Business Collaboration Boost in First Irish Trade Mission to the UK, as Economies Emerge from Pandemic, Led by Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

LONDON, Sept. 6, 2021 – Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD visited the UK today for the start of a three-country trade mission focused on greater trade collaboration which goes on to France and Germany. With London being the first leg of the trade mission, it signifies the importance of the partnership with the UK as the neighbouring market to Ireland and the strength of the long-standing trading relationship in place between the two countries.  

Organised by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s trade and innovation agency, the trade mission is focused on further boosting trade collaboration between Ireland and the UK. With a packed UK programme, Leo Varadkar opened a series of roundtable events that brought together Irish and British businesses and organisations to discuss digital transformation and innovation in housing, insurance, and healthcare where Irish companies have been adding value to the UK through the delivery of Irish innovation to benefit local partners throughout the UK. This was followed by highlighting a series of announcements by Irish companies focused on the UK during the trade mission, Including expansion and job creation in the UK.

Leading the trade mission, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD said, “Ireland and Britain will always have a close relationship. Our two countries are interlinked in myriad different ways and we will be looking to strengthen those ties as we emerge from the pandemic and face into future challenges, such as climate change and digitalisation. Irish companies have created over 125,000 in Britain. By working closely together, building on existing partnerships and building new ones, we hope to create more jobs and prosperity for both countries. I’m looking forward to visiting the U.K., as part of my first in-person trade mission as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and I’m really happy to be bringing some good news with me of Irish companies investing and creating jobs on the ground.”

Accompanying the Irish Deputy Prime Minister on the trade mission, Enterprise Ireland’s Chief Executive Leo Clancy said, “Our long-standing business relationship with the UK is built on the shared values that exists between both countries, as well as our pro-enterprise and pro-competition business environments. The deals announced on this trade mission will see more jobs created in the UK, even closer links between our two business communities, and advancing innovation to solve the challenges of the world today.”

“With our team of Market Advisors working across the UK, Enterprise Ireland is helping both Irish and British companies to find collaborations that solve the challenges they face to create opportunities for further growth, greater competitive advantage in the global marketplace, and to create and sustain jobs,” he added.  

Collaborating Through Long Term Partnerships: Housing

With close collaboration in place across the housing sector between market leading Irish companies and UK local authorities, Leo Varadkar launched the first in a series of knowledge-sharing events to be held over the next year with the Leaders and Chief Executives of Local Authorities across the UK. The housing roundtable brought together leaders of London local authorities including Tom Copley, Deputy London Mayor for Housing and Residential Development with innovative and market leading Irish businesses with a track record of partnering with local authorities across the UK to discuss housing innovation.

Enterprise Ireland backed companies operating in this sector are best placed to meet the needs of local authorities looking for new innovations and solutions to their housing challenges. These Irish companies are market leaders in cutting-edge innovation, digitisation, quality, compliance, and modern methods of construction (MMC). These factors are core to the delivery of housing in the UK and meets the net zero commitments, compliance, and fire safety requirements of councils.

Taking part in the housing roundtable was Irish construction specialist, ESS Modular which has grown to become an industry leader in modular construction in both Ireland and the UK.  Coinciding with the visit by Leo Varadkar, ESS Modular announced the expansion of its UK operations with the opening of a new office in Manchester, creating 70 new jobs.

The use of off-site, modular construction methods brings multiple benefits. Buildings can be completed up to 50% faster than traditional constructed projects, be more energy efficient, and is increasingly recognised as having huge environmental benefits due to the increased focus on quality control in a factory environment. ESS Modular have delivered the first homes for the pan-London homelessness scheme, supported by the Mayor of London, which will provide much needed accommodation for homeless families in London, on a test site in Tower Hamlets. ESS are the sole provider on this framework and Phase One of this framework is to deliver 200 homes within the next 2 years.

Aico, an Enterprise Ireland client company, with 100 employees in the UK, also took part in the housing roundtable where they announced the launch of their Safety & Wellness Task Force. This will provide an independent platform where organisations from housing, charity and the private sector can come together on an equal level to confidentially share delivery, identify gaps, and work collaboratively to address them for the betterment of the sector to develop safer homes. Aico Is also launching their environmental sensors, an exciting innovation in home life safety which have been designed to create better maintained, healthier and energy efficient homes. Covering 23 regions across the UK, Aico is a market leader fire and carbon monoxide detection in UK Local Authorities and Housing Associations. the company is at the forefront of emerging Cloud-based “Connected Home” and IoT developments.  An exciting innovation in home life safety, their environmental sensors have been designed to help overcome many challenges, from compliance and carbon footprint to mould risk and fuel poverty. Every year, over 10 million alarms are shipped worldwide by the company to over 30 countries including the UK which is the most important market with 70% of the company’s exports going there.

