Ireland Urged to Focus on Business Competitiveness and Excellence

An Taoiseach welcomes establishment of Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland)

A globally-renowned competitiveness organisation is setting up shop in the Republic of Ireland to replicate its success north of the border in key sectors of the Irish economy, it is announced today.

Launch of Centre for Competitiveness Ireland

Having helped hundreds of Northern Ireland organisations to achieve world-class standards of business excellence for over 20 years, the Centre for Competitiveness is now establishing an office in the Republic of Ireland.

A founding member of the Global Federation of Competitive Councils and a partner of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), the new Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) will be located at the CityWest Business Centre, in Dublin, and will promote and implement EFQM’s highly regarded Business Excellence Framework in key sectors and organisations.

The CCI will also provide a range of management development programmes, workshops and consultancy services, designed to improve management and leadership competences; as well as a suite of strategic innovation and organisational performance solutions.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D welcomed the establishment of the CCI.  He said: “I would like to wish all those involved in the new Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) the best of luck as they establish their Dublin office.  I have no doubt you can achieve the same success as you have in other jurisdictions in promoting competitiveness and excellence in business.”

To this end, the CCI will work closely with industry associations, hotel groups, tourism enterprises, SMEs, retailers, government agencies, local government, and trade bodies. A series of workshops on the EFQM Business Excellence framework and its application to these organisations and their management teams will be held nationwide during October 2014. They begin tomorrow (16 October, 2014) at the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley.

Chief Executive Officer of EFQM, Marc Amblard, said: “The EFQM Excellence Framework is used by over 30,000 organisations across Europe, and we are delighted to work with the Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) to enable many more businesses and their leaders on the island of Ireland to benefit from its potential to significantly boost their performance.   The Centre’s success and expertise are recognised across Europe and beyond, and I have no doubt that their presence in the Republic of Ireland will bring considerable benefits to many Irish organisations. Regardless of sector, size, structure or maturity, organisations need to establish appropriate management systems in order to be successful. The EFQM Excellence Framework is a practical tool to help organizations do this by measuring where they are on the path to excellence; helping them understands the gaps; and then stimulating solutions”.

Bob Barbour, CforC Chief Executive, says: “Our focus will be to promote and implement the EFQM Framework in a range of businesses and sectors in Ireland, with a particular emphasis on improving management practices, organisational systems and processes and business excellence. Organisations who meet the criteria for business excellence are assessed against international criteria and are accredited and recognised by the EFQM at an annual awards ceremony. The benefits of accreditation are substantial as it provides an international symbol and benchmark, especially for tourism organisations, seeking to source international leisure and business markets.”

The Brussels-based Chief Executive Officer of EFQM, Marc Amblard, and the Chief Executive of CforC, Bob Barbour, officiated at the launch of CCI, by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny Government Buildings.

St Mary’s College wins EFQM Excellence Award for 3rd Time!

In the near 20 years history of EFQM European Excellence Award recognising excellence in the private, public and voluntary sectors, never before has any organisation been recognised with the coveted EFQM European Excellence Prize Winner Award in Sustainable Excellence for three marys college derry logo

St Mary’s won the overall Excellence Award in 2001 and again in 2006. This year, 2013, they are recognised as an EFQM Prizewinner. This remarkable achievement is over an extended period of nearly 14 years, through successful and difficult economic times and challenges, with changing student populations, new school build and a successful succession leadership and management programme.

The Centre for Competitiveness congratulates their Principal Marie Lindsay, her staff, the students and parents and all those connected with the college. Well Done Indeed!

2013WPFG – a great event and a great legacy!

This video captures some of the feedback from the hospitality sector on the legacy of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games.

These two photo albums are also a great record of some of the high points of the games. Here are the links: –



‘European Entrepreneurship & Innovation @ Stanford

We are pleased to announce that speaker videos of all 8 ‘European Entrepreneurship & Innovation @ Stanford’ (ME421 ) sessions from Winter 2013 are now available online at our new YouTube channel:

Please be sure to *Subscribe* to this channel on YouTube if you would like to be informed when we upload additional videos for next year (2014), and for 2012 and prior years in the coming weeks and months.

Speaker presentation slides, session photos and bios can be viewed at our Course Website:

These are well worth checking out!


