, training our managers to raise awareness of how to support those with mental health concerns as well as supporting our employee wellbeing resource group. EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES We want people to reach their full potential, not despite their differences but because of them. To support this aim, for the first time, Zurich is partnering with Pride Dublin as well as ‘Cool to be Trans’, an organisation which is spearheaded by openly transgender woman Katie Neeves. We have pledged to sponsor and partner in this way to educate and increase knowledge and build meaningful ally and advocacy programmes for all employees. Partnerships are an important way for us to learn and demonstrate our support as we embed our approach to diversity and inclusion across the organisation. While the past 18 months have taught us a lot, we continue to work to deliver our commitment on an inclusive work environment for all our employees. We are committed to building on our experience, continuing to engage with our employees and, most importantly, continuing to learn from each other about the differences that make us all unique. Diversity in our workplace brings diversity of thought, fuels our innovation and also brings us closer to the customers and communities we serve.

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Assets around Ireland – financing future growth As businesses continue to benefit from the reopening of the economy, AIB Finance & Leasing Asset Finance Consultants Paddy Gibbons and Felim O’Donnell highlight what trends are being seen across the country.

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Q: What is happening in the Dublin market recently? A: The businesses that engage with the AIB Finance & Leasing team come from a myriad of sectors. For instance, in the area covering the M50 belt up to North County Dublin there is a prevalence of transport companies, many of which have actually thrived and grown throughout the pandemic. This was down to a number of different reasons; one being that non-essential retail was closed, resulting in a move to online shopping which requires delivery. We have noticed a significant increase in demand for heavy and light commercial vehicles to service this need right across the country. There are green shoots appearing in many other sectors as well, with businesses adapting quickly to a new future and new ways of working. Dublin City Centre and surrounding area was particularly badly hit by the direction for the country to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close. Businesses in central Dublin, like everywhere else, went into survival

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hire companies moving to a more sustainable model and investing in electric vehicles as an asset choice.

mode, evaluating all of their costs, looking to shed outlays where possible and restructure their businesses. Thankfully, we are seeing some signs of positivity with the re-opening of the economy across the city, which has led to a renewed requirement for asset finance. Q: What about the rest of the country? A: There’s significant activity in the market around Ireland with a generally positive outlook. Here’s a selection of what we are seeing: In Galway, agriculture has continued to thrive and customers in this sector have been keen to avail of asset finance – in particular financing of tractors. We have also seen strong demand for commercial vehicles in line with the national picture. Demand for plant and machinery has been quite buoyant due to more civil construction works. Interestingly, manufacturing has grown as a direct result of the pandemic. Shane McLoughlin in AIB Finance & Leasing has been able to support companies involved in the mass production of ventilators – both for export and domestic use – which require large specialised industrial equipment. Our colleague in Donegal, Peter Muldoon, has seen strong demand in transport and logistics, in particular quarrying and construction. Asset finance in the county has traditionally been dominated by bus operators, largely down to the lack of a railway and less developed public transport services. Gareth Dyer, who covers the Midlands and North East areas, has highlighted that agriculture continues to be the predominant sector for asset finance in the region. Tillage remains strong; we have seen increased capital expenditure from these farmers due to rising demand in recent months. We have financed several high-end harvesters to key potato suppliers in the region. Haulage and manufacturing also remain very steady in the region. Q: Are there any other notable trends right now? A: We are increasingly seeing the sustainability agenda come to the fore, with business customers having increased awareness about the impact their assets can have on the environment. We have seen examples of fleet

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“Thankfully, we are seeing some signs of positivity with the re-opening of outdoor and indoor dining and hospitality across the city of Dublin, which has led to a renewed requirement for asset finance.”

Paddy Gibbons

Felim O'Donnell

Q: What do you do in practice? A: The team finances a broad range of assets from standard trucks, vans, cars and equipment to the non-standard such as modular homes and road gritting vehicles – and even Unimog railroad vehicles used for train-track maintenance and customised to the specific rail size in Ireland and the UK. We always take great care to consider customers’ capital expenditure requirements. As well as providing asset finance solutions in the form of Leasing and Hire Purchase for business customers procuring assets, we also provide professional fee finance (‘Prompt Pay’) and ‘Insurance Premium Finance’. Like all SMEs, the business customers we serve have a variety of insurance bills such as motor, fire, burglary, professional liability insurance and large annual bills such as preliminary tax, pension contributions, property rates, audit fees, licensing fees and many more. All need to be paid and can be quite costly. Our aim is to help customers make these working capital expenses a little more manageable by letting them spread the costs over a six- to 11-month term, thereby freeing up cash flow to be used on a day-to-day basis. The Prompt Pay product, in particular, has proven to be attractive to a wide range of customers due to its flexibility. Some very recent examples have involved AIB Finance & Leasing supporting our customers in the financing of annual licence fees (including cloud licences) and media advertising fees. Q: Who should Chambers Ireland members contact if they are interested in finding out more? A: Our strength in AIB Finance & Leasing is definitely the experience and expertise our dedicated staff have to offer, coupled with a presence in every county in the country. To contact your local AIB Finance & Leasing representative, you can call 0818 47 47 47. You can also request a call-back or find out more information via www.aib.ie/assetfinance, or you might prefer to talk to your local AIB branch or relationship manager.

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CHAMBER PARTNER PROFILE

Timeless experience Through 238 years, Waterford Crystal and the visionary characters behind its evolution have crafted a unique story in glass. Today the story continues with a rich experience for visitors.

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magine the times, in 1783, when Beethoven was publishing his first works and the world’s first hot air balloon was launched in Paris. This was when in Waterford City George and William Penrose petitioned Parliament for aid to establish the manufacture of flint glass in their Waterford Glass House. A luxury collection of the finest crystal continues to be made by skilled craftsmen at the House of Waterford Crystal factory situated in the heart of Waterford City in Ireland’s Ancient East. Skills have passed from master to apprentice. Fresh ideas have reinvigorated iconic sparkling cuts in contemporary ways. Every year the House of Waterford Crystal melts down more than 750 tonnes of crystal and produces more than 50,000 pieces using traditional manufacturing techniques. A significant tourist attraction, the House of Waterford Crystal welcomes 210,000 visitors annually from across the world. GUIDED FACTORY TOUR The factory tour is a unique and captivating experience that is sure to enthral visitors of all ages. The tour lets people go behind the scenes for over an hour and see exactly how Waterford Crystal pieces are made. They can witness every stage of production, from initial design right up to the final engraving of the piece.

Every year the House of Waterford Crystal melts down more than 750 tonnes of crystal and produces more than 50,000 pieces using traditional manufacturing techniques. RETAIL STORE AND EXPERIENCE Visitors can experience over 12,000 sq ft of crystal heaven in the largest retail and showcase of Waterford Crystal in the world. The main feature in the retail store is a beautiful centre dining table, with 12 Waterford Crystal chandeliers on display. The lifestyle displays communicate the various brand stories behind the core Waterford Crystal patterns. WORLD OF SPORT The retail store includes a showcase on golf and sport, which is a major part of our international business. Waterford Crystal continues to provide some of the most prestigious trophies to the world’s great sporting events made at the facility, including the Irish Open trophy, the Honda Classic and the Masters Snooker trophy. Waterford Crystal also designed the spectacular Times Square Ball – a crystal ball which forms a prominent part of a New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in New York, colloquially known as the ball drop. CRYSTAL CAFÉ The Crystal Café offers a delicious menu of breakfast and lunch options and a selection of homemade cakes and pastries are made in-house by our talented café team. Visitors to the House of Waterford Crystal can treat themselves to a beautiful afternoon tea experience served in Wedgwood’s ‘Butterfly Bloom’ fine bone china collection, overlooking the Mall in the historic Viking Triangle area. Visit www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com.

