Karelia University of Applied Sciences implemented a pilot mentoring programme for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. Mentoring took place between January 2018 and April 2018 for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. The mentoring provided the companies with suggestions for production process development, new business and product ideas and ways to develop their company as a whole.
As mentoring is a rather new method in Finnish business world, the GREBE project team was interested to see how things would proceed in its pilot mentoring sessions. The Irish partner’s processes were taken as an example for Karelia’s mentoring. The mentor proposed 2-5 optional solutions for the mentee’s, including for example improving the production process using LEAN principles, new (bio-based) raw material options, proceeding with product innovation, new business lines and new cooperation partnerships. The mentee’s chose 1-2 proposals to take further and discussed them with the mentor and/or other partners.
The mentoring process was well received and the mentees and mentor formed a good and open relationship. Although some of the proposed solutions seemed radical, many of them were already thought of in the company but not taken further, and the mentor assisted and sparred in the process. With a given tight time schedule and mentoring schedule, the companies found the mentoring useful and efficient. Due to limitation of time as the mentoring was performed in four months the outcomes of the mentoring are not realized yet. The mentoring finished in April 2018 and the companies are proceeding with the chosen solutions.
Here are some experiences from the mentor:
“I’m Juha Määttä, Spiralia Consulting Company and I have done three business mentoring cases in the Finnish part of the project. All business cases are part of GREBE project mentoring. Mentoring tasks included solving R&D process bottlenecks, screening of new business opportunities and analysing production process. Possibilities of new biomaterial have also been estimated. All companies have had interesting and challenging business cases. Mentoring has brought new solutions for the companies. All parties have increased their knowledge of renewable energy and enlarged our networks in business and research.”
A more detailed description of the mentoring process will be available in August 2018.
Action Renewables is hosting a European Energy Policy Conference on Thursday 21st June 2018 in the Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast. The marketing team are making final preparations here at Action Renewables to come up with a new concept of delivery that will keep the audience engaged and provide an enjoyable day of events. Here is a short preview of what is to come:
Registration will open from 9.00am at the Crowne Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast
The morning session of the Conference aims to showcase policy in 5 EU Renewable Energy Projects in Northern Ireland with a particular focus on the GREBE EU Project
Guest speakers will include – SEUPB and representatives from GREBE, Renewable Engine, RECENT, SEAFUEL and REDAWN
Outline of how the GREBE project has identified elements of good policy which could be applied to Northern Ireland.
The afternoon session will include: –
Action Renewables Energy Association (AREA) – Technology Workshops
Guest speakers will demonstrate the most recent developments in Renewable Energy Technologies.
The roll-out of the GREBE EES in North Karelia took place in February-April. Three companies Eno Energy Cooperative, Rajaforest Ltd. and Havel Ltd. attended in mentoring sessions together with the Spiralia Ltd. – an experienced SME mentoring and consultancy. The results of the EES were positive: there was initiation of new business cooperation, business plan development for a new innovative technology, introduction of LEAN quality management principles, among others.
Eno Energy Cooperative is in a phase of business renewing and thus the focus was in creating and diversifying collaboration with other energy enterprises. These discussions identified opportunities to cooperate in acquisitions and raw material procurements, and potential of additional business activities in wood fuel sector. Rajaforest Ltd. had a technology development case on biomass drying and received support in business planning. Havel Ltd. Benefited from information on renewable alternatives for plastic raw materials, as well as introduction of LEAN quality management in production.
The EES process was rolled-out successfully as it resulted in new collaborations and business activities. The process, developed in GREBE project, will be further adopted for regional use in North Karelia. It was identified that there is still further work to do to establish stronger mentor networks, develop orientation guidance for attending businesses, disseminate the scheme for larger audience, and establish funding base for the service. One potential continuation is to integrate the EES into a new regional renewable energy research and development project prepared by the Karelia UAS and Finnish Forest Centre.
The GREBE project meets in Thurso, Scotland in May 22nd-24th, which provides a unique opportunity to share the EES roll-out experiences between the NPA Programme regions.
The introduction of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018 will mean a host of changes for all businesses that handle the data of EU residents, regardless of size or sector.
To whom does GDPR apply?
If you hold any personal information on an individual in a business capacity – for example if you have an employee or a customer then the new law will apply to you.
Sole traders, Charities, Community Groups – all impacted.
If you run a club or a sporting organisation and have a list of members or volunteers then the law will also apply to you.
What is the GDPR and how is it different?
6 Guiding Principles
Individuals’ rights under the law
Sanctions and fines for non-compliance and data breaches
Getting GDPR ready
The documents, policies and procedures that must be in place.
The key information security measures you should implement
FREE GDPR workshop for businesses – 23rd March 6pm – 8pm – The Lemon Tree Coffee Shop, BELLEEK, BT93 3FY, Northern Ireland.
Janne Uutela from Rajaforest Ltd (left) and Juha Määttä from Spiralia Ltd in a mentoring session.
Karelia University of Applied Sciences is implementing a pilot mentoring programme for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. Mentoring will take place from January 2018 to April 2018 for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. The mentoring will provide the companies with suggestions for production process development, new business and product ideas and ways to develop their company as a whole.
