Sponsored content is premium paid-for content produced by the Irish Times Content Studio on behalf of commercial clients. The Irish Times newsroom or other editorial departments are not involved in the production of sponsored content.

Embracing the sustainability journey

New Enterprise Ireland grants will help businesses to start or accelerate their journey to becoming more green

The new €10m Climate Enterprise Action Fund from Enterprise Ireland is designed to assist Irish companies to begin or to accelerate their sustainability and low-carbon journeys. The fund offers a number of different supports to assist businesses to build the capabilities required to deliver sustainable products, services and business models.

The Climate Enterprise Action Fund aims to provide support to companies at an early stage of exploring climate and sustainability to develop action plans to reduce their emissions and achieve greater resource efficiency in areas such as energy, water, and materials. It also aims to fund more advanced companies to develop comprehensive multi-annual business plans with climate change and sustainability actions integrated into the company’s overall strategy.

According to Climate Enterprise Action Fund manager Aidan McKenna, there are three core supports available under the fund: Climate Action Voucher; GreenStart; and GreenPlus.

“We recognise that some companies have started on their sustainability journeys and need help to progress, and others have yet to start and need help to know where to begin,” McKenna explains. “The Climate Action Voucher is a grant worth up to €1,800 to engage an expert to develop plans in areas such as resource efficiency and renewable energy. It is a very good introductory support to help companies decide where to focus.”


GreenStart is a follow-on support to the voucher. “This provides up to €5,000 to help companies to engage an expert to assist them to improve their environmental performance, and identify ways to reduce emissions and operate more sustainably.”

GreenPlus provides funding of up to 50 per cent to develop a multi-annual climate change plan aligned to international standards and frameworks. “It is designed to help organisations on their journey towards achieving international standards and supports projects up to a value of €100,000,” McKenna explains. “It helps companies with the development and implementation of long term plans and to set out a credible pathway to reduce emissions.”

While the need to address the climate emergency may be the primary force behind the drive for greater sustainability, there are clear business benefits as well, McKenna notes. “As we emerge out of Covid-19 and the issues presented by the UK being outside of the Customs Union, we have to address the challenge of climate change,” he says.

The time has come for every company to demonstrate to their customers that sustainability is core to their business

“With more and more countries, investors and companies aligning to the Paris Agreement and committing to net zero targets, it will drive even more companies to set out on their own green transformational journey. Governments and large companies are now looking at their supply chains through a sustainability lens and are integrating sustainability into their procurement processes. Companies with low-carbon more sustainable products, processes or services are going to do very well. For example, clients providing services to the construction industry need to be able to have their sustainability credentials in place. It’s not just about regulatory compliance, when companies can demonstrate they are reducing their environmental impacts and becoming more sustainable that will help them win business internationally.”

The Climate Enterprise Action Fund is open for applications at the moment. "Companies can go to Globalambition.ie and go to the Climate Enterprise Action Fund page. They can also talk to their Enterprise Ireland development adviser about it. There is also a Green for Micro offer available to companies with less than 10 employees supported by the Local Enterprise Offices. We want to get as many applicants as possible. I would encourage companies to embrace the sustainability journey and not to be hesitant to act now. There are very real business opportunities and the feedback from our clients is that it is very good for employee engagement as well. It's important to note, that this is not just for manufacturing, businesses from all sectors should apply. The time has come for every company to demonstrate to their customers that sustainability is core to their business and they are on their own sustainability journey."

O’Brien Fine Foods

One company already availing of support under the GreenPlus element of the Climate Enterprise Action Fund is O'Brien Fine Foods. The cooked meats manufacturer is best known for its Brady Family brand but also produces the HomeBird and Greenfarm ranges and supplies own label products to most of Ireland's leading grocery chains from its facilities in Naas, Co Kildare and Rathowen, Co Westmeath.

We wanted to embark on our sustainability journey this year

“We’ve worked with Enterprise Ireland for a long time on a number of different projects,” says technical manager Louise Brennan. “We wanted to embark on our sustainability journey this year and we put a team of people around it to drive our performance in that area. We started to engage with Enterprise Ireland on it and realised they had the GreenPlus grant available under the Climate Enterprise Action Fund. It was the right fit for our business, allowing us to avail of external expertise to deliver our plan.

“The application process is very straightforward, and we received approval quite quickly,” she says. “Our company purpose is to bring better quality foods to everyone everywhere and our sustainability plan is aligned with that. We formed Sustainability Purpose Teams to address three key areas: better source, better made, and better for you. Each team has its own plan.”

The Better Source team focused on delivering better supplier performance in terms of quality, animal welfare, and increased numbers of local suppliers in the chain, she explains. “Better Made is focused on continually improving the way we operate using as much natural resources as efficiently as possible. One of the big things operationally is to eradicate waste throughout our processes while ensuring we are adding value at every step while maintaining our traditional style and product quality. The Better For You team is looking at changes to products to make them more nutritious. The team is looking at things like additional reductions in salt and further fortifying some white meat products.”

Clearstream Solutions, our external partner is also helping with carbon reduction. “They conducted a carbon footprint analysis for us,” Brennan points out. “Up to then we had no real idea of the amount of carbon we were generating. We can now address our Scope 1 and 2 outputs which are directly from our own operations and work with suppliers on Scope 3 emissions.”

The company has set a number of targets to be achieved by 2025 including having its performance accredited by the Carbon Disclosure Project and achieving the environmental standard ISO 14001.

“We also want to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by more than 25 per cent by 2025. About 98 per cent of the energy we are currently buying is renewable and we want to get that to 100 per cent this year. We are also looking at more renewable generation on site.”

She encourages other companies to apply for support under the Climate Enterprise Action Fund. “The Enterprise Ireland fund is great. It has provided the funding to get in external consultants. Having external experts on board is great. They have worked with other companies and provide very good insights. We would probably not have got them in if not for Enterprise Ireland.”

Visit www.enterprise-ireland.com for more information on Enterprise Ireland grants