Waterford News

WIT Tom Boyle mature studentAdults considering a return to full-time education will be able to explore their options from the comfort of home on the morning of Wednesday, 22 April 2020.

As part of its week-long festival of open days (20-24 April), Waterford Institute of Technology is holding a virtual open day especially for mature students of the future.

“The return to education can be an intimidating prospect for adults,” says Conor Phelan, Student Life and Learning Department at WIT. “Asking questions at an open day can be an important first step,” he says. A prime example is Tom Boyle, who last year graduated from WIT in his early 80s. Boyle had begun his return to education by attending a number of open events before he applied to WIT as a mature student.

 “People who have not yet applied to the CAO can do so up to 1 May 2020 at 5.15pm which is the closing date for late applications. WIT accepts mature applicants (except on restricted courses) up to this date. Each year we are contacted by adults who have missed out on this deadline by a day or two, so we strongly encourage people interested in a return to education to log onto www.wit.ie/virtualopenday on Wednesday, 22 April to find out about life as a mature student.”

The mature-student focused virtual open day running from 10am-12pm on Wednesday, 22 April is for adults (over 23) interested in one of WIT’s 70 CAO courses which start at two-year level 6 Higher Certs.

Prospective students of all ages can ask questions about courses each afternoon that week. Each day is dedicated to an academic School at WIT.

During each virtual open day prospective students or parents of CAO applicants will have the chance to chat live with lecturers from the academic School as well as support staff. They can also take an interactive tour of the WIT campus to get a flavour of what to expect.

Marketing and outreach officer at WIT, John Power says people can join the conversation online and see the questions other prospective students have.

“A big part of each virtual open day is the chance to talk with lecturers who deliver our undergraduate programmes and the support staff from right across the institute. Online each day you can chat with staff from our admissions, schools liaison, outreach, fees and grants, accommodation and student life and learning departments,” he adds.

According to Phelan the trend for adults considering a return to education is they are interested in upskilling, a change of career, or having better options.

The majority of WIT’s mature students are Waterford based or commute daily from nearby counties, Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny.

In addition to having a dedicated WIT Students’ Union officer, WIT also has a Mature Student Society, and in recent years a network was also established for students who are parents.

WIT's Virtual Open Days schedule

2pm-4pm Monday, 20 April 2020 School of Business Virtual Open Day: Business, Accounting, Digital Marketing and Retail Management CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Tuesday, 21 April 2020 School of Engineering Virtual Open Day: Engineering, Built Environment, Engineering Technology and Architecture CAO courses.

10am-12pm Wednesday, 22 April 2020 Mature Student and Student Supports Virtual Open Day.

2pm-4pm Wednesday, 22 April 2020 School of Health Sciences Virtual Open Day Nursing, Health Sciences, Sport and Exercise Sciences CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Thursday, 23 April 2020 School of Humanities Virtual Open Day: Arts, Social Science, Law, Psychology, Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Art, Design and Music CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Friday, 24 April 2020 School of Science and Computing Virtual Open Day: Laboratory Science, Land Science and Computing CAO courses.

Helen Barry Simplify HRWhile the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a wave of extraordinary challenges and uncertainty to Irish businesses, Local Enterprise Office Waterford is providing a wide range of business services to SMEs. Free HR, digital and finance advisory clinics are available to any local business, regardless of its scale or sector, which needs assistance in accessing support.

Helen Barry of Simplify HR is an experienced practitioner in HR and has mentored with Local Enterprise Office Waterford since 2016. With a passion for practical, business-lead HR, her experience and background in employment law ensure that the complex worlds of people and change can be safely navigated.

Since the advent of the Covid-19 outbreak, Helen has worked with clients, on a virtual and confidential basis, to advise of ways to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on their business and their staff.

“The changing landscape and level of uncertainty about how long this will last is making it difficult for SMEs to plan staffing and finances. Some SMEs have had to close their doors, others are trading in different ways, by operating different hours, changing production schedules, scaling back operations, remote working and online trading. Naturally the focus is on the financial impact and how we can come through this.”

For many business owners there is an immediate focus on ensuring that they themselves and their staff retain a level of income. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection, Citizen’s Information Bureau and the network of Local Enterprise Offices provide information for business owners to access supports such as the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

With many companies grappling with the reality of some or all of their employees working from home, areas that need to be considered are health and safety, having the right equipment to operate with and staying motivated and connected.

