Enterprise Ireland Annual Report and Accounts 2009

Chief Executive Officer's Report (Continued)

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Building competitiveness

Building competitiveness is one of the key issues facing companies across all sectors. Irish enterprises must address many challenges if they are to increase profitability and compete successfully in international markets.

In 2009, the Enterprise Ireland Growth Fund approved funding of €14.3 million to 67 client companies. This fund helped clients to achieve greater competitiveness by investing in new equipment, implementing new processes, training staff or hiring key managers or consultants.

In 2010, a new approach to building client companies' competitiveness will be introduced with the launch of the Lean Programme. This programme, ranging from initial consultancy (Lean Start) to significant company-wide initiatives (Lean Transform), will be delivered by national and international experts and will help companies identify cost savings and process improvements across all business operations.

Developing key sectors

Food

Employing 54,000 people directly, with sales of €13.5 billion and exports of €7.02 billion, the food sector plays a major role in the growth and success of the Irish economy. As the majority of exports from this sector are to the UK, the exchange rate between the euro and sterling had a major impact in 2009 and this, along with severe price deflation in the global dairy market, resulted in a 14 per cent decrease in food sector export sales.

Enterprise Ireland works in partnership with other State agencies such as Bord Bia, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food on the development of the food sector. Large companies that can achieve economies of scale in the production of primary and value-added products will be a key future driver of growth. Enterprise Ireland is providing funding and support towards large-scale lean programmes, and innovation and management development initiatives for key sub-sectors, as well as encouraging selected consolidations designed to improve export competitiveness.

Propel Ideas into Businesses Programme Logo

The Propel Ideas into Businesses Programme, developed by Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland, helps ambitious entrepreneurs transform their innovative ideas into successful businesses that can operate globally.

"PROPEL helped me take a new business idea from concept through to proposition in a measured and structured way. It opened the door to different expertise and resources which are enabling me to grow my company to an internationally trading enterprise."

Owen Leonard
Ozonetech

Ribworld, set-up in 2003, is now in the top three producers of cooked pork ribs in Europe and employs more than 50 at its state-of-the-art processing operation in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. In 2009, the company secured a contract to supply its products to the biggest supermarket chain in Sweden.

"The weakness of sterling during 2009 made us look at our options and put more emphasis on other European markets. With the Swedish contract, we're confident our growth will continue. We hope to reach maximum capacity in the next three years. At that point, we'll expand, utilise our American approval and take a foothold in the market over there."

Bo Nielsen
Founder and Managing Director
Ribworld