Production


70 years of IDA Support – A Reflection on Ireland’s Global Trade Success

My mother, Mary Rushe, was born in 1927, the year in which the state-owned Electricity Supply Board (ESB) was established. A farmer’s daughter, she witnessed technical and economic upheaval such as rural electrification and the arrival of the motor car and farm mechanisation; bade farewell to many cousins who immigrated to the United States out of dire economic necessity; experienced rationing during the WWII years or ‘the emergency’; and left her post as a secondary school teacher, without question, when she married my father in 1955, because of the ban on married women in the civil service. The decade when the marriage ban was lifted (1973), and my mother returned to work 6 children later, the social profile and ethical belief system in Ireland had begun to change dramatically. At 92 years of age she has witnessed a level of change in all aspects of life, the scale of which generations before her could not have countenanced.

As we are an island nation on the western seaboard of Europe, it is only natural (if short sighted) that the economy, in the early years of the Irish Republic, was inward-looking, with high tariffs on imported goods, and limited export trade. Political leaders such as Sean Lemass (TD, Minister for Industry and Commerce and Taoiseach, in the years 1924 to 1969) and T K Whitaker (Secretary to the Department of Finance, Governor of the Central Bank and Senator, in the years 1956 to 1982), heralded a new era of forward-thinking economic strategy in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Since its foundation by government in 1949, the mission of IDA Ireland has been constant, that is to promote the growth and development of industry in Ireland. It has not been all plain sailing, far from it, but what a glorious success story the IDA has been in our tiny open island economy.  IDA Ireland representatives have worked hard across the world, challenging the perception of Ireland as a backward rural country, and promoting its educated workforce and business-friendly tax incentives, with the added benefit of access to the common market when Ireland secured EEC (now EU) membership in 1973.

From the mid-1970s onwards IDA Ireland focused on attracting pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturers, two sectors pinpointed as having significant growth potential in global terms. The first wave was purely components manufacturing, but later R&D and higher value work followed. By 1982, some 130 of the world’s leading electronics companies had manufacturing facilities located in Ireland. This is the Ireland into which I was born, and my adult life story has been very much moulded by the success story that is foreign direct investment in Ireland. For over 30 years I have worked as an employee and consultant with over 40 companies who are operating successfully on this island. I am only one of the 229,000 people employed in jobs in foreign industry in Ireland.

The IDA now has a network of 30 offices globally (nine in Ireland) and a total staff of 340. Year-on-year it continues to promote investment in Ireland in the face of continuing challenges, threats and opportunities, from Brexit to global tax reform and beyond. However well it does its job, neither the IDA nor any development authority, can compensate for national fiscal recklessness. Ireland is lying in 24th place in the World Economic Forum global competitiveness index, and the level of debt per capita the highest in the Euro zone, so we have no room for complacency in the current wave of economic stability. We can only be grateful to IDA policy and practice that has ably supported Ireland in weathering the post Celtic Tiger economic crisis.

Last April, The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland helped to celebrate the IDA’s 70 years in business by presenting the IDA with a Special Recognition Award. CEO Martin Shanahan received the award on behalf of the IDA. I am sure we all join with AmCham in recognising this incredible organisation for a major contribution made to transforming Ireland into an inclusive home of talent and innovation with global impact.

To view the current IDA policy and strategy, see “Winning: Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019”

https://www.idaireland.com/about-ida/winning-fdi

 

 

Acknowledgement: The author is grateful to content authors of the following sites, on whom she drew for this blog.

https://www.idaireland.com/newsroom/blog/january-2019/marking-70-years-of-ida-ireland

https://www.idaireland.com/about-ida/winning-fdi

https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-competitiveness-report-2017-2018


The Continuous Improvement Funding Menu

Time and again when visiting prospective clients, we hear the refrain “We’re too busy at the moment to start a lean programme” or, just as likely “It’s not in this year’s training budget”. These responses are true, because personnel in every dynamic company, working in a challenging marketplace, will always be busy. But this is the problem – if you have process efficiency issues, you are busier than you need to be, addressing failure demand. Failure demand is defined as work that has to be done because something that should have worked, didn’t.

The availability of funding, to invest in information systems, or boost the training budget, is a great incentive to step back from the business ‘busyness’ and re-charge your continuous improvement programme. If you are eligible, an external resource will support and coach personnel as they learn smarter and more customer friendly ways of delivering value to customers. This impacts significantly and positively on customer service and the bottom line. Check out the following funding avenues. The list is not exhaustive, and you are advised to contact your local funding body representative to discuss options and eligibility.

