Food entrepreneurs and those who feel they could create and run a successful export-orientated food business will be interested in ‘Food Works’, a new comprehensive training and development programme launched today.

Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc have combined resources to design an in-depth process aimed at finding and fostering global food entrepreneurs. Successful participants will be given a range of practical business supports required to develop an initial concept into a winning food product with international appeal. The available supports will include consumer market research, business plan development, technical advice, commercial viability testing in addition to access to incubation units, research and development (R&D) facilities and possible investors.

Speaking at the launch today the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said: “Food Works is a unique opportunity for ambitious and determined new food entrepreneurs to build great food businesses. The Food Harvest 2020 report highlighted entrepreneurship as essential to building a truly successful indigenous food industry and the importance of developing and nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship. Our target of growing food exports by 50pc to reach €12 bn before 2020 is ambitious; it requires huge commitment by private and public interests.  Food Works is an example of development agencies working together in a new way to improve the climate and opportunities for growth and I look forward to it fostering new food businesses with high potential for development.”

Ideal candidates

Food Works is open to all determined and energetic individuals with an interest in building an international food business in Ireland. The programme is designed for new food entrepreneurs who have ambitious scalable, ideas or export plans.  Candidates may apply on an individual basis, as part of a team or a company if it has been in existence for less than two years.

Five stages

The first stage of Food Works is centered around three open call information evenings taking place in Tayto Park, Ashbourne, Co Meath on Monday, 26 March; Sheraton Hotel, Athlone on Wednesday, 28 and UCC (Western Gateway Building), Cork on Thursday, 29 March. At these sessions, attendees will gain a better understanding of the programme and how to get involved; meet with representatives from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc and hear from inspirational Irish food entrepreneurs such as Ray Coyle, Largo Foods (Tayto), Mary Ann O’Brien, Lily O’Briens chocolates and Michael Carey, Chairman, Bord Bia and The Company of Food.

In April, additional interactive workshops and information evenings will be held where Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc will share their insight and expertise on how to review export markets, examine consumer trends and provide technical advice. Interested parties will then be asked to submit a detailed online application before Monday, 14 May.

In June, a panel with representatives from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc and experienced food entrepreneurs will conduct one-to-one interviews to select 30 successful applicants who will receive one to one mentoring; consumer insight consultancy; R&D assistance and a €5,000 feasibility grant. All concepts and ideas will be stress-tested with consumers in Ireland and key overseas markets. Following this process, 15 participants will move forward to the final stage to develop an investor ready business plan.

For more information on Food Works or to register for the initial information evenings, visit www.foodworksireland.ie