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Brexit support: Where can companies go for help?

Enterprise Ireland and IntertradeIreland offer your firm advice and funding back-up

It was one hell of a build-up, but as of January 1st, the UK is outside the EU single market and customs union. For some companies, the realities of this new trading relationship are only now becoming clear.

The good news is that businesses still grappling with the impact of Brexit on their trade can still avail of a myriad range of training, mentoring and financial supports as they navigate through this choppy period.

There is a slew of online guides, checklists and reports on a host of Government websites but Enterprise Ireland’s website prepareforbrexit.ie has been something of a bible for businesses trying to understand how Brexit will affect them and their customers. Enterprise Ireland encouraged companies to be proactive in their preparations, and ran a series of Brexit advisory clinics to help companies plan and take immediate action to effectively mitigate the risks and avail of the opportunities that Brexit presents.

Now it’s offering a Post-Brexit Advisory Support service, which has been developed to focus on issues such as financial and currency management, strategic sourcing, and customs and logistics. This initiative – which is free to the company – is delivered over two half-day sessions with an independent consultant, and helps companies decide on specific actions they can take in the short term to address some of the risks and opportunities from Brexit.

Customs challenges

Specifically dealing with customs challenges, Clear Customs is a free, virtual training initiative to support Irish businesses build capacity to deal with additional customs requirements. Developed by Skillnet Ireland, the 10-hour programme was designed in collaboration with industry bodies in the trade and logistics sector.

Local Enterprise Offices are offering a Brexit Mentor Programme, where clients can work with an experienced mentor on a one-to-one basis to identify key areas of exposure within their business, offering advice and guidance to help develop strategies that are more robust, and address issues and maximise potential opportunities around Brexit.

Financial support is also available, details of which are on the Prepare for Brexit website. For example, Enterprise Ireland offers the “Ready for Customs” grant, which aims to help businesses increase their capacity to manage the newly tricky customs process. Up to €9,000 is available for each new full-time employee engaged in customs work, while hiring a part-time employee will mean a grant of up to €4,500. This grant contributes to recruitment costs, employee costs and the provision of IT infrastructure.

There’s also the Evolve Strategic Planning Grant, which offers up to €5,000 in support to Enterprise Ireland-supported companies to help cover expenses associated with a short assignment to determine how the company might respond to the threats and opportunities that have arisen as a result of changes to the trading environment in the UK since January 1st. (Eligibility for both grants can be checked at prepapreforbrexit.ie)

Strategic consultancy

The Strategic Consultancy Grant allows businesses to hire a strategic consultant typically over a longer period to assist the company in the development and/or the implementation of strategic initiatives. This initiative is designed to facilitate business growth as the consultants can act as “coach, mentor, facilitator, and analyst for the company”, according to Enterprise Ireland, but eligible projects must be new assignments of strategic significance to the company.

The Market Discovery Fund aims to specifically support companies making market diversification plans. The grant aims to incentivise companies to research viable and sustainable market entry strategies and a company can even apply for support from the Market Discovery Fund more than once, provided each application considers a new market for an existing product or existing market for a new product.

IntertradeIreland also offers a Brexit advisory service, as well as practical supports by way of voucher funding up to £2,000/€2,250, which provides access to fully funded consultancy support to help businesses adjust to this new trading relationship.

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times