Environmental Farming Scheme -A Wider Level opening for applications on Monday 19th August 2019

Posted by Jim on August 20, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Environmental Farming Scheme –A Wider Level opening for applications on Monday 19th August 2019
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Wider Level will open for applications from Monday 19 August to 20 September 2019. Successful applicants will be offered a 5 year scheme agreement, which will start on 01 January 2020.

Applicants must register, or have access to DAERA’s online services, as applications must be submitted online. EFS Wider Level contains a range of measures that farmers can undertake on farm to enhance biodiversity, improve water quality, and mitigate against climate change. Farmers choose which options they prefer, depending on their individual preferences or farm type.
Get ready now and start to plan your application!
Although there will be 5 weeks to submit an application it is advisable to start thinking about what options might be best suited to your farm from the range available.
Unlike previous agri-environment schemes, the EFS requires much of the work to be completed and claimed by the 01 June of the first year of the agreement. You should therefore be confident that you can complete all the work you will be required to do within the stated time periods.
As the application can only be made online, there may be a few steps to take now to prepare so you are ready when the application period opens. For example, you will need access to DAERA Online Services and you must also have a current email address that you can access.
If you already have a Government Gateway ID and Password that you use for APHIS or the Single Application and Map Service, then you can use the same log in details to access the EFS online application.
If you do not already have access, you will need to register
You are strongly advised to start the registration process now as this involves providing photographic identification documents at your local DAERA Direct Office.
If you need help to access DAERA Online Services contact your local DAERA Direct Office on 0300 200 7848 or 0300 200 7840.

Innovation Vouchers June 2019 call 10 June 2019

Posted by Jim on June 11, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Call for applications is now open until 15:00 on Friday 28 June 2019
Businesses in Northern Ireland can apply online for up to £5,000 worth of Innovation Vouchers. The vouchers are available from Invest Northern Ireland (NI).
What are Innovation Vouchers?
Innovation Vouchers provide funding to businesses to work with knowledge providers – ie universities, colleges and technical institutes – to create or improve their products, services or processes.
There are currently 39 registered knowledge providers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The vouchers allow you to access the skills and expertise of these providers for many different kinds of innovation projects.
Types of projects eligible for Innovation Vouchers
Typical projects Innovation Vouchers may support include:
ideas for new and improved products, processes and services
access to specialist expertise on new materials
tapping into research and scientific expertise
You can use vouchers to resolve a specific business issue, particularly if you don’t have the expertise, technology or facilities to deal with it.
Apply online for Innovation Vouchers
To apply for Innovation Vouchers, you should complete an online application form on the Invest NI website.
You can apply for Innovation Vouchers if you are:
a small business with fewer than 50 employees
a medium-sized business with fewer than 250 employees, provided that you haven’t received assistance through Invest NI’s R&D programme in the past five years
The deadline for applications is 15:00 on Friday 28 June 2019.



The importance of PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) within tool manufacture

Posted by Jim on May 31, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

The Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) is used to establish confidence in component suppliers and their production process.
It provides customers with evidence that:
Component suppliers have understood their requirements.
The product meets customers requirements.
The production process is capable of consistently producing conforming product.