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what’s on your

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Left to right: President of Chambers Ireland Mags Brennan; Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland Ian Talbot; Chief Operations Officer of BAM Ireland Tadhg Lucey; and Managing Director of Earth’s Edge James McManus

Inclusive impact History was made recently as adventure travel company Earth’s Edge became the first SME to win the flagship Sustainable Business Impact Award.

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n 16 September, Earth’s Edge became the first SME to win the flagship Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Business Impact Award at the Sustainable Business Impact Awards, previously known as the CSR Awards. Hosted by Chambers Ireland and sponsored by BAM Ireland, the awards showcase the best of sustainable development and social responsibility by companies of all sizes across Ireland. Earth’s Edge was named as a finalist alongside AIB, Aldi and Boots.

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Earth’s Edge was judged to have delivered a high level of impact across all of the categories in which it was nominated. The company won an Excellence in Community – Volunteering Award for its Explore, Experience, Evolve initiative and was a finalist for five other awards. The Explore, Experience, Evolve programme provided students from a school in inner-city Dublin with free guided activities in Ireland’s great outdoors while its other nominations were chosen for a broad spectrum of work focused on people and the environment. This included efforts to offset carbon through tree planting; providing interest-free small business loans to a network of freelance staff in Latin America, Asia and Africa; InBUSINESS | AUTUMN 2021

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THE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS IMPACT AWARDS 2021 WINNERS ARE:

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS IMPACT: ■ Earth’s Edge EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNICATION: BOOTS IRELAND ■ Boots Ireland ‘Safe Space’ Initiative EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY - PARTNERSHIP WITH CHARITY (LIC): ■ John Cradock Ltd. Jigginstown House - A residential facility for vulnerable young adults EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY - PARTNERSHIP WITH CHARITY (MNC): ■ Aldi Ireland - Aldi Ireland & FoodCloud Partnership EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERING (LIC): ■ Earth’s Edge - Explore, Experience, Evolve EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERING (MNC): ■ Medtronic - Spotlight Pilot Medtronic and COPE Galway EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY - COMMUNITY PROGRAMME (LIC): ■ Permanent TSB - Building Affordable Family Homes A Partnership With Ó Cualann EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY - COMMUNITY PROGRAMME (MNC): ■ DMG Media - Supporting Communities Across Ireland through Covid campaign

EXCELLENCE IN ENVIRONMENT (LIC) – SPONSORED BY EPA IRELAND: ■ Hotel Doolin Hotel Doolin - Ireland’s first carbon neutral hotel and our pandemic work EXCELLENCE IN ENVIRONMENT (MNC) – SPONSORED BY EPA IRELAND: ■ Aldi Ireland - Aldi’s Plastic & Packaging Pledges EXCELLENCE IN WORKPLACE (LIC) – SPONSORED BY ONE4ALL: ■ SSE Airtricity - SSE Airtricity, proud sustainability partner to Dublin Zoo EXCELLENCE IN WORKPLACE (MNC) – SPONSORED BY ONE4ALL: ■ VMware - VMware Ireland’s Virtual Workplace EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL ENTERPRISE – SPONSORED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF RURAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: ■ William Fry Social Impact+ EXCELLENCE IN SME: ■ Spotlight Oral Care Zero Waste Box™ Dental Aligner Recycling Programme EXCELLENCE IN DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: ■ AIB - Mentor Her

*LIC: Large Indigenous Company | *MNC: Multinational Company

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creating an equipment lending programme for porters in Kilimanjaro and developing a health and wellbeing programme for its staff who were working from home in Ireland. SUSTAINABILITY AT HEART “Earth’s Edge has shown exactly what is possible when a business places sustainability at its heart and follows through across all aspects of its work. The results they have achieved clearly come from a genuine and enduring commitment to achieving progressive and inclusive outcomes for all,” said Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland. “For a business of seven people to have made such positive impact across three continents is truly outstanding. They have taken their community ethos to great lengths and provide a fantastic example to businesses of all sizes on how to deliver effective results through targeted actions and smart use of resources.” Chambers Ireland created the Sustainable Business Impact Awards to advance the cause of sustainability across Irish business. In 2019, the organisation placed the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) at the heart of its policymaking. As part of this work, it recently launched an SDG Toolkit for Business, which is available to download. In addition to lead sponsor BAM Ireland, the awards are supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development, EPA Ireland, One4all and Waterford Crystal. Minister Heather Humphreys introduced a new category to the awards – 'Excellence in Social Enterprise', sponsored by the Department of Rural and Community Development. Social enterprises are businesses that work primarily to improve the lives of people. Their core objective is to achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. “This new award recognises good-practice examples of collaboration between commercial businesses and social enterprises,” the minister said. “The winning project from William Fry is providing free legal and non-legal support to local social enterprises, while reinforcing the importance and value of inclusion. Meaningful collaboration between social enterprises and commercial businesses benefits everyone.”

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SBIA PARTNER PROFILE EARTH’S EDGE

Balancing Profit with Purpose for True Sustainability

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dventure travel company Earth’s Edge has made history as the first SME to win the flagship Sustainable Business Impact Award at the Sustainable Business Impact Awards 2021. Earth’s Edge was named as a finalist alongside AIB, Aldi and Boots. By winning the Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Business Impact Award, Earth’s Edge was judged to have delivered a high level of impact across all of the categories in which it was nominated. On receiving the prestigious award, Earth’s Edge founder and managing director James McManus, said: “Sustainability is at our core, ever since we started running expeditions back in 2007…but it’s a marathon rather than a sprint and we’ve been improving

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month by month and year by year. This is really the accumulation of nearly 15 years of hard work in this space.” The company also won an Excellence in Community – Volunteering Award for its ‘Explore, Experience, Evolve’ initiative and was a finalist for five other awards. The ‘Explore, Experience, Evolve’ programme provided students from a school in the inner city of Dublin with free guided activities in Ireland’s great outdoors. Its other nominations were chosen for a broad spectrum of work focused on people and the environment. This included efforts to offset carbon through tree planting; providing interest-free small business loans to a network of freelance staff in Latin America, Asia and Africa; creating an equipment

James McManus, Founder and Managing Director of Earth’s Edge, this year’s overall winner at the Sustainable Business Impact Awards, encourages every business to build in sustainability.

lending programme for porters in Kilimanjaro and developing a health and wellbeing programme for its staff who were working from home in Ireland. EARLY ADVENTURES McManus grew up in Co Tipperary with a love of the outdoors from an early age. Since his first job in the adventure industry, as a kayak instructor, aged 16, he went on to explore 50 countries and worked as a guide in Zambia, Uganda, Wales, India, California before starting the company in 2007. From the early days, running tailormade trips in the Indian Himalayas,

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SBIA PARTNER PROFILE EARTH’S EDGE

specialising in trekking and multiday rafting expeditions, Earth’s Edge has expanded its offering. Since the company’s first Kilimanjaro trek in 2011, they have added another seven summits to their offering, including Aconcagua, South America’s highest peak (which McManus is looking forward to summiting on his first expedition since the pandemic hit). In 2017 Earth’s Edge won its first Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Award for providing vital equipment for the porters on Kilimanjaro, after running a campaign in Ireland to collect second-hand outdoor equipment and ship it to Tanzania. In 2018, Earth’s Edge was awarded for its staff volunteering programme, bringing inner city kids from Dublin to the Wicklow mountains to be in nature and participate in outdoor learning. GOOD FOR BUSINESS Despite their business being brought to a standstill during the pandemic, the team at Earth’s Edge used the time to work on achieving B Corp certification and coming up with an innovative fundraising initiative. “While we have benefitted from government supports during the pandemic, people that we work with in the developing world have nothing,” McManus explains. “Their income has completely disappeared.” An innovative fundraising idea saw Earth’s Edge promise customers that deposits taken for trips booked for any time over the next five years would go towards setting up projects including interest-free small business loans in Tanzania, conservation agriculture projects in Peru, and small-scale farms in Nepal. This not only immediately generated funds to donate to those in great need, but also provided a pipeline of future income for Earth’s Edge, with bookings which might not have been made otherwise. Discussing the feat of fundraising while having a positive impact on his own sales, McManus explains, “You don’t like to say that you’re doing good

