Tuesday 17 September 2019

Brexit-exposed firms get €74m funding boost

Enterprise Ireland is calling on exporters to act as if a no-deal Brexit will happen, writes Fearghal O'Connor

'McMillan said that over the past year, there had been a substantial uptake of Enterprise Ireland financial and advisory supports for Irish businesses preparing for Brexit, apart from the direct financial support to the most exposed companies' (stock photo)
'McMillan said that over the past year, there had been a substantial uptake of Enterprise Ireland financial and advisory supports for Irish businesses preparing for Brexit, apart from the direct financial support to the most exposed companies' (stock photo)

Enterprise Ireland has approved €74m in funding for more than 500 of the country's most Brexit-exposed companies, in order to ensure they can continue to trade through an increasingly likely no-deal scenario.

The funding across a range of different programmes was all approved during 2018, but has not all been drawn down yet by the companies.

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No figures for further funding approved during 2019 are yet available, but there are strong indications that the agency's clients have become even more focused on potential difficulties in recent months.

"We have invested €74m into 535 really Brexit-exposed companies to strategically get them stronger, so that no matter what happens in Brexit, they can continue to hold their own in the UK market and in markets further afield," said Enterprise Ireland's Brexit unit manager Jonathan McMillan.

"That funding is particularly focused on the three areas of innovation, competitiveness and diversification, and has gone into companies across a range of sectors.

"Obviously, there are certain sectors that are more at risk through Brexit, where there may be potential tariffs involved, where companies are very reliant on the UK market, and companies with physical products is one that we're concerned about."

McMillan said that over the past year, there had been a substantial uptake of Enterprise Ireland financial and advisory supports for Irish businesses preparing for Brexit, apart from the direct financial support to the most exposed companies.

The agency has also carried out 'Brexit interventions' with more than 1,000 companies which have significant exports to the UK, he said.

More than 1,000 companies have attended Brexit Advisory Clinics across the country, while over 6,000 firms have completed the agency's Brexit SME Scorecard. Another 1,400 businesses have completed its online customs insights programme since December.

The State agency is kicking off a 'Brexit Essentials' campaign tomorrow, to urge companies to begin to take action now on arranging how they would operate following a no-deal crash-out by the UK, in crucial areas such as customs, strategic sourcing, and financial and currency management.

McMillan said that he is telling companies they must now act as if no deal is going to happen, even if that is going to cost them financially.

He said: "There are still companies out there, I meet them on a weekly basis, who are wondering what they can do. There's so much uncertainty in the marketplace. They are saying, 'tell me what I should do first, maybe I should wait until the end of October before I start doing anything'.

"The message we're trying to get out there is that waiting and seeing is in no way a potential answer here. You cannot wait and there are a whole range of things that you need to be doing."

Sunday Indo Business

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