Companies who export cross border twice as likely to experience strong growth

Posted by Jim on September 21, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Data from InterTradeIreland’s latest Business Monitor survey (Q2 2022) reveals companies that export cross border are outperforming companies that do not, with 41 per cent enjoying rapid to moderate expansion. This is almost double compared to non-cross border traders (21 per cent).

Indeed, over three quarters of cross border traders (78 per cent) describe themselves as profitable compared to 51 per cent of firms that do not sell into the opposite jurisdiction.

Martin Robinson, Director of Strategy at InterTradeIreland, says that this is a recurring trend the business development body has tracked over the last six quarterly surveys.

“Despite the challenges SMEs face, on the whole, cross-border trade remains remarkably robust with a higher percentage of companies who export cross border reporting profitability, growth and increased sales compared to their non-cross-border trading counterparts,” says Martin.

“InterTradeIreland helps businesses identify cross-border opportunities and to explore their export potential through programmes such as Elevate and Acumen and have seen first-hand how a focus on reaching new markets can help enhance productivity and sales. Recent data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that cross-border trade in goods reached €7.65 billion in 2021 and continues to increase. In January-May 2022, Irish import trade with Northern Ireland has risen by another €356 million (23 per cent) and Irish exports to Northern Ireland have risen by €586 million (42 per cent), compared to the same period in 2021.”

On the whole, the latest figures from InterTradeIreland’s Business Monitor show that despite the unprecedented impact of rising costs, business performance overall is holding steady for now, with 83 per cent of companies across the island of Ireland in stable or growth mode, on a par with last quarter’s results (85 per cent).

There is a note of caution however for the leisure, hotel and catering sector which has experienced a more challenging time than most, with 42 per cent now experiencing a drop in sales compared to 23 per cent last quarter.

As expected, rising costs dominate business challenges once again as energy prices (86 per cent) and overheads (83 per cent) continue to be the top two issues impacting businesses, as they have been over the past six months.

Reassuringly the impact of Brexit (43 per cent) and Covid-19 (39 per cent) has declined as companies continue to adapt. However, almost half of businesses (46 per cent) now cite a difficulty in recruitment of appropriate skills as a key issue.

Looking at the data, Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy explains;

“As skills challenges become a significant issue, we are starting to see companies look at different ways to tackle shortages. 35 per cent for example have increased advertising while 29 per cent are retraining in-house. Innovation through exploiting digital technology is another area that could help firms create efficiencies. Our recently launched Business Solutions voucher provides support to businesses to explore the most effective ways of overcoming these ever-rising challenges.”

To find out more about InterTradeIreland’s support programmes, visit

Registration now open for brand new Jobs and Training Fair set for St Comgall’s

Posted by Jim on August 04, 2022  /   Posted in Blog


Organized by Belfast Media, this is a must-attend event if you are starting your career, making a fresh start, returning to work, or even if you are an employer searching for new employees.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 15 from 1-6pm at the newly renovated St Comgall’s on the Falls Road.

We are delighted to have leading West Belfast manufacturer Huhtamaki on board as our headline sponsor.

There is an unprecedented demand for workers to fill vacancies in thousands of jobs across Belfast, from logistics to tech and from hospitality to healthcare.

As the availability of labour tightens, employers are reaching out not just to young people entering the labour market for the first time and to those who are interested in switching careers but also to those who are interested in working part-time or in returning to the world of work.

Companies from all sectors will set up shop in the refurbished school building — now one of Belfast’s premiere buildings — to spell out their job opportunities to jobseekers. Also invited to exhibit will be training bodies which offer skills development on the job.

With more and more employers offering the real living wage as a starting salary and appealing terms and conditions, this is a must-attend event for anyone keen to explore fresh opportunities in the job market.

For more details, please email Susan Donnan at

Scotland Innovates!

Posted by Jim on August 01, 2022  /   Posted in Blog


We’re calling on suppliers and citizens to submit their innovative proposals. We aim to bring viable and approved innovations to market through a five-step process: registration, innovation submission, triage, assessment, and delivery.

All proposals will receive a response and feedback from a range of public sector experts. Viable and approved innovations will be guided to market, through provision of appropriate support and funding.

Home – Scotland Innovates (

Public Contracts Scotland

Posted by Jim on August 01, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Attention all clients!

The launch of Scotland Innovates is an exciting new development in public sector innovation. A supplier led innovation portal, designed by a pan sector team opens the door to innovative ideas and solutions 

The Scotland Innovates Portal

The Scotland Innovates portal sits separate to Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) and contains useful guidance for innovators as well as news, events and case studies.

If you have an idea or solution that could improve public services in Scotland register and submit now at

Any queries relating to Scotland Innovates for the wider public sector should be directed to:

Any queries relating to Scotland Innovates for the Health Sector should be directed to:

What is Scotland Innovates?

