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3 Enterprise Ireland Grants To Boost Your Online Business in 2022

It’s been a tough couple of years for Irish companies, but no one should still be in pandemic panic mode. Between Covid and Brexit, it’s been a time for rethinking how we do business — and we’re doing more and more of that business online.

There’s been a rapid gear change to digital-first in virtually all sectors worldwide, and Ireland is no different. The.IE Domain Profile Report 2021 showed a 28% rise in new .ie business registrations between 2019 and the first half of 2021. And since 2016, the number of business registrations has jumped by 86%.

[Digital first: The.IE Domain Profile Report 2021 shows the number of official .ie businesses registered in Ireland]

The good news?  If you’re one of the thousands of Irish companies who share these long-term digital goals, Enterprise Ireland has a range of excellent grants to help you.

Hundreds of Irish companies got a lifeline in 2020 and 2021 through State grants, and if you’re a retailer who still hasn’t explored this avenue, make it your New Year’s resolution to find a grant that transforms your business in 2022. Whether you need funds for business planning, website development or a new booking system, there’s a State grant for you.

But where to start? Here’s a breakdown of three Enterprise Ireland grants that can take your business to the next level. Find out whether you’re eligible, how much you can claim, and how to write an application that judges can’t refuse.

[The fund starts here: Choose the Enterprise Ireland grant that works for you]
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How much can you get?

€10,000 – €40,000, with funding to support 80% of a project to boost your online presence and create jobs through eCommerce sales in Ireland and internationally.

Opening and closing date

Three rounds so far in 2020 and 2021, with a fourth round likely in early 2022.

Who can apply?

Irish retailers with 10+ staff who mostly sell directly to individual consumers (B2C). You must already have an online presence.

How can it help?

The Online Retail Scheme has been a massive support system for Irish businesses through two years of turbulence. Over 400 Irish companies have shared a combined grant pot of over €15 million — helping them fund digital transformation projects.

A project fund of up to €40,000 takes away the risk of investing in digital, with limited funds or in-house resources. You could partner with an outside agency with proven expertise in delivering effective digital solutions, including:

  • Research: In-depth analysis of your current online presence, target audience and brand, to develop winning business strategies.
  • Strategy development: Creating a roadmap and a foundation for building on your online potential and enhancing your business through all channels.
  • Implementation: Realising your business goals through a best-in-class eCommerce platform, SEO improvements and multichannel marketing campaigns.

How do you write a winning application?

Impress the Enterprise Ireland judges with an honest and feasible proposal full of unique innovations for your sector — and why you need State funding to achieve your goals.

  • Take your time: You will have three weeks between the announcement and the closing date. The application is long, but you’ll get into a flow if you treat it like a project with milestones, generating ideas as you progress.
  • Tell your story: Tell the judges exactly what you do, and what sets you apart from your competitors. They want to back a winner, so make them confident that you can excel in Irish and international markets.
  • Be realistic — but ambitious: How would you use €40,000 to transform your business? Judges love ambition, especially if it’s backed up by a realistic plan and a detailed knowledge of your sector.

How can Matrix help?

In the first three rounds of the Online Retail Scheme we had a 100% success rate with all of our application partners — that’s nearly 30 Irish businesses sharing over €1m in State funding.

We will collaborate closely with you on an application that inspires judges, with a customised business plan based on our innovative Digital Spark programme. Our successful applicants have included pharmacies, fashion stores, gift shops, cycle stores, furniture and homeware stores, electrical stores and craft beer companies. We will have a dynamic solution that will suit your business.

How we’ve helped our project partners:

Offbeat Donuts: A new website with a bold and modern design and powerful eCommerce functionality.

Mizenhead/Timberland: A premium customer eCommerce experience for the iconic clothing brand.

The Woollen Market: Weaving a complete marketing strategy aimed at new international audiences.

How much can you get?

Up to €35,000, with funding for 50% of a suitable project that costs up to €70,000.

Who can apply?

Any SME or large company that’s already an Enterprise client — an established company with an ambition to develop their digital marketing strategy.

Opening and closing date

No opening and closing dates, and the application process isn’t competitive — apply any time and each proposal is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

How can it help?

