St. Patrick’s Day Special: Green Innovation from Ireland

March 14, 2024

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Cathal Foley, CEO of PACE, has 20 years of experience working in Investment Banking and Private Equity, including Equity Derivative trading experience with HSBC and BNP Paribas. While in South East Asia he worked in Renewable Energy Asset and Power Purchase transactions. Cathal is also Chief Commercial Officer for Fexco’s Design and Innovation division DRIVE.

Kieran Ivers is CEO of Green Rebel. He has 20 years of industry experience and has a track record of successfully leading teams across a variety of industry sectors. Specialising in the areas of business development and expansion, marketing and communications. He believes that a company’s internal culture shapes their output, therefore he is an advocate for creating and maintaining a great place to work for employees and thereby ensuring the best possible service for clients.

Aidan McKenna is the Regional Director, Americas for Enterprise Ireland. In his role, Aidan is responsible for implementing Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for increasing client exports through identification of market opportunities, market connections and advice. Aidan leads a team across 9 offices supporting over 900+ client companies entering and scaling key markets and verticals in Americas.

John Shegerian: Do you have a suggestion for a Rockstar Impact podcast guest? Go to and just click, “Be a Guest”, to recommend someone today. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the World. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts and Impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. This is a very varied special edition. This might be called the greenest edition of all. This is the St. Patrick’s Day special edition, and we’ve got with us today, Aidan McKenna. He’s the regional director and our returning guest of the Impact Podcast, he’s the regional director of Americas for the Enterprise Ireland organization. We’ve got Kieran Ivers with us. He’s the CEO of Green Rebel, and we also have Cathal Foley, the CEO of PACE. Welcome gentlemen for the greenest episode ever in our 17 year history. Welcome to the Impact Podcast.

Aidan McKenna: Thank you very much, John. It’s great to be back on the show and it’s fantastic that I’m joined by two fantastic enterprise earn and client companies. Kieran and Cathal have going to join us for the conversation today. So thank you for having us back on this suspicious day.

John: You made this happen, Aidan, so my gratefulness is to you and therefore our listeners and viewers who didn’t have the pleasure of seeing your last episode when you made your first appearance on the Impact Podcast, can you share a little bit about Enterprise Ireland and how it came to be organized and what your actual mission is?

Aidan: Absolutely, John. So yeah, so again, just Enterprise Ireland. We are the organization based in Ireland that supports indigenous Irish owned on operated startups and companies and we help them scale and grow internationally. So our mission is really to accelerate the development of World-class Irish companies on the global stage and get them to be market leaders in their own right and we do that in a number of ways. We invest in some of these Irish companies.

We have a network of offices around the World such as Manhattan, where I’m based here today, that support them, break into new markets, find customers, find partners, and help them on that scale and journey. We also do a lot of capability supports for the Irish companies and we support them access Growth capital as well to help them on that scale and journey. So in total, John, we probably have close to 5,000 Irish companies that we support and work with closely, and we also probably invest in about 150 startups per year.

So we are by deal flow the largest VC in Europe in terms of the investments we make in Irish companies. I guess that’s most relevant for this episode and for your listeners here in the US. We have about 900 companies actually actively working in the US with customers, with partners, and those companies probably collectively employ about a 100,000 American employees. So we have a significant presence here in the US. I think we are actually the ninth largest FDI investor for such a small country like Ireland. We have really, really strong ties. So again, thank you for having us on the show. We’re going to hear more from Kieran and Cathal and we absolutely learn a little bit more about Enterprise Ireland and how we can support these companies.

John: Oh, Aidan, thank you. I don’t know how you keep it straight. I know you have Enterprise Ireland, like you said, represents 5,000 great Irish companies around the World, but I have two children and keeping track of them is enough, to have 900 children that you’re incubated here so to speak in the United States, what you do is more than impressive and how you do it and we’re going to get to that in a little while. Kieran, can you share a little bit about the Green Rebel and how you got started and how it got started in Ireland? How many years old is that enterprise and where are you now in your journey with Green Rebel?

Kieran Ivers: Yeah, sure, John. It’s great on the greenest day of all to have Green Rebel as part to that. So thank you for having us. Yes, so Green Rebel, we’re a red, a Irish shark up. We started about four years ago, kind of a series of chance meetings, a series of pub conversations and all those. Looking ahead in terms of Ireland’s journey towards renewables and towards decarbonization, offshore wind is becoming a very real thing on the Ireland.