“Keeping the connection with your team is crucial. Now that most of us are working apart and in a very different environment, daily check-in calls will help keep the team focused and better prepared to work through their documented list of priorities.”

Helen advises reaching out to relevant advisors to talk through your individual situation and get the right information about the options available to you.

“It may be difficult but try and depersonalise the situation. Focus on where the business is at and where it needs to go and be practical. Once you have your arms around the business and what it can or cannot support, then you move to communicate with your employees. Understand what you will be saying to them and what options are open to them.”

“Keep talking to your customers and suppliers, where possible, to understand what their requirements might be and when. Use this information to develop a simple plan for your business going forward.”

“And don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all human and all ultimately have the same concerns!”

If your business has been affected by Covid-19 and you need HR advice call the LEO Waterford office and a dedicated specialist will get back to you to discuss your business issue. This is a confidential service and is open to all businesses. LEO Waterford will also endeavour to signpost you towards further Government and State agency business supports.

Businesses can also avail of the Business Continuity Voucher, which is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to help business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

To book your free virtual consultation, via Skype or phone, call 0761 102905 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a dedicated mentor will get in touch with you.

For further information about any of the above measures visit https://sbci.gov.ie/ or https://www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

Aisling ONeill ArcLabsInventors, innovators and developers from across Ireland are being urged to join forces with some of the world’s top mentors, industry experts and partners over a 54-hour, online marathon weekend organised to help in the global fight against COVID-19.

For the first time, Techstars, the global platform for investment and innovation, is hosting a Global Online Startup Weekend series, “Unite to Fight Covid-19.” Ireland needs anyone with an idea or solutions to join the free, 54-hour weekend event on Friday, April 24 to Sunday, April 26.

Participants will work together from their homes to tackle the challenges presented by the pandemic, the organisers say.  Areas which are expected to be covered include health, wellness, engineering, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and more.

Local community leaders, in partnership with Techstars, are volunteering to host this event, which will focus on developing COVID-19-related solutions unique to Ireland. During the live, online event, innovators, developers, inventors and anyone with a passion to help will pool their efforts and help develop prototypes that could help solve some of the biggest challenges posed by the pandemic. Registration is free and is open now on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/techstars-online-startup-weekend-ireland-unite-to-fight-covid-19-tickets-101991730010

Aisling O’Neill, Manager of ArcLabs, WIT’s Business Incubator is part of the organising team and says: “Having postponed Start Up Weekend Waterford 2020 because of the COVID-19 lockdown, we are delighted to be part of Team Ireland for this Global online Start Up Weekend and work with the Irish community to develop meaningful innovations to solve the most significant challenges presented by the biggest global crisis of our time.

“The 54-hour online event is designed to provide participants from all professional and skilled backgrounds an opportunity to work with like-minded individuals in building solutions to COVID-19 related issues. Participants will connect with amazing mentors, industry experts, founders and partners who are ready to help get people started.

“Ireland isn't on its own. A series of these events is being organised by +70 countries over the next three weekends as a global effort to unite against COVID-19 as a Techstars Startup Weekend initiative. It’s an opportunity for everyone interested in the topic to inspire and be inspired and to work together on developing inclusive solutions.”

Ireland is one of more than 70 countries around the world participating in the event. The top 20 teams from around the world will go on to participate in a Techstars Innovation Bootcamp experience.

For regular updates and event details visit http://communities.techstars.com/ireland/ireland-ireland/startup-weekend/16183.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began to affect communities around the world, Techstars has made a variety of changes to programming and community engagement to keep people safe and to continue to support startups and innovators in this time of great need. Learn more about Techstars’ efforts and find resources and perspectives at techstars.com/covid.

WIT Schools Open DayWaterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is to run a week of virtual open days this April to help prospective undergraduate students in the south east and beyond with their going to college questions.

WIT's Virtual Open Days will take place completely online at www.wit.ie/virtualopenday between Monday, 20 April and Friday, 24 April 2020.

Each afternoon that week will be given over exclusively to one of the academic schools (business, engineering, health sciences, humanities, and science and computing). And on Wednesday there is an additional morning event for adult learners with specific queries around returning to college as a mature applicant.

WIT's Virtual Open Days schedule

2pm-4pm Monday, 20 April 2020 School of Business Virtual Open Day: Business, Accounting, Digital Marketing and Retail Management CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Tuesday, 21 April 2020 School of Engineering Virtual Open Day: Engineering, Built Environment, Engineering Technology and Architecture CAO courses.