  1. IDA GRANTS

1.1 Research and Development (R&D): Companies can avail of financial incentives to carry out in-house R&D projects and collaborative projects with third-level institutes and industrial partners. There is also a 25% tax credit available for companies engaging in R&D.

1.2 Capital Grant: The level and availability of support is dependent on location and size of the company. This grant also covers investment in software applications.

1.3 Training Grants: Available across the country to develop the competitive capabilities of companies already located in Ireland.

1.4 Lean/Green: This is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer. This offer is aimed particularly at IDA SMEs (fewer than 200 employees)

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with the IDA. For details see www.idaireland.com/how-we-help, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local IDA representative.

 

  1. ENTERPRISE IRELAND GRANTS

2.1       High potential Start-up: The High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides hands-on support and advice to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that are considered by Enterprise Ireland to have an innovative product, service or technology, and have the potential to achieve international sales and create employment. for support and investment.

2.2 Operational Excellence Offer: This latest funding scheme is designed to aid Irish companies (both SMEs and large) looking to evolve and expand, and become more competitive in the global market. The application of the funding is broad. There are 3 categories – Capital Assets (Equipment, Software Licenses), Business Innovation (Salaries, Overheads, Consultancy, Testing, Materials, etc.) and Training (including travel & subsistence).

2.2 Lean Business Offer: Similar to the IDA programme this suite of initiatives is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland and exports abroad. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer.

2.4 Established SME funding: A variety of grants are available include Market Research and Internationalisation Supports, Supports for Product, Process or Services, Development including RD&I Funding, Supports to Enhance and Develop your Management Team, Productivity and Business Process Improvement Supports and Company Expansion Packages.

For details see www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Productivity/Lean-Business-Offer/, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Enterprise Ireland representative (https://www.localenterprise.ie/Find-Your-Local-Enterprise-Office/).

 

  1. UDARAS NA GAELTACHTA GRANTS

For companies in Gaeltacht areas, Údarás can provide a range of financial incentives in the form of grant assistance to assist varied business needs. Support incentives include:

3.1       Feasibility Study Grant

3.2       Research and Development Grant

3.3       Capital Grant

3.4       Training Grant

3.5       Consultancy Services Grant

3.6       Development of Market Research Skills

3.7       Innovation Voucher Initiative

3.8       Online Trading Scheme

3.9       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.udaras.ie/en/forbairt-fiontraiochta/cunamh-airgid/,  and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Údarás representative.

 

 

  1. LOCAL ENTERPRISE OFFICE (LEO) GRANTS

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) provide a range of financial supports designed to assist with the establishment and/or growth of enterprises (limited company, individuals/sole trader, cooperatives and partnerships) employing up to ten people.

4.1       Feasibility Study Grants

4.2       Priming Grants

4.3       Business Expansion Grants

4.4       Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters

4.5       European Globalisation Fund

4.6       New Agile Innovation Fund

4.7       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Financial-Supports/,   and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local LEO representative

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta and LEO. .

 

  1. SKILLNETS

The Skillnets network around the country has been a wonderful source of supplementary funding for lean six sigma and supply chain training and development.  These include, and are not limited to

  • BioPharmaChem Skillnet
  • CILT Skillnet
  • First Polymer Training Skillnet
  • ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet
  • Irish Medtech Skillnet
  • ITAG Skillnet
  • Lean and Green Skillnet

Please see https://www.skillnetireland.ie/all-networks/ for a complete listing of Skillnet networks.

 

6.  R&D FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES & TAX CREDITS

There is a variety of funding opportunities and structures available to companies be thesaech and process improvement training. y small or large, including:

6.1       In-Company R&D

6.2       Collaborative R&D

6.3       Start-up Company R&D

6.4       EU R&D Funding Programmes

6.5       R&D Tax Incentives. R&D Tax Credits are worth approximately €700m per annum to 1,500 companies in Ireland. The credit is calculated at 25% of qualifying expenditure and is used to reduce a company’s Corporation Tax. Revenue provides guidance here: www.revenue.ie/en/companies-and-charities/reliefs-and-exemptions/research-and-development-rd-tax-credit/index.aspx

6.6       Knowledge Development Box

6.7       Manunet is a network of development agencies whereby each agency uses its own funding programmes to support international collaborative projects performed by companies in the manufacturing sector. MANUNET supports innovation-driven, close-to-market research and development projects in manufacturing. It aims to encourage cross-border value chains that emerge from advancing technologies. Contact the IRDG at http://www.irdg.ie/funding-support/ for advice on R&D funding.

 

7.   INTERTRADE IRELAND

InterTradeIreland has been helping small businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready over the last 20 years.