The Digital Marketing Capability grant (formerly the e-Marketing Improvement Assignment) is the perfect opportunity to turn your website into the ultimate marketing tool, generating leads and expanding your business in Ireland and overseas.

The grant will fund management training and strategic development through an external agency such as Matrix, an Enterprise Ireland partner since 2015. Suitable projects include:

  • Strategic review of your eCommerce model, and transforming your online export strategy. Developing your content strategy and communication across all channels, to align with ambitious digital marketing goals.
  • Company-wide upskilling, through close collaboration with an external consultant, acting as a mentor throughout the project.
  • Developing and marketing your own products for export.

How do you write a winning application?

  • Wait until you’re ready: There’s no opening and closing date, so you won’t have the Online Retail Scheme exam-cram feeling, with hundreds of companies trying to decide on an agency and writing a proposal in three weeks. Still, don’t stall too much — also treat this one like a project, with delegated experts for certain sections, and milestones to keep you on track.
  • Know your strengths — and weaknesses: Never underestimate the value of a classic SWOT analysis. An agency will have experts in social media marketing, copywriting, content strategy, ad strategy and email marketing. They can delegate members of their team to focus on your key areas.
  • Know your competitors and stand out: The Digital Marketing Capability grant timeline isn’t as intense as the ORS, so judges have more time to evaluate your proposal. Let them know you’ve researched your sector, nationally and globally, and present a unique offering for specific target markets.

How can Matrix help?

If you choose Matrix as your project partner we become a collaborator from our first meeting. We will get to the core of your business through discovery workshops with key stakeholders, to refine your brand, transform your content strategy and conduct detailed peer audits.

We will develop a dynamic, tailored marketing strategy for export, boosting your content marketing, social media marketing and email marketing, as well as innovative inbound marketing techniques.

We’ll be your project partner through the grant process, so you’ll already have a deep insight into our practical methods before we start your digital transformation.

How we’ve helped our project partners: 

Timoney Technologies: A powerful eCommerce platform and brand redesign for a world leader in heavy industry

How much can you get?

€9,000 — 100% funding support to begin or improve your digital offering.

Who’s it for?

Any company in the manufacturing or internationally traded service sectors with 10 or more staff. You don’t need to be an EI client to apply.

Opening and closing date

No official closing date, but the temporary scheme will likely finish in 2022 when the funding announced in the budget is allocated.

How can it help?

The Digitalisation Voucher is a chance to boost your company’s digital capabilities in an intensive six-week consultancy project with an approved agency like Matrix. The agency’s team of experts will assess your company’s current systems and processes, and develop a digital plan of action, creating new revenue streams and growing your business.

Eligible projects must contain one or more of the following:

Internal process optimisation: Learn how  to take your company into a new lean phase by introducing automation or cloud-based digital systems. Cut down on employee workload so you can invest more time in upskilling.

Enhancing your customer’s digital journey: Start creating an engaging experience for your customers by developing a plan to improve their journey across all touchpoints. Turn leads into loyal customers.

Becoming a data-driven business: Learn how to unlock the power of your data through improved data collection, visualisation and analysis. Develop a true data-driven culture in your company through staff training and investment in processes and technology.

The application process

  • See if you’re ‘Digital Ready’: Evaluate the digital gaps and strengths in your business through Enterprise Ireland’s initial ‘Digital Ready Scorecard’ assessment here, as a first step in your application.

How Matrix can help

Becoming ‘Digital Ready’ is only the first step. Matrix Internet has been an approved Enterprise Ireland consultant for many years, so we’re experts at navigating the EI grant landscape. Leave the application to us.

From small businesses to Government organisations, Matrix has delivered more than 1,200 successful projects since 2000, so we’ll know exactly where you are on your digital journey, and develop a roadmap to where you want to be.

We’ll be your digital partner — talk to us today

No matter where you are on your digital journey, Matrix can get you to the next level — especially if that involves helping you secure funding. We’ve partnered with dozens of companies on winning applications, and we’ll customise a project plan through our three departments — Design, Development and Marketing. Get in touch with us today and let’s create a digital future together.

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