Brian O'Farrell, County Carlow Chamber, Marc Groothuijse Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, Peadar Casey, IT Carlow
Five County Carlow businesses, supported by the Local Enterprise Office, travelled to The Netherlands in November to explore and target new business opportunities in mainland Europe.
The businesses travelled to The Netherlands for the three-day group visit from November 19-21, where they were met on arrival my members of the team from Enterprise Ireland Benelux Region.
Over the three days, all the businesses took part in numerous meetings with potential customers in the Netherlands.
Speaking about the project feedback, Pauline Hoctor, Senior Enterprise Development Officer with Carlow County Council's Local Enterprise Office, said: "The feedback has been very positive. Our clients are very happy with how their meetings progressed and have identified viable business prospects in The Netherlands."
The Netherlands has a population of 17.1 million people and has consistently been one of the popular export markets for Irish SMEs over the last 10 years.
Last year, over €7.9 billion of products and services were sold by Irish businesses to customers in The Netherlands and sales have increased significantly in the last few years.
As part of the delegation officials from Carlow County Council, IT Carlow and County Carlow Chamber also held meetings with potential stakeholders in Port XL, Science Tower- Centre for Entrepreneurship, Rotterdam Food Cluster, Enterprise Ireland & KVK Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.
Meetings focused on support opportunities for companies, briefings and also sharing of best practice around solutions and interventions for Brexit.
Speaking of the importance of the mission Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise with Carlow County Council's Local Enterprise Office, said: "The Local Enterprise Ofﬁces have been actively driving the growth and development of the indigenous companies since their establishment by strategic national alliances and programmes and through active engagement with local businesses."
"Through this mission we supported the development of opportunities for clients and gave the opportunity to discuss the potential for strategic partnerships and alliances, and to identify new sales opportunities – but primarily generate new sales."
The mission was organised in partnership with County Carlow Chamber as part of its Chamber Trade Connections which is focused on helping companies to meet new and existing trade partners.
Brian O’Farrell, chief executive with County Carlow Chamber, said: "We were delighted to work on this project with County Carlow SME’s to explore opportunities with the support of the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Europe Network.
"While five companies travelled on the project, eight companies have developed opportunities and there has been much learned about the opportunities for companies in particular the requirement to diversify to counterbalance the challenges of Brexit.
"Whatever the ultimate outcome of Brexit is, it has shown us how dependent we are on our nearest export market and it has highlighted the need for all our businesses to be more competitive and more ambitious in other export markets."