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Five EU regions come together to create an international business mentoring solution for local West of Ireland SME’s

19/4/2019

Minna Järvinen, Corporate Communications Officer at Finnish Business mentors, was in Galway to share the expertise of supporting over 1,400 clients in 2018, to access mentoring services in her native Finland with attendees from the West of Ireland and beyond. Minna was speaking as part of the launch events for the Bizmentors EU funded initiative launched by the Western Development Commission (WDC) and SCCUL enterprises in the historic Aula Maxima in NUIG. In 2018 the WDC and SCCUL were successfully awarded EU funding to develop and pilot an SME mentoring support project with partners from Finland, Iceland, and Northern Ireland. The project is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA)[1] with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. “For the WDC it is intended that the EU Bizmentors project will result in a novel capability to provide Trans-national, bespoke, mentoring to allow our SMEs to both survive and indeed thrive” said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development at the WDC. [1] For more details on the NPA, see www.interreg-npa.eu Annette Hassett, Bizmentors Programme Manager for SCCUL Enterprises CLG, stated: “This is an exciting step for Bizmentors from humble beginnings based on the East Side of Galway City with a focus on the Galway area to this collaboration across 5 EU regions providing trans-national business mentoring solutions”. The development of such a transnational offering to local SME’s is the main deliverable. Such a model compliment’s existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region The BizMentors model, developed by SCCUL, has been proven to support individuals and businesses in a community setting in Galway since 2012. It relies on the local support of established business people to provide free guidance to those seeking it in a structured and low cost way. To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing businesses in the partner regions initially, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region. The mentoring model developed will be piloted in each region participating in the project The project in the West of Ireland is implemented by the Western Development Commission and SCCUL enterprise CLG. Contact: Ian Brannigan Head of Regional Development, WDC, 086 6048012 or 094 986 1441 Notes: Photo attached: Bizmentors EU Project launch Caption: Irish Delegates at Bizmentors EU launch ( L to R; Tomás Ó’ SÍocháin WDC , Annette Hassett SCCUL, Ian Brannigan WDC, Michael Smyth SCCUL) Photo Credit: Andrew Downes Bizmentors EU project: The Bizmentors (BM) is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA)[1] with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. The development of such a transnational model is the BM project main deliverable. Such a model is complimentary to existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region… Bizmentors will be operated by six partner organisations across four European regions: Western Development Commission (WDC), Ireland SCCUL enterprise, Ireland Savonia University of Applied sciences, Finland Northeast Iceland Development Agency Arctic Iceland, IACN Fermanagh and Omagh district council Northern Ireland

Northern Periphery & Arctic initiative partner meeting in Galway Ireland

by bizmentors | May 21, 2019 |

 

NPA Programme – 5th Call Project Application (Project No. 316) S.O. 2.1. Improved support systems tailored for start-ups and existing SMEs in remote and sparsely populated areas Poor access to business expertise and networks is a challenge for SMEs and entrepreneurs across the NPA. This is especially true for SMEs in low business density and population density areas and for under-represented groups including women, the disabled and ethnic minorities. While an established mentoring support system exists in all the partner regions, many fail to meet the criteria to qualify for mentoring support, the mentors lack a working knowledge of specific areas of expertise or the funding model is unsustainable. The Bizmentors model, developed by SCCUL, has been proven to support individuals and businesses in a small dispersed community setting in Galway since 2012. It relies on the local support of established businesspeople (mentors) to provide free guidance to those seeking it (mentees) in a structured and low cost way. In a quadruple helix partnership approach, this project aims to innovate the model using an online interactive platform and shared learning to scale and expand Bizmentors in the NPA Region, making expertise accessible to all enterprises and entrepreneurs. To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing agri-food businesses in the partner regions during the preparatory phase, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region. The mentoring model developed will be piloted in each region participating in the project. The output from these pilots will inform future transferability to other business sectors and countries (not just in the NPA region). To support this, a transnational Best Practice Handbook (BPH) will be produced to inform decision makers seeking to implement effective, low cost and inclusive mentoring solutions in other regions. The online platform will be made freely available to other communities to enable the sharing of goodwill, knowledge, wisdom and experience. Project Objectives: Provide an online barrier-free, brokered access to business expertise across dispersed communities in the project partner regions Provide community-based peer to peer mentoring support to entrepreneurs and businesses in the Agri-Food sector that is structured, free, managed centrally online and transferable across other sectors Develop a sustainable and transferrable toolkit and Best Practice Handbook (BPH) to complement existing models and policy frameworks in the partner regions for diversification and growth of businesses in the Agri-Food sector Project activities will include: Developing & piloting a mentoring model which will suit each region participating in the project, and ensure its transferability to other business sectors, and other countries (not just in the NPA region), and focusing on a specific business sector (processing/refinement of natural resources) in the partner countries. An interactive, accessible, inclusive platform for all businesses will be developed, which will compliment and supplement existing mentoring support offerings. To support this, a transnational best practice business model handbook will be developed that can be used to address challenges in different countries. Project Partners: Western Development Commission – LP (IE) SCCUL Enterprises CLG (IE) Fermanagh & Omagh District Council (NI) Savonia University of Applied Sciences (FI) Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IS) Northeast Iceland Development Agency (IS)

Akureyri Iceland - BizMentors International Partner meeting

23rd October 2019

BizMentors International Partners meet in Akureyri to discuss pilots for mentoring models in the partner region 

 

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