To give context to Green Rebel, maybe just to give some context to Ireland, Ireland as a country, our economy to date has been very strongly built on pharma, built on tourism, built on tech, and to date there hasn’t been a huge, I suppose, economic drive towards using our maritime space. So Ireland’s maritime spatial area is seven times the size of its land mass. So the opportunity for offshore wind is massive, but without a legacy maritime industry, there isn’t an opportunity for us to simply pivot from oil and gas and other areas to support offshore wind. So Green Rebel was built to support offshore wind and in the renewable space.

So we’ve built a business of four years ago, five people in a little port cabin in a port town called Cross Haven and County Cork. Very quickly we’ve established ourselves as one of Ireland’s and indeed Europe’s premier data acquisition companies. What we do is we acquire data, either seabed data, aerial ecology data or wind resource data, which informs the development of offshore wind, whether that’s ecological impact of an offshore wind farm array or data that informs engineering design for wind farms. So whilst we acquire all of this data with huge assets with airplanes, with vessels, with 12 ton lidar boys that go to sea, we are an effective data company and data is one of Ireland’s key strengths. So being able to offer these services to support offshore wind is I guess what we do.

John: That’s wonderful. Then Cathal, can you share a little bit about what you do at PACE, how old the company is and what the main mission of PACE is?

Cathal Foley: Yeah, thanks for having me on John and thanks Aidan, from the continued support as well from the Enterprise Ireland side, I guess picking up a little bit what Kieran said, that data side. So we took a step back from what was inevitable in our eyes in the sustainability journey and saying what sort of technology solutions will be needed? So PACE was a 40-year-old FinTech that has spawned many, many innovations and built many, many businesses over the years. So we got an opportunity in our innovation division to stand back and say what will be needed, what solutions will be needed to support the decarbonization journey?

So we looked at everything from carbon tax solutions to carbon credits and really went vision standard on it and identified that you can’t do anything without the data. So the clearing point, you can’t implement any strategy, you can’t deliver anything meaningful without having a solid starting position to measure and you can’t measure anything without adequate data. So through looking through some of the assets in the portfolio of assets that we had, we identified aviation on two fronts. One, we had credentials in it, we built aviation technology platform for the aviation working group. We’ve been aviation services business, and two, every plane has a transponder, so you’re that you have clean data and accurate data. So we’ve built a platform for aviation financiers, so that is people that finance aviation.

So then again, which Ireland is very much at the forefront of, but they finance those assets and don’t control them. So they are on the hook, they’re responsible for reporting the carbon emissions of those assets, but they don’t necessarily know where they are and they don’t have the capacity to obligate people to tell them on the emissions. So we offer that platform to large global institutions from right here in Ireland, and we have many American banks that are on the platform, some of the largest financial institutions in the World. Building out on that measurement piece is how do we help people manage their path to net zero and ultimately mitigate their emissions in due core. So we see it as a huge, huge area for growth and continue to see success within the platform and building out other asset classes and other verticals from there. But all from that data journey.

John: How old approximately is PACE? How many years is the incident?

Cathal: We started about three years ago at this stage with an idea. I think scaling a business is one of the most rewarding and difficult things that you can ever do and scaling it in an industry which is just beginning to come to pass in terms of the regulatory requirements, in terms of the legislation that is being mapped out. There’s been a real learning journey not only scaling the business but scaling and informing the market and trying to inform the market of the need of the product while scaling the business alongside. So I think it’s been a hugely rewarding journey that we’ve been on.

John: One of the things that strikes me is I’ve only been going to Ireland for the last two years and I’ve been not only blown away by the warmth and the wonderful people there that are so welcoming to American business people that want to do business in Ireland, but the lush greenness of Ireland and the commitment to sustainability, is that something all three of you grew up with? Has that been part of culturally part of the DNA of Ireland going back now one or two generations? Because in the United States this sustainability revolution and ESG revolution is just something that’s relatively new, but it seems like it’s been in Ireland and part of your DNA for quite some time. What are your thoughts about that, any of you?

