Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI) were delighted to host our first Local Stakeholder Meeting in Kilkenny, Ireland on the 5th of February 2020. DCCI will also be responsible for the communications of the project, and we were excited to discuss and analyse the challenges facing craft SMEs today in Ireland.

Louise Allen (Managing Executive DCCI) welcomed the group made up of local enterprice agencies and authorities, third level universities, and craft SMEs and proceeded to give an overview of the CRAFTS CODE project. Louise explained the aim of the local stakeholder groups, in which partners will analyse their different regional situations and identify with their stakeholders, the most valuable experiences to be presented as good practice (GP) in the Interregional Thematic Seminars (ITSs).

As part of the project CRAFTS CODE, DCCI will address the following policy instrument:  

to improve the impact of Priority 3 in Enhancing the Competitiveness of Craft and Design SMEs in the Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme 

Each member of the group took turns presenting themselves and the role of their organisation/agency. The discussion then turned to addressing the theme of the meeting: 'How to improve innovation in business models and process'.

Ray and Rosemarie who both own their own pottery studios, spoke about how important networking opportunities are, and how important it is to be part of a group such as ‘Made in Kilkenny’ where they can share expertise, give advice on suppliers etc. Another discussion centered on how to be more eco-friendly in the workplace and that there isn’t enough information available to SMEs on this subject.

Main talking points that came out of the group discussion around challenges and needs for craft sector SMEs included:

  • Knowledge sharing/expertise – importance of having a ‘base’ / group source of expertise
  • Insurance scheme supplied by DCCI could be replicated in other areas/countries
  • Working with energy/eco experts – sustainable/eco packaging. Environmentally-friendly steps in the workplace especially in the crafts sector
  • With so many agencies it can be confusing on knowing who to go to. Suggested ‘general menu for craft SMEs’ - ‘where do I go, who do I speak to’
  • Making one application form available to be used across all agencies
  • Adoption of technology/digital skills into craft SMEs and making it more tangible and user-friendly 

At the end of the two-hour meeting, it was agreed that the discussion would continue in the next meeting in early March, and that everyone one share an example of a case study or policy/programme that they felt could contribute to topic 1. 


Louise Allen, Managing Executive, DCCI

Mary Whelan, Client Liaison, DCCI   

Emer Ferran, Enterprise Development Programme Manager, DCCI

Shauna Sweeney, WCC Europe and Innovation and Development Co-ordinator, DCCI

Siobhan Oates, Business Consultant, South East Business Innovation Centre

Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office - Carlow County Council

Lynne Whelan, Design Strategist, Design+ Technology Gateway, Dargan Centre, IT Carlow  

Ray Power, Castle Arch Pottery, Kilkenny

Derville Brennan, Assistant Director, EU Programmes Division, Southern Regional Assembly

John Walsh, Assistant Head of School, TU Dublin School of Creative Arts City Campus  

Rosemarie Durr, Rosemarie Durr Pottery, Kilkenny