InterTradeIreland today has launched the latest phase of Acumen, its sales and marketing programme that targets SMEs. In all, €1.2m in funding will be given to qualifying SMEs across the island of Ireland to help them grow their business and target new cross-border markets.
Acumen will offer SMEs up to €18,000 in funding, to assist them in increasing their cross-border export sales, improve their knowledge of new markets and identify new business opportunities, said InterTradeIreland today.
The support options available include assistance towards employing a full-time or part-time salesperson, engaging a graduate for a 12-month sales and marketing project or funding for a market research project.
To qualify for financial support through Acumen, companies must be a local manufacturing or a tradeable service company with less than 250 employees and an annual turnover below €40.8m.
Since its inception, the programme has helped more than 350 companies across the island to generate more than €110m worth of sales, according to Margaret Hearty, director of Business Services and Programmes at InterTradeIreland.
She said that, in 2011 alone, each company participating on Acumen gleaned an average of €280,000 worth of additional sales.
"Our research shows that 49pc of businesses have been severely affected by the slump in domestic demand due to the economic downturn and that exporters are significantly outperforming those companies which are dependent on their local market," said Hearty today.
She said the cross-border market is a "valuable" opportunity for companies and one which may open up wider markets internationally.
Dublin-based Phorest Software is one company that has benefited from Acumen. Ronan Perceval, CEO, Phorest Software, said financial and professional support from Acumen meant the company could employ a full-time salesperson.
“It really gave us the confidence we needed to progress our operations in Northern Ireland," he said.