We would like to recognize and thank our 2013 European government partners, and our Silicon Valley industry partner, for their support of this lecture series:


European Government Partners: 


* VINNOVA, Stockholm, Sweden (‪

* Invest Northern Ireland, San Jose, CA | Belfast, UK (‪

* Enterprise Estonia – Silicon Valley | Tallinn, Estonia (

Industry Partner: 


* Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP – Silicon Valley (‪


* Course LinkedIn Group:

* Facebook Group:

* Twitter: @StanfordEuropreneurs: ‪


Stanford Mechanical Engineering – Center for Design Research, Design Group (‪

Thank you for your interest, and we look forward to seeing you again for our first 2014 speaker session starting in early January.

best regards,

Dr. Burton H. Lee PhD MBA

Stanford School of Engineering

Department of Mechanical Engineering

European Entrepreneurship & Innovation




Skype: innovarium


Case Study in Driving SME Growth….


PROGRAMME CASE STUDY – 1 NOVEMBER 2012 TO 31st December 2012

Project Title – thinkBIG:thinkINNOVATION Programme

 Background and Context

This was an EU and DETI-NI part funded programme led by Coleraine Borough Council in partnership with the Centre for Competitiveness.  In line with the programme objectives, ten companies were recruited at the start of the programme. Business baseline profiles were conducted for all 10 participating companies. This profile was the Business Juggler, details are to be found at The Business Juggler report is a 22 page document that sets out: –

i.         Simple benchmark of performance

ii.         Identified 9 areas of strength that can be developed into areas of Competitive Advantage

iii.         Identified 9 Areas of relative Weaker Performance to be developed and improved

iv.         A total of 18 suggestions for performance improvement to kick-start the conversation on Improvement Action Plans

v.         An action plan template

vi.         A comprehensive list of European Best and Better Practice indicators of performance

From the discussions around the Juggler report, a SMARTened action plan is developed with a clear focus through: –

i.         Specific

ii.         Measurable

iii.         Achievable

iv.         Realistic

v.         Time bound

Mentoring Support Delivered

Mentoring was delivered to all participating companies at 24 hours per company, meeting the programme target. In addition, an extra 59 hours of mentoring was delivered to the participating companies.

Best Practice Visits

The programme permitted one best practice, or similar, visit per participating company. The value of visits out to other companies or organisations cannot be underestimated. It always proves to be a source of ideas for improvement and growth.

Summary of Programme Impact of Benefits

At the completion of the programme, a comprehensive ‘Distance Travelled’ form was completed with each participant, which clearly captured all the programme impact, short-term benefits and longer-term outcomes. This is summarised as follows: –






2012 2011 +/- % Products Lines Variations Projects Value New Jobs










+9 F/T &

+20 P/T


How satisfied were you with the programme?

How satisfied were you with the mentor?

How would you rate the value of the programme?

How would you rate the effectiveness of the programme?

Have you or your business benefitted from the programme?

Would you recommend the programme to others?

Total Average





100% Yes

100% Yes

– The programme recorded a total of £88,000 of direct cost savings as a result of improvements and projects.JOBS – It is clear that the programme has had impact and brought many different benefits to all of the participants. Overall job creation was +9 Full Time and +20 Part Time new jobs.

SALES INCREASE – The programme recorded an increase of +5.2% sales increase, which equates to an extra £414,000

COMPANY SATISFACTION – 100% of participating companies received benefit and would recommend the programme.


Overall, it can be said that the programme went very well. In fact it can be considered as a Best Practice case study in the design and delivery of a company growth programme for small and medium sized companies delivered in partnership with a local council. It has applications Ireland-wide, as well as in the UK and further afield.

The question to ask is – ‘Why has this programme been successful when many similar programmes are, at best, average, and often ineffective?’ The answer lies in our experience to design a programme that is relevant and built upon proven method, uses talented people as mentors, and is well managed.

From a programme performance perspective, the metrics are impressive, increased turnover, reduced costs and job creation.

It is true of any programme of this type, when working with a range of companies of different sectors, maturity stages, sizes and experience, that not all companies will benefit in the same way. Some companies may have recorded a decline in sales or fortunes if they had not participated in the programme. It is therefore noteworthy that 100% of companies said they benefited and would recommend the programme to others. Also, the satisfaction levels were all above 75%. The reported creation of 9 F/T and 20 P/T jobs is also a strong indicator of performance.

Companies have been signposted to other opportunities where it is hoped they will continue their journey on using innovation to drive business improvement and business growth.

Dr Adrian Gundy.

Centre for Competitiveness.

1st March 2013.