Cathal: Well, I’ll jump in and I’ll, of course I’m sitting in the most beautiful county in Kerry, which Kieran might have something to say about, but I think we literally, and not exaggerating when I say this, we’ve a restaurant on our top floor and it’s called the Res Restaurant and it looks out in the beautiful mountains, McGill Res in Kerry. I think you can’t but look at that view and say, well actually, if we can solve really interesting problems and work with amazing technology and amazing people, so all those things that need to go with it in a meaningful sense and help create a logical and meaningful path, net zero is not a great business to be working on and certainly for me it is. It’s something that seems to be natural. It seems to be innate at Irish people. We have a lovely outdoors, we have a love of our land, we’re very proud of that and I think it seems to help in terms of how we do it as well. I don’t know what you think Kieran.

Kieran: I would agree completely, Cathal. I think Ireland has always innately had that close linkage with nature and that protection of nature. I think increasingly what we’re seeing is Ireland’s impact on global sustainability efforts is going to be disproportionately larger than other countries just simply based on the potential for, as I mentioned, offshore wind. I mean, Ireland in a European context, energy security is a very hot topic right now, and traditionally energy has flowed from the east to the west when we’re talking about oil gas and coal.

Ireland, and looking at the potential flow of energy from the west to the east now, as I said, will have a huge impact into global efforts around sustainability. So I suppose it’s taking that legacy kind of mantra around sustainability and our impact on the World now is really, really huge. It’s true to support of enterprise Ireland and Irish government and now Irish companies. The ability to really put a footprint in this industry on a global context is absolutely there.

John: Kieran and Cathal, you make certain amount of success in Ireland with your business enterprise. When do you decide to reach out to Aidan and say, we want this to be our next step in our journey, or does Aidan reach out to you? How does that work? Aidan with these companies on your radar because of their meteoric success in Ireland or did they reach out to you and said, ”Hey, we’re doing well here, we want to go where you are now and we want your help with Enterprise Ireland, bringing us to America.

Aidan: I might let the guys tell their own story in terms of how they connected with Enterprise Ireland. They’ll know it better than me, but maybe just in part of the journey, our role overseas here is really to help accelerate and scale and help them scale that growth. The team back in Ireland are there at the very start. So Kieran, I might start with you your start story a couple of years ago.

Kieran: Yeah, it’s only four years ago, but I suppose for full disclosure, I’ve had over 15 years of experience working as an Enterprise Ireland customer in a previous role, a startup in a technology space that through all the supports from Enterprise Ireland, including market access grants and market access consultancy to break the US market was a key value driver for us. So it was an absolute no brainer for us to continue working with Enterprise Ireland within the context of this new startup.

I’m surprised, Aidan, in your intro, the sheer amount of customers that Enterprise Ireland are now representing, because the key value driver is the relationships that we build either with our own account managers or with the people you guys have overseas because we see those as extensions of our own capability, particularly our marketing capability in the emerging markets.

So for us, it’s typically we do have a very proactive account manager around the capability supports because any company that grows to over a hundred people in such a short space of time, those supports are very much needed. But in reaching out and looking at the US markets, looking at South African markets and others, the extension and the ability for us to be almost like a blowfish in looking and sounding bigger than we actually really are has been hugely beneficial to us.

John: You mentioned something really important. I don’t want to just glance over that, Kieran. You already had a great experience with Enterprise Ireland before in your last venture.

Kieran: John, not only that, but on the back of Enterprise Ireland supports, I credit that to getting married, funnily enough, it’s a side story, but on a market entry event, I was able to bring my then girlfriend on a trip to the us, not under Enterprise Ireland, did not fund that, but the way, but I got engaged on that trip, so I have enterprise Ireland to thank for that. So yes, past experience is definitely an indicator for future success.

John: Aidan, you’ve been holding out on me, you never…

Aidan: We missed Valentine’s Day, John. We should have had another episode.

John: This is all next year you’re going to become the Valentine’s special, Aidan. So this is not only going to be St. Patrick’s special, you’re going to start taking up a lot of the holidays here. It’s obvious. Cathal, talk a little bit about how you got interconnected, was it Enterprise Ireland reaching out to you or you having directly reaching out to them or was it someone who connected you with them?