7.1 Acumen sales and marketing programme

7.2 Elevate, specifically aimed at Micro-Enterprises

7.3 FUSION provides financial support to help you get the specialist skills

7.4 Seedcorn competition

7.5 Business Angel investment

For details see www. intertradeireland.com/corporate-information/about-us/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local InterTrade Ireland representative.

 

8. INVEST NI

As the regional business development agency, Invest NI’s role is to grow the economy of Northern Ireland, by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally. Some funding programmes include:

8.1 Capability development

8.2  Innovation and R&D

8.3 Start ups with export potential

For details see www.investni.com/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Invest NI representative.

 

So, the big question – “Am I eligible?” All of the funding opportunities come with terms and conditions. There’s no magic wand, and the application process can sometimes be off-putting (who likes paperwork?), however it is well worthwhile. The funding typically gives a scaled percentage of your actual investment, in redesigning your business model to increase competitiveness, and enhance your market position so you grow further in new markets. Also, there is typically a cap on the amount of funding that can be claimed from the agencies over a defined period of time. Your local representative will be able to help you out.

The above is only a sampling of funding and is not designed to be exhaustive. If you know of any other sources that may help companies, please post in the comments section below. I wish you well with your funding research and application process.

 


Measure up or pay up!

History is littered with examples of bad decisions, made on bad measurement data, and their very expensive consequences. In 1999, NASA lost the Mars Orbiter, which was designed to study the Martian climate & atmosphere. It seems the engineering team used English units of measurement, whilst NASA used the metric system. NASA took a $125 million dollar hit on the lost in space Mars Climate Orbiter.

We don’t need to travel to NASA to observe bad decisions made on the basis of poor measurement data. Decisions about process changes and parts’ conformance to specifications are based on measurements or inspection. Measurement itself is a process and like any process it has the potential for variation or error. Variation in the measurement system comes from many sources including people, materials and the environment in which the measurement is taken. Very often our measurements exhibit unacceptable variation and we don’t even know about it.

 

The risk to the organisation is twofold: firstly, a false reject, which cost the organisation money, and secondly and much more seriously a false pass, which may result in a customer complaint, and worst case a product recall and significant damage to the business. Time and again I have witnessed operators rejecting good parts, and they don’t even know it. Also, more unfortunately, I have witnessed customer complaints, when parts are returned from customers for 100% inspection (or worse, scrap!) after the customer has discovered non-compliant parts in the order.

 

How can we assess our measurement system? It’s typically a quick and easy, and very informative exercise to conduct what’s called a ‘Gauge R&R’ exercise. This formal technique assesses how likely the assessor (i.e. the person taking the measurement) is to get the same result, when using the same gauge to measure the same characteristic of the same part, repeatedly. This is known as assessing for repeatability, the first R. Gauge R&R also assesses how likely two or more assessors are to get the same result when using the same gauge to measure the same characteristic of the same part, repeatedly. This is known as assessing for reproducibility, the second R. The exercise provides a data set on the accuracy of your measurement system. Based on the data, you can decide whether or not the measurement system needs to be improved or updated.

 

If you don’t have access to Minitab or JMP, there are many cheap and cheerful Excel add-on packages that can enable you to conduct Gauge R&R exercises. The investment in regular Gauge R&R exercises on key processes measurements more than pays for itself. If you’d like advice on how to go about it, just give me a call on +353 91 870 708.

 

Bernie Rushe,

Principal Consultant, Lean Ireland.


Innovation Nation – How Ireland is rocking the Innovation vibe

The Star Trek transporter is my favourite invention of the future. What’s yours?

Long renowned for our novelists and poets, Ireland ranks high in the nations of the world in terms of literary innovation. When it comes to business and technological innovation however, we’re a little shy of world class. In 2010 Ireland ranked 22nd in World Economic Forum (WEF) innovation rankings, behind countries like Austria, Belgium, Israel, and Canada. Belgium? Nope, me neither. USA, Switzerland and Japan took the top 3 spots.

By 2017/2018 Ireland had climbed to 19th place in the WEF innovation rankings. This climb is no mean feat for a country whose most famous inventors had to immigrate to find an environment that fostered their creative talents. John Holland from Co. Clare, the 19th century engineer who invented the submarine, comes to mind. The emigration imperative is no less strong for our modern-day inventors. The Collison brothers, founders of Stripe, now reside in California. Their success is feted at home and abroad, and their innovative talents were well rewarded when they became the world’s youngest self-made billionaires.

