Author Archives Jim

About Jim

James is a director with JCR Network Services Ltd, which provides sales, marketing and business development expertise to local SMEs in Ireland and the UK. Many businesses have developed their growth strategies through our focussed actions. We specialise in helping the agri-food , emerging technology, manufacturing and services sectors.

Resource Efficiency Capital Grant

Posted by Jim on April 10, 2024  /   Posted in Blog

Heads up to all clients-if you are an InvestNI client then this new Resource Efficiency Capital Grant may be the way to help with the cost of investing in resource efficient technologies that will drive savings and business productivity. The next call for applications will open on Wednesday 10 April and close at 17:00, Thursday 16 May 2024
This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Call 2 of the Digital Transformation Flexible Fund (DTFF) will open for expressions of interest on 4 March 2024 

Posted by Jim on March 01, 2024  /   Posted in Blog

The DTFF aims to help small and micro businesses in Northern Ireland to invest in advanced digital technologies. It establishes a grant fund to support eligible businesses with investments in capital equipment that is critical to achieving their digital transformation ambitions.

The focus of the fund is on innovative technologies, such as:

  • smart environments and the Internet of Things
  • simulation, process automation and additive manufacturing
  • big data and analytics
  • immersive technologies
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • blockchain technologies and more

To be eligible, capital investments must enable business transformation rather than simply digitisation of existing business models or operations.

Funding is available between £5,000 and £20,000 for an investment project. If eligible, the grant can fund up to 70% of the cost of the total value of a project. Applicants must match-fund a minimum of 30% of the overall project costs.

Register for the DTFF online pre-briefing session

Potential applicants can register to join the online pre-briefing session for Call 2 on 4 March 2024.

Dates for the in-person pre-briefing sessions across each council area will be published on the DTFF website soon.

Call 2 of the DTFF will open to expressions of interest on 4 March and close at midday on 29 March 2024.

Posted by Jim on January 17, 2024  /   Posted in Blog

Calling all Growing Businesses!

Have you thought about joining a consortium co-operative (with at least two other partners) to enable you to bid for larger contracts?

Cooperative Development Scotland (CDS) wants to talk about this opportunity in its webinar The Consortium Model of Bidding for Bigger Contracts.

The free webinar runs Thursday 29 February 2024, 2-3pm.


About the Webinar

The webinar will cover:

·    The key characteristics of a consortium co-operative

·    Benefits of joining a consortium co-operative

·    How the model is used for tendering

·    The support provided by CDS to businesses seeking to formally collaborate as a consortium co-operative

About Consortium Co-operatives

In a consortium co-operative:

·    Members work together for a common goal while retaining their own brands, identities, and control

·    Members can be limited companies, partnerships or individuals

·    A consortium co-operative works best for three or more businesses (due to the democratic voting nature of a co-operative)

About CDS

·    CDS works to provide support to companies and community groups who want to adopt employee ownership or co-operative business models

·    Co-operative Development Scotland is part of the Inclusive Models Team within Scottish Enterprise

·    This model acts on behalf of all Scotland’s Enterprise agencies (Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise)

A retiring consultant’s advice on consultants

Posted by Jim on September 06, 2023  /   Posted in Blog

How to manage the snake-oil salesmen

From the Economist 06/09/23

A man shaking hands with a management consultant who has tentacles for legs
Dear robin, I was delighted when you commissioned me to prepare this report for you after our discussion at the club. As a newly appointed chief executive at a Fortune 500 company, a thrilling yet perilous adventure awaits you. I commend your wisdom in choosing to hire a management consultant to guide you on your way.

I, naturally, would have been ideally positioned, given my many years of experience serving your company’s principal rival. Alas, the time comes in every man’s life when he must hang up his hat and retire to his home in the Bahamas. As my swan song, I have thrown together, as requested, a few thoughts on how to handle my kind. I hope you find the attached 120-page PowerPoint presentation useful. Below you will find a brief summary

Be ready for the “bait and switch”: Do not be fooled by the eloquent veterans who will turn up to your office to plead for your business. The work will mostly be done by clever but pimply 20-somethings, armed with two-by-two matrix frameworks recycled from client to client. What they lack in wisdom will be made up for in long hours. You need not feel sorry for them. They are cocooned in a shell of fancy meals, lavish hotels and private drivers—at your expense.

