News & Events

National Export Hub graduates inaugural class of Export Knowledge Programme

New IEA and InterTradeIreland export initiative educates select SMEs

The Irish Exporters Association’s National Export Hub, in collaboration with InterTradeIreland, this afternoon will hold the first graduation ceremony of the Export Knowledge Programme, a new educational programme aimed at supporting 20 SMEs to improve their exporting capabilities. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD today (Thursday) will confer the inaugural graduating class of 2016 at a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin 2, with the Irish Exporters Association, InterTradeIreland, Hub Partners and collaborators.

The Export Knowledge Programme takes selected participants through an educational and support led journey to improve their capability to export into existing and new markets. 20 companies from sectors such as Food & Drink, Manufacturing and Pharma will graduate today. All of the companies graduating today have attended 6 workshops in the areas of: Trading Safely in New and Existing Markets; Knowledge of International Legal, Contract and IP Issues; International Financial Management; E-commerce skills and social media skills, marketing mix skills; International Logistics; Researching Markets and Finding Opportunities; and Tendering.

The National Export Hub is currently recruiting a further 20 companies to participate in the next term of the Export Knowledge Programme in association with InterTradeIreland, which is due to commence this Autumn. The key partners are: ABP Food Group, AIB, DHL, Euler Hermes, and PwC along with Bord Bia and the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD today commented: “I am delighted that InterTradeIreland has supported the IEA Export Knowledge Programme.  I am very much looking forward to meeting the first graduates of the Export Knowledge Programme today.  InterTradeIreland and the IEA play a key role helping many businesses to get export ready and their support has given many companies their first experience of developing cross-border export markets. This knowledge and capability allows companies to then go on and look at other export markets. Research shows that 74% of small businesses on the island take their first export steps cross border.  I consider this an excellent partnership and I look forward to hearing how the participants grow their exports in the future.”

Speaking before the ceremony today, Paschal McCarthy, President of the Irish Exporters Association said: “This is the first year of the Export Knowledge Programme and we are delighted that it has been a resounding success. We have received great feedback from the participants of the initiative and their enthusiasm has been an integral part of this landmark achievement. This programme is the first of its kind and will enable and empower small and first time exporters to grow their business through exporting. With a population of just 4.5 million, Irish businesses who want to grow their consumer base have no choice but to export, and we are here to support them on this journey. In order for a company to expand they need to open themselves up to new markets and, historically, the UK has been a first stepping stone for small companies to teach them how to export and expand. Given the outcome of the UK referendum on EU membership, this trade relationship may possibly get a lot more complicated, so initiatives like the Export Knowledge Programme are going to be paramount going forward to not only educate companies on the logistics of exporting, but to teach them about distribution avenues and how to make a plan and find their target audience globally. The IEA look forward to working with the key partners of the project and to work with another 20 companies in the Autumn Export Knowledge Programme.”

Robert Hallam, Director of 250Kal and Class Representative 2016 of the Export Knowledge Programme commented: “As with all start-ups, 250KAL Foods has great ambitions to make an impact in domestic and international markets, however turning ambitions into results requires experience, expertise and support, all of which have been hallmarks of the HUB programme. During the programme we have had access to the programme partners/sponsors, who have shared knowledge and experience which will enable us to make more informed decisions as we continue on our path to open up new channels, create jobs and secure our position in the market.”

Margaret Hearty, Director of Programmes and Business Services, InterTradeIreland stated: “InterTradeIreland is delighted to collaborate with the Irish Exporters Association on this brand new initiative. For a first-time exporter, trading in Northern Ireland is the perfect place to begin. It is geographically closer and there are no language barriers. Cross-border trade is currently valued at around €3bn – so substantial opportunities in the opposite jurisdiction still exist. Helping small companies to identify new cross-border export markets is a core part of our remit and this programme complements our existing sales and marketing programmes- Elevate and Acumen. We look forward to working closely with the IEA to help these small companies export cross-border, create growth and jobs and ultimately contribute to economic prosperity.”


Notes to Editors:

Photos will be issued to picture desks by Jason Clarke Photography between 5pm and 6.30pm.

T: 087 252 0782



For more information, contact:

Fiona Burke, Communications, Events & Public Affairs Officer, Irish Exporters Association

T: 01 6424171 / 087 646 1291


Brian Colgan, Head of IEA Export Hub, Irish Exporters Association

T: 01 6622 064 / 087 962 1927


Export Knowledge Programme, in collaboration with InterTradeIreland

Phase 1 – Export Readiness Assessment

An initial Export Readiness Assessment is carried out on each business application. The purpose of this process is to ensure that the business has the required organisational structure, culture and resources to support growth and entry into new export markets or expand in existing export markets.

