Fifty five companies attend SMILE networking event in Cork that marks 1000th member

More than fifty Irish companies participated this week at a SMILE Exchange event in Cork that also saw the organisation welcome its 1000th member.

Irema, a manufacturer of surgical masks based in Kilmallock, Co Limerick, became the latest member of the resource exchange organisation that encourages Irish businesses to make financial savings, reduce waste going to landfill and develop new business opportunities.

Mark Finnegan, Sustainability Specialist from IKEA, was a guest speaker at the Maryborough House Hotel event and identified SMILE as a potentially valuable resource to many Irish businesses, including the Swedish giant.

“Recycling is the most used method of waste disposal at IKEA and by working with SMILE, we hit two of our main objectives in combining recycling and community involvement. We’ve found the relationship hugely beneficial this year and it has helped us to increase reuse of materials as opposed to recycling.”

At the event Mr Finnegan exchanged end of line roller blind fabric with Cork-based company Mamukko, which will be used in the manufacture of a fashionable line of bags.

Mary O’Brien, Quality & Regulatory Affairs Manager with Irema, which trades mainly in exports to the German medical