All is not doom and gloom however and there are real signs of increasing levels of innovation being fostered here in Ireland. A quick search in IrishJobs.ie using search terms related to innovation, indicates plenty of opportunity for those with a talent for innovation. Examples for innovation-related search terms include ‘Design’ (2,347 jobs), ‘Innovation’ (628 jobs) and ‘R&D Engineer’ (269 jobs).

As yet, our patent filing and granting rate remains relatively low by comparison with world leaders leading countries. This is a key metric in relation to our innovation rankings. See here for details on how we compare with others.

There are many public institutions, private companies, professional organisations and  funding bodies who are proactively promoting innovation in Ireland. There are many events happening country-wide to promote innovation and design thinking. I will mention just three here, aimed at three difference audiences in the innovation space.

On October 11th and 12th next, the First Polymer Training Skillnet in Athlone will host a two-day workshop in Design of Experiments. This very practical workshop will introduce participants to the concepts of effective process and product design, using observation, deduction and statistical analysis. The course is suitable for design engineers and scientists, and compliments a wide range of practical design workshops run regularly by the First Polymer Training Skillnet. To view a course outline and register please click on this link.

On 23rd October 2018 the IRDG’s annual conference, will take place at Lyrate Estate, Kilkenny. Business professionals from all backgrounds are invited to attend this national event which will connect people from diverse industry sectors – all focused on growing their businesses through innovation. One of the keynote speakers, Holly O’Driscoll, Innovation Strategist and Global Design Thinking Leader with Proctor & Gamble USA, will talk about the importance of being shamelessly human-centred in all that we do, and leveraging a design thinking mindset to create conditions for innovators to thrive. To review the conference speakers and make a booking please click on this link.

And finally, don’t forget that well-loved national institution that is the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition will take place in Dublin on 9th to 12th January 2019. Now in its 55th year (and won by Pat Collison in 2005 at the age of 16), this innovation incubator surely deserves our support. Now is the time to start encouraging your offspring to get project ready for the 2020 exhibition. Take a look at the past winners here.

 

 


Lean Restaurant Management

The Gallery Cafe in Gort takes us a long way from high volume manufacturing! Sarah Harty, owner of this Co. Galway restaurant, exemplifies lean practice in many ways e.g. sourcing from local suppliers, good teamwork, innovative use of space and giving back to the community. And the proof of the pudding – a customer review score of 4.5 on Trip Advisor.  Her story is an inspiration to anyone wishing to implement lean business.

Over fifteen years ago, a young woman, Sarah Harty from County Meath, fell in love with the small town of Gort in south Galway.  In 2005, Sarah opened The Gallery Cafe, a place she soon turned into a hub for her local community. Although she didn’t have any experience in running a business, especially one dealing with catering, it didn’t stop her from following her gut and seeing it through with passion. Her initial business idea was simple – paint pictures and serve customers.

One of the first important decisions Sarah took though was finding the right location, which would ultimately lead to a great lean management structure.

The original cafe in Gort was closed down after only a few years in business due to fire regulations, so she moved up further in the town. Although this new premise was great, she learned a lot about what she didn’t want in business. Sarah realised that a larger venue and bigger staff can bring unwanted stresses that her business model ultimately didn’t need.

As luck would have it, within a few years Sarah was able to buy the original location for a great price and refurbished the entire building. This is where it gets interesting. Her basement floor is now made up of a kitchen, bathroom, and an 18-foot well which attracts many a tourist. The ground floor is where her cafe, restaurant, and art galley is located which also acts as a monthly music venue for local artists. The first floor of the building hosts yoga classes and kids meditation with Life Drawing Workshops taking place there in the winter months, and on the top floor is where Sarah now lives.

Sarah’s food is simple and seasonal. She sources everything locally from her butcher next door to her Uncle who provides berries. Even the crockery they use is sourced locally with a team bonding exercise every year with the staff making their own plates and cups together with local ceramics maker Michael Kennedy.

Instead of creating something for her community, she did her research to see what the locals wanted and then met their needs. For Sarah, a successful business is built on great staff and a happy kitchen. Gort has a significant Brazilian community. So instead of filling a kitchen with stressed chefs throwing pots and pans, stamping their feet and ponding their fists, she filled her kitchen with a bunch of happy local Brazilian ladies who bring a great energy to the place.

Although, Sarah’s initial plan was to paint pictures and serve customers, she soon realised that this wasn’t going to be a reality and that it was more beneficial for all to use the gallery as a hub to showcase 22 artists from the area every year. This again, made the community the focal point of her business.

Sarah now employs 12 full-time staff and through hard work, proper planning and practical decisions – her business is now thriving. As she simply puts it “If you support your local community, they will support you.”

See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXxmQeqDxF0&t=20s