10am-12pm Wednesday, 22 April 2020 Mature Student and Student Supports Virtual Open Day.

2pm-4pm Wednesday, 22 April 2020 School of Health Sciences Virtual Open Day Nursing, Health Sciences, Sport and Exercise Sciences CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Thursday, 23 April 2020 School of Humanities Virtual Open Day: Arts, Social Science, Law, Psychology, Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Art, Design and Music CAO courses.

2pm-4pm Friday, 24 April 2020 School of Science and Computing Virtual Open Day: Laboratory Science, Land Science and Computing CAO courses.

During each virtual open day prospective students or parents of CAO applicants will have the chance to chat live with lecturers from that academic School as well as support staff. They can also take an interactive tour of the WIT campus to get a flavour of what to expect.

Marketing and outreach officer at WIT, John Power explains how it works. “Each day lecturers and support staff from the academic school scheduled for that day will be online to answer questions which will help CAO applicants choose the college course that's right for them. What's really interesting is people can join the conversation online and see the questions other prospective students have.”

“A big part of each virtual open day is the chance to talk with lecturers who deliver our undergraduate programmes and the support staff from right across the institute. Online each day you can chat with staff from our admissions, schools liaison, outreach, fees and grants, accommodation and student life and learning departments,” he adds.

The timing of the virtual open days are crucial for CAO applicants or anybody considering a full-time undergraduate course this year. At midday on Tuesday, 5 May 2020 the CAO Online Change of Mind facility becomes available, allowing applicants to amend their choices for free. Friday, 1 May is the final application date for late applicants, including mature applicants to WIT, school leavers who have been exploring other options, students on further educations courses and those who have completed their Leaving Cert and are under 23 who are interested in a return to education.

“The interactive virtual campus tour gives students the option of touring the main Cork Road campus where they can see what classrooms and lecture halls look like. They can also explore the facilities at the WIT Arena virtually.”

Power adds that when it is safe to do so, WIT would like to run future students free guided one-hour campus tours with WIT’s graduate ambassadors.

Ronan ClearyWhile the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a wave of extraordinary challenges and uncertainty to Irish businesses, Local Enterprise Office Waterford is providing a wide range of business services to SMEs. Free HR, digital and finance advisory clinics are available to any local business, regardless of its scale or sector, which needs assistance in accessing support.

Ronan Cleary of Eagle Dreams Digital Media has mentored with Local Enterprise Office Waterford since 2010. As a digital mentor, Ronan works closely with businesses, in all sectors, in guiding them through the maze of the digital world to help them grow their businesses. Sometimes something very simple or a different digital approach can have a dramatic and positive effect on their business.

More recently, Ronan has been working with clients, on a virtual and confidential basis, to advise of digital means to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

“The digital world is really only an extension of the real world. Through this Covid-19 crisis we have seen how important digital tools are to keep us connected with family, friends, colleagues and of course, customers. Since this crisis began, the innovation of businesses to use new digital tools has been amazing. These tools are there for everyone to benefit from, the important thing is how we use them.”

Online shopping has now become an option for customers who would never have considered it before this crisis. An online presence and a digital footprint are now more important than ever. The Local Enterprise Office provides many supports for businesses intending to enter the digital realm. The Trading Online Voucher is available to businesses to develop an ecommerce website. The TOV takes the form of matched funding where you can now claim up to 90% (maximum amount payable €2,500) of qualifying spend on developing an ecommerce website for your business. If your business has availed of a Trading Online Voucher, you can now reapply for a second voucher to upgrade your site.

Ronan explains that when this current crisis is over there will be a new normal. “We are beginning to see the start of a trend where consumers’ buying habits are beginning to change dramatically. Due to the closure of all non-essential bricks-and-mortar stores and restrictions in movement, consumers are turning to online. We are becoming more comfortable and confident purchasing online, so now is the time to embrace this digital world and innovate your business to succeed.”

For many SMEs starting out on this digital journey can be overwhelming and daunting, however Ronan advises, “You are not alone. These times are challenging and unprecedented, but there is help available from Local Enterprise Office Waterford. The starting point is simply sending an email or picking up the phone to book a free virtual consultation with a mentor.”

If your business has been affected by Covid-19 and you need advice about starting your digital journey, call the LEO Waterford office and a dedicated specialist will get back to you to discuss your business issue. This is a confidential service and is open to all businesses. LEO Waterford will also endeavour to signpost you towards further Government and State agency business supports.

