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Food & Drink SMEs in Irish and Scottish Border Regions to Share in €2.2 Million Funding Boost

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Food & Drink SMEs in Irish and Scottish Border Regions to Share in €2.2 Million Funding Boost

Food & Drink SMEs in Irish and Scottish Border Regions to Share in €2.2 Million Funding Boost
April 25
13:33 2013

A new, pioneering €2.2million EU INTERREG IVA-funded programme aims to increase sales by €30 million across 90 food and drink manufacturers, as well as enhancing the marketing skills of 400 companies in the border regions of the Republic of Ireland, Western Scotland, and across Northern Ireland.

‘Access 6’ is an innovative programme which introduces the theme of ‘co-opetition’, bringing together the collective skills and experience of the sector’s three main representative bodies –  the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), Scotland Food & Drink (SFD), and Northern Ireland Food & Drink (NIFDA).

Over the next three years the three bodies will work collaboratively with a core group of 90 SME food and drink manufacturers from across the three regions (30 per region), overcoming the barriers which have hampered growth and establishing a strong presence on the world market. Through mentoring, marketing assistance and logistical support, the programme will help develop the skills required to trade in key export markets including the USA and Europe.

In addition to sales growth, the programme aims to create an additional 90 new jobs within the participating businesses, and also up-skill a further 400 SMEs across the region as a whole. The longer term aim is to reinvigorate the food and drink sector on a cross border basis, helping it achieve world-class status by realising its full export potential.

Pictured are (from front l-r): Michael Bell, NIFDA, John Whelan, IEA, Lorraine McCourt, SEUPB, Amanda Brown, SF&D.

While initially selected on a geographical basis, the companies will be grouped into market-specific clusters and embark on a schedule which includes knowledge exchange, management practice training and support, and overseas study tours.

Each cluster will also work alongside a channel partner within each export market, such as a major distributor, wholesaler or retail multiple. This will create a strong competitive advantage by providing a clear route to the end market.

John Whelan, Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association, says: “This project will accelerate consumer focused innovation in products, processing and packaging which is critical for our regional food and drink companies to reach new markets and remain competitive. We are confident that the project, over the three years, will broaden the export reach of many such companies which are peripheral to the main consumer markets and under pressure to survive.”

He continues: “The project’s collaborative approach is unique, bringing together complementary skills and expertise, delivering the best management tools and techniques, and sharing the most relevant experience and contacts. Ultimately this market expansion scheme has the capacity to impact beyond regional level, delivering economic benefits across the food & drink sector as a whole.”

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