Smart ECO Hub Launched

The East Border Region and Louth Local Authorities are delighted to support the launch of a new strategic business development initiative called the Smart ECO Hub. The vision of the Smart ECO Hub is to create a network of innovating companies to foster vibrant low carbon innovation so that it can become a key driver of sustainable business growth in the north east of Ireland both north and south of the border. The Smart ECO Hub is governed by East Border Region Ltd., and managed by Louth Local Authorities under Michael A. Curran, Director of Cross Border Economic Development. It is further supported by the University of Ulster, South Eastern Regional College, Southern Regional College, Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and the Councils of the Metropolitan Area in Belfast (COMET).

Louth Local Authorities, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, DkIT and local business have actively been supporting research into the European Energy Clusters and as a result of their findings in conjunction with East Border Region they have secured almost €1 million in support under the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme. Governments on both sides of the border have also supported the Smart ECO Hub. Speaking on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Fergus O’Dowd TD stated:

“This project epitomises one of the key priorities for the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources. By encouraging greater co-operation between firms operating within different regions we will be able to enhance their collective ability to compete at a global level. Innovation lies at the heart of this approach and must be supported in order for businesses to grow and prosper in today’s challenging economic landscape. Companies across Europe have been capitalising on the benefits of these clusters, now it’s Ireland’s time to seize the opportunities and become drivers of innovation.

I am also delighted to see that the Smart ECO Hub is a natural extension of the Living Lab concept which is based in Louth and has proved to be so successful in the development of age-friendly products and services on a European stage. Adapted to energy, it will give the region a unique opportunity to accelerate into a competitive advantage in a growing sector.”

Chairman of East Border Region Councillor Jackie Crowe welcomed the innovative new project, “I am delighted to see the Smart Eco Hub project come to fruition. This is the first time East Border Region has worked with such a varied range of stakeholders, bringing together our Educational Institutes and our colleagues from the COMET grouping of Councils. I look forward with interest to the roll out of the project and the further opportunities which may develop as a result of the Smart Eco Hub project”.

The Smart ECO Hub has also been supported by leading organisations and companies within the low carbon industry sector of the North East coast. Speaking at the launch of Smart ECO Hub Sean O’Driscoll, Chairman and CEO of Glen Dimplex, said:

“Now is the time for businesses to come together and drive our economy. Ireland needs Jobs. This initiative provides access and insight into the other Europeans clusters whose member companies are excelling within the low carbon sector. I would encourage local businesses to join the Smart ECO Hub, as this network offers businesses a helping hand to innovate and develop strategic collaborative partnerships. The Smart ECO Hub has the resources, the expertise and the backing of both public and private players”.

The Smart ECO Hub is modelled on European best practice and the team was excited to launch in Dundalk on 25 October last. For further information on Smart ECO Hub please Tel: 00353 42 938 5722 or email

This project is part financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Left to right ( Back row) Michael Curran Director of Service, Economic and Cross Border Development Louth Local Authorities, Sean O’Driscoll CEO & Chairman Glen Dimplex, Minister Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State at the Department of Communication Energy & Natural Resources and Environment, Community and local Government, Dr.Brian Motherway CEO Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland, Gareth Jones UK CEED Operations Manager,

Left to right (Front Row) Catherine McCloskey Chair of Smart ECO Hub, Cllr Jackie Crowe- Chair of East Border Region, Cllr Finnan McCoy Louth County Council Chairman, Fiona Oster Smart ECO Hub Manager.

Smart ECO Hub Steering Committee


Background Information: –


• The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU Structural Funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IV designed to enhance cross border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The Programmes operate within clearly defined areas including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.
• The INTERREG IVA 2007-2013 Programme is worth €256 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders. It has two distinct priority measures to create co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable cross border region.
• For more information on the SEUPB please visit

About EBR:

• East Border Region Ltd (EBR) is a Local Authority led organisation which comprises ten Local Authorities namely; Newry and Mourne, Down and Banbridge District Councils, Armagh City and District Council, Craigavon, Ards and North Down Borough Councils in Northern Ireland and Louth, Monaghan and Meath County Councils in the Republic Of Ireland.

• EBR was established in 1976 to promote innovative, cross border economic development in the areas of agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Tourism and to improve the living conditions and employment prospects of those living in the region. EBR was awarded the role of Implementing Body in the Ireland/Northern Ireland INTERREG IIIA Programme 2000-2006 and as a result successfully implemented approximately €25 million to genuine cross border projects across the region. At present EBR has been successful in securing approximately €15 million from the INTERREG IVA Programme. EBR is a truly democratic, representative, transparent, multi skilled cross border organisation.

• For more information on EBR please visit

This project is part financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body