Cathal: So as I said, PACE is part of the Fexco group, so Fexco and EI have a relationship going back many, many years and it’s been an exceptionally beneficial relationship hopefully for all sides, but certainly from a Fexco perspective. Again, one of the previous companies I was involved with within Fexco, it was in Asia and we interfaced with Asian colleagues again in terms of market expansion. I think it’s building on something I was thinking coming on this ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, right?

Something the Irish always did really well when they were immigrating was making sure that they had the support of that tribe around them as they showed up. That’s one thing that Enterprise Ireland absolutely does is helps us to use that blowfish analogy scene bigger than we are, but sometimes feel that we have the confidence to go to a market because we can sometimes feel like we’re the small Ireland on the edge of Europe, and actually to feel like, well actually we do have a product and it’s solving problems for global customers and making that first connection, which in business is so important, you still have to have a product to sell. Your product still has to be good.

You still have to be solving problem for customers and doing all the other stuff. It doesn’t give you a free path to just write them off, but it just can give you that little bit of an edge and that confidence to go and have that first conversation and I think the reason that the numbers speak for themselves in Enterprise Ireland is that there are so many great companies that are just bursting to get exposure in our global sense. So we’re very, very proud of the relationship we have and I’m sure we’ll have it for many, many years to come.

John: Aidan, do you have a team of folks back in Ireland that are consistently tracking startups in Ireland and how they’re doing, so they’re on your radar as they begin to launch and scale and you start building relationship before they even contact you with regards to coming to the United States?

Aidan: Absolutely, John. We have a pretty big team back at home and we have a team then that works very closely with our universities and our researcher community as well. So of the 161 startups that we invested in last year, 13 of them were actually spin out of universities. So we’ll go right into the research projects, we’ll look at what we can commercialize. We’ll have a team that’ll work with a platform and teams taking some great IP out of those universities, but also helping them build a team and scale it and get the funding and bring it to market. So we’re at every step of the way.

I think, we also support accelerators throughout Ireland. We have different themed accelerators. We have an Accelerate Green that’s in its second cohort in Ireland this year that’s very much focused on sustainability and on the green space. But we have food and we have pharma, we have digital health, we have a whole range of teams. But I think one of the things that has resonated from the conversation is that piece around innovation. When we look to invest and support a startup, they have to have something of real value, real innovation, innovative solutions that needs a market or has a market opportunity. Those are the companies that we really get behind. We can’t back all the entrepreneurs, but we can definitely get behind the ones that have scalable potential, something that is going to grow and scale outside of Ireland. We have two examples of that here on the podcast today.

Two companies that are thinking global from day one thinking of international markets from day one and we help them on that journey. So yeah, I think there is a big community of startups in and what we’re seeing more of, and both speakers have alluded to this as well, we’re seeing traditional businesses now look at the opportunities within the sustainability space. So you have Fexco in Kerry that’s seen the opportunity within the financial services ESG space. We have engineering companies that are traditionally maybe targeting construction companies, now they’re going after offshore wind logistics and construction for offshore wind projects. So we are seeing traditional industries now tap into this emerging new sector of opportunities and that’s what we want to get behind.

We definitely want to increase the number of Irish businesses that bring sustainable solutions to markets such as the US and actually this St Patrick’s day, we’re going to have companies all over the country engaging with customers, celebrating success and partnerships. Our big theme this year is actually sustainability solutions. What can Irish companies bring to your business to help you become more sustainable to adhere to your ESG? Ultimately where I think this is going, and we probably have heard this before on the show, is this is going to be our license to trade. If you’re not going to be compliant, if you’re not going to be moving the tie when it comes to sustainability as a business yourself, you’re not going to be in a position to trade and do business in a lot of markets.

John: That’s right. Cathal, give an example of what’s been the most valuable part of EI to your entrepreneurial journey in the United States. I’m going to have the same question of course for you Kieran as well. What was the most, like you said, oh, I’m so glad they’re now, there’re with me, they’re collaborating with me, they’re supporting me and this helped me get this over the top.

Cathal: I think that there’s a range. So it’s picking from a list. I think the original idea that we had, the EI can be very supportive in terms of funding as well. So we had an idea for exploration and we’re an organization with a whole range of ideas for exploration. It’s just trying to go through that validation journey and have the rigor early on of convincing somebody outside of your organization and outside of your echo chamber that there actually is a product. Equally the point on requiring external expansion beyond Ireland, I think for a lot of technology solutions for it to be any sort of a meaningful business, you need an international market.

