Research hub can empower ambitious export firms

Research hub can empower ambitious export firms

 

The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors in the market are doing, in order to succeed. Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive. While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.  

 

Market Research Centre

 

That is one reason Enterprise Ireland’s market research centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to companies we support. The service is also available across our regional office network. Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as GartnerFrost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable. Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense. Startup companies are particularly extensive users of our market research; we provide them with specialist information that they would otherwise be unable to afford to access.  

 

Using market intelligence to enter new markets

 

The market research centre is staffed by eight information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. Specialists can track down very specific market intelligence that is not available through simple internet research. The centre can also facilitate access to industry analysts who provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas. The opportunity to enter new export markets is one every ambitious Irish company must consider. While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.  

 

Using insights to make an impact

 

A recent example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is Naas-based Irish Dog Foods. In the past two years, the company has targeted Portugal, Germany, Korea and Spain, availing of the centre to develop a picture of each country. Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing answers to questions, such as the percentage of dog-owning households in the market and the volume of consumption of dog food. Enterprise Ireland’s research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead.  

 

Growing your business post Brexit

 

The UK vote to leave the EU raises important issues concerning Ireland’s trading relationship with Britain. The research centre provides information to impacted companies, especially those with high exposure, helping them to consolidate or grow their business in the UK and consider options for diversification, particularly to the eurozone. Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy. If your company is considering breaking into new markets, struggling with Brexit or dealing with thorny strategic issues, the research centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

Conor Fahy manages Enterprise Ireland’s market research centre, sales and marketing unit and high-growth markets. This article originally appeared in the Sunday Independent.

Get in touch with the Market Research Centre to accelerate your exports plans through market intelligence. 

Brexit: It’s a personnel issue

Brexit: It’s a personnel issue

 

European Union nationals have contributed a lot to the UK workforce. Popular culture celebrates the “Polish plumber” but EU citizens have also been important to sectors from high finance to healthcare and fruit-picking.

 

Statistics circulated by the City of London earlier this year showed that 12% of City workers in high-value jobs were from European Economic Area countries. Fruit and vegetable producers rely heavily on workers from EU countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.

 

With the demise of EU membership, and the free movement of workers, maintaining such staff can be achieved by an application under the mandatory EU Settlement Scheme. Otherwise, the worker will not have proof of their right to live and work in the UK. At an Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit clinic, Philip McNally of KPMG outlined the steps necessary to retain EU staff under the proposed scheme.

 

The UK government has published a video explainer on how the EU settlement scheme works which is available to view here

 

 

Free movement before and after Brexit

 

Under the current state of EU-UK negotiations, free movement of people continues until 31st December 2020. However, if there is no final agreement and Britain leaves without a deal, free movement could end on that date.

 

In preparing for Brexit, McNally stressed the need to have all paperwork completed and filed, and for workers to have all the documentation to prove their length of stay and employment in UK territory. “And if an application [under the EU Scheme] has not been made, a person will not have proof of their right to work and remain in the UK,” he warned the Brexit Clinic held in Dundalk.

 

The right to remain and work post Brexit

 

There are currently around 3.8 million EU nationals living in the UK. EU nationals will need to lodge their application to remain. This will allow EU nationals (who qualify) the right to remain and work in the UK after 31st December 2020. “The scheme has been trialled in a number of NHS trusts and universities,” McNally said. However, although the aim was for 4,000 responses, slightly over 1000 people actually lodged their applications, which he saw as a warning sign.

 

“If you look at a similar situation in the United States, there was the DACA legislation [which allowed undocumented child immigrants to remain], before it was cancelled. But only around two-thirds of those eligible made applications under the scheme,” he said, demonstrating that even when a measure is beneficial, individuals might not take advantage of it.

 

Employers must be proactive

 

So, employers are urged to be proactive in promoting the application process, as soon as possible. Any employer found to have EU staff without permission to remain is liable for a fine up to £20,000 per worker.

 

“You must make the assumption that workers themselves may not make the application,” McNally told the audience. Employers themselves need to be able to navigate the system, and encourage and assist their employers to complete the applications.

 

McNally explained that the freedom of movement also applies to citizens of the European Economic Area, which includes Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein as well as the EU countries.  The EU Settlement Scheme only applies to EU citizens, and the picture for the other countries is not clear yet, as their position is still under negotiation. However, any employees who have been in the UK for more than 5 years, and are either a citizen of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein may make an application for “Permanent Residence” instead.

 

The general rule is that a person who has lived and worked in the UK for five years will be granted “Settled Status” which is essentially a non-time limited right to remain in the UK. A person who has lived and worked in the UK for less than five years will be granted “Pre-Settled Status” which will allow them to remain in the UK until they have been in the UK for five years. Once they have been in the UK for five years, they may apply for “Settled Status”.

 

McNally warned employers about offering advice on immigration, as it is a criminal offence for anyone other than a solicitors, barristers or registered immigration advisers to provide such advice.

 

Another situation to consider is EU staff who must visit the UK regularly for work. Their situation, too, will have to be clarified by 1 January 2021.

Rules for Irish citizens

 

Irish citizens are an anomaly under the new application process: they are not required to seek the new status. McNally said, “they can apply if they wish”, but there is no onus on them to do so.

 

The British Cabinet supported a Migration Advisory Committee report which indicates the direction in which formal policy or law is developed.

McNally urged immediate action to preserve valuable EU staff.

 

“If you have only one employee who is affected, perhaps give them the correct information, as that is a low risk to you. If you have a number of employees affected, consider taking action and getting assistance in guiding your employees to make the appropriate applications as your risk is substantially higher.”

 

‘Think of it as one more administrative burden that you didn’t have to deal with before. Do what you can now,” he concluded.

 

Learn more on developing an action plan around your staff with the support of the Be Prepared Grant.