Businesses can also avail of the Business Continuity Voucher, which is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to help business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

To book your free virtual consultation, via Skype or phone, call Local Enterprise Office Waterford on 0761 102905 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a dedicated mentor will get in touch with you.

For further information about any of the above measures visit https://sbci.gov.ie/ or https://www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

LEO Business Continuity VoucherMinister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced a major expansion of supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19, including an expansion of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and a reduction in the interest rate for Microfinance Ireland loans.

Minister Humphreys announced the expansion of the €2,500 Trading Online Voucher Scheme through Local Enterprise Offices, for businesses employing up to 10 people.

In agreement with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD, an additional €3.3m is being provided to the scheme bringing the total available nationally to €5.6m. Local businesses in Waterford that previously benefitted from the Trading Online Voucher Scheme can, from today, apply for a second voucher of up to €2,500, with co-funding of 10%.  The voucher can be used to help add payment or booking systems to websites, along with subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions.

A substantial reduction in interest rates on Microfinance Ireland loans was also announced, bringing the rate down to 4.5%, where applications are made through Local Enterprise Office Waterford.  

COVID-19 Business Loans of up to €50,000 are available from Microfinance Ireland with no repayments and no interest charged in the first six months, for eligible businesses that employ less than 10 people.

Minister Humphreys said: “This package is a significant step-up in the supports available for all businesses in all sectors at this very difficult time. The measures have been developed to meet the varying needs of Irish enterprise and they are very specifically targeted by size, sector and need. The impact of COVID-19 presents unprecedented difficulties for businesses who have already spent the past three years preparing for the possible consequences of Brexit, but those preparations will stand to us. I want to reiterate to firms that we will continue to use all available tools at our disposal to support them and keep money flowing through the economy in the difficult months ahead.”

Welcoming the expansion of business supports, Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “For many Waterford businesses, the options for trading are very limited as a result of COVID-19. However, there are a lot of opportunities in online selling and by accessing this Trading Online Voucher scheme, small businesses can develop a sustainable strategy for increasing sales.”

Richie added, “If your business needs access to finance, applying for microfinance loans through Local Enterprise Office Waterford will secure the lowest available rate and you will get valuable assistance in the application process and free one-to-one mentoring along the way.”

Meanwhile, The Business Continuity Voucher, worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy support, is another new measure available for businesses through Local Enterprise Offices. It is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies. The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

In addition, Local Enterprise Offices have also moved the majority of training programmes, workshops and networking online, making them as accessible as possible for those working remotely, such as free HR, digital and finance advice consultations with a dedicated mentor.

More details about small business supports available through Local Enterprise Office Waterford can be found at LocalEnterprise.ie/Waterford, call 0761 102905 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A guide to Local Enterprise Office supports can be found at LocalEnterprise.ie/Response, along with details of Enterprise Ireland supports.

  • Dr Sinead OHalloran SEAM 3DStudent participation: Nursing students and Applied Health Care students working in health care, digital marketing students helping businesses get online
  • Frontline support from research centres: 3D printing of masks; provision of chemicals, reagents and PPE
  • Research to help combat Covid-19 includes: looking into new methods to increase the speed of testing for the virus; research into enhancing immunity to the virus with targeted nutrition for the ageing population.
  • Research centre support for companies includes: supporting companies involved in the manufacture of other products, including a local chemical company who are manufacturing hand sanitiser; support for companies with recovery plans; testing, diagnostics, and certification of parts and products for other devices.

Students, staff and researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have been making a significant contribution over the last number of weeks to address some of the many challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof Willie Donnelly, President of WIT, said “We are immensely proud to make a contribution to this national effort. As well as making very radical changes in our approach to learning, teaching, and assessment, our students and staff have also been working very hard in innovative and creative ways to help in whatever way they can their local communities and the country at this very difficult time.”

At the forefront of the response are WIT’s nursing students. Final year nursing students are playing a vital part in the clinical support of their registered nursing colleagues in University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and across the entire region while student nurses years 1-3, along with Applied Health Care students, have been recruited as health care assistants. Many have been employed in nursing homes, bringing their skills and support for a very vulnerable sector. Prof Donnelly said, “Despite the very difficult circumstances, and despite still being in training, the morale of all nursing students and applied health care students is extremely high and from all the comments coming to me and to staff here they are hugely valued within the health service and by the general public for their contribution at this time.”