We’re quite a small domestic market and I think to have a really valuable business, certainly in a technology sense, talking about large global financial institutions, we needed to tap in early not only to some investigator funding that we had, but equally market access and testing that market access that we needed for some global institutions. That was extremely early on in our journey. I would say first six months or even before the first six months of the business. But from there we’ve just gone on leaps and bounds, we stay in touch.

I think another interesting point with EI, EI listens, we were at a round table relatively recently, EI very eager to engage with the startup community and recognizing there is more that can be done and how do we do that and putting support in place. So I think for us, as I say, it’s some of that early stage support, really early stage support to help accelerate our journey. Then as early as you can that market access to drive those data points for us to be able to fund our business and say that we do have something here. It’s solving a global problem, it’s worth investing in and drive on growth and that have impact as a business.

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John: Cathal, let me just ask you this. Is it like other collaborations and let’s just say, and we’re going to get over to Kieran in a second, talking about marriage is the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Do you assign a person a, like, hey Susan, or hey Bill, you are going to be our every day, day and night liaison with EI and you’re going to help drive the success of our launch and scaling in the United States. How does that work?

Cathal: I think as it relates to United States in particular, it depends on the business unit that we would have. So for us it’s quite business unit specific. We’re a large corporate that sit above PACE as Fexco group and with payments, business, dynamic currency conversion, property services and a whole range of businesses that we have. So depending on the market need, we would’ve quite a wide range of people in the organization that would engage with various people, any eye as an organization and then we would’ve one primary contact that would work as well as a primary point of contact between the two.

But we try to not restrict it intentionally and obviously there’s always a risk there then that it can get distracted. We don’t feel that happens. We feel actually by allowing the fluidity of market need, driving the engagement. So as I say, I was dealing with different people when I was in Asia with the group in Hong Kong and I’ll switch to dealing with the required team as needed.

John: Understood. Kieran, for you, what’s been the aha moment or let’s just say the tipping point where you were so happy that with this venture with Green Rebel, that EI was supporting you and collaborating with you to help accelerate your growth and launch and growth in the United States?

Kieran: Sure. I think John, the industry we’re operating in is an emerging industry and a lot of markets, US included and Ireland and others are really only finding their way here. But I think there is an absolute understanding in enterprise Ireland’s case that if we can use Ireland as a test bed, as a basin for innovation, we create something that’s eminently scalable, that’s repeatable and ultimately is exportable. Looking at the US again, there’s a lot of provision in the US and every market is quite different, but there is a protection around supply chain in the US via the Jones Act.

So for us to enter that market, it is about partnerships, it is about finding local companies from which we can build those partnerships, get market access. The best thing about Enterprise Ireland is that they don’t know the answer. They know someone that does and they will find the answers for you. So I would say another great thing within Enterprise Ireland supporting this industry is that they have formed a collaboration of all of the like-minded companies in this space and kind of capitalize that within the Gale network. So we’re not just exporting one company, we’re exporting at a country level, a huge range of capability.

We see that a lot our competitors at a country level, the likes of Denmark, Scotland, Norway, who are maybe perceived to be a number of years ahead of us on the sustainability journey. They have individual companies that are bigger than our entire supply chain. So Enterprise Ireland, bringing together its entire supply chain and attacking that elephant rather than just one bite at a time, I think is a brilliant trait and a brilliant strategy to take.

John: That’s so interesting. You just said you launch your business model in Ireland and you work out on sort of a beta scale, all the kinks and then you look for scale when it comes to the United States. When you eventually come to United States. This is for both of you, Cathal and Kieran, and I want to hear your thoughts on this as well, Aidan, when you come here, is it your thought that eventually what you’re doing here and the work you’re doing here with EI support is eventually going to scale and grow to be much bigger venture than what’s going on in Ireland with your business venture, Kieran?

