4 November 2019
By Mary Bermingham
Cork County Council and the Rubicon Centre at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) have teamed up to provide Ireland’s first Scaling Programme for SMEs who are in the medtech, agritech and digital health sector. Scale Cork is a 9 month programme starting in January 2020, supported by Cork County Council through its economic development fund and operated by the Rubicon Centre at CIT.
Scale Cork will be the first scaling programme of its kind to be provided by a campus incubator. This programme will use the expertise developed in the Rubicon Centre (which has supported over 400 companies since its inception in 2006) to provide group training and one to one mentoring to six SME companies in Cork who wish to scale beyond their current capability with a view to increasing sales, developing exports and building relationships with FDIs in the region. This programme follows on from the very successful incubator programme, Bridge to Masschallenge Cork for life science start-ups which was run by Cork County Council in 2018.
The programme is open to companies with more than 10 employees who might have some of the following characteristics; profitable with potential to increase profitability, turnover greater than €500,000, some IP in the business or potential to exploit same and the potential to grow sales by 20% per annum. Company owners should be open to change and mentoring and should be looking to employ new staff to support new sales growth. It is also envisaged that a key part of this programme is to provide the opportunity for SMEs to benefit from access to networks (including multinationals) in the region.
Sharon Corcoran, Director of Economic Development, Enterprise and Tourism, Cork County Council says, “This is a unique offering, currently no other incubator in Ireland is providing such a programme. Given that the programme is supported by Cork County Council and delivered by the Rubicon with its team of business professionals, the actual cost to the companies taking part will be small. Companies will be supported be teams of mentors who will devise a development plan with the founders of the company and then provide implementation supports on-site. Participants also attend training one day a month in selected modules such as finance, strategy, marketing, sales and innovation”.
Ms Corcoran advises that, “Scale Cork provides a significant opportunity to simultaneously connect FDI’s and SME’s in a collaborative innovation and supply chain relationship, develop an innovation and competitiveness framework to scale companies within Ireland and incubating export potential, all supported within an incubation structure”.
Paul Healy, Rubicon General Manager says, “The programme has a number of innovate elements which companies wishing to scale will find attractive including: in-house innovation management assessments to assess a company’s innovation and competitiveness management processes, access to the Rubicon Scaling Toolkit, network building and market visits to encourage internationalisation and development of innovation. The programme includes the development of a Virtual Incubator- The Rubicon has a Learning and Development Platform in place to facilitate distance learning and virtual networking. This is a key innovative feature to support small companies to scale while the programme will be commercial in focus, companies can if required, access product development supports provided by Cork Institute of Technology Gateways”.
Mentors will include Irish, British and American industry professionals who will give a wider international perspective to the programme. The Rubicon will work with Cork County Council to leverage their contacts in the US, specifically those developed through the Bridge to Mass Challenge programme which was run last year by Cork County Council which provided start- ups in the life science space with access to mentoring and advice from an international panel of experts in both Cork and Boston.
Full details of the Scale Cork programme and how to apply are available www.rubiconcentre.ie/scale-cork/