PPAP is an important part of the product development process, allowing producers to evaluate the components and sub-systems which they receive from suppliers, and establishing confidence in the supplier’s management systems.
The PPAP process is designed to demonstrate that the component supplier has developed their design and production process to meet the customer’s requirements, minimising the risk of failure by effective use of APQP. Requests for part approval must therefore be supported by-
Defines Generic requirements for production for Production Part Approval including production and bulk materials, The purpose of PPAP is to Determine if all customer engineering design record & specification requirements are properly understood by the organisation and that the manufacturing processes as potential to produce the product consistently meeting these requirements during an actual production run at the quoted production rate.
PPAP Approval
The result of this process is a series of documents gathered in one specific location (a binder or electronically) called the “PPAP Package”. The PPAP package is a series of documents which need a formal approval by the supplier and customer. The form that summarizes this package is called PSW (Part Submission Warrant). The approval of the PSW indicates that the supplier responsible person (usually the Quality Engineer) has reviewed this package and that the customer has not identified any issues that would prevent its approbation.
The documentation on the PPAP package is closely related to the Advanced Product Quality Planning process (APQP) used during the design and development of new vehicles and component systems to reduce the risk of unexpected failure due to errors in design and manufacture. The PPAP manual is published by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), and specifies generic requirements for obtaining PPAP approvals. Additional customer specific requirements may be imposed by particular clients (vehicle manufacturers) and incorporated in the purchasing contracts. Details of ‘customer specific’ requirements may be found on the International Automotive Task Force [[IAT website or supplier portals provided by the vehicle manufacturers. A new website, developed by Customer Specific Requirements, LLC has been created to help solve problems associated with the distribution and accessibility of customer specific requirements.
Suppliers are required to obtain PPAP approval from the vehicle manufacturers whenever a new or modified component is introduced to production, or the manufacturing process is changed. Obtaining approval requires the supplier to provide sample parts and documentary evidence showing that:
1) The clients requirements have been understood
2) The product supplied meets those requirements
3) The process (including sub suppliers) is capable of producing conforming product
4) The production control plan and quality management system will prevent non-conforming product reaching the client or compromising the safety and reliability of finished vehicles
Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) may be required for all components and materials incorporated in the finished product, and may also be required if components are processed by external sub-contractors.
PPAP is the confirmation that the product meets the customer requirements for series production. The PPAP will be considered signed when a full PSW is approved by your customer and added to the PPAP folder. The PSW would always be supported with a ISIR but the PPAP is only considered approved when a FULL PSW is endorsed with and ISIR.
In essence the PSW and ISIR are part of PPAP or VDA and can even be outside of PPAP in cases such as first off tool parts which should be submitted in most cases with a PSW and ISIR but will not be approved in PPAP until series conditions are met.
The ISIR is the part of the PPAP which includes the product ballooned drawing, layout and the capability study (Cpk’s). It may sometimes be separately requested by the customer annually or in the event of repeating nonconformance.
The Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) is an interest group of the German automobile industry,based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Specialist Mentor-Marketing for the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme

Posted by Jim on May 28, 2019  /   Posted in Blog
  • JCR Network Services Ltd are pleased  to announce the appointment of their Director James Coyle as Specialist Mentor-Marketing  for the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme

    The Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme (AFCS) is a new scheme which will be funded through the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme.
    The aim of the scheme is to reduce fragmentation and improve competitiveness and sustainability within the agri-food sector. It will facilitate groups (where the lead applicant is a primary producer) to do this by helping to:
    access improved market information / knowledge flow – allowing producers to make more robust production decisions, and to become more responsive to changing market conditions
    acquire and /share new knowledge and skills to introduce novel practices / processes – to improve resource efficiency
    improve product specification, consistency and marketing to add additional value to NI agricultural and horticultural produce (including setting up and promoting food tourism initiatives that are consistent with Tourism NI strategy)
    How will the scheme work?
    The scheme provides a range of support tools which can be tailored to meet the needs of a group. This includes:
    facilitation and mentoring support to help develop the group and project idea and provide support through the implementation phase
    training to provide group members with the knowledge and skills to help implement their project
    study visits to look at new approaches and ideas and learn from best practice elsewhere
    market research and market information to provide a more focused approach to addressing market requirements
    business tools to help the functioning of the group
     group must have a minimum of two entities
    Support can be allocated to new or existing groups. However, for support to be granted to an existing group, it must be to develop a business plan for a new joint Eligibility
    The scheme is focused on securing benefit for the agri-food production sector. The lead applicant should be from the NI agricultural or horticultural production sector.
    the project must deal with products whose main components must already be, or could be, produced in Northern Ireland
    a group must have a minimum of two entities
    support can be allocated to new or existing groups. However, for support to be granted to an existing group, it must be to develop a business plan for a new joint project
    the scheme will only support plans for projects which involve innovative/unique characteristics, with low displacement implications and the potential to add net benefits to the Northern Ireland economy
    Important information
    The scheme will not accept applications from fisheries or aquaculture businesses, forestry businesses, or from businesses where output is for the energy market.
    How to apply
    This scheme is being delivered for DAERA by Countryside Services Ltd (CSL)

  • There is a two stage application process.
    The first stage requires you to submit a short expression of interest form. Eligible applications will be provided up to 5 days facilitation support to further progress the idea and develop a full (second stage) application for the scheme. This will also include a business plan.
    Where can I find out more information?
    For more information on the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme, contact CSL via their website
  • EMAIL:
  • or call 028 877 88207.

Are public tenders a waste of time?