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for your own gain—I feel uncomfortable with that—but it is a message that I am pushing very hard.” His reasoning is that business hasn’t moved fast enough on action for climate change and wealth inequality, even though society has been aware of the issues for a long time. He’s aiming to make businesses understand that sustainability can be good for their bottom line, and “put some energy into the sustainability movement in Ireland.” TO B CORP OR NOT TO B CORP One of the highlights of this year for the sustainable travel company has been achieving B Corp status. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corp Certification assesses the overall positive impact of the company through a rigorous assessment of its impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment. McManus is passionate about encouraging other businesses to undergo the process. “What’s special about B Corp is it shows you how to balance profit with purpose, to use sustainability to grow your business. And that’s the key thing,” he explains. “It’s a very simple tool to follow with a free assessment, and we think that there are many SMEs in Ireland who are probably doing enough

to be B Corps, they just aren’t measuring and communicating their impact. “Larger organisations are often fearful of being overly communicative about their sustainability efforts, as people can accuse them of greenwashing; they can use the B Corp assessment to measure their impact so they don’t get caught out.” On 10th November, McManus, along with other speakers from the Irish B Corp community, is running a sustainability masterclass in The Great Outdoors in Dublin—an event he plans to replicate in the future, to introduce other business owners and managers to the process of B Corp assessment and how sustainability can be used to drive performance. “There’s a misconception that sustainability will negatively impact output, but truly sustainable businesses balance profit with purpose—leaders with creativity and courage can use it to grow their business. That’s something that’s challenging but challenges should excite courageous and creative people.” For more info see earths-edge.com /introduction-to-bcorp/

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SBIA PARTNER PROFILE SSE AIRTRICITY

Aine Plunkett, Lead Marketing Manager, SSE Airtricity, Chloe Plunkett, Angela Conroy, Assistant Marketing Manager, Dublin Zoo

SSE Airtricity - a Sustainability Partnership That Gives in Multiple Directions As sustainability partners to Dublin Zoo, SSE Airtricity supports the conservation and sustainability efforts of the zoo, but the partnership also delivers benefits and education to its own customers.

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SE Airtricity is the proud Sustainability Partner of Dublin Zoo since 2017, delivering on SSE Airtricity’s ‘This is Generation Green’ campaign and commitment to support customers and communities in working towards a greener future. The

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partnership was awarded in the category of Excellence in Workplace (LIC), sponsored by One4all at the recent Chambers Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Awards. Over the course of the partnership, SSE Airtricity has played a role in supporting Dublin Zoo’s efforts on its sustainability journey and amplifying those efforts

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SBIA PARTNER PROFILE SSE AIRTRICITY

through significant education of visitors to the zoo. “It was important for them to be aligned with a company that was working towards a cleaner, greener future,” states Aine Plunkett, Lead Marketing Manager, SSE Airtricity. The sustainability partnership with Dublin Zoo is delivered by way of a number of initiatives, that support both the zoo’s sustainability agenda and SSE Airtricity’s objectives, while also educating the wider community on sustainable efforts and a cleaner, greener future. These initiatives include: sustainability messaging around recycling and water and energy consumption at the zoo at water refill stations, waste points and in toilets; Protect our Planet weekends; the Eco Explorers Trail and interactive Eco Explorers smartphone app with tips and educational information on deforestation, recycling, water, and conservation. A unique element of this partnership is that SSE Airtricity has been able to offer its customers rewards through the partnership, allowing them to access special offers, perks and special exclusive events at the zoo, such as a ‘Sunset Safari’ and ‘Breakfast with the Elephants’, which gave exclusive early morning access to the zoo to see the elephants being fed—special moments creating memories that last a lifetime for families. INTERACTIVE LEARNING During the pandemic SSE Airtricity worked with Dublin Zoo on how best to pivot the partnership to remain beneficial to both the zoo and wider community, amidst lockdown and restrictions. Conscious of the challenge faced by the community in home schooling, the partners created an online educational programme for primary school children, transforming the Eco Explorers Trail into a multiplatform online sustainability education programme, the Eco Explorers Club. This multi-platform series features a range of sustainability topics and was brought to life through animated videos, biodiversity-themed yoga,

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CONSCIOUS OF THE CHALLENGE FACED BY THE COMMUNITY IN HOME SCHOOLING, WE USED OUR EXISTING PARTNERSHIP AND OUR EXPERIENCE IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY TO CREATE AN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN. Draw with Don art classes with Don Conroy and conservation talks by zoo keepers. Lessons are delivered across the areas of biodiversity, sustainability, pollution and energy and what started as a 10-week programme has continued well beyond with fresh content and new lessons introduced and even more exciting plans in development. Growing from a real and tangible community need, the Eco Explorers Club has firmly established itself as an important sustainability programme in supporting the next generations. More recently, Plunkett notes the launch of ‘For Our World’ in August to educate on conservation and saving wildlife. This series of interactive and fun online learning adventures features renowned wildlife photographer Mike Brown and the animals from Dublin Zoo. Throughout the series Brown set mini challenges to get kids out exploring their local area and learning more about conservation and biodiversity. Whilst closed to the public due to the pandemic restrictions, Dublin Zoo launched a fundraising campaign to raise vital funds to help cover the cost of animal care, which alone totals €500,000 each month, as emergency

cash reserves begin to run out. Without financial support, Dublin Zoo was concerned it may have to make the difficult decision to close its gates to the public. SSE Airtricity was proud to make the first donation to the campaign of €20,000 to go some way towards helping Dublin Zoo continue its conservation and sustainability work. LOOKING FORWARD While the five-year partnership officially comes to an end in January 2022 there is an understanding that this successful partnership may continue into the future. Looking to the future of the partnership, Plunkett reveals that, “We had some great activation ideas that had to be put on hold because of Covid-19. We’re really hopeful that some of them can certainly come to light next year. “The partnership with Dublin Zoo affords us a unique opportunity to deliver on our commitment to a greener, cleaner future and also being at the core of its conservation and sustainability efforts. It’s really important to us that we’re meeting the needs for both Dublin Zoo and its visitors and that there’s a real mutual understanding and appreciation for each other.”

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

The IORP II Directive – A Catalyst for Change The IORP II Directive will be a catalyst for pensions reform and a move towards greater consolidation, says Declan Maher, Head of Corporate Pensions and Risk at Bank of Ireland Life.

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he much-heralded Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) II directive was finally transposed into Irish legislation at the end of April this year. Whilst EU countries were required to introduce this directive in January 2019, like most pension developments here in Ireland, its delayed introduction was better late than never! The directive seeks to ensure higher governance standards and risk control measures for all occupational pension schemes established under trust, so as to achieve better outcomes for pension scheme members and their beneficiaries.

CHANGE PROCESS As sponsoring employers and trustees continue to digest this new set of regulations and come to terms with the increased costs associated with them, such as the appointment of key function holders and the requirement for annual audits for all schemes irrespective of size, it remains to be seen how smaller single employer trust schemes will come to terms with such pronounced changes. Like any change process, the first

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steps for all parties impacted by this new directive, be they employers, trustees or advisors, is to understand the changes required, determine their impact, identify the measures already in place to successfully address them, and finally come to a decision on how best to go about plugging the gap. This gap analysis is critical in determining the alternative options available that are best suited for the company and its members. This is where consultation and advice is paramount. CONSOLIDATION One of the common occupational pension scheme arrangements adopted by trustees and sponsoring employers in Ireland is the single employer trust, irrespective of the number of members. Single employer trusts ranging in size from one or two members (such as executive pension and small selfadministered pension schemes), to larger schemes with employees numbering in the hundreds and thousands, have proliferated the Irish pensions market for decades. In the Irish Government’s ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform’ published in 2019, it mentioned

Declan Maher , Head of Corporate Pensions and Risk, Bank of Ireland Life

that a key challenge of pensions reform was the disproportionately high number of pension schemes in Ireland relative to other EU countries (Ireland accounting for 50% of all pension schemes under trust in the EU despite having only 1% of the population). These statements are a clear precursor to greater pension scheme consolidation, with IORP’s II now providing the catalyst for such changes. In recent conversations with many employers, the increasing cost burden and complexity of governance of a single employer trust has led many to consider the transition of their pension benefits to a Master Trust. This option pools multiple individual ‘participating employers’ under a single umbrella trust, reducing governance costs whilst maintaining compliance with the new legislative changes. In coupling this solution with enhanced digital pension platforms to improve member experience and reduce administration burdens, it will only be a matter of time before greater consolidation towards Master Trusts take effect as has been evidenced in the UK market over the past ten years.

