EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Plato Ireland

Phase: Anticipation
  • Matching/Networking
  • Support of companies' growth
  • Support of SMEs
  • Territorial coordination
  • Training
Ultima modifica: 03 August, 2021
Nome originale:

Plato Ireland

Nome in inglese:

Plato Ireland


Open to all commercial activities that employ between three and 50 people and that are not start-ups (i.e. it must be an existing enterprise, not a new entrepreneurial venture).

Main characteristics

Plato Ireland Ltd is a company limited by guarantee, and governed by the employer organisation Ibec, a leading provider of employment law and industrial relations expertise, and the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. It was established in 1995 to provide small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a unique business support forum for exploring business growth and expansion where business owners and managers can tackle the challenges and issues of today's business world.

The Plato network is composed of four groups of 12-15 micro and/or small businesses interested in growing their businesses and learning from larger companies in the region, and funded through Local Enterprise Offices and county councils. The Plato network is largely a facilitator that aims to create a confidential and safe environment where SMEs can benefit from facilitated group learning, training activities, business linkages and networking events. Plato Ireland encourages participants to share experiences and resources, to stimulate new ideas, and to support each other as they make the strategic decisions that determine how their businesses will grow. 


  • Regional funds
  • European funds
  • European Funds (ESF)
  • Employers' organisation

Involved actors

Regional/local government
The regional Plato networks are funded by local authorities.
Employer or employee organisations
Governed by Ibec and the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.
European funding for one of the Plato regions (Plato EBR) is by the European Unions INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme.


As of 2020, there are about 1,000 participating SMEs in seven Plato regional networks around Ireland. More than 1,500 companies have already participated in Plato Ireland programmes.

An earlier, unpublished, evaluation of Plato Ireland found the support was 'extremely effective' at facilitating SME networks.

Over 8,000 SMEs and over 500 parent companies in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, France and Finland participate in Plato programmes as well.

Marion Walshe, Regional Organiser from Plato Dublin said: 'A high number of business owners have benefited hugely from the Small Business Development Programme. Previous participants have invariably shown greatly improved management skills and effective planning, improved productivity and increased turnover. Plato Dublin offers access to a full range of management expertise, including: professional training, mentoring sessions and business-to-business support, which enhance their skills and helps Dublin-based businesses to prosper after completion of the programme.'

Lawrence Parnis, Managing Director from Absolute Event Catering Ltd and a previous participant of the programme said: 'My experience from this programme has been positive, it has helped me implement different strategies and techniques into the daily running of my business. It’s a great opportunity to meet and talk to a variety of business owners about the different hurdles we all come across in the day to day running of our businesses.'


Service users get to avail of management expertise from a wide network of local, regional, national and international experts. Major employers who have participated in Plato Dublin include ESB, Microsoft, Ulster Bank, Pfizer and Ericsson, which would suggest the Plato support network is held in high esteem.


No information available.


The parent companies that Plato Ireland participants can link up with are: Bank of Ireland, CRS Pharma Solutions, DCU, Diageo, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft, Paypal, Pfizer and Ulster Bank.
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