Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Community Plan launched

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Following an extensive public consultation exercise in October/November 2016, we have finalised the first Community Plan for our district – Fermanagh and Omagh 2030 – and launched it at the end of March.

The Community Plan is a long-term strategic plan for our area which will be owned and delivered by the Community Planning Partnership comprising a range of statutory and support partners with the Council as lead partner.

The Community Plan will be supported by three detailed Action Plans, which we aim to publish by the summer of 2017. Together these will focus on achieving our Vision and Outcomes.

Detailed action planning is due to progress shortly based around the strategic actions which we consulted upon and, in line with the partnership ethos of the Plan, these will be led by the following agencies:

  • People and Communities: Western Health and Social Care Trust & Public Health Agency – in conjunction with FODC Director of Community, Health and Leisure
  • Economy, Infrastructure and Skills: Invest NI – in conjunction with FODC Director of Regeneration and Planning
  • Environment: Sport NI – in conjunction with FODC Director of Environment and Place.

The Community Plan will be managed using an Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) approach, in line with the draft Programme for Government and training on this will be rolled out in the near future.  Information sessions on the Community Plan and how the Council’s Corporate Plan align to this will be scheduled for all staff.

For further information please contact Kim Weir, Community Planning and Performance (kim.weir@fermanaghomagh.com).

Green Business Workshop in Galway (20th April 2017)

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Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) are hosting a Green Business Workshop on Thursday 20th April 2017 in GMIT Innovation Hub Boardroom.

This full-day workshop is suitable for individuals who have an idea for a sustainable green technology start-up and for existing SMEs who are interested in developing new sustainable products or services.

The workshop will be presented by a Climate Nation Entrepreneur in Residence, Ron Immink, and is funded by Sustainable Nation Ireland.  Sustainable Nation Ireland as part of their 2 degrees platform want to highlight this as a business opportunity and the aim is to increase the awareness of the opportunities in climate change and tackle climate change through entrepreneurship.

The 2oCamp is for individuals and companies that have an idea and want to explore their idea in more detail. Over a one day workshop (10:00-16:00), participants get the tools to assess their idea, develop the idea further and get the beginning of a pitch deck.

Should participant want to take the idea further, they can apply for the Climatelaunchpad competition, where they have an opportunity to develop the business further and compete with 30 European counties. The top 3 finalist will represent Ireland at the finals in Cyprus this year.

Further information and registration can be found on the Sustainable Nation website: http://sustainablenation.ie/blog/tackling-climate-change-through-entrepreneurship-join-our-2camp/

GREBEs Entrepreneur Enable Scheme to be rolled out in Spring 2017

Within the GREBE project, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) have been responsible for the work around the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme (EES).  Over the last 18 months, we have been busy procuring the services of mentors, recruiting businesses (12 within the FODC region) and implementing the scheme. With almost 94% of the mentoring sessions in the pilot region now complete, the GREBE project is about to roll-out the EES to other partner regions.  Aimed at businesses that are either currently active in the Renewable Energy sector or wish to become involved in the sector through innovate approaches or business diversification, the purpose of the scheme is to provide business supports to assist those chosen to be involved.

The GREBE project will target businesses in the following areas and in the following numbers:

  • Western Development Commission – Ireland – 10
  • Environmental Research Institute – Scotland – 5
  • Karelia University of Applied Sciences – Finland – 3
  • Narvik Science Park – Norway – 10
  • Innovation Centre Iceland – Iceland – 5

The businesses will be able to avail of support around a range of areas that they will identify themselves.  In addition to sector specific Renewable Energy expertise, they may require expertise relating to Access to Finance, Business Growth, Human Resources issues, or any aspect that is relevant to business development.  Mentors with the appropriate expertise will be assigned to work with the business to address the identified area(s) and to deliver a bespoke support package. The level of support is up to 6 days of mentoring which can be delivered over a period of time commensurate with the business need.

The Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme will be launched in Finland next week as part of our forthcoming Partner meeting , within a policy workshop “From resource to Sustainable Business”.  This public seminar will take place at Metla-talo, Yliopstokatu 6, 80100 Joensuu and you can register for the event here

Some information on the participant companies in the Northern Ireland pilot can be found in our e-zines on the publications page of our website http://grebeproject.eu/publication/

 

GREBE reviews and analyses business growth strategies: A guideline report now available

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Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and micro-scale enterprises (new and established) have a key role to play in generating new employment in peripheral regions. However, from knowledge of local markets it is clear that only small numbers of SMEs are consistent in generating new employment opportunities i.e. they are successful growth enterprises. SMEs that are most successful are those that successfully deployed growth strategies to optimize their business activities.

The growth strategy guideline reviews successful business growth strategies for SMEs and micro-scale enterprises in the NPA regions and analyses how these can be adapted for application to the RE sector. Business growth strategies based on new RE and energy storage technologies are identified by a case-based approach. Successful strategies allowing for business growth in current or new domestic or international market areas are available for replication across the NPA area facilitating economic growth and improved market access of new RE solutions.

The guideline report introduces firstly the contexts of business growth and main types of growth strategies. Secondly, it provides a baseline of business growth issues, preconditions of growth and support needs, basing on a transnational survey for 70 business enterprises in the NPA region. Thirdly, it provides examples of the growth strategies in renewable energy and energy storage sectors. Finally, conclusions provide more generic guidelines for the business growth strategies in the sector.

The guideline report is available for download on the GREBE website here

The GREBE Business Supports Catalogue

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This GREBE Business Supports Catalogue has been developed following a review of Renewable Energy business support funding mechanisms and funding options available to support the development of renewable businesses in the NPA region.

It 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 main focus is on public body 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.)

A short introduction on the methods and types of supports in each partner region is provided.  Information for each partner region is it then organised under the following categories:

  • Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
  • Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
  • Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
  • Research and Development Supports
  • Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
  • Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space etc.

Within each of these categories there is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes. We hope that by using this catalogue those who seeking funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them.

In the future the information in this catalogue will be used to create a web based tool allowing users to search for available funding options and to consider different types of funding available in each region.  The catalogues is available on the GREBE project website here

GREBE E-Zine No. 2 is launched

The GREBE Project has launched its second e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.

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Since our e-zine in May, we have been working on implementing some of our project activities and this e-zine will highlight details of our new website, our Industry Advisory Group meetings, Policy Workshops, partner meetings in Inverness and Iceland, and the launch of the Northern Ireland pilot of our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme.

To read our e-zine, please click here

A product that comes straight from the nature

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How do you differentiate your product from that of the competitors? Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir raised that question at Branding energy conference that was held in Reykjavík, Iceland in late September. Áslaug Thelma is head of marketing at Orka Náttúrunnar, state owned company, wholly owned by Orkuveita Reykjavíkur, the Reykjavík power company. Orka Nátturunnar was established to comply with Icelandic regulations regarding separating of competing and non-competing entities in the energy market. The company produces both electricity and hot water form geothermal resources.

Áslaug pointed out that one of the things that make the energy market unique is that the consumer isn´t necessary all that well aware of the product he´s paying for, “How do you differentiate a company like ours from other sellers when the product is something that consumer can’t see, and you´d rather not want him to touch?”

Early on, the company decided on a strategy that focuses on forward thinking and having a positive influence on both environment and the community. “in our marketing work we´ve emphasized that what we produce, both electricity and hot water, come straight from the nature, and is a part of the quality of life that we enjoy on this island. We want to send clear message about what kind of business we are, and let the “heart“ of the company shine through everything we do.”

It is in this spirit tha Orka Náttúrunnar has worked on developing new products and Áslaug points out that the company has, among other things, focused on building a network of charging stations electric cars. “When we started on the path there were hardly more than 50 electric cars in whole Iceland, but now I gather there are more than a thousand. We want to do our part to help with environmental friendly and forward-thinking transition in transport in Iceland and have been able to play a key role,” says Áslaug, but today Orka Náttúrunnar runs thirteen charging stations. It´s been very pleasant to see how fast thing have developed. There´s great interest in switching from fossil fuels to green energy and now we’re seeing more and more companies want to install charging stations both for their employees and for customers.”

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This interview was published in the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið 19.09.2016