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

The Jack & Jill Foundation County Champion appeal Cathal O’Reilly of Rooftop Twenty Two digital marketing agency explains how businesses of any size can support families in their county to provide at-home nursing care to seriously ill children.

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very year the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation must raise over €4m to keep its services going, to provide care at home for children from birth to six years of age with severe neurodevelopmental delays. Over the past year the Covid-19 crisis has made fundraising more difficult for all charities. As the economy opens up again, the foundation is appealing to business owners to get behind local families and become a County Champion, sponsoring a family in their county. With a donation from as little as €900—equivalent to 50 hours of home nursing care—your business can make a real difference. One such business is Rooftop Twenty Two, a full-service website design and digital marketing agency, set up in January 2020 by Cathal O’Reilly, to help clients succeed online with custom-built websites and tailormade digital packages. A GROWING BUSINESS Despite launching a business at the start of the pandemic, O’Reilly says, “We’ve grown month by month since we began and we’re currently hiring for our sixth team member. We’ve been fortunate that it’s hit the ground running and there’s demand at the moment for digital services.” It quickly became Shopify partners to assist its clients with moving retail businesses online.

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Cathal O’Reilly, Founder & Director, Rooftop Twenty Two

After coming across the Jack & Jill Foundation through Business Network International (BNI), the arrival of O’Reilly’s own first child around the same time as launching his own business prompted him to get involved as a County Champion for the foundation. “It was a natural fit for us to come on board. I think it hits home to a lot of people, and it really struck a chord.”

CLOSE PARTNERSHIP There are currently 396 children across the country being supported by the foundation’s army of 700 nurses and carers. With over 100,000 hours of home care visits funded every year, exhausted parents get an opportunity to do things that most of us take for granted, from the weekly grocery shop, to simply catching up on muchneeded sleep allowing them to keep their child in the home and at the heart of the family. Business supporters and County Champions receive a personalised framed certificate, a personalised badge for social media and electronic Easter/Christmas cards to send to clients. Along with this supporters can be included in Jack & Jill promotional opportunities, social media posts and have a presence on the Jack & Jill website. “From the moment that we signed up there was huge appreciation from the foundation. We’ve kept that communication going, and we have plans to do more fundraising with them in future. Small businesses can certainly get involved and feel as if they’re contributing. I’m sure we’re small compared to other companies that have contributed but we certainly don’t feel that way—we feel the love from the Jack & Jill Foundation and we’re delighted to be on board.” For more information see www.jackandjill.ie

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

Virgin Media Business: Your Dedicated Technology Partner Virgin Media Business is helping Irish businesses thrive as their dedicated technology partner, making sure they are ready for the future.

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rish businesses were quick to adapt when last year’s first lockdown came into place and, since then, have been using this time to focus on how best to approach and implement a full digital transformation, to make sure they’re ready for the future. With the recent launch of its new secure software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, Virgin Media

Business is enabling more and more of these businesses to progress on this journey, as their dedicated technology partner. The new solution helps businesses of all sizes to secure and optimise their data, empower productivity amongst their workforce and improve overall customer experience, all thanks to the power of the cloud. The

THE MOVE TO THE CLOUD ALLOWS SMES TO ACCESS APPLICATIONS AND SOLUTIONS THAT ENABLE THEM TO BE AGILE AND GROW AT SCALE

new cloud-ready service has been designed to support next-generation networking and comes with optimisation tools that will enable large organisations to access cloud data, applications, and softwareas-a-service (SaaS)-based offerings such as Office 365 from multiple branch sites. As a software-based solution, SD-WAN allows customers to rapidly scale and alter their networks in line with their needs. SD-WAN builds on existing WAN and VPN technologies and can be used to connect enterprise networks – including multiple dispersed sites and data centres – with more open and flexible hardware than traditional WAN solutions. The network is instead controlled using cloud-native software. With this new solution, you’re also guaranteed cutting-edge security with safe, reliable access to your apps and services along with intelligent prioritisation of current and future applications.

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

WE’RE ABLE TO OFFER A FULLY MANAGED PACKAGE THAT DELIVERS THE BEST IN SOFTWARE AND NETWORK SUPPORT. YOU’LL ALSO GET 30 YEARS OF NETWORK EXPERIENCE AND SUPERFAST CONNECTIVITY. INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS The importance of cloud-based solutions has become more prevalent than ever. The Central Statistics Office’s ‘Survey on E-Commerce and ICT 2020’ reveals that 51% of enterprises in Ireland purchased at least one type of cloud computing service in the first half of 2020, up from 45% in 2018*. This increase in demand for ICT support that utilises the power of the cloud reinforces the need for innovative solutions. Emer Kelly, Head of Sales and Marketing at Virgin Media Business, believes it is now offering a next-generation networking and security solution to Irish enterprises to help them fully embrace the services available to their businesses via the cloud. “SMEs are relying heavily on cloud-based solutions to help them adapt quickly and effectively to ever-changing demands. Cloudbased solutions allow businesses the flexibility to locate their operations anywhere and scale up and down as required. The move to the cloud allows SMEs to access applications and solutions that enable them to be agile and grow at scale,” said Kelly. “With our newest SD-WAN solution, we’re able to offer a fully managed package that delivers the best in software and network support. You’ll also get 30 years of network experience and superfast connectivity, now available in speeds up to 1Gb to all Virgin Media Business customers, ensuring your business is in the best possible position for its digital transformation, all on our fast, reliable and secure network. As part of the SD-WAN journey, we will manage every step of the migration, from planning to delivery of service and we are right beside you every step of the way.”

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your cloud-based applications responsive to your increasing business demands. When it comes to securing and maintaining the stability of your network, Virgin Media Business also offers a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) Protection Service which stops DDoS attacks against your business and ensures that services remain available to you and your customers. When the protection is activated, the system constantly analyses the data stream for anomalies. If an attack is detected, the data stream is diverted by our threat management system. This ensures that businesses can keep malicious traffic out while letting clean legitimate business traffic in. Becoming a Virgin Media Business Enterprise customer means you have 24/7 support for, not only the DDoS protection service, but also the underlying internet service we provide for you. Emer Kelly, Head of Sales and Marketing, Virgin Media Busines ADDITIONAL SUPPORTS Virgin Media Business has several additional products available to help support SMEs on their digital journey, offering them the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they need. These include Cloud IX, which gives direct connectivity to all the major cloud providers at four different locations, ensuring a secure and congestion-free connection with your chosen cloud provider including AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Cloud IX provides low latency, highly available connections that enable you to reliably transfer data between your on-premises and Virtual Private Network Cloud networks. Combined with the speed and reliability of our network, it keeps

“It’s more important than ever that businesses implement the correct technology into their communications and connectivity infrastructure, so they’re not left behind. Businesses right across the country need to be able to keep up with the ever-evolving demand requirements of their customers to help ensure they stay both competitive and relevant in today’s hyper-connected world.” world,” notes Kelly. “Virgin Media Business is ready to become your trusted technology partner to help keep you and your business at the cuttingedge of cloud-based solutions that protect and progress your business into the future.” To learn more about Virgin Media Business’s SD-WAN, Cloud IX and Anti-DDoS solutions, you can visit www. virginmedia.ie/business.

