Five EU Regions Come together to Create an International Business Mentoring Solution for Local West of Ireland SME’s

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) 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.

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.