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

By Ross McCarthy20th February 2019

Keystone Procurement

Business owners often ask us are public tenders a waste of time.? In this post, we are going to tease out this assertion and look into the reasons behind this assertion.
Are public tenders a waste of time?
Busy business owners prioritise what they focus on and where they place their efforts to drive their business forward. Public and private tenders (typically into large multinationals) can be time-consuming. It can be difficult to decide if it is worth a company’s time to develop a bid response for competitive tenders. A typical bid costs businesses between €3,500 and €6,000 to develop and submit so every bid is an investment and needs to be treated as an investment.
So, are public tenders a waste of time? Yes, definitely – if you bid without a clear strategy. If you have a clear strategy, they are a profitable, stable source of sales that help businesses get through economic downturns and manage their financial exposure to private sector cycles.
If it isn’t a waste of time, how do you know whether you should bid or not?
Companies considering whether they should bid or not need a good strategy. They should only consider bidding if they think they can win. The table below contains some considerations for companies to reflect on BEFORE they develop ANY bid.

A good bid strategy avoids tenders that are a waste of time
How confident are you that:
You understand the organisation and its strategy – if the answer is no, why bid?
The organisation will want to see a bid from your company – if the answer is no, can you stand out?
You understand your competition – if the answer is no, how can you differentiate your approach?
Your solution is potentially compelling – if the solution is not meeting their specific needs, can you win?
You can deliver against all criteria – if you cannot meet all criteria, why bid?
You have a strong, relevant track record – if you do not have relevant experience, why bid?
It is worth taking the time to understand the buying organisation’s approach to procurement
Have you taken the time to understand whether:
The organisation is reputable and in good standing – have procurement scandals occured there?
Buyers rotate – have they used different buyers in the past?
There is a record of supplier rotation – have you checked financial reports?
Buying decisions are made by teams – have you investigated this?
There are no long-standing incumbents – have you investigated this?
No apparent personal relationships – have you investigated this?
Why the procurement culture matters
We assume that companies do not want their bids to be a waste of time. To avoid this, they need to ensure they understand the buying organisation(s). There are organisations across the public and private sectors that do not rotate buyers. In fact, sometimes, people remain in key roles, buying from the same suppliers, for decades. This does not mean that any rules have been broken, but it can mean bidding is a waste of time. Where organisations rotate suppliers, buyers rotate and decisions are made by teams, the bidding environment is more favourable to new entrants.
When dealing with organisations like publicly funded charities, community organisations or other infrequent users of procurement processes, the quality of the tender documents is important. Well-written tender documents indicate the people running the process have strong commercial acumen. While circumstantial, it provides an indication that the process is professional.

Why bid strategy matters
It is difficult to write a good bid without a good understanding of the organisation that the company is looking to sell to. While a company can win low-value work bidding with little knowledge of the organisation, higher value work is harder to win this way.
If a company wants to avoid a bid that is a waste of time, they need to ensure they focus on a specific set of organisations that buy their products/services and are a good potential fit for them culturally. The company also needs to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses compared to its competitors. The solution they develop and include in their bid document needs to be strong, tailored and fully meet the criteria outlined in the tender.
The final point we’ll make in this post is the importance of relevant, prior experience. Companies should only reference projects that align with the tender criteria. When a company says it wants a dessert pear but a supplier keeps talking about an avocado pear, what is the outcome likely to be?
Tendering does not focus on whether a company can do/provide a particular good or service. Instead, it focuses on where a company has already delivered to a high standard in the past. Newer companies can break through quickly but to do so they should focus on consortiums and strategic partnerships.
Check out our sister site, for more on consortiums and avoid tenders that are a waste of time by following these steps.

Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina

Posted by Jim on March 19, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Event Details
Title: Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina
Date(s): 14th & 28th March 2019, 9.00am – 5.00pm
Venue: Great National Hotel Ballina
Price: £85/€100 per person

About the Event
Go-2-Tender is an InterTradeIreland programme which has been developed to give SMEs the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to tender successfully for public sector contracts in their own jurisdiction and on a cross-border basis.
The programme is geared towards SMEs who are new to tendering or who want to improve their basic tendering skills. The course consists of a two day workshop and a half day of mentoring. This mentoring may be extended by up to 2 additional days and all mentoring is delivered by an experienced consultant to assist with tender development.
This is a two-day workshop which will take place on 14th and 28th March 2019. The workshops will be held at the Great National Hotel Ballina, Dublin Road, Ballina, Co Mayo. Find out more course details below:
Day One
How to source above and below threshold contract opportunities
The bid/no bid decision
How the Public Sector buys (North and South)
How to assess opportunities using live examples
Electronic tender platforms (e.g. eTendersNI &
Success strategies for SMEs
Day Two
How to become more competitive
Improving your document writing skills
Checklist of tender content and how it should be presented
Debriefing following tender competitions
Action planning for successful tendering
Registration begins at 9.00 and the programme wraps up at 17.00 on both days.
Go-2-Tender provides excellent value for money and includes training, materials, catering and mentoring.
The cost is £85 or €100 per person.
Download the Go-2-Tender Workshop – Ballina application form.
Send completed registration form to


Support For Co-operative Development In The Agri Food Business.