Mentoring is not so common in Finland as it is in, for example, Ireland so the experiences of GREBE’s Irish partner form a basis for this mentoring process. Karelia launched an open call for companies in spring 2017 and received an expression of interest from three companies: Eno Energy Cooperative, Havel Ltd and Rajaforest Ltd. The current situation, needs and wishes for the mentoring process were discussed in 2017 and the tendering process for the mentor was made in late 2017. Mentoring includes 12 individual meetings with the mentor.
The mentoring takes place in a rather short timeframe, from January to April 2018 and is performed by Juha Määttä from Spiralia Ltd. The topics discussed so far in the mentoring sessions have included current challenges of the companies. They are looking into the strategic choices for the future, implementation of a development project and developing the production process. All companies have openly brought forward challenges and problems in their activities and the dialogue between the mentor and mentee (company) has been active in searching for alternative solutions. The mentor has proposed several optional solutions, which will be developed further in the coming months.
More information on the outcomes will follow in May 2018.
GREBE’s Funding Options tool provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland). The information will be useful to both funding agencies (e.g. business support agencies and municipalities) and to SMEs giving details of funding options available in their regions. The tool will help to ensure that funders in the different regions can learn about mechanisms and implementation strategies in use in other parts of the NPA area.
The main focus is on public support for renewable businesses but both private sector and social investment options have been included where appropriate. The supports included are for SMEs and Micro businesses but also include options for those SMEs expected to grow rapidly (e.g. High Potential Start Ups). The business support funding mechanisms considered vary from standard ‘hard’ business support options (e.g. loans and venture capital) to softer supports (e.g. innovation schemes, business partner search supports etc.). Options are available to search for mechanisms which are specific to the renewable energy sector, and also based on the geographical area (local, region, national, EU etc.) the support covers. There is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes.
Renewable businesses in each region will be able to check what supports are available in their own region and contact points for applications. GREBE’s Business Supports Catalogue is also available to download on the tool. We hope that by using this tool those who seek funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them. This tool is available on our renewablebusiness.eu platform at http://support.renewablebusiness.eu/
The GREBE project arranged a possibility for the transfer of knowledge within the Northern Periphery area by hosting expert sessions with SME´s. The sessions were part of the GREBE project meeting events hosted by the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council from 6th – 10th November 2017. Two experts, Saija Rasi and Veikko Möttönen from the GREBE partner organization Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings.
Saija Rasi, whose expertise is in bioenergy production, biogas technology, gas analysis, treatment of biodegradable wastes and bio refineries, provided information to stakeholders interested in biogas technology / energy production and nutrient circulation.
Veikko Möttönen has his area of expertise in wood mechanical properties, drying of wood and sawn timber, further processing of sawn wood, further processing of side streams and wood modification, and was able to provide information on practices to handle side streams and plans of company for the production development.
The experts were also available during a networking event for businesses from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland giving the opportunity to engage with one another or opening up the possibility of joint working opportunities in the future.
This activity was part of the GREBE project´s “Knowledge & Technology Transfer and Business Delivery” working package led by the Natural Research Institute Finland (LUKE). The aim of the expert sessions were to facilitate transnational effective knowledge transfer and collaboration in the renewable energy business sector and to promote knowledge sharing and information exchange between actors in renewable energy supply and demand.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) have now selected the 12 participants for the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme under the GREBE project. It was interesting and challenging to make the final selection. FODC are keen to support all those applicants but having had to make a decision, will try and support those not selected in perhaps more appropriate ways.
The process of mentoring involves companies engaging with external experts whose role is to support and challenge the business to address issues which may be adversely affecting their capacity to grow and develop. The GREBE pilot will work with a range of companies all engaged in a wide variety of activities around renewable energy. These companies have indicated there is something with which they need specific assistance.
Mentor matching has now complete and we can confirm that first meetings have taken place. Details of the businesses selected will be published in our next GREBE E-zine which will be published and circulated in August. After this, we will focus on one company at a time and write summary case studies to demonstrate how the support measures are working for the businesses, as the project moves forward. These will also be published on our social media platforms.
Over the next number of months, we will be working with these businesses to address some of the challenges that face entrepreneurs working in the renewable energy sector. The inputs and outputs from this engagement will provide an exemplar of how businesses operating in this sector can be best assisted to operate.
The pilot will then be rolled out across the whole GREBE project which covers regions including Finland, Iceland, Norway, Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
The FODC project co-ordinator for GREBE, Una Porteous spoke of how exciting it is to have gotten to this part of the project where mentors are now in position and able to commence work with the businesses.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have been delighted with the response to the call for businesses to engage with the GREBE project. The project has been oversubscribed and we are currently in the process of determining which businesses will be supported through the assistance available within the project.
The applicants are representative of a range of providers across the Renewable sector, including some social enterprises, CHP providers, those involved in AD, biomass and those impacted by the removal of the RHI support that had previously been available.
The project co-ordinator for GREBE in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Una Porteous, can confirm that once selected these businesses will be involved in mentoring support to assist them in progressing within the RE sector and the diversity of activity that will be represented in the choice, will reflect the range of opportunities that exists for this sector in spite of the challenges that they have to deal with.