Support options available include assistance towards employing a full time or part time sales person, engaging a graduate for a 12 month sales & Marketing project or funding for a market research project. Since its inception, the programme has helped more than 350 companies across the island, generating over £100m worth of sales. In 2011 alone each company participating on Acumen benefitted from an average of £240k worth of additional sales.
Margaret Hearty, Director of Business Services and Programmes for InterTradeIreland explained:
“Our research shows that 49% of businesses have been severely affected by the slump in domestic demand due to the economic downturn and that exporters are significantly outperforming those companies which are dependent on their local market.
Our Acumen programme provides businesses with the support and assistance needed to help them to grow and enhance their competitiveness by seeking out these wider cross-border export opportunities. I urge any SME that is interested in developing its business into new markets, to register their interest in this programme’’
How Acumen has helped local companies
Two companies which benefited under Acumen are Dublin based software company, Phorest Software and Antrim-based manufacturer, Fast Engineering Ltd .
Phorest Software - Dublin
Ronan Perceval from Phorest Software CEO said: “Phorest Software received fantastic support from the Acumen programme – The financial and professional support our business received allowed us to employ a dynamic full time sales person and really gave us the confidence we needed to progress our operations in Northern Ireland – a market we had yet to explore properly. We are now the leading salon CRM and appointment software company in Northern Ireland! InterTradeIreland and the Acumen team were very enthusiastic about our business and helped us get to where we are today.”
Fast Engineering - Antrim
“We are experienced exporters but as part of our business planning process we wanted to build on this capability and identified a need for a sales and marketing person,” said Carson Mulholland, General Manager for Fast Engineering. “The Acumen programme allowed us to employ a high-calibre graduate from Mayo, Hazel Jordan, who was tasked with undertaking a number of important research projects to help develop our sales strategy for the business.
She has also helped us improve communications with our existing customers and global distributor network and to increase our awareness of customer needs. I would highly recommend the Acumen Programme to other SMEs wanting to develop new business opportunities outside of their local market. This initiative has given us a significant advantage in seeking out new markets for export for Fast Engineering with the funding, support and guidance provided by InterTradeIreland, being second to none.”
Benefits of Acumen Programme
- Access to new markets and increased sales
- Better knowledge of the cross-border market
- New business opportunities identified
- Improvements to your sales and marketing strategy
- Increased business contacts and prospects across the island
Am I eligible?
To qualify for financial support through our Acumen programme ideally your business should be:
- A manufacturing or a tradable service company with an annual turnover below £40 million (or euro equivalent)
- A company that employs less than 250 people
- An indigenous company (not multinational or foreign owned)
- Committed to the development of new product markets with the potential of job creation
- A company with an established relationship with a mainstream development agency (Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, City or County Enterprise Board, a Local Enterprise Agency)