The Scotland Innovates service provides an easy to use, secure route to connect with the Scottish Public Sector and NHS Scotland.

Based on the principle of ‘push’ or supplier led innovation, the portal allows suppliers, citizens and innovators to register and submit ideas to improve or enhance public services.

Aiming to bring viable and approved innovations to market through a five step process:

  • registration
  • innovation submission
  • triage
  • assessment
  • delivery

Who’s involved?

This service has been developed as part of a collaborative project between Scottish Government Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate (SPPD) and National Services Scotland (NSS), working together with representatives from Scotland Excel, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC), Scottish Enterprise and Civtech amongst others

Information & Support – Public Contracts Scotland


Business Solutions and Post-Brexit advice

Posted by Jim on June 10, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Man writing notes on tablet for webinar

As a service prover for InterTrade Ireland’s new Brexit support program we are pleased to advise it is not open for applications

If you require further information or guidance, please contact Sarah on 07709 872212

InterTradeIreland Business Solutions Voucher offers support ranging from £2,000/€2,250 up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT) of fully funded consultancy support to assist you in areas such as:

Bespoke Customs Training, Business Strategy, Innovation, Cross Border Employment and People and HR, Finance, VAT, Customs, Data, Regulation, Supply Chain Mapping and Logistics.

If you are a business that has queries please contact

Business Solutions | InterTradeIreland

Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog
Grant aid for rural micro businesses of 50 per cent up to the value of £4,999 for the purchase of capital equipment to remain sustainable

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022. The scheme aims to provide grant funding to help rural micro businesses to sustain, develop and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheme details

The grant will provide capital assistance of 50 per cent up to the value of £4,999 for the purchase of capital equipment to help rural businesses remain sustainable and recover from the ongoing pandemic. The grant funding will also provide the opportunity for some businesses to increase innovation activity as well as the efficiency of their rural businesses.

Find out more

The scheme will be delivered by local councils on behalf of DAERA. Application forms, guidance notes and further advice and information will be available from your local council.

Only online applications will be accepted for this scheme. The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday 31 May 2022.

InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event 2022

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Learn how you can access pipeline contracts and make new connections


Join InterTradeIreland on Wednesday 22 June at the Titanic Belfast for a day of insight and learning. Learn how you can access pipeline contracts valued at £60m+ and make connections with the decision makers in Translink.

What to expect from the event

  • 1-2-1 meetings with Translink’s key decision makers, business users and their primary contractors.
  • Meet the Translink Procurement Team and gain valuable insights around tendering for Translink contracts.
  • Meet with representatives from Dublin Bus & Iarnrod Eireann to hear about their business development activities.
  • Get advice and guidance on tendering and other business supports from InterTradeIreland, Invest NI and eTendersNI.
  • Engage and network with other suppliers and industry peers.

Who you will meet

You will meet with the following procurement category teams and key decision makers across the Translink Group:

  • Fleet & Engineering category – incorporating: Bus Engineering, Rail Engineering, Bus and Rail Systems & Operations.
  • Rail Infrastructure category – incorporating: Structures, Renewals, Permanent Way, Signalling & Telecoms.
  • Property & Estates category – incorporating: Property Works, Property Maintenance, Facilities Management.
  • Corporate Services category – incorporating: Marketing & Communications, Digital Comms/Design & Print, Human Resources, ICT & Ticketing, Health, Safety & Environment.

Primary contractors:

  • Wrightbus Ltd (bus fleet)
  • Farrans/Sacyr JV (construction – Belfast Transport Hub)
  • Babcock (permanent way and signalling & telecoms)
  • Cleary Contracting (construction)
  • Switch Mobility (bus fleet)
  • Volvo UK Ltd (bus fleet)
  • Graham (construction)
  • Adman Civil Projects FP McCann (construction)
  • McLaughlin & Harvey (construction)
  • Lowry Building & Civil Engineering (construction)
  • CAF SA (rail fleet)

Also attending are:

  • Dublin Bus
  • Iarnroad Eireann
  • Invest NI
  • eTendersNI (CPD)
  • VANRATH (permanent and temporary recruitment)
  • Hays (permanent and temporary recruitment)

Event information

The event will start at 08:45 with registration and networking opening at 08:00.

  • 08:00 – Registration, Networking & Refreshments
  • 08:45 – Opening Speeches Margaret Hearty, InterTradeIreland Chief Executive Paddy Anderson, Translink Chief Financial Officer Tricia Massey, Head of Group Procurement
  • 09:00 – Stands open
  • 09.10 – Workshops commence
  • 15:00 – Event Close

Find out more and book your place at the InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event 2022 in partnership with Translink.