Posted by Jim on March 04, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Get your Agri Food business idea up and running in 2019

Groups of individuals or small businesses who would benefit from co-operation with other aspects of the agri food chain can now avail of business support from the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme.
Mandina Fulton, Senior Administrator from Countryside Services, who are operating the scheme on behalf of the NI Rural Development Program and DAERA, explains “The scheme recognises that small businesses in the agri food supply chain can often have difficulty finding time to identify the expertise and resources necessary to progress joint initiatives. The Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme will give like-minded businesses the opportunity to work together to explore ways of improving returns from the supply chain.”
Examples of this type of co-operation which were funded under the Supply Chain Development Program – the forerunner of this new scheme, are groups of growers in the apple and pork industries. They recognised the growth in artisan food products but did not have the expertise within their group to avail of this market opportunity.
The apple growers availed of the expertise of specialist mentor support to create a brand for their products and to produce marketing tools. They recognised the tourism potential of the apple industry and created strategic linkages with the wider supply chain including cider producers, restaurants and hotels, to make the product the central focus of a tourism destination project, thus creating new markets and ultimately consumers of their products. Local outlets began to work with the growers as they had created a professional marketing campaign which they could all become part of.
A small group of farmers rearing outdoor pigs faced the same dilemma. They were operating on a small scale and needed business advice on how to upscale their production capacity in order to provide a steady supply for customers and expand their customer base. They realised that they would be targeting high-end restaurants and farm shops so their product required a premium price. They availed of expertise to carry out a financial appraisal and marketing strategy which was followed up with study tours for the group to meet other high-end food producers in order to gain invaluable information on this niche market.
Mandina Fulton added “ Through the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme expert help is available for business planning, specialist mentoring, market research, training, study tours and business tools such as information systems, market intelligence, promotional material etc.”

Groups who wish to express interest or find further information should visit the Countryside Services web site or or phone 028 8778 8207

Enterprise Week: 4th – 12th March 2019

Posted by Jim on February 26, 2019  /   Posted in Blog

Enterprise Week

Building upon the success of Enterprise Week 2018, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, in partnership with a host of business support agencies, are delighted to present a week packed with events to suit all businesses at various stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
Events are at a glance below, with booking links for each event further below.
If you notice any errors or omissions, please email Many thanks

CBEP Careers Fair Friday 1st 8.30am – 3pm Lodge Hotel Coleraine
Recruitment Fair – Hospitality & Tourism Friday 1st 2.30pm – 4pm Lodge Hotel Coleraine
Business Model Canvas Monday 4th 9.30am-12.30pm Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council- Coleraine Offices
Developing a Marketing Strategy in a Digital World Tuesday 5th 10am – 12pm Roe Valley Enterprise
Employment Law Tuesday 5th 10am – 12.30pm Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Coleraine Offices
Havening Techniques to Excel in Enterprise, with Karen Shirlow Tuesday 5th 12pm – 2pm Lean In Causeway
Crafters Showcase Tuesday 5th 5.30pm – 8pm Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart
Young Enterprise – Exploring Entrepreneurship Wednesday 6th 10am – 1pm Millennium Centre, Loughgiel, Ballymena
Advice for Businesses from the General Consumer Council Wednesday 6th 10.30am – 12.30pm Coleraine Town Hall
Social Enterprise Awareness Session Wednesday 6th 2pm – 4pm Gortnaghy Community Association
Who Wants To Be A Entrepreneur? Thursday 7th 10am – 12pm Roe Valley Enterprises
Branding Masterclass Thursday 7th 10am-1pm Ballycastle, Sheskburn House, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
Young Enterprise- Exploring Entrepreneurship Thursday 7th 10am – 1pm Marine Hotel, Ballycastle
Business Support Drop In Clinic Friday 8th 10am – 1pmRoe Valley Enterprise
Be Bold Female Entrepreneurs Conference Friday 8th 9.30am – 4pm Galgorm Resort & Spa
Young Enterprise- Exploring Entrepreneurship Friday 8th 10am – 1pm Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady
The Digital Marketing Bootcamp Tuesday 12th 9.00am – 3.30pm Magherabuoy Hotel Portrush
Seasonal Employment Information Session Tuesday 12th 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council

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