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Going green makes business sense. With the right advice, offsetting your carbon footprint by planting trees can be simple, and cost effective.

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We will calculate your carbon footprint, by assessing energy use, travel, data storage and other actions that determine emissions. We will provide a data report so that you can understand where the key emissions are coming from. We will provide an offsetting plan through tree planting, and share information with you, for your staff, clients and consumers, including tree varieties and the GPS location of your trees, so that you can monitor your effort for years to come.

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“We’re delighted to be offsetting our carbon, but we also love the idea that we’re having a social impact – and are supporting rural communities in Africa at the same time.” David Quirke, Wholesome Kitchen Why not get in touch with one of our team to find out more about how you can offset the carbon footprint of your business. Visit: selfhelpafrica.org/onemilliontrees/carbon-offset Email: info@selfhelpafrica.org Tel: 01 677 8880

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

Plant a tree, reduce your carbon Small and medium-sized companies across Ireland are being given the chance to offset their carbon footprint by planting trees in Ireland and Africa.

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elf Help Africa is inviting retailers, small manufacturers and other businesses to sequester their carbon and it doesn’t cost the earth! The organisation, which launched the One Million Trees initiative with Glenisk in 2020, is now working with businesses to calculate and reduce their carbon emissions and to offset them through tree planting. In Africa, trees that are planted in Self Help Africa’s projects also provide poor rural families and communities with a source of income and food, while also restoring degraded land and improving soil fertility. Tree planting as a means of carbon sequestration isn’t expensive. Self Help Africa calculates that each tree planted will remove approximately 25kg of carbon from the atmosphere every year. The total cost for a small business of offsetting

Kathryn Thomas

IRISH BUSINESSES HAVE ALREADY DONE A HUGE AMOUNT TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS – BY REDUCING WASTE, RECYCLING AND CHOOSING GREEN ENERGY OPTIONS. PLANTING TREES CAN ENABLE COMPANIES TO TAKE THAT FINAL STEP TOWARDS CARBON NEUTRALITY. its total carbon footprint can be as little as a few hundred euro a year. “A tree that is planted anywhere will benefit people everywhere,” says Martha Hourican, Director of Business Development at Self Help Africa. “We’re planting trees in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural communities who are least

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responsible for climate change are feeling some of its worst effects and also here at home in Ireland. “Irish businesses have already done a huge amount to reduce carbon emissions – by reducing waste, recycling and choosing green energy options. Planting trees can enable companies to

take that final step towards carbon neutrality.” The programme also allows businesses to contribute to environmental improvements here at home, as Self Help Africa will plant one native tree in Ireland for every 10 trees planted in Africa. Bigger businesses with more complex sustainability requirements can also be catered for, thanks to support from Irish-led start up Green Feet, whose easy-touse app allows corporate clients to quickly calculate their carbon usage and devise strategies to reduce their carbon emissions. Companies that participate in Self Help Africa’s initiative receive certificates and other collateral to promote the partnership, together with GPS coordinates that allow them to track where their trees have been planted in Africa and share the information with their customers and clients online. Business owner Eamonn Victory of Centra in Dunleer is offsetting the carbon footprint of his business at a cost of €50 a month, while Denise Buckley and David Quirke of Wholesome Kitchen in Mullingar planted almost 10,000 trees in Africa and Ireland in 2020 to offset the carbon footprint of their restaurant for years to come. To find out more, visit selfhelpafrica.org/ onemilliontrees/carbon-offset or call (01) 6778880

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

Framework of Qualifications. The Level 5 programme can be completed over 3 months with the Level 6 typically taking 4-8 months. These programmes are delivered under the umbrella of the Skills to Advance initiative, which provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in jobs undergoing change and to those currently employed in vulnerable sectors.

Pictured at the Glenroyal Hotel, Kildare: Barbara Robinson, HR Director; Ted Robinson, General Manager; Ramute Kairiene, Front Office Manager; Natasha Pavlin, Spa Supervisor; Pablo Bernardo, Head Chef; Kasia Rampold, Café Manager

Upskilling the Hospitality and Tourism Sector Two new national upskilling programmes aimed at hospitality and tourism employees are supporting the reopening and growth of the sector.

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n February 2021, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, launched two national upskilling programmes for employees in the hospitality and tourism sector, which were developed by SOLAS and the ETBs in consultation with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Fáilte Ireland and the Regional Skills Fora. According to the IHF, tourism accounts for €8.75bn in annual spending in the economy. The sector was severely impacted by the pandemic, with many hotels and tourism providers losing staff to other sectors and finding it hard

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to recruit since they re-opened. To boost the retention and career progression of key staff, the two new Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism programmes provide highly subsidised upskilling, delivering critical team leadership and supervisory management skills to support business recovery and growth. ACCREDITED QUALIFICATIONS Programmes are accredited by City & Guilds or QQI and provide clear pathways for employees to develop future careers in hospitality and tourism. Qualifications are available at Levels 5 and 6 on the National

SUPPORTING THE SECTOR Since February, over 100 hotels and tourism employers expressed interest in upskilling their staff to support re-opening of the sector. Investing in people and their career development is a vital element in retaining talent and in attracting talent, which are critical factors in rebuilding the industry. The training provided by the ETBs is flexible to meet the needs of both employers and employees. Many who started the programme in February paused their training during the busy summer months and will resume it now as the hospitality shoulder season approaches. Speaking of the benefits of the Developing Leaders programme, Barbara Robinson, HR Director with the Glenroyal Hotel, Kildare, said: “The development of our leaders is crucial in how engaged our team members are in their roles and how satisfied our customers are in the service we provide. This programme develops skills in employee engagement, customer service, digital capability, the green agenda and how to effectively lead a team. Our industry will continue to reap the benefits of this long after this course is completed.” The ETBs will continue to encourage more employers across the hospitality and tourism sector to avail of these programmes to upskill their staff which will positively impact their business recovery. For more information see www.skillstoadvance.ie

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

their shopping cart due to limited shipping options.

Keeping Up with the Clicks To stay ahead of the curve and maintain customer satisfaction in this fast-changing business world, it’s critical that e-tailers and retailers alike adapt to the challenge of doing business online.

FINAL TOUCHPOINT When the ‘Buy Now’ button is clicked and the sale goes through, this is not the end of the customer experience. To ensure a truly seamless end-toend process, it is essential that an e-tailer does not neglect the delivery options and experience offered to their customers. Your customer’s experience can be damaged by poor management of the last-mile delivery process, so invest to ensure that your final touchpoint with the customer is a positive one. According to Mary Quintero, business owner and DHL customer, partnering with DHL has been the most important part of her journey in establishing her business, Undercover. Since partnering with DHL Express and offering a premium delivery option, Quintero has seen her orders increase 400%, as well as an increase of 20% on the average basket value. In addition to this, Quintero credits the education and support she received from DHL as critical to her rapid international

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DHL HELPED ME GROW AS AN ENTREPRENEUR. I LEARNED ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE, E-COMMERCE BEST PRACTICES, IMPORTEXPORT PROCEDURES AND HOW TO REDUCE SHIPPING COSTS.

SUPPORTING E-COMMERCE DHL has been synonymous with e-commerce from the beginning. Whether it’s creating customerbased solutions, finding fulfilment options, supporting with website optimisation or the education we

provide to our employees as well as retailers around the steps a business can take to succeed online, DHL has been learning, adapting and innovating alongside businesses to ensure that we continue to do it better than the rest. Here in DHL Express Ireland we support our customers in keeping up with the clicks by providing unique expertise and an unrivalled global network. The importance of working with a trusted logistics partner is evidenced in the statistics; a business that offers premium shipping shows 60% faster growth. This comes as no surprise given that 50% of customers will abandon

he global phenomenon that is e-commerce has emerged from the last 18 months stronger than ever. Today, e-commerce is considered THE way to shop for nearly 2 billion people. The pandemic generated 10 years’ worth of e-commerce growth in just three months after consumers were forced online with the closure of bricks and mortar retailers. In order to remain successful in this realm it is essential that a business can keep up with the clicks and that necessitates working with the right global e-commerce partner.