Kieran: Absolutely. The market and the demand for energy in the US is huge. I suppose looking ahead, Offshore Wind is a unique industry because what it’s starting to do is drive the jobs away from the hubs to New York or Dublin and it’s creating the social license to operate this industry in areas which have been previously under invested. So we would see the coast of Massachusetts, the coast of California in particular… because on the west coast of Ireland, which I know you haven’t visited yet, John, but I’m sure it’s on your bucket list, if we can harness the innovation there, bringing that to the US and scaling in a far bigger market. Again, the advantages of it being English speaking, the advantages of purely being Irish in that market does come to fruit. So looking strategically at the US as a way to scale far beyond our imagination in Ireland is absolutely there for us.

John: Cathal, same goes for you? Is that the same theory?

Cathal: Yeah, I think US is a really interesting proof point as a scaling business on a few fronts, right? Obviously it opens immediately up into a much larger market, but I think for me, something I would always look from US validation that is key beyond the size of the market is a really high bar in the US in general, but certainly providing data, providing technology, if you can crack the market there, I think it tends to reflect very well on the business.

You get that extra sense of we actually are onto something here. You will not accidentally acquire large global banks based on Manhattan. You have to be very, very good at what you do. I think, look, some of it is learning as you go, but as we have scaled through, that for me is the key point that the expectation from large institutions operating out of the states, even large domestic organizations in the States, their expectations are at the absolute pinnacle of what global institutions expect. So it teaches you that the governance you require as a business, the agility, the delivery, the customer support, the customer success function that you have.

So it probably matured us very, very quickly as a business by getting those US clients and it got us to a place where we probably wouldn’t be if we didn’t get that US market and yes, of course then you have, it’s a larger market and you tend to be dealing with larger organizations certainly. But for me, the bigger point actually would be if you can do it there, you can do it anywhere. I think with a famous song somewhere, wasn’t it?

John: That’s our friend, Frank Sinatra. Hey, so both of you have offices now in the United States, is physicality important with regards to your launch and scale in the United States?

Cathal: Look, I’ll jump in. I think for us we have offices at Spectacle, we do not at PACE, I would say sustainability tend to be quite global in nature. Data is imminently global in nature, and obviously in a post COVID World, it has allowed us to sell reasonably digitally while having people that we can tap into, whether it be through EI or whether it be through the broader Fexco network. We do not have an office in the states and don’t have the foreseeable future beyond utilizing the Fexco resources, which we do have great relationships, we have offices in the United States, and so that will be our expansion path from here for the US market.

John: Kieran, what’s say you about physicality and the importance of physicality?

Kieran: Yeah, like Cathal, it’s on our roadmap now. So in the coming weeks around St Patrick’s Day, we’re hopeful to be over stateside. Also, there’s the global Conference IPF is in New Orleans, there’s worse places you can visit, I’m sure. For us the question is where and what part of the US market is going to trigger first. Again, there’s a lot of ambition being shown. There’s a lot of gigawatts or brig watts maybe is what we call, that’s ambition.

Where’s it actually going to happen? So physicality is important in our industry, but the workplace is changing and we already have scientists in the US supporting us, but they’re doing so remotely. Even in Ireland, I’m in a lovely office here in Cork today, the dynamic of having to have people in physical structures is changing. So we’re trying to move with the times, but certainly in the next 12 months we would expect that we will be dipping our toe in getting physicality in the US. But where, is the question.

John: Understood, Aidan, as we discussed in our first show together, you have counterparts and colleagues that do what you do all around the World. Of course you are the regional director of the Americas, but with 5,000 companies being represented by Enterprise Ireland all around the World, talk a little bit about the journey.

What is typical Aidan and what you’ve seen in your career at Enterprise Ireland is do companies that are fast growing and relevant and impactful startups in Ireland, do they come to the US first and then go to other parts and handle by other ones of your colleagues? What would be then the second jump and what’s typical in terms of the journey? Of course, I’m sure it’s very idiosyncratic to the industry that they cover, but what have you seen to be a typical jumping point, and then where or is US not always the first jumping point?

Aidan: Yeah, no, it was a great question John, and I think we’ve got some insights from Kieran and Cathal there previously as to that question. What we typically see is just in context, the UK would be the number one export market Irish companies and actually the US is number two. So last year Irish client enterprise iron client companies exported 5.5 billion in goods and services to the US. So I think that tells you something. It tells you that going back to Cathal point, if you can make it in the US, you can get the validation there.

