Partner Focus - Enterprise Ireland

Tell me about your organization?

Enterprise Ireland (E.I.) is the Irish government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. We work in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate, and win export sales in global markets. In this way, we support sustainable economic growth, regional development and underpin employment in Ireland.

As Senior Market Adviser at E.I. in Japan, my role is to pro-actively research market opportunities, highlight these to our Irish clients, deliver sales itineraries in market and inward buyers to Ireland, focusing on key clients who have the wherewithal to deliver scalable results.

Why did your organization set up in Japan?

The world’s third-largest economy, Japan has a rich, advanced and sophisticated market that promises both scale and sustainability to successful entrants. At the same time, facing a pressing need to advance quickly in sectors like ICT, Fintech and Life Sciences, Japan’s corporates are hungry for innovative products and services, which world class Irish companies are well positioned to deliver.

Companies backed by Enterprise Ireland recorded export growth to Japan of 73% over the past four years across sectors including Digital, Medtech, Engineering, Aviation & Fintech.  What is clear from the performance of Ireland’s exporters in recent years that the increasing sophistication and ambition of Irish companies is resonating with Japanese customers and partners.

Whilst there is no doubt that trade is severely affected in some sectors, Irish companies are very resilient, and Japan is an equally resilient market with a proven ability to withstand and recover from disruption such as that currently being experienced with Covid-19.

What initiatives are you looking forward to in the next year?

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic E.I. is responding by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of a package of financial and other support products announced by the Government. Across our international office network, we have embraced digitisation and continue to deliver our research, advisory and business development supports to our exporting base of clients.

The largest annual event we run corporately ‘International Markets Week’ will shift online with a strong presence from E.I. Japan.  This will facilitate the new export enquiries on Japan and allow us to engage and work with a pipeline of new market entrants to validate opportunities.

For you, why is involvement in the IJCC important?

For first-time as well as established exporters to Japan, IJCC offers the opportunity to connect with a network of professionals, each of whom has a wealth of experience in Ireland-Japan business relations. In my own experience, our members have been very approachable and very willing to offer their support.

The aggregate experience of those that have developed their businesses in Japan is hugely valuable for Irish companies as they seek to enter and grow in the market. 

How can ties between Ireland and Japan become closer?

Close trading ties between Ireland and Japan are an important aspect of the overall relationship. In order to strengthen these, we are always prospecting for ambitious, world class Irish companies that are ready to commit to the Japan market.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a stop to in-person visits from either side, we continue to arrange virtual business introductions between our Irish clients and potential Japanese buyers.  They are not a replacement for face to face meetings but it is surprising to see businesses in both Ireland and Japan adapting at pace to the current normal.

Professional profile/background

I am an Australian-Japanese with an upbringing in both countries: I was raised in Hyogo, Japan until age 10, after which I moved with my family to Western Australia for my high school and university studies. I made the move back to Tokyo in 2017 to pursue my career here. Since then, I have worked at the Japan offices of global engineering and technology companies serving Japanese customers, mainly in Sales and Marketing functions.

In May 2020 I joined Enterprise Ireland as a Senior Market Adviser, handling a portfolio of Irish Life Sciences and Industrial clients.

I am honoured to be a part of the IJCC and the Ireland-Japan business community. I hope to learn more about Irish business and culture from everyone, and look forward to doing my part to help improve ties between the two countries.


George Onishi

Senior Market Adviser

Enterprise Ireland, Japan Office