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Impact Story: Enterprise Ireland

Market Entry into the Eurozone – The response of Irish businesses to Brexit

The Client

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish government agency responsible for promoting export sales and entry into global markets for Irish businesses. Noted as the largest venture capitalist in Europe and the second-largest worldwide, it comprises a network of 34 global offices. Enterprise Ireland views management development within client companies as a key tool to deliver its mission.


The Challenge

Accelerate the number of small and medium-sized Irish firms entering the Eurozone 

The Republic of Ireland faced a major challenge when the United Kingdom, its nearest neighbor, decided to leave the EU in 2016 (Brexit). Ireland has since reiterated its commitment to remaining within the single market. Despite diversification efforts spanning many years, some sectors of the Irish small to medium business (SME) base still remained exposed to UK markets.

As an Irish government agency, Enterprise Ireland was tasked with accelerating efforts to address this situation. The Enter the Eurozone program targets approximately 600 to 700 Irish companies with little or no previous exports into the Eurozone region. A core aim is to give the ambitious Irish exporters the sales and marketing skills, confidence, and motivation to win their first significant contract in a core Eurozone market.


The Commitment

Blend learning & development, business advisory and export assistance into a formula for success

Enterprise Ireland sought partners to design and deliver a unified program which drew on the success of Irish companies that had already diversified. Following a competitive procurement process, ESMT Berlin was selected as training partner due to the quality of the team and its experience in similar projects. As the lead agency for this program, ESMT is working closely with Enterprise Ireland to conceptualize and execute a learning journey which seamlessly integrates business advisory support and export assistance into one cohesive training experience for Irish companies.


The Learning Design

Develop one Market Entry Plan (MEP) spanning three locations, four months and five phases, while covering six elements

The initial Enter the Eurozone cohort of 20 clients began as a pilot in 2019, with the program designed to scale over a four-year period. Its curriculum is composed of a four-month learning journey, with sessions taking place in Berlin, Dublin, and Paris as well as online.

Graph Enterprise Ireland learning jorney
Graph Enterprise Ireland learning jorney
The Learning Design

The goal is for companies to develop a detailed market entry plan (MEP) while working towards a first contract win in a chosen Eurozone market.

The Learning Design

Enterprise Ireland adopts a standardized language (see the “6 Elements of Sales and Marketing” diagram) for its broad range of capability development programs related to sales and marketing. The Enter the Eurozone program follows the same framework.

The Impact

Immediate business outcome combined with personal growth and immersion into a supporting ecosystem


Icon Target

Strategic management skills: “Transformative” and “accelerative” were widely used by clients to describe how the program impacted them both personally and as an organization.

Icon Agreement

Commercial milestones achieved: Several companies achieved commercial milestones within the four months of the program, ahead of the Eurozone program timetable. This included first customer wins and the signing of sales partner agreements.

Icon roadmap

A roadmap for further international market expansion: The program supports initial market entry, building the skills to repeat the process in another market. Many clients have ambitions to use the Eurozone methodology to expand into additional markets.

Icon support

Implementation support: After the program closure, the future gaps of each client were discussed and formally included in a handover to Enterprise Ireland. The Enterprise Ireland ecosystem further supports the clients in taking the next steps laid out in their market entry plan.


Enter the Eurozone

Watch the video to see what Enterprise Ireland and program participants say about their experience with ESMT.

Enter the Eurozone

Photo impressions: first intake 2019



Paul Browne

“We choose ESMT as a programme partner due to the quality of their faculty and the professionalism of the program team. In working with ESMT on the design and delivery of the project, I was impressed by their ability to adapt their knowledge to our approach in engaging with end-clients. What was particularly noticeable was the ability of ESMT to co-create a journey suitable for Irish SMEs, and then react within the training delivery to ensure each of the twenty companies felt like they had an experience tailored specifically to their needs.”

Paul Browne
Programme Manager, Client Management Development, Enterprise Ireland


Shane Connoly

"100% would recommend. The insights gained throughout the week was incredible. The opportunity to work with the staff from ESMT has been amazing, and truly shows why they are as highly praised as they are. The ability to engage and look at situations so familiar from different approaches really helped achieve it for ourselves also. Answers were brought out of us and not given."

Shane Connolly
Director Of Business Development, Trinzo


Harald Hungenberg

“As an European business school founded by business, we are honored to support the Irish companies in making their first significant step into the Eurozone. The program creates positive business impact and strengthens the ties within the EU markets."

Harald Hungenberg
Dean of Executive Education, ESMT Berlin

For more testimonials, watch the video or read the full case.

International recognition

EFMD award 2020

The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) recognized the successful partnership of Irish government agency Enterprise Ireland, ESMT Berlin, and IMS Marketing with an Excellence in Practice Silver Award 2020 in Ecosystem Development.

About the award

EFMD is an international non-profit association and Europe's largest network association in the field of management development, with member organizations from academia, business, public service, and consultancy. Its Excellence in Practice (EiP) Awards recognize outstanding and impactful client-supplier partnerships in the domains of leadership, professional, talent, and organizational development. 


efmd award silver 2020

Program Director

Nan Guo
+49 30 21231 8061


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