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Enterprise Ireland Holds its 2021 International Markets Week

Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week (IMW) took place the week of October 11th-15th 2021, and was successfully kicked off by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Enterprise Ireland CEO, Leo Clancy. Altogether, the week included over 1,600 meetings between more than 700 Irish companies with over 140 Enterprise Ireland overseas market advisors. Insight was gained into the future of Irish companies in the coming years which will be fueled by growth in both sustainability and digitization.

Irish broadcaster Richard Curran sat down with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to talk through the growth potential of Irish companies at a global level, the impacts both COVID and Brexit have had on businesses, and how businesses can combat issues that have arisen as a result like increased demand for materials, rising costs, and staffing shortages.

The conversation soon centered around a major topic discussed throughout the week; sustainability. Varadkar shared that a benefit of sustainable action is less vulnerability to unpredictable price increases. With more sustainable energy options like wind and solar, Ireland will be less reliant upon gas for energy, and therefore less impacted by rising prices. Companies have known for some time that sustainability will need to be factored into their practices. However, the discussions heard at International Markets Weeks proved that sustainability has become a much higher priority for businesses as there is a greater customer demand and expectation for it than ever before. 

“I’d hope more and more that people in business will see climate action and sustainability as an economic opportunity as well. I know there are lots of businesses working in that space already,” stated the Tánaiste.

Another trend that was highlighted throughout the week was the increase in digitization as a pathway to success for businesses. Clancy even shared that digitization is a priority for 80% of businesses in the next year and reemphasized the support Enterprise Ireland is providing to help Irish companies move toward digitization. 

Irish companies have recognized these needs early on and have led the way in meeting them. Ireland’s leadership and innovation in both sustainability and digitization have led to the recovery from the pandemic for businesses and are set to be the cause of much success for them in the future. 

With the pandemic limiting travel and typical means of business, Enterprise Ireland saw numerous Irish companies turn to digitization out of necessity. However, this necessity opened up new opportunities for profit that Irish businesses may not have considered before.

Varadkar’s mention of two new government funds; one centering around sustainability and one centering around digitization with both aiming to help businesses adapt, solidified the importance of these two elements for global enterprise. Varadkar predicted a great recovery in various sectors including tourism, aviation, and the arts through the help of government funding in the next year – highlighted by survey results of the more than 700 Enterprise Ireland client companies attending IMW showing that 9 out of 10 exporters are expecting to increase sales in 2022. 

“The two signal trends of decarbonization and digitalization are creating huge global demand for innovative products and solutions that need to be met at scale” – Leo Clancy. 

Leo Clancy also discussed the recovery of Irish companies in the past year including inspiring statistics covering Ireland’s contribution to the global economy. Currently, Irish companies employ over 1.2 million people across the world and Ireland maintained pre-pandemic export levels of $25.5 billion euros throughout COVID. Performance indicators for 2021 also show that Ireland is on track to return to pre-pandemic growth rates in the coming years. Irish companies have been innovators in leading both digitization and sustainability globally with an increase of 23% in new overseas presences in 2021.

Megan Greene, Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, also spoke at the event about the specific growth potential for the US. Next, Clancy led a panel discussion on the impact COVID has had on Irish businesses. The panel included Fidelma McGuirk, Payslip CEO and Founder, Tom O’Leary, ICON CIO, and Rosy Temple, CEO Magee Clothing.

Clancy ended the broadcast by giving a direct message to Irish businesses looking to expand globally; “Listen to the experts who are these companies that have made their own success. We are just drawing on the huge breadth of experience that comes from Irish enterprise. Please come and talk to us, and we’ll help connect you with other people. We’ll help give you direct support in terms of exporting markets, but come and have a conversation and be ambitious.”

To watch the full broadcast, go to; Virtual launch of International Markets Week 2021

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