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growth. “DHL helped me grow as an entrepreneur. I learned about international commerce, e-commerce best practices, importexport procedures and how to reduce shipping costs.” By working tirelessly through the pandemic and continuing to connect our customers to their customers on a global scale, DHL can help your business to keep up with clicks and keep your business flowing. For further information on how DHL can support your business please contact our e-commerce team on ie.ecommerce@dhl.com.

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Your Business Waste – Easily Sorted! A new initiative designed to take the uncertainty out of waste segregation for businesses has been launched by MyWaste, Ireland’s official guide to waste.

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his government-funded initiative provides a free and extensive suite of signage and training materials to help workforces make accurate recycling decisions. It will assist Irish businesses to achieve greater circular economy performance through increased recycling and composting rates. A waste characterisation study in 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency (report available on www.epa.ie) shows that 70% of recyclables and materials suitable for composting are currently lost through the general waste stream. Targeted materials (those suitable for recycling) accounted for only 60% of the materials in the mixed dry recycling bins, with food waste among the contaminants. The study found that by improving waste segregation practices, businesses could divert up to 350,000 tonnes of waste from the general waste stream annually. Speaking on behalf of the Regional Waste Management Planning Offices, Kevin Swift, Connacht Ulster Region Waste Office, said: “This initiative will empower small and medium-size businesses, particularly those in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing and corporate sectors, to further improve how their waste is managed. With clear language and visuals, the materials will make it easy for staff to quickly understand what waste goes in what bin. This should help to significantly increase the amount of recyclables and food waste diverted from the general bin and correctly placed in the recycling and food waste bins.” The toolkit is free to download or order from www.mywaste.ie/business/

Your Business Waste - Easily Sorted! Go to mywaste.ie/business to download a FREE toolkit designed to help you better manage your business waste. This toolkit includes posters, bin labels and a step-by-step guide to better business waste management.

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my gift to the world Together, we can continue to create a future that is fair for everyone. And make a world without poverty our legacy. For more information contact OXFAM Ireland Tel: (01) 672 7662 Email: friends@oxfamireland.org Oxfam Ireland is a member of Oxfam International, a world-wide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty. Charitable co. limited by guarantee. Reg. No. 284292, CHY5988

www.oxfamireland.org/legacy

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IB PARTNER PROFILE

Successful Credit Applications Successful applications for credit can depend on a good credit history, advises Credit Review.

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hen applying for credit, one of the most important considerations for a bank can be your credit history. This is a record of your borrowings and repayment practices. A poor track record can lead to a swift refusal by your bank. For sole traders, the banks will review the borrower’s personal credit history, and for limited companies, the banks may also look at the personal

accounts of the owners and directors. From the bank’s perspective, your personal handling of credit can be a good indicator of your likeliness to repay a business loan. In Ireland, banks are obliged to check the Central Credit Register (CCR), a national database of information on consumer and business loans for loan applications over €2,000. If you are applying for a loan, it is a good idea to check your credit history before

you apply. It can help you spot any missed payments or mistakes in your credit report. You can check out your credit history free of charge at centralcreditregister.ie. In addition to the external CCR record, your bank will take into consideration its internal records–or how you operate your business current account. Late payments, unpaid direct debits or bounced cheques can be signs of business distress, so make sure you pay your bills on time and have sufficient funds available to meet your commitments and direct debits. Keep your overdraft within its limit and in credit for at least 30 days a year. A good track record of debt repayment, and a well operated current account can help ensure successful credit applications so your business gets the credit it needs to grow and develop. And remember, if you are refused business credit by your bank, Credit Review can help. For more information on our independent appeals process, visit creditreview. ie or call 087-1217244

Credit Creditwhere whereit’s it’sdue dueduring during the theCOVID-19 COVID-19Pandemic. Pandemic. Having Having difficulty difficulty getting getting a new a new business business loanloan or restructuring or restructuring youryour existing existing debt debt withwith youryour bank? bank? Established Established by the by the Minister Minister for Finance, for Finance, Credit Credit Review Review is here is here to help. to help. TalkTalk to the to the credit credit experts experts today today on 087 on 087 1217244 1217244 or visit or visit creditreview.ie creditreview.ie

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The importance of employee recognition New research shows that employees would like to be recognised for their efforts at work, particularly in light of Covid-19.

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esearch conducted by Blackhawk Network has shed interesting insights into employee perception of rewarding. Of 2,000 respondents surveyed, 37% of employees say they are not rewarded or recognised at work while 24% of employees believe it has become harder to earn recognition or a reward since the pandemic started. 45% of employees would most like to be rewarded and recognised for the ongoing effort they put in at work. With remote

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working, it can be difficult for senior leaders to be aware of the great work that has continued across a business. “Working to a hybrid or remote working model, it can be harder to know who has delivered or exceeded on their KPIs. Regularly checking in with line managers can give visibility of employees who have contributed consistently across what has been a difficult year,” said Terry Spence, Director of Sales, B2B for One4all. 92% of respondents say it’s important that an employee benefit has a positive impact on financial wellbeing, while 40% of employees identified a ‘prepaid card that offers rewards for everyday spending’ as one of the top three benefits that would be most valuable to them. This increased to 48% of people aged 46 and over.

A cash bonus is always popular with employees, however cash isn’t always the most practical solution for an employer. Cash bonuses cost employers more in tax and additional admin and time for payroll. They’re also easily forgotten by employees once spent. “Under the Revenue Commissioner’s Small Benefit Exemption scheme, employers can give up to €500 in a once-off payment per employee per annum in One4all Gift Cards free of any tax, PRSI and USC charge, which presents a real opportunity to reward employees with a heartfelt thank you after a tough year,” said Spence. June 2021: Research commissioned by Blackhawk Network and conducted by Sapio, research of 2,000 survey respondents.

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INNOVATION

Are you back in the office with its cacophony of laptop taps, desk-side Zoom meetings and small talk, or still home with children, pets, televisions blaring and Baby Shark on repeat? Regulate your soundscape ... and make it personal.

SOUND INVESTMENTS Beats Studio Buds are super comfortable – small but secure and well designed, suitable for exercise/manic sprints to catch the train (even without over-ear hooks). The audio quality is great, ditto the active noise cancelling capability and, perhaps most importantly, the price – they’re far more affordable than many rivals with similar specs. Sleek charging case, too. Beats Studio Buds, €149.99 www.apple.ie

This

Mr Porter minimalist

The Chipolo, made from recycled fishing nets, emits a 120db loud sound that help you find your keys, phones and other valuables. What’s more, the battery life lasts up to two years and is easily replaceable. An affordably priced device that could come in very, very handy. Chipol One Bluetooth Key Finder, £29, amazon.co.uk

‘Transparent Speaker’ is engineered to work seamlessly with existing virtual assistants and setups. Built for crisp, balanced, full-bodied sound, it’s made from black aluminium and tempered glass and streams with both Bluetooth and True Wireless - the label’s feature that allows you to use two speakers simultaneously. Mr Porter, €450. mrporter.com

The Bang & Olufsen H95 headphones sound as impressive as they look, and are refreshingly easy to control: a wheel on the right controls the volume, while the one on the left drowns out the world with state-of-the-art ANC tech. They even last up to 38 hours with the function turned on, and 50 without it. The H95 is a truly premium offering; luxurious, super comfortable (the earcups are covered in soft top grain lambskin) and, above all, they deliver crisp, top-tier sound. Bang & Olufsen H95 headphones, €800. www.brownthomas.com

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INNOVATION

The way we watch movies has changed. Hollywood studios were forced into rethinking their release schedules due to the pandemic, and nowadays a big-budget movie is just as likely to debut on a streaming service as on a cinema screen. That means you need to improve your home entertainment setup and enjoy films just as the director intended you to (while scrolling on your phone, pausing every 15 minutes to find out where you know that actor from). To that end, the next generation model of Sonos’s Beam home cinema speaker will give you panoramic sound (with Dolby Atmos 3D effect) in a sleek and understated package. It’s all been fine-tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers, and the dedicated app will help you personalise the machine to your tastes (as well as hook up to other Sonos devices and play music).

