Laois Offaly firm invests thousands of euro to help staff work from home after getting EU grant

Portarlington firm one of just five companies to get EU funding for workplace innovation

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

coronavirus covid-19

The Polar Ice plant is located in the Portarlington Ind Est

A Laois Offaly firm which is helping the Covid-19 vaccine is one of a handful of Irish companies to get thousands of euro in funding to help their teams innovate and has used the money to equip their staff to work from home during the pandemic.

Polar Ice in Portarlington is one of five Irish SMEs who received European 'Start at Best' project funding to support workplace innovation practices.

The company, which makes and distributes dry ice which is essential for some Covid-19 vaccines, has received €7,500 funding, according to general manager Ronan Berry.

Mr Berry says it has allowed their business to react and adapt quickly to an entirely new way of working and managing operations from the company's base.

“The investment in IT equipment, training and software allowed for a seamless transition that continued right up
to the end of the year and into 2021," he said.

The firm for funding with guidance from Elizabeth Gavin and Sarah Adams of EUR Digital Village, a leading company on a mission to increase the value of EU funded projects.

The following distinct areas of the business were identified as areas of change in response to lockdown in March 2020.

* Assisting management and administration personnel in adapting to working from home.
* Investment in equipment, software and training in preparedness for virtual auditing.
* An employee well-being programme commencing with the transport team.

Polar Ice says it has invested heavily in IT systems, infrastructure and security over the past four years so that the teams
were ready to go remote if the need arose.

Mr Berry outlines what happened.

“Since March 2020 the management, administration and marketing teams have worked almost entirely from home in line with government guidelines. Nonetheless making the switch was still a major culture change but the team effort has allowed a seamless transition for customers, many of who found themselves in a similar situation.

“The company immediately purchased additional hardware, phone and office equipment for the employees, and assisted them in upgrading their home broadband service to fibre broadband where accessible or the next best available technology,” Mr Berry concluded in a case study about the project.

The firm says workplace innovation is about "empowering teams, building on their strengths, and embedding an innovation culture across the company or organisation."

The ‘Start At Best’ Horizon 2020 project has a total budget of €225,000 to support 30 individual companies or a
a consortium of firms by allocating direct funding through grants of €7,500 (with no match funding required).

More at https://startatbest.eu/