Subject to a successful outcome of the Export Readiness Assessment, the business will be selected to participate in Phase 2 of the programme. If the business is not chosen to participate in Phase 2, it will receive a report with an assessment of its export readiness, together with advice and action points on how to improve its ability to enter export markets at a future date. 

Phase 2 – Export Workshops

This phase comprises of the educational and mentoring component of the programme. Each business participated in six full day Export Workshops from February to July 2016 during which time they learned about:

Workshop 1:      Selection and Management of Channel Partners/Distributors

Trading Safely in New and Existing Markets

Workshop 2:      Knowledge of International Legal, Contract and IP Issues

Workshop 3:      International Financial Management:

  • Economic Overview
  • Financing Growth
  • Foreign Exchange Management
  • Tax, Structure and Finance for Business Development

Workshop 4:      E-commerce skills and social media skills, marketing mix skills

Workshop 5:      International Logistics (air, sea, rail, road)

Workshop 6:      Researching Markets and Finding Opportunities to Grow Business Internationally

Tendering – All Island Public Sector Opportunities

Students also participated in themed roundtable discussions providing an opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing amongst the various businesses. 

Phase 3 –Export Progress Report

The final phase will take place following the graduation which will measure and evaluate the knowledge gained through the programme of workshops. This process establishes what stage of the export glide path each business is at, the potential for future export growth and the increase in sales in current or new export markets. 

The National Export Campaign (NEC):

The Irish Exporters Association and IEA HUB Partners: ABP Food Group, AIB, DHL, Euler Hermes and PwC, as well as collaborators: Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the NEC in March 2015. Last year, running 6 breakfast seminars and participating in 3 business shows (Smart Business Show, All Ireland Business Summit and the Exim Business Summit and presented at 5 Local Enterprise Office courses. In 2016, the NEC has run a number of events in Dublin and Cork and continues to present on Local Enterprise Office courses in key locations nationally addressing issues and concerns of the exporting community, particularly briefing on the UK’s referendum on membership of the EU. Each workshop provides practical knowledge from experienced exporters and an opportunity for attending SMEs to meet individually with experts from the Hub Partner companies. The aim of the NEC is to:

  • Build SME export competence nationally;
  • Increase awareness amongst SMEs around the benefits and challenges of exporting; and
  • Bring a range of key private and public sector supports together under one campaign. 

The National Export Hub (NEH):

Brian Colgan, the National Export Hub Manager based at the Irish Exporters Association, works with exporting businesses to help them identify export opportunities and assist them on their export journey. The NEH helps companies to identify and connect with the appropriate supports acting as a signpost to the various government and private sector assistance available. Patrick Joy, founder of Suretank Group and EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ 2013, Chairs the NEH steering committee and supports the Hub Manager. The NEH objectives are as follows:

  • To assist companies to grow by increasing their exports whether by exporting for the first time, increasing exports to existing markets or by opening a new export market;
  • To assist companies through introductions and referrals to the sponsors, commercial service providers, government and government agencies, and through signposting the various schemes and supports available; and
  • To increase the infrastructure of support available to all potential Irish Exporters. 

The NEH aims to:

  • Develop and significantly enhance the practical help and support available to all Irish based exporters;
  • Increase access amongst SMEs to experienced exporters and to expert support;
  • Increase the resources available to SMEs in order to assist them to start exporting or to grow their exports effectively;
  • Act as a signpost for all available export supports;
  • Increase the number of Irish based businesses who are exporting; and
  • Provide practical support to exporters on each step of their export journey.


Export Knowledge Programme, Graduating Class of 2016



Chimney Draught Stop

Clarkes of Dublin


Hederman, Belvelly SmokeHouse

Incus Power

Irish Rollforming

Kellys Mountain Brew

Lir Analytical Ltd

Newell Roofing ltd.




Smart Glass International

The Cool Bean Company

Vanguard Beer Collective 

About the Irish Exporters Association:

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) assists its members to grow their exports to world markets. We drive and support the growth and development of all exporting businesses based in Ireland by:

  • Representation – leading the export agenda as the voice of Irish exporters
  • Member development – enhancing the export knowledge and skillset of members through a range of training services and export development programmes
  • Networking & Connectivity – connecting our members with government and business stakeholders domestically and in market
  • Export Services – enabling our members with practical assistance and critical support services

The IEA represent the whole spectrum of companies within the export industry including SME’s who are beginning to think about exporting for the first time right through to global multinational companies who are already extensively exporting from Ireland. It is the connecting force for Irish exporters, providing practical knowledge and support across the Island of Ireland and in foreign markets.

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