You can really scale as a company. So would’ve a lot of our technology companies or data-driven companies that would do exactly that. To Kieran’s point, where’s the real opportunity now? Where’s the market, the most developed and the path of this resistance? So absolutely, if you look at Europe and the UK waters for instance, a company like Green Rebel, that’s their opportunity for their marketplace now. So we’ll ask those questions of our client companies, where’s your market opportunity today?

What can you quickly win business at? Then where’s the opportunity of scale? A lot of times our companies will go to a near market like the UK or indeed Europe and prove the concept works, get a reference customer. But to really crack it, they might look at if the market is already in existence, there’s a market opportunity emerging, they’ll come to the US and what we try to do in that journey is help them get a beachhead, okay, where’s the path to least resistance? Where can you build on existing relationships and how can you break into this market?

So we in enterprise, Ireland in the overseas office, we’ll try and form that trusted advisor position between potential customers to our clients and say, look, we have companies that need some validation as to what they’re bringing to the market that have really innovative solutions, would you be willing to chat to them? So we kind of diffuse that hard sales pitch and actually offer an opportunity for companies to come in and have a conversation as to can you help us validate our thinking on this? Is this a problem for you for your business? Is this what we’re building a real solution or an opportunity to solve that problem? I think that’s the real value that we can actually broker those conversations. We can get to the right people and as Kieran said, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find somebody that can and provide that insight in the market.

John: Aidan, do you have an annual conference of your 5,000 portfolio brands that get together with a wonderful and brilliant gentlemen like Cathal and Kieran and they get a chance to network together and cross share information or how does that work with Enterprise Ireland? Is there something like that?

Aidan: Yeah, so we do industry specific events. If going back to what Kieran mentioned, we have a team back at home very much focused on the offshore supply chain opportunity globally. They saw an opportunity for lots of companies like Green Rebel to come under one umbrella group and go to these bigger businesses with here’s all the solutions that Ireland can offer. So that has worked in our favor. We’ve done another sectors as well where we’ve helped support clusters of companies come into the market. The other thing that we do, and we have done some annual events where we bring clients together and we’ve done it around startups.

We have an annual startup showcase, we have an annual innovation in the food industry showcase. So we typically do it by sector, but probably more importantly is the companies like Kern and Green Rebel and Karl and PACE, they can pick up the phone and they have somebody in Ireland that’ll answer them many time of the day and work with them as to what are they currently need. They have an opportunity in Asia, do they have an opportunity in South America and the US? Can we explore this? Can we jump on that? We have an account manager system at home that works where their development advisor, we’ll figure that stuff out with them and get them the right support and the right people on the phone.

John: Our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, this is this very special, the greenest edition of all of the Impact Podcast. This is the St. Patrick’s Day special we’ve been honored to have with us today, Aidan McKenna, who’s the regional director of Americas for Enterprise Ireland. You can find Enterprise Kieran Ivers who’s the CEO of Green Rebel, you can find Green Rebel at and Cathal Foley, who’s the CEO of PACE. You can find PACE at,

All of those websites will be in our show notes and plus other information about these great companies and enterprises. Before we wind up today, I want to just hear your long-term vision for your important and impactful companies. Cathal, what’s your real goals for PACE? When you lay in bed at night and you think about how things are going and where you are on the journey here, what’s your ultimate goals and what’s next and what are you most excited about for PACE in the coming 2024 and beyond?

Cathal: I think continuing to grow in scale at PACE is ultimately what we’re about and getting that validation and I think when you imagine something, you build it and someone buys it, that’s a really special feeling and the great thing in a scale up is you get that on quite a frequent basis in a new space. Within aviation, we’re focused on three primary pillars. So that’s building out the platform and the data services set that we have, finding additional use cases for our data such as corporate travel and consignment travel and various other pieces and monetizing that advisory element that we have within our business that informing the market piece.

So a huge amount of activity across aviation and beyond aviation commercial real estate. This is an area that has huge room for expansion. So we’ll continue to have an innovation arm that will look at the next wave of analytical opportunities within sustainability, as I say, such as maritime, such as commercial real estate and road transport. We keep that track of activity going as well. So onwards and upwards really from here and continuing to scale what we have and build new product.