At first you will find them to be of no use at all—detrimental, even—as they harry your management team with endless questions and urgent requests for data. Eventually, they will win you over with their brains and gumption—or be quietly replaced. Meanwhile, those grey-haired senior partners will pop by from time to time. Beware.

Watch out for “land and expand”: We consultants are masters of the clandestine sale. If you hire us for a two-month project, it will assuredly take 12. By the time it ends, our tentacles will have spread. Ask for a new company strategy, blink, and we will be cutting your costs, fixing your it systems and tinkering with your supply chain.

Like many other bosses, you may one day tire of our eye-watering rates and decide to poach the cleverest consultants for yourself. We will happily oblige. The most reliable missionary for the merits of consulting is one of our own. The more senior, the better. Hire them, but do not give them the cheque book.

Question everything: Every self-respecting consultant knows that big recommendations demand big numbers. As a rule, divide everything you see by two. Never trust a benchmark; I made up most of mine. And carefully read those endless notes at the bottom of charts. That is often where the dirtiest secrets are buried. Be doubly dubious of any consulting reports your underlings happen to commission, especially when they recommend a bigger budget for said underling.

Take none of the blame: As a freshly minted chief executive, you are undoubtedly brimming with ideas. Many of them are terrible. Some may prove catastrophic. Among the valuable services offered by management consultants is the human shield. Make sure your board knows it was they who recommended the disastrous new product line or the overpriced acquisition. You always had your doubts, but trusted their illustrious reputations. Equally, your consultants may, from time to time, stumble upon a good idea. You thought of it first.

Experiment with polygamy: Your consultants will do their utmost to woo you into exclusivity. There will be much talk of “long-term partnership”. Yet it is a one-sided monogamy they seek. Fidelity is not in a consultant’s nature. Chances are they are already advising your competitors, with only the thinnest of Chinese walls between teams.

Follow their example and hire their rivals, too. Ideally, sit them in adjacent rooms at your offices. Consultants are fiercely competitive, and nothing will better spur them on to even longer reports than seeing their nemeses wandering the halls of your company. If bored, invite representatives of two warring firms to a meeting and watch them tussle for your favour.

As I look back on my career, I am not too proud to admit that I have occasionally fleeced the odd firm. But I maintain that my profession is a noble one. “Impact”, after all, is our industry’s watchword. (Admittedly, I never was quite clear what it meant, but you cannot deny it sounds lofty.)

One final thought to conclude: there is never a problem too big or small for a consultant. That I can confirm from experience. Your bill, including expenses, is attached. Good luck. 

Read more from Bartleby, our columnist on management and work:

A man shaking hands with a management consultant who has tentacles for legs

Enterprise Ireland: Support for firms on the green transition journey

Posted by Jim on September 04, 2023  /   Posted in Blog

Alexa Toomey

Irish Independent

Enterprise Ireland backed Strong Roots and its founder and CEO Sam Dennigan
Mitigating the impact of climate change and addressing environmental issues requires a whole-of-society approach.

Sustainability is a core pillar of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy, and we believe it is now a pivotal time for companies to consider how their operations impact the environment and how climate change affects their business.

Businesses supplying large private and public sector clients are increasingly finding that to win contracts and sales, they must be able to share their sustainability plan and explain how they are putting it into practice. Many businesses we work with selling directly to consumers also find customers have increased expectations around sustainability and want to buy from companies that can demonstrate what they are doing in this space.

Businesses now need to develop a sustainability plan covering everything from resource efficiency to supply chain, and this must be supported with an implementation roadmap.

The transition to a low-carbon economy and greener future is a journey and not something that will happen overnight.

If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, no matter what stage of the sustainability journey you are on, whether it is initial planning or implementation, Enterprise Ireland is ready to support client companies on their green transition.

We have developed a new Green Transition Webinar focusing on decarbonisation’s opportunities, challenges and benefits.

