Jenny Melia from Enterprise Ireland discusses the range of supports the agency has been providing to start-ups and SMEs during Covid-19.
From the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was clear that restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus would result in significant disruption for Ireland’s entrepreneurs.
As businesses were forced to shutter and teams were dispersed, it presented challenges for companies of all shapes and sizes. But for start-ups and SMEs, things looked particularly uncertain.
During the crisis, Enterprise Ireland has been helping start-ups with both mentorship and financial assistance. Jenny Melia, manager of high-potential start-ups (HPSUs) at Enterprise Ireland, told us about some of the supports that the agency has been offering in recent months and weeks.
Support from Enterprise Ireland
Melia explained that it is still “early days”, so naturally uncertainty remains. However, Enterprise Ireland has seen new opportunities come out of the crisis for some start-ups based in Ireland, in areas such as healthcare, life sciences and remote-work technology companies.
“Then we have clients who were doing really well, for example, in something like the travel-tech sector for the last couple of years,” she said. “We find that life is changing for them now.”
Melia explained that the first priority has been to help businesses stabilise. There are phased supports to help companies get new financial plans in place and understand what’s happening in different sectors and what the potential implications of those changes could be.
Then, Enterprise Ireland has been focused on helping start-ups and SMEs to “reset”. Melia said that some companies will need to refocus their innovation agenda, while others will have to change their competitiveness agenda. In several cases, businesses in Ireland have made the decision to pivot into entirely new sectors to improve their chances of survival.
“The really important piece is, once companies have stabilised, is to ensure that they’re well placed to grow when the new opportunities arise,” Melia explained.
“We know there will be opportunities because … our companies went through 2009, 2010 and so on, and came through it and have been growing quite strongly since. It’s important that we look at where the opportunities are and make sure the company is really well positioned to capitalise on them on an international stage.”
How can you access support?
Melia explained that the best starting point for businesses is the Enterprise Ireland website, where they can check out the agency’s response to Covid-19 and the specific activities and funds that have been introduced to help companies deal with the crisis.
She said that there’s also information on supports for different sized businesses, whether that’s related to their innovation agendas or their overseas agenda.
“That will help companies filter what’s relevant to them,” Melia said. “We also have our Enterprise Ireland newsletter that is sent to clients and those who subscribe regularly. In that we capture a really interesting mix of stories from clients directly, in terms of what they’re seeing and hearing on the ground.”
Melia said that funding information and non-financial assistance is regularly covered in the Enterprise Ireland newsletter, which can be subscribed to here.