WIT’s research groups are also making a practical contribution to dealing with the emergency. Using advanced 3D printing technology, the South East Applied Materials Centre (SEAM) in the School of Engineering has developed a sealed face mask prototype for the clinicians in UHW. They plan to work with a local company on bringing this specialist mask into production very quickly. SEAM has also been involved in manufacturing visors for front-line staff in UHW for the National Ambulance Services. The group is also working actively with a number of bio-medical companies in the region around testing, diagnostics, and certification of parts and products for other devices.

The Department of Science and the Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) have provided chemicals, reagents and PPE to UHW laboratory staff and are looking into new methods to increase the speed of testing for the virus. The researchers and staff are also involved in supporting companies involved in the manufacture of other products, including a local chemical company who are manufacturing hand sanitiser.

The Nutrition Research Centre of Ireland (NRCI), in the School of Health Sciences, based in on WIT’s West Campus at Carriganore, Waterford has, amongst other activities, mobilised an international community of researchers to examine ways of enhancing immunity to the virus with targeted nutrition for the ageing population.

Groups within WIT are also directing their efforts towards the challenges for enterprise in this crisis. The RIKON group in the School of Business for instance is an approved supplier for the Enterprise Ireland/IDA and LEO funded Business Continuity Supports for Enterprises and will be working with companies assisting them in crisis management and helping with formulating, planning and execution of recovery plans. Meanwhile, marketing students with digital marketing expertise have come together to form a panel that will offer assistance to businesses that need to rapidly transition to a more ‘online’ focused environment.

Professor Donnelly said, “I want to thank all the staff and students of WIT who have really responded proactively and creatively to the national call. This is WIT’s 50th year. While we certainly did not anticipate this would be how it would be marked, it is truly a demonstration of all that has made WIT a special place to study and work that we see such a fantastic, generous response from students and staff to the needs of local communities and businesses.”

Other initiatives include:

WIT in partnership with UPMC under the direction of the HSE set up a testing facility for Covid-19 at the WIT Arena in late March.

Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM engagement centre Calmast is delivering online home-learning maths activities for kids and parents to have fun together while learning at home. Read more

The Academic Council at WIT announced that as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic all semester 2 examinations scheduled for May are to be replaced by alternative assessment. Read more

WIT Libraries are committed to maintaining critical services and providing resources virtually for its community of users. Read more.

A portal with FAQs and information on Covid-19 can be found at www.wit.ie/coronavirus.

TSSG FaithIRISH scientists are leading the way in a ground-breaking research project which they hope will predict depression earlier in cancer patients via their smartphones and trusted medical markers and ultimately improve survivors’ quality of life and treatment aftercare.

As many as one in five cancer sufferers experience depression and mood change post diagnosis. Researchers in Waterford have now teamed up with globally-renowned cancer hospitals and consultants and research colleagues in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Cyprus for the early intervention FAITH project, an initiative which may also have wider application outside of cancer care.

The €5 million, EU-funded initiative is designed to care for the mental health of patients post treatment and help them on their road to recovery, the research team headquartered at the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology say.

Together, they will apply the latest, secure artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to an interactive app on patients’ phones. FAITH will help to better model and predict disease and treatment pathways and intervene early if mental health supports are required.

Data sources such as a patient’s activity, outlook, sleep, appetite and voice tone are monitored, with additional data is gleaned through a series of questions asked through the FAITH monitoring system daily.

FAITH’s ‘AI Angel’ remotely analyses depression markers, predicting negative trends in their disease path, giving their healthcare providers advanced warnings and ultimately allowing for timely intervention. These markers are assessed in accordance with the traditional, tried and trusted 3M strategy for population health – Monitor, Measure and Manage.

To protect privacy of the individual, but still gain insights that are beneficial to the broader population, FAITH is based on federated machine learning, which makes it possible to build machine learning systems without direct access to personal treatment data.

Project Co-ordinator, Gary McManus of the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, says it’s the most exciting healthcare project he has ever undertaken at the edge of city research hub.

“Central to the vision of the FAITH project is to measure population health deeply. We will monitor individuals on a continuous basis to cast a wide net over their health data. A key strength of FAITH is the involvement of eminent cancer hospitals and specialists in the consortium.

“We will work together to produce relevant, applicable cancer care related findings that can effectively leverage a big data framework using computational intelligence approaches and methodologies that can be used for long term cancer care health risk and symptom minimisation for patients.

“FAITH has trial sites in Madrid, Waterford and Lisbon. This isn’t research for the sake of research. FAITH is potentially life-changing,” he said.