Did people used to talk this loud, prelockdown? Wait, did someone just turn on the radio? Is it driving you over the edge? Time to plug in a pair of QuietComfort earbuds, which are designed with top-of-the-range noise cancelling tech that helps you turn the volume down on the outside world. The sound quality is great, too, and they’re some of the snuggest earphones we’ve ever used. Bose Quietcomfort Earbud, £249

Sonos Beam (Gen 2), £449 Sonos.com

Up there with the very best affordable projectors on the market, Philips’ Prime 2 produces vivid colours that scale up to 200 cm from less than 2 metres from the wall. The surprisingly low power consumption is eco-friendly, too, which means the machine can last up to 20 years. There’s also Wi-Fi screen sharing and an OS system loaded with streaming apps.

The one downside of playing electric guitar is that it’s not particularly neighbour- or flatmate-friendly. Fender’s new pocket-sized amp, the Fender Mustang Micro, is an extremely elegant solution though: you plug it straight into your guitar, plug in your headphones and play through one of 12 different Mustang amp sounds and with 12 in-built effects. It’s super-light, and it’s got a USB interface for recording straight into your laptop too. Extremely handy. Fender Mustang Micro, €99.95, waltons.com

Philips NeoPix Prime 2 Home Projector, €239.99 did.ie

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BOOK EXTRACT

CAN’TCAN’T Confidence oozes from people who have it – and the same is true of teams, firms, schools – even whole countries. It can make us richer, healthier, longer-living, smarter, kinder, happier, more motivated and more innovative. It buys us status and influence. If we have it, it can empower us to reach heights we never thought possible. But if we don’t, it can have a devastating effect on our future. In his groundbreaking book, How Confidence Works, clinical psychologist and neuroscientist Ian Roberston explores confidence and shows how it is grounded in neuroscience and scientifically-based psychology. He explains how confidence has drug-like actions in the brain. And like many drugs, how it can boost our performance up to a point – but then tip over into an overconfidence that steamrollers other people and wreaks havoc. Two of the biggest determinants of confidence are social class and gender. They involve stereotypes that burrow into the brains of both perpetrators and victims. While the main drag on female confidence is male sabotage, women on average tend to be less confident because their more accurate self-assessments and modesty undercut the confident swagger and so deprive them of this precious resource. Probing the science and neuroscience behind confidence that has emerged over the past decade, Robertson explains how confidence plays out in our minds, our brains and our bodies. He reveals where it comes from and how it spreads - with extraordinary economic and political consequences. And why it’s not necessarily something we are born with, but something that can be learned.

So, let’s call outcome expectations ‘can happen beliefs’, and efficacy expectations ‘can do beliefs’. That yields four different types of confidence, each with a different thought, emotion and brain activity pattern: 1 can’t do/can’t happen; 2 can do/can’t happen; 3 can’t do/can happen; and 4 can do/can happen.

1 Can’t do/ Can’t happen This first state of mind leads to a chasm of paralysis. Let’s say your doctor tells you that you need to exercise because your blood tests reveal you’re pre-diabetic. As your mind wanders to images of taking exercise, it fogs over with thoughts of discomfort and effort that make you think, No, I just can’t. Then you remember that your mother had diabetes and you think, What’s the point of taking exercise? It won’t stop the disease. As your mind skids away from the doctor’s words, can’t happen is the conclusion it reaches. In this state, your mind disengages and your body slumps in resignation. There is little to be anxious or depressed about because there is nothing to be done. What’s left in your brain is apathy and a ramping-down of your motivation in a part of the cortex called the anterior cingulate, Oxford University researchers showed in 2015. There is no bridge across that chasm.

Ian Robertson is Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute (Trinity College Dublin and University of California at San Francisco) and T Boone Pickens Distinguished Professor at the Centre for BrainHealth at University of Texas at Dallas. A trained clinical psychologist as well as a neuroscientist, he is internationally renowned for his research on neuropsychology. He has written five books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles and comment pieces in national newspapers. He has appeared on BBC Radio and featured in several major television documentaries. He is a regular speaker at futurology and business conferences in Europe, the US and Asia.

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BOOK EXTRACT

T CAN’T CAN 3 Can do/ Can’t happen

2 Can’t do/ Can happen In this scenario you believe the doctor’s words. Yep, she’s right, you think, only for your mind to swirl with self-doubt. It skips back to your desultory attempts at exercise in the past, when you gave up in sweaty discomfort after a few minutes. You recall all the times you planned to don a tracksuit and go jogging, only to slump back into the armchair at the last minute. I can’t, you conclude bleakly. You don’t have the comfort of the fatalistic outlook that there is nothing to be done – you believe the doctor. But that means you feel anxious. Your shoulders hunch and shame washes over you because even though you know that exercise would work, you won’t do it. You don’t think you can. And so your mood sinks, taking with it your opinion of yourself. Your brain’s self-appraisal system in the middle of the frontal lobes whirls with thoughts of failure and selfdoubt, Stanford University researchers discovered in 2002. There is only half a bridge here – not enough to cross the chasm.

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Here, you’re prepared to do the exercise and anything else the doctor recommends. All the same, you’re hit by diabetes, and it will keep getting worse. It’s not fair – you know you can do what she advises, but you just don’t believe that it will work. The same thing happened at school – they told you that if you studied hard and passed your exams, you’d get a good job. You did what they said because you believed them, but the decent job never materialized. It left you with little trust in what experts tell you about the world. In this halfbridge version of confidence, you feel frustrated, aggrieved, angry and anxious. In its primed-for-action state, your brain’s reward network signals pain, New York University researchers showed in 2015. Despite believing that you could follow the doctor’s advice about exercise, you just don’t think it will help with the diabetes.

4 Can do/ Can happen You get straight back home from the doctor, put your tracksuit on, and the exercise regime begins. You can do it for sure. You checked a reputable medical website and saw how important exercise is for managing diabetes, so you think, Yep, that’ll work. In this state, your mind is engaged, your body is prepared, and there’s an expectation of success. Your brain anticipates reward with a surge of dopamine activity, University of Michigan investigators showed in 2015. It lifts your mood and quells the anxiety you felt after hearing the doctor’s bad news. There is a solid, two-strand bridge across the chasm, and you’re crossing it.

How Confidence Works, by Ian Robertson, is published by Bantam Press and is €16.99.

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LIFESTYLE: books

InBUSINESS looks at the latest books offering insights for executives, budding entrepreneurs and other professionals seeking to acquire business skills and knowledge.

