As the whole country adapts to the ever-shifting ‘new normal’ forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Enterprise Ireland Online Retail Scheme has been a lifeline for Irish businesses. In July, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar announced that 183 Irish companies were successful in the first round of applications, sharing an overall funding amount of €6.5 million. And even if your company wasn’t on this list you haven’t missed the boat, as the programme has now reopened.
The call open date for Round 2 is Monday, August 31, 2020 with a close date of Monday, September 28 at 3pm. Companies now have four weeks to develop a proposal that could save their business and transform their future — with €5.5m to be shared among successful applicants in this round.
The Government announced the unprecedented programme in April, offering €2m in grants to be shared among businesses with 10 or more staff, hoping to boost their eCommerce performance in domestic and export markets. The scheme was devised to help companies fund 80% of an eCommerce project with an external consultant, up to a maximum of €40,000.
After a huge number of quality proposals from companies nationwide, the Government increased this initial €2m to €6.5m, with an average grant award of €35,500.
These 183 successful applicants were quick to answer the call with strong, innovative proposals, and they’re now about to embark on projects that will transform their digital future.
In the second round of ORS funding, €5.5m will be shared among successful applicants, who put forward a robust plan that shows resilient future thinking and an eagerness to adapt to new challenges.
Scaling new heights: (From left) Great Outdoors Owner and Director Derek Moody, Enterprise Ireland Executive Director Stephen Creaner and Minister Damien English
Announcing the first round of funding on July 2, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said that “competition is no longer local”, stressing the need for Irish companies to be ambitious in their export goals. Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English announced this second round on August 20, and reiterated the need for digital innovation, saying: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to make it an urgent priority for businesses to accelerate the growth of their online offering.”
Minister English made the announcement at the Great Outdoors store in Dublin — one of the 183 companies who benefited from funding in Round 1. “This opportunity came at exactly the right moment and, as a result, we are much further ahead with our projected timeline for online development,” said Great Outdoors owner and director Derek Moody.
Great Outdoors is only one of hundreds of Irish companies who will survive and prosper with the help of this unprecedented State funding. A new report from the IE Domain Registry, Tipping Point, how eCommerce Can Reignite Ireland’s Post-COVID-19 Economy, further highlights this ‘new normal’ in Irish business, with rapidly changing customer behaviour driving the need for a future-proofed eCommerce business model. And responding to the huge growth in online consumer spending, companies who primarily operate a business-to-business (B2B) model are excluded in this round of Government funding.
The first round of applications brought success for companies all over Ireland, in a huge range of industries, including jewellers, music shops, hardware and DIY stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, sports shops, pet stores, art suppliers, opticians, bookshops, furniture suppliers and many more.
The long and eclectic list of successful applicants should be a jolt of inspiration — there’s probably a company like yours planning how to spend up to €40,000 on a project that will transform their business. Don’t get left in the dock this time — jump on board and heed the Government’s call to “fully embrace” this digital opportunity.
Enterprise Ireland is awarding grants on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) — and ‘innovation’ is the key word here. Judges won’t consider your application if you’re simply asking for ‘off-the-shelf’ software or pay-per-click ads — entice them with a plan for boosting sales, creating jobs and long-term goals of international success.
Judges will be impressed by projects in these three categories:
In-depth analysis of your current online presence, target audience and brand. Explain how a research project will revolutionise your future strategies and lay a foundation for eCommerce excellence. Fine-tune your USPs and assess your company from a different angle with the help of an external team of experts.
Building on thorough research, develop a written digital strategy and a roadmap based on your findings. Score points with judges by convincing them that you have a solid plan to maximise your potential across all channels.
If your company has a strong foundation in research and strategy development, convince judges that their investment will help you implement these strategies to meet your business goals. Whether that’s Search Engine Optimisation, improvements to back end systems or a new eCommerce platform, they’ll back a company with genuine potential to expand in Irish and exports markets.
You can work with our agency to formulate a proposed project — and we’re on Enterprise Ireland’s approved list of consultants. In fact, we helped 10 companies develop their proposals in the first round, and each of these 10 applications were successful.
We collaborated closely with each business from the first conference call, and after detailed analysis of their business, we helped them create a personalised eCommerce improvement project, with joint input at every step. These companies weren’t put off by the seemingly complex application process, and neither should you be — with an extra few days’ work you could partner with us to formulate a winning response that could save your business and deliver domestic and international success.
Our first round partners were spread across a wide range of industries, but they all had one thing in common — an ambition to innovate and expand, if only they had the funds. Now these funds are secured, we look forward to becoming their partner in a new chapter.
Matrix had a dedicated team working with applicants on each project, and this experience helped us further define what makes a winning proposal. Our project managers, marketing experts, business analysts, content writers and strategists have laid out these vital elements — do you recognise your business here?
If you’re answering yes to these questions, we break down all the information about the Online Retail Scheme here, along with the all-important FAQs.
In the wake of COVID-19, we have developed a holistic eCommerce improvement programme called Digital Spark, that will now be tailored to each State-funded project partner.
Digital Spark is a dynamic initiative that will ignite your whole business model — from research workshops and strategic planning, to implementing powerful new web functionality. Through this programme we will empower Irish companies to take a proactive approach to eCommerce in a time of uncertainty.
Find out more about Digital Spark here, and our full range of services here. And if you choose us as your Online Retail Scheme application partner, maybe you’ll one day be a case study in our long list of happy clients.
By Conor McCaffrey
By Jeff Sheridan
By Maria Prendeville