First published 12 May 2022

New public procurement policy for Northern Ireland – social value scoring

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

bn_tender.pngSocial value to be scored in Northern Ireland government contracts from June 2022

The Department of Finance (DoF) has announced a new policy which will see mandatory scoring of social value within public procurement contracts.

The new policy mandates that from June 2022, tenders must include a minimum of 10 per cent of total award criteria to social value. This policy will apply to:

  • service contracts valued above £123,000 and
  • construction contracts valued above £4.7million

This accounts for approximately 97 per cent of total government procurement spending.

The minimum weighting will increase to 20 per cent from June 2023, subject to review and approval by the Executive.

What is social value?

Social value refers to wider financial and non-financial impacts on the well-being of individuals, communities and the environment.

Legally, social value outcomes can be included in the procurement process provided they are considered at the business case stage and relate to the contract’s subject matter or the performance of the contract.

Further information

There are videos available that provide background to social value and its scoring in Northern Ireland public sector contracts.

If you are bidding for public sector construction contracts – you can view the Scoring Social Value in Construction Contracts – Supplier Information Video.

If you are interested in bidding for public sector services or IT contracts – view the Scoring Social Value in Services/IT Contracts – Supplier Information Video.

First published 11 May 2022

What could a £5,000 Innovation Voucher do for your business?

Posted by Jim on May 11, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Do you have an innovation project that could lead to the development of a new or improved product, service, business model, or process? Will it create value in your business, produce new profits or help grow the business? If so, then an Innovation Voucher could help support this.

How can an Innovation Voucher help my business?

£5K Innovation Vouchers allow businesses or potential entrepreneurs to get expertise from a public sector knowledge provider, such as a University or College (NI and ROI) for your innovation project.

** Please note that this programme does not involve the payment of any funds directly to participating businesses.**

Typical projects we support include:

  • Expertise to help create or improve products, services, business models or processes
  • Access to specialist expertise in new materials
  • Tapping into research and scientific expertise

Activities that are not eligible include:

  • Business plans, market research and financial planning
  • Website and app related activity
  • Marketing and sales activity
  • Training courses
  • Working with a private sector provider
  • Deadline for completed applications is 3pm on Friday 27 May 2022.Innovation Vouchers are available to early-stage and pre-trading entities as well as to established companies

InterTradeIreland: boosting and developing crucial cross-border trade

Posted by Jim on March 31, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

InterTradeIreland has assisted and boosted tens of thousands of firms on both sides of the border and continues to work with businesses to grow cross-border trade, develop new products or services, or become investor- ready. Ulster Business speaks to its new chief executive, Margaret Hearty, about taking up her role in the middle of a pandemic and with Brexit uncertainty, what it’s doing to help businesses recover, and seeing the major opportunities on the horizon

The importance of cross-border trade across Ireland has never been more apparent.

And business and trade organization InterTradeIreland continues to be at the forefront of assisting and boosting businesses, north and south, across the sectors – helping thousands of companies to explore the cross-border trade opportunities for growth.

It’s just seen the appointment of a new chief executive, Margaret Hearty. She’s been with the organization since its inception and boasts more than 20 years’ experience working with SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs across Ireland.

“InterTradeIreland is a unique organization with a key role supporting economic growth and innovation on the island of Ireland and I’m proud to play a key part in developing its strategy and vision,” Margaret says.

“We help businesses across the island of Ireland to innovate, collaborate and grow. Whether that’s exporting into the opposite jurisdiction, developing new products and services through cross-border collaboration, or becoming investor ready – we help them move forward.

“Cross-border trade has now reached £6.8bn, which represents a huge opportunity for businesses. Moving forward, we believe that there are significant growth opportunities for increased cross-border trade and co-operation across all sectors. We have an exciting piece of research underway to help inform the potential for growth and we look forward to sharing the findings with businesses and industry groups. It’s important that we remain responsive and we really listen to what businesses tell us.”

Margaret took up her post at arguably one of the most uncertain and tumultuous periods for business in a generation or more – the impact of Brexit and coming out the other side of a global pandemic.

“It was a great honor to be appointed chief executive of InterTradeIreland, albeit during a time of great uncertainty,” she says. “Like most businesses the biggest challenge we faced was the disruption caused by Covid-19. When the pandemic hit, we wanted to make sure staff were safe and adapted to working remotely. Our next priority was to make sure that the organization could function effectively and continue to support businesses.

“We helped businesses to move online so that they were able to deliver across all their range of services, as well as introducing new services. InterTradeIreland introduced new programmes to help develop the digital capabilities of small and micro businesses – small interventions that delivered big for businesses. We were also able to deliver a series of funding and recovery webinars that helped businesses navigate their way through the crisis as well as avail of key supports.”

InterTradeIreland’s role has also never been as important for the all-island economy, with new figures showing a rise in cross-border trade.