John: Cathal, once you continue to scale in the United States and continue to prove out your mission and vision for PACE, then do you go back to Enterprise Ireland and say, okay, now we believe this could be applicable in China or in the UAE or in South America. Do you keep going back to the well of Enterprise Ireland to help continue to spread the great word about PACE?

Cathal: Yeah, I think, and it’s not only as we scale PACE, but as we add new products or new businesses alongside PACE in that product suite, we can go back to that earliest iteration of products. We’re actually looking at doing that at the moment and collating the next round of innovation within sustainability technology to sit alongside PACE and at the scaling side of the journey, at the moment, we’ve been very much focused, to be honest on Europe and the US. So next up would be Asia, as you rightly point out on how we could help just follow that same path and help continue the journey that we’ve been on, getting connected into Asia and scaling out from there.

John: What’s your vision, Kieran? You have a tough hurdle to climb here. Your last venture, you had a huge successful relationship with Enterprise Ireland. You also met and found and married your wife. What do you expect here? What’s your vision here in and this go round with Enterprise Ireland and for Green Rebel, what’s the future look like in 2024 and beyond?

Kieran: Yeah, look, I suppose in any business you set up, you think you’re going in one direction and business takes you in another direction. So at the moment we’re running a number of different services and there’s opportunity everywhere and it’s, for us, it’s being laser focused in where we can really maximize the opportunity. To encompass all what we do into one sentence is to be seen as a standard bearer for data provision within offshore wind.

We have revenue targets and all that, but that’s only achieved with our focus on people and retaining and attracting the very, very best people, doing business the right way, doing good by our clients. If you get all of that right, good things will happen. But right now my ambition is for World domination if that’s the answer you’re looking for. But there’s so much opportunity in our business that the Green Rebel today, I’m sure we’ll go on five or six different journeys in other directions, which will all be interesting in their own right.

John: I love what you’re both doing and both of these are very unique sectors that we’ve never covered on this show before, and we get to really have such wonderful guests like all three of you. Do you have a lot of competition in your space right now, Kieran? It sounds like such an interesting niche.

Kieran: Yeah, there is competition, but the ambition globally for what we do is leading the simple laws of supply and demand.

John: That’s right.

Kieran: So the opportunity for companies stateside and other places. I like to think that Green Rebel being a first mover is making every mistake and having every success possible, that’s beating a path down for companies like us to follow because too many of our competitors are coming from oil and gas industries into this space. Green Rebel is set up green to begin with, and green is our focus. So I would say that the ambition that we’re showing is repeatable and scalable for other companies too.

John: That’s great. Hey, I’m going to give the last word to our good friend Aidan McKenna, who was so kind enough to put this show together and he made two sustainability superstars super happy today, and I think we’ve hurt the feelings of 898 of his wonderful portfolio companies. But Aidan, I’m going to leave it to you. This is our St. Patrick’s Day special. You’ve put together and curated this wonderful show with these two brilliant individuals. Please share some of your vision for Enterprise Ireland in 2024 and beyond.

Aidan: Thank you very much again for having us, John. I think one of the things I’d like to emphasize at this St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a time that we celebrate not just St. Patrick and all’s gone before, but actually our relationship with the US and we are going to have a huge presence in all our major cities here in the US, at the St. Patrick’s Day, where Irish companies that we’ve just heard from, we’ll be able to take a key customer and celebrate success, recognize our partnerships at the real problems they’re trying to solve collectively together.

I think because we’re green and it’s St. Patrick’s Day, if any of your podcast listeners are listening that they need help with their sustainability agenda, Enterprise Ireland has companies that can solve those problems. Enterprise Ireland can be the place where they come to initially to figure out is there companies the best solutions to real sustainability challenges? Within our portfolio, we absolutely have. We’ve heard from two fantastic companies here today, but we have a whole portfolio more that can offer real solutions to various industries. Again, thank you for the opportunity. If listeners are tuning in, visit and you can source Irish companies through our website that have real innovative solutions to some of the challenges that we face.

John: Thank you all. For all of our guests here, Cathal Foley, Kieran Ivers, Aidan McKenna, thank you for not only taking the time to share your mission, your vision, and all the great and important and impactful work that you’re all doing to not only grow your businesses and come to America and share the great important things that you’re doing, but thank you all for making the World a better place.

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