Engineering firms across North Cork and Co Limerick have attributed some of their growth to membership of a 40-strong cluster of firms sharing information and collaborating.
The LINC Engineering Network was initiated by a group of companies in 2014 and is now supported by a range of bodies including Local Enterprise Offices in Limerick and Cork, University of Limerick, Regional Skills Fora, IDA and Enterprise Ireland. The network supports and promotes peer learning, inter-company networking, collaboration and best practice.
Mallow-based Tecoled said some of its growth and the concept for a new business venture in the circular economy was due to its membership of LINC, which has seen it increase its competitiveness and growth.
Established in 2009, the electrical contracting firm specialising in energy-efficient lighting said collaboration with other LINC members has given it the opportunity to work on a variety of projects with fellow members like EPS, Donluoco and Allenweld. Director Kieran Hickey also attributes his membership to giving him the confidence to try new things and diversify and said he became aware of funding and grants available through the Local Enterprise Offices.
During the height of the pandemic, Mr Hickey and his partner Ray Walsh arrived at a business concept for recycling coffee beans to help hotels, restaurants and cafés dispose of waste coffee in a sustainable manner. They successfully applied for an innovation voucher to support their research and are now moving the business from concept to reality. They were also finalists at the recent 2021 Irish Business Design Challenge.
“Realising the benefits of networking, I joined LINC Engineering when it started. The added benefit has been the knowledge sharing and collaboration. We’re experts at what we do, but we need support and know-how to help drive on business. Armed with the right information and contacts, there is no fear factor in trying something new.”
Kevin Curran, head of LEO Cork North & West, said: “Through LINC we are supporting an environment where members can collaborate and co-operate on certain projects, explore new market opportunities, sub-contract work to each other or discuss training or employment needs.”
Mike Cantwell, head of LEO Limerick and Innovate Limerick said: “Clusters are drivers and enablers of change and in particular helping member companies build resilience and competitiveness. We can clearly see the impact that engagement with LINC Network has had on members in terms of how they face challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19 and develop new ways of working.”