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Innovation 4 Growth Programme with Enterprise Ireland

Cathy Winston on Mar 11th 2018
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In recent times in Ireland, many SMEs have experienced pressure from low-cost competitors in emerging markets. However, SMEs that both innovate and export generate significantly greater sales growth than companies that do one or neither. Golovko, E and G. Valentini (2011).

Enterprise Ireland responded to this by partnering with the Irish Management Institute to design an Innovation Programme.

Innovation 4 Growth is a programme designed for ambitious businesses who want to use innovation for growth in the marketplace. I4G focuses on supporting companies to drive international growth through innovation.

There are three key areas of focus:

  • Embedding a customer/market-centric approach
  • Embedding best practice in terms of innovation tools and processes
  • Leading and driving a culture of innovation

Each participant company will be given a business advisor coach like myself, who will educate top management and employees about the innovation process. All companies will be given the necessary tools to start the innovation process, the best practice for this process and finally support to deliver on it. Innovation can manifest as many things, including a new product, different packaging, new marketing campaign, a new distribution process, new employee processes, and even a whole new service. Innovation can bring you anywhere.

As programme director for I4G, I had the pleasure of briefing and working with the top innovation experts in the world and inviting them to Ireland to facilitate innovation training with ambitious Irish companies.

Dawn Meats was one such company and I was their mentor on this programme. Here is what Marcus Sherrard, Sales Director had to say about the process.

 “Cathy worked with the Dawn Meats team on the I4G programme to help us implement a group wide innovation strategy. Cathy’s input and support was invaluable during the process and her knowledge of the food sector helped to keep the course content relevant and interesting for us. I personally found Cathy’s approach refreshing, as it was a good balance of structured learning and support that was reinforced via the output that we had to present to the wider audience on the course. We were very proud to win the I4G Distinction Award and I would like to thank Cathy for her mentoring and support that has helped us on the course and subsequently to imbed the learnings into the culture of our organisation and I would personally recommend Cathy to any business that is looking to develop an innovation-led business model.” (Marcus Sherrard. Sales Director. Dawn meats.) 

With Dawn Meats we included the whole organisation from front facing staff to top management, and as I had mentioned before in many blog posts- employees at all levels should be included in the innovation process. Recently I spoke about the power of intrapreneurs,  these are the employees who drive innovation, increase productivity and always stay ahead of market trends. We must include innovation on all levels and build a company culture based on this.

The I4G programme will launch again in 2018, and is open to Enterprise Ireland Clients who range in the full business spectrum from entrepreneurs to large Irish owned multinationals. All businesses regardless of size must be Irish owned and must be exporting goods out of Ireland.

To apply to participate in the next programme, please see here, or email me for more details



Econ Papers, 2011. Golovko & Valentini- Exploring the Complimentarity between innovation and export for SME growth. Journal of International Business studies. 

With many thanks to the Irish Management Institute and Enterprise Ireland.

Photo credit Enterprise Ireland.

Written by Cathy Winston

Edited by Lisa Downey

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