Collaborating Through Long Term Partnerships: Healthcare

Bringing together clinical and industry professionals from across the UK and Ireland’s healthcare and life science sectors, it enabled discussions in the healthcare roundtable to explore further deepening the existing collaboration taking place between the UK and Ireland in healthcare. Focused on health tech innovation and transformation, the roundtable was attended by senior clinicians, NHS Hospital Trust leaders, UK based healthcare companies, along with NHSX who lead the overall strategy for digital transformation across the NHS. In remarks at the event, Leo Varadkar praised the efforts of healthcare practitioners for navigating through the enormous challenge of the global pandemic which demonstrated the benefits of working in close cooperation to overcome the disease.   

One of the participants of the roundtable was Limerick based Serosep Ltd, a leading supplier to NHS hospital trusts in the UK including, Public Health Wales, HSL Laboratories (comprising of University College London, Royal Free, North Middlesex Hospital and The Doctors Laboratory), St. Georges Hospital, Imperial College London & Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, among others. Coinciding with the visit of Leo Varadkar, Serosep announced that they have secured a five-year contract (3+2) contract with Liverpool University Hospital to supply their innovative molecular diagnostic solution, EntericBio, used to diagnose gastroenteritis. Valued at over £1 million, the contract builds further on their successful UK footprint.

Collaborating for a Greener, More Sustainable Future

As the UK prepares to host COP26 in Glasgow later this year, the focus on collaborating for a greener, more sustainable future is more important than ever. In this shared agenda for a greener future, Irish companies are helping partners across the world to be ready for a green future. Ireland’s ESB, the state-owned electricity company is playing a leading role in shaping this agenda. Operating in Great Britain for almost 30 years, ESB Energy is supporting the growing infrastructure across the country for electric vehicle charging.

ESB Energy offers electric vehicle drivers access to an expanding network of 100% renewable public charging points across London, Coventry, and Birmingham.

Working with Transport for London, they have developed and operate over 100 Rapid (50 kW) charging sites across the city with plans to extend that offering. They also own and operate a city-wide network of Rapid chargers in Coventry, as part of Coventry City Councils’ commitment to cut carbon emissions. ESB Energy is also rolling out a network of chargers across Birmingham, in partnership with Birmingham City Council and supported by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) funding. 

Along with ESB, Irish start-up Zipp Mobility form part of a cluster of Irish companies with sustainable transport solutions aligning with UK Government’s net zero goals 2050. Dublin micromobility startup, Zipp Mobility, announced their commitment to scale up in the UK following the contract award to operate e-scooter trial schemes in 5 UK locations across Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire, and Taunton and Minehead in Somerset. Zipp’s UK customers have already completed over 150,000 journeys, spent over two million minutes on their e-scooters travelling over 250,000 miles, which has contributed to avoiding an estimated over 30-tonnes of carbon emissions. Their investors include Brian O’Driscoll, the former international Irish rugby captain. The company have also been expanding its footprint across Europe, most recently introducing its e-scooters in Poland.

With the Irish Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to the UK, a range of other Irish business announcements were made heralding the start of the strong economic recovery emerging into the post pandemic period:

  • Cork based facilities management company, Over-C, announced that it has been selected by Hitachi Vantara to address global risk prevention in the insurance space. Through this new partnership with Over-C, it will increase the insurer’s ability to enhance their property and casualty policy holder’s customer experience, whilst enriching underwriting with new dynamic risk insights that support risk selection and pricing to manage liability. Over-C offers unique workplace management solutions, through digital platforms to high footfall and high-risk venues and faculties. Its intelligent platform enables real-time decision making in the areas of risk management, compliance and the customer experience; ensuring businesses are fully compliant with regulatory and insurance requirements.
  • Dublin based i3PT announced plans to expand its UK presence further by opening its second UK office to be based in Edinburgh, headed up by its regional associate, Jonathan Barclay. Additionally, the company plans to create more than 40 new positions over the coming two years. i3PT works with some of the largest companies in the world, providing software and services which help to ensure that their buildings are safer, better, and more sustainable. The company is engaged across virtually every sector within the construction industry, private and public sector, ranging from hyper-scale Datacenters and manufacturing facilities, to high-density social housing and UK Premiership football stadiums.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.