YOUR QUARANTINE COMPANION

Keep Calm and Trust the Science An Extraordinary Year in the Life of an Immunologist

THE ELEMENTS OF CHOICE Why the way we decide matters

A leader in decision-making research reveals how choices are designed—and why it’s so important to understand their inner workings. Every time we make a choice, our minds go through an elaborate process most of us never even notice. We’re influenced by subtle aspects of the way the choice is presented that often make the difference between a good decision and a bad one. How do we overcome the common faults in our decision-making and enable better choices in any situation? The answer lies in more conscious and intentional decision design. Going well beyond the familiar concepts of nudges and defaults, The Elements of Choice offers a comprehensive, systematic guide to creating effective choice architectures, the environments in which we make decisions. The designers of decisions need to consider all the elements involved in presenting a choice: how many options to offer, how to present those options, how to account for our natural cognitive shortcuts, and much more. These levers are unappreciated and we’re often unaware of just how much they influence our reasoning every day. Eric J. Johnson is the lead researcher behind some of the most well-known and cited research on decision-making. He draws on his original studies and extensive work in business and public policy and synthesises the latest research in the field to reveal

AUTHORS: ERIC J. JOHNSON PUBLISHER: Penguin PRICE: €24.25 KINDLE EDITION €10.69

Take a front-row seat with Professor Luke O’Neill on a high-octane year. O’Neill has become one of the most well-known and trusted voices of Ireland’s Covid-19 pandemic. A world-renowned immunologist, he was thrust into the spotlight as we struggled to make sense of a crisis that saw the country grind to a halt. In these compelling diaries, O’Neill reveals what life was like behind the scenes as he endeavoured to keep calm and trust that the science would save us. Set against a national backdrop of banana-bread baking, TikTok dancing and outdoor bingo, as well as the devastation to life and livelihood suffered by many, these lockdown diaries reveal the highs and lows of work at the cutting edge of science in his Trinity College lab along with how he coped personally with the pressures of public life. Shot through with the natural positivity and humour that have made O’Neill a home-grown hero, Keep Calm and Trust the Science is an unputdownable account of one of the most dramatic years in Irish history from one of its key players.

how the structure of choices affects outcomes. We are all choice architects, for ourselves and for others. Whether you’re helping students choose the right school, or deciding how to invest for your own retirement, this book provides the tools you need to guide anyone to the decision that’s right for them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Eric J. Johnson is the Norman Eig Professor of Business and the Director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School. He has been the President of both the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and the Society for Neuroeconomics. He lives in New York City.

AUTHOR: Prof Luke O’Neill PUBLISHER: Gill Books HARDCOVER €17.67 KINDLE EDITION €15.25 Also available on Audible

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HOW WE GIVE NOW A philanthropic guide for the rest of us

AUTHOR: Lucy Bernholz PUBLISHER: Penguin AVAILABLE: easons.com HARDCOVER €25.97 KINDLE EDITION €22.41 Also available on Audible

From Go Fund Me to philanthropy: the everyday ways that we can give our money, our time, and even our data to help our communities and seek justice. In How We Give Now, Lucy Bernholz shows that philanthropy is more than writing a cheque and claiming a tax deduction. For most of us – the non-wealthy givers – philanthropy can be a way of living our values and fully participating in society. We give in all kinds of ways – shopping at certain businesses, canvassing for candidates, donating money, and making conscious choices with our retirement funds. We give our cash, our time, and even our data to make the world a better place. Bernholz takes readers on a tour of the often-overlooked worlds of participatory philanthropy, learning from a diverse group of 40 resourceful givers. Donating our digitised personal data is an emerging form of philanthropy, and Bernholz describes safe, equitable, and effective ways of doing so – giving genetic data for medical research through a nonprofit genetics organisation rather than a commercial one, for example, or contributing photographs to an online archive like the Densho Digital Repository, which documents America’s internment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent. Bernholz tells us to “follow the money,” however, when we’re asked to “add a dollar” to our total at the cash register, or when we buy a charity-branded product; it’s more effective to give directly than to give while shopping. Giving is a form of participation. Philanthropy by the rest of us – across geographies and cultural traditions – begins with and builds on active commitment to our communities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bernholz is a Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab. She writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, and policy on her award winning blog, philanthropy2173.com. She studied history and has a B.A. from Yale University, where she played field hockey and captained the lacrosse team, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

UNRAVELED: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A GARMENT Longlisted for the FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, Unraveled is a groundbreaking chronicle of the birth – and death – of a pair of jeans, that exposes the fractures in our global supply chains, and our relationships to each other, ourselves, and the planet. Maybe you bought them on Amazon or the Gap; maybe the tag says “Made in Bangladesh” or “Made in Sri Lanka.” But do you know where they really came from, how many thousands of miles they crossed, or the number of hands who picked, spun, wove, dyed, packaged, shipped, and sold them to get to you? The fashion industry operates with radical opacity, and it’s only getting worse to disguise countless environmental and labor abuses. We keep buying more while thinking less about its real cost.

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AUTHOR: MAXINE BÉDAT PUBLISHER: PORTFOLIO HARDCOVER €20.26 Also available on Audible

Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature ‘In Irish there are so many great rain words and magic words and highly specific natural words (such as the material put on the hooves of donkeys to stop them slipping in ice), or words to communicate with animals, or evocative plant words, or the gorgeous words for different amounts of light in the sky, or words that hint at different ways of seeing colour, or twilight words …’

Manchán Magan is fascinated by words, particularly Irish words, with all of their complex meanings and associations and their connections to the natural world. Having enjoyed huge success with his bestselling book Thirty-Two Words for Field, Manchán now brings his infectious wonder and enthusiasm for the Irish language to a younger audience, offering delightful translations and explanations of animal, bird, fish, insect and nature words. When you see the world through Irish, you see the world differently. Get ready to share the magic with this delightful book for readers of all ages. AUTHOR: Manchán Magan ILLUSTRATOR: Steve Doogan PUBLISHER: Gill Books HARDCOVER €17.67 KINDLE EDITION €15.25 Also available on Audible

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EAR TO THE Could you tell us about The Other Hand and why you created this podcast? Chris Johns and I have been friends and colleagues for over 20 years and talk most days about economics and politics. In the midst of lockdown, Chris and I decided it might be worth recording our conversations as podcasts for a bit of fun, but also to see if there is an appetite out there for economic and political commentary. We do it because we enjoy it, but we are also surprised by the appetite for this type of independent dialogue.

InBUSINESS SPOKE WITH ECONOMIST JIM POWER, ONE OF HOSTS OF THE OTHER HAND PODCAST, ABOUT INFORMING LISTENERS ABOUT THE WORLD OF POLITICS AND FINANCE, SHARING THEIR INSIGHTS IN THE LATEST ECOMOMIC DEVELOPMENTS.

What is the message/goal of the The Other Hand podcast? The goal is really to help inform listeners about what is going on in the world of economics, finance and politics in a real-time way. We offer our views, we discuss topics in a very conversational manner and we challenge our views in a robust fashion. We inform ourselves and we inform anybody who chooses to listen.

The Other Hand podcast gives your listeners a user-friendly insight into subjects surrounding economics. Why do you think it is important to keep up to date with the latest the latest economic and political news? The world of economics and politics has a significant influence on the lives we all lead. We believe it is important for ourselves to stay well informed, and in the process help others become informed. We are not arrogant or dogmatic and we believe that everybody should be free to make up their own minds at the end of the day, but we enjoy trying to contribute. Your co-host, Chris Johns and you can have different opinions on subjects within your episodes. Why do you think these two different views merge well together within the podcast? Chris and I get on very well, but we have always liked to challenge each other. We have contrasting styles and accents. The approach is friendly, conversational and aims to inform. We do not profess to know everything and are not afraid to admit it. What are the ingredients that make a great podcast? I think clarity of communication, interesting topics, and not being overly technical or arrogant are vital ingredients. Always try to be relevant.

The Other Hand podcast is available to download online at cjpeconomics. substack.com

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What can we expect from The Other Hand in the future? We will seek to widen the topics of conversation and invite more outside guests. We are producing lots of written material on the Substack account and create a high quality news offering to fill a gap in the market.

GROUND

InBUSINESS RECOMMENDS THREE PODCASTS TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS QUARTER.

MADE IN IRELAND

WE’RE NOT F***ING HISTORIANS Comedian Shane Todd and YouTuber Hazel Hayes’ new podcast provides an alternative guide to Irish history. From the Bronze Age to Bono, Paganism to St. Patrick, Ireland has a proud and storied past.

NOT TO BE MISSED

THE HIGH PERFORMANCE Sports broadcaster Jake Humphrey and leading organisational psychologist Damian Hughes bring you a glimpse into the lives of high-achieving, world-class performers.

THE BUSINESS PICK

THE SMART 7: IRELAND EDITION Host Ciara Revins serves the latest from around the world — from politics and sports to entertainment and current affairs, it’s seven stories, in seven minutes, every morning at 7am.

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