Building Your Business
PLATO EBR launches Report on Sustaining Collaborative Networks for the Small Business Sector

24 February 2015

Over 150 Micro-enterprises and SMEs across the East Border Region were welcomed to the PLATO EBR Sustain 2015 event in the Nuremore Hotel in Carrickmacross today. PLATO EBR is part financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.  

The Sustain event drew together businesses from diverse industry sectors participating on the 2-year PLATO EBR Programme. The Plato Model is underpinned by ‘Parent companies’ who are larger SMEs or multinationals in the region who provide senior executives to the Programme with significant levels of expertise in specialist functional areas. Two senior executives from two different Parents, act as Group Leaders for a group of 10-15 growth-oriented small businesses that meet every month. The PLATO EBR Programme hosted 13 Groups and an additional 2 graduate or advanced Fora and 3 clusters in the area of export, food and tourism. The Programme therefore supported over 200 companies across the East Border Region.

At the Sustain event, much of the discussion focussed on the value of sustaining collaborative networks in challenging growth conditions where PLATO EBR launched an official report into their findings throughout the Programme. The audience heard from a range of Parent and participant companies, they included Brian McConville MJM Group who talked about ways to sustain the entrepreneur through global growth. Brian started his company with one and in 2013 the company celebrated 30 years in business and celebrated with the official opening of its custom built 100,000ft2 manufacturing facility in Newry, Northern Ireland. Since moving to the new facility, MJM's turnover has grown from £11.7m to £30m. Brian may operate a multi-million pound international company which takes him to far flung places of the world, but he returns to his native Banbridge to facilitate the PLATO EBR Group.

Martin McVicar also a Parent company in Monaghan presented at the event on the topic of sustaining a growing multinational company which Combilift is today. Martin’s presentation comes on the back of a recent expansion announcement by the company supported by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the new site for the Comblift manufacturing plant. Martin’s story is also inspirational. Martin’s career in engineering started with a summer job at truck-mounted forklift manufacturers Moffett Engineering, where he soon became Moffett’s Chief Engineer before he was even 20 years old.

Irene McAleese from See.Sense who is Business Woman of the Year, provided her take on the participant company experience as did Paul Bond from Brix Workwear. Irene touted the significant benefits of the network, one of which was partnering up with the parent company Nitroncia to manufacture their unique intelligent bike light product which gained much fame during the Giro D-Italia. Renowned blogger and public speaker, Paul Bond provided his unique insights into the value of PLATO EBR as a good sounding board and testing ground for small growing companies with big ideas.

Dr Cecilia Hegarty Director of PLATO EBR, who presented some of the key findings from the PLATO EBR Report, “Sustaining Collaborative Networks” took the opportunity to highlight some of the soft impacts of the Programme and indicated the evidence showed already some initial key financial improvements in the participating companies as a result of their involvement in the PLATO EBR cluster. In bringing this programme to fruition, Dr Hegarty acknowledged the support of the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. 

To download the report launched at the event, please download below.

PLATO EBR Sustaining Collaborative Networks Report DrCH

  • Cavan
  • Louth
  • Meath
  • Monaghon