“Cross-border trade presents a growing export opportunity for Northern Ireland firms,” Margaret says.

“For 2021, the latest official trade data from the Central Statistics Office shows that cross border trade in goods increased by €2.8bn. NI exports to Ireland were up by 65% to €3.9bn, a rise of €1.5bn compared with 2020. In the last economic downturn, cross-border trade opportunities were a huge factor for driving growth and recovery for many businesses.

“This time around, it’s proving to be the same and in the face of the global pandemic, cross-border trade has been remarkably robust. For companies that want to move forward, exporting to the opposite jurisdiction is an option to seriously consider.”

She says, at a macro level, cross-border collaboration is of huge importance in 2022.

“Both economies have common policy priorities which include increasing the numbers of exporting businesses but also greater investment in innovation and new technologies, transitioning to a low carbon economy and adaptation of new technologies,” she says. “Co-operation and joined up thinking in these areas makes sense.”

Margaret says firms must pivot and evolve amid the ever-changing business landscape, following the impact of Brexit and Covid-19.

“They know their business and sector better than anybody else but it’s always good to validate those assumptions and plans. I would also encourage companies to take advantage of all the support and advice out there. Whether that’s getting involved in an industry network or group or taking advantage of the help available from state agencies like InterTradeIreland, Invest NI and the local authority network and local enterprise agencies. We’re here to help and bring you to the next level.”

InterTradeIreland is continuing to be a proactive organization and is responding to the changing needs for firms and as a result, introducing a range of measures and initiatives to help companies perform here.

“During the pandemic InterTradeIreland developed a range of supports to help companies in response to Covid-19 and now we’re focused on helping firms through the recovery phase,” Margaret says. “We also helped businesses prepare for Brexit since 2016 and our Brexit Advisory Service keeps companies informed and offers post-Brexit supports and advice.

“With the pandemic, the pace of change has accelerated, and we are undergoing our own digitization journey so that we can continue to deliver to businesses in a responsive way. This includes our Covid support, some of which have now been mainstreamed, including our Digital Sales programme.

“Our trade programmes help firms to gain the knowledge, skills, and capability to access new markets in the Republic of Ireland. Furthermore, our Innovation Boost programme partners academics and SMEs, resulting in important industry-led knowledge transfer and supports product development/innovative new processes. Our IMPACT programme helps businesses across the island to collaborate on industry wide R&D projects with global potential. And as partners of the HBAN All Island Business Angel network we support investment flowing to good projects across the island.”

She says InterTradeIreland also wants to play its part in the delivery of the Department for the Economy’s ‘10X Economy’ strategy.

“Going forward there is enormous potential in sectors such as advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences – and there will also be opportunities for smaller business in those supply chains.

“And we have exciting initiatives rolling out later this year, which are a direct response to what firms have been telling us, so watch this space.”

Another area which is increasingly coming to the fore in terms of importance is the ‘green economy’. Firms across Ireland understand they need to play their part in the race towards net zero and are helping lead the way in terms of innovation and technology.

“In 2022, the ‘green economy’ is forecast to become a key driver of growth and businesses should take stock of these opportunities,” she says.

“For example, GlasPort Bio who were named the first ever winner of our Low Carbon prize at the 2021 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition develop technology focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and create solutions that allow farmers to produce food in a more productive and profitable way, ensuring sustainability for generations to come.

“This new award category allows us to recognize start-ups who are innovating within the low carbon and green sector. Through this, we want to nurture new companies coming down the track that will make a positive change.”

Looking ahead, InterTradeIreland is clear in its role in assisting businesses from throughout Ireland – sharing knowledge, best practice and information across the island.



Margaret Hearty

“We support businesses to trade, collaborate and innovate with partners in the opposite jurisdiction,” she says. “I personally love seeing the difference that InterTradeIreland’s supports make to businesses.”

And while recovery remains high on the agenda in the short-term, there are many real and buoyant opportunities for companies across the sectors – and InterTradeIreland is going to continue to play its part.

“Looking ahead, we’re focused on helping firms take a strategic look at their supply chains and bringing these closer to home,” Margaret says.

“In terms of modern technologies there are real opportunities for early adapters, including ‘Industry 4.0’, co-operation to drive small firm productivity and in sectors such as advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences – where there is scope for developing internationally competitive all-island clusters and world class R&D.

“While the short term is focused on recovery, there are many real opportunities moving forward and cross-border cooperation will deliver mutual benefits for business development and international competitiveness. Against this backdrop, InterTradeIreland has never been busier in terms of the pipeline of applications and the demand for information, advice and financial assistance to trade cross-border has never been higher.

“We are very much open for business, with lots of supports to help companies navigate the ‘new normal’.”

Ulster Business March 29, 2022, 11:52 AM

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