This eight-part series starts on September 6 and will focus on several aspects of the sustainability journey – from initial planning and capability building – to investment, research and innovation, and developing new products and processes.

The first webinar will focus on ‘What does a climate action journey look like?’, and attendees will hear from Paul Murphy of Climeaction, an industry expert with extensive experience in industrial energy efficiency and decarbonisation of manufacturing organisations. This discussion will offer advice and insights from his work with some of the world’s largest companies across the food and dairy, beverages, manufacturing and life science sectors.

The second instalment will focus on SMEs, particularly those at the beginning of their sustainability journey, and participants will learn about the SME Climate Hub, a one-stop shop where they can get free tools to measure emissions, take climate action and report progress.

The series will focus on other important topics, including green finance, green skills, sustainability reporting ESG, becoming a B Corp and the circular economy. We will look specifically at the policy, regulatory and business focus on net zero emissions by 2050.

Each webinar will hear from industry experts such as Brian O’Kennedy from Clearstream Solutions and Ingrid de Doncker of Future Planet and will also feature an Enterprise Ireland client company, such as Urban Volt and Strong Roots.

Enterprise Ireland is ready to support client companies in developing innovative responses to meet the demands and opportunities that sustainable business offers. For more information about the Green Transition webinar series, visit

Alexa Toomey, head of Sustainability, Renewable Energy & Agtech at Enterprise Ireland

Businesses and Social Enterprises are invited to attend the free Meet the Buyer North 2023 Event on 12 September 2023.

Posted by Jim on August 10, 2023  /   Posted in Blog

The Supplier Development Programme, in partnership with Scottish Government and the Commercial & Procurement Shared Services (CPSS) representing Aberdeen City, Shire and Highland Councils, are hosting Meet the Buyer North 2023 at the Music Hall in Aberdeen on 12.9.2023.

Get your questions ready!

This year’s event will be on a larger scale and higher profile than ever, with an opening address by Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade. He will also be participating in a panel discussion, alongside Nikki Archer, Deputy Director, Head of Procurement and Commercial Policy & Strategy at Scottish Government, Fiona Conti, Strategic Procurement Manager (Interim) at the Shared Procurement Services – Aberdeen City, Shire and Highland and Gillian Cameron from SDP, focusing on connecting SME with opportunities.

Bringing together buyers from the public sector, including Scottish local authorities, NHS Scotland, Universities and Colleges, Construction, emergency services and many more, the event offers businesses and social enterprises in the North of Scotland an unparalleled opportunity to speak directly to a wide range of purchasers and decision-makers. In addition, there will be large private contractors exhibiting at this event that are keen to engage with new suppliers and promote their sub-contract opportunities

-Check out our list of exhibitors to plan which buyers you want to meet.

-Hear from a fantastic range of speakers, talking about contract opportunities, the hydrogen hub project , Tendering with NHS Grampian , how to sell your food into the market and many more, so be sure to check out the action-packed agenda:

– And don’t miss the Supplier Development Programme’s Top Tips for Tendering workshop.

You must pre-book your free place

InterTradeIreland Business Summit ’23

Posted by Jim on June 15, 2023  /   Posted in Blog

I am delighted to have attended the recent Business Summit-a great lineup of speakers and great networking opportunities-thank you IntertradeIreland!

InterTradeIreland Business Summit ’23

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2023  /   Posted in Blog

Join us at the InterTradeIreland Business Summit ‘23, to find out about the real opportunities and innovations that will shape the future of doing business on the island of Ireland. From digitisation to drone delivery, this free to attend event will give you a front row seat to the cutting-edge technologies and global trends that will impact firms of all sizes.

It will include a keynote address by economist and broadcaster, David McWilliams, case studies, and contributions and insights from successful entrepreneurs from Ireland and Northern Ireland on future growth opportunities, including Bobby Healy the CEO of Manna.

Brian O’Driscoll, former Leinster and Ireland rugby player and entrepreneur will share how vision, ambition and drive fuelled his phenomenal sporting career and how you can tap into those skills to deliver business excellence and success.

This is your opportunity to hear from expert speakers and large and small businesses about their experiences of innovation, collaboration and ambition and how it allowed them to gain competitive advantage.


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