The project will include invaluable input from two breast cancer hubs and one lung cancer specialist centre in Portugal, Philip O’Brien, Technical Co-ordinator, explained.

“The hospitals are very eager to get this project underway. They are very interested in AI and how to apply it in a myriad of health settings. Our key role in TSSG will be in technical coordination of the project. We will be responsible for driving the development of the AI models, as well as the deployment of the federated learning framework.

“FAITH will be an early warning system for doctors and allow them to be proactive instead of reactive. As soon as there is a negative shift in a patient’s mental wellbeing it triggers an alert.” he said.

Commenting on the significance of FAITH, Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research at TSSG, says: “Cancer and post cancer care will affect all of us during our lifetime. FAITH is a passion project for the team and one TSSG are delighted to be co-ordinating as we aim to work on more projects that will benefit the society of the future.”

LEO Business Continuity Voucher

Minister Humphreys introduces new measure as part of COVID-19 Business Supports Package

The new Business Continuity Voucher is now available through Local Enterprise Offices and is open to sole traders and companies across every business sector that employ up to 50 people, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. announced on March 25th.

The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to help business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

Making the announcement, Minister Humphreys T.D. said: “I know this is still a very worrying time for all businesses. And as part of the package of supports that I announced earlier in the month, I am making a €2,500 voucher available through the Local Enterprise Offices from today to enable enterprises to avail of vital business continuity advice, to assist them with developing short-term and long-term strategies to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. “

She added, “The voucher will give companies access to contingency planning advice that will help them continue trading through this crisis and to be ready for the recovery phase, when it comes. This voucher will also assist enterprises to prepare a business case for application to emergency financial interventions that are available through the Banks, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland or through Microfinance Ireland”.  

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Waterford, welcomed the new support package. “This is a critical time for small businesses. While businesses are, understandably, caught up in the here and now, this scheme will support companies to make sound, informed decisions on the immediate measures needed to continue to trade in this challenging environment and develop a strategy to assure future business viability.”

“Amongst other things, the Business Continuity Voucher will also include measures such as preparing a business case for application to emergency funding, reducing costs, implementing remote working procedures and exploring supply chain financing options. I would urge small business in Waterford, regardless of their industry or sector, to apply for this voucher. Local Enterprise Office Waterford will work with all businesses to provide practical and pragmatic contingency planning advice.”

The scheme is open to all types of businesses that employ up to 50 people. To apply, companies or sole traders fill out a short application form and submit it directly to Local Enterprise Office Waterford. When a company is issued with a voucher for third party consultancy, they begin working directly with a qualified expert, selected from existing Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland panels.

To apply for the Business Continuity Voucher, companies submit a short application form to their Local Enterprise Office. Forms are available to download from www.LocalEnterprise.ie/Response

Details of other business supports available from the Department of Enterprise, Business and Innovation can be found at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/

LEO COVID

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a wave of extraordinary challenges and uncertainty, the Irish Government and state agencies are working together on a co-ordinated response to support individuals and businesses affected by the crisis.

The network of Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland have introduced measures that will give access to finance to businesses, such as the Credit Guarantee scheme, Microfinance business loans and the Covid-19 Working Capital scheme.

Local Enterprise Office Waterford is offering free HR and finance advisory clinics for any local business that needs assistance in accessing these aids.

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “At the present moment, if you are a small business in Waterford, you are probably confused, overwhelmed and unsure what to do next.”

“Your Local Enterprise Office is here to help and is determined to deliver a set of services, specifically designed to make the situation as manageable as possible for the business community in Waterford.”

If your business has been affected by Covid-19 and you need advice, Local Enterprise Office Waterford is offering 30-minute telephone / Skype consultations with HR, finance and general business mentors. To avail of this free support service, call the LEO Waterford office and a dedicated specialist will get back to you to discuss your business issue. This is a confidential service and is open to all businesses. LEO Waterford will also endeavour to signpost you towards further Government and State agency business supports.

Brid Kirby, Enterprise Development Officer, LEO Waterford added, “The Government has announced a number of assistances for businesses as Covid-19 escalates. If your business is trying to navigate through these uncertain times and get access to finance or employment assistance, please get in touch with us today and we will try to help steer you in the best possible direction.”

To book your free HR, finance or general business advice consultation, call 0761 102905 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a dedicated mentor will get in touch with you.

For further information about any of the above measures visit https://sbci.gov.ie/or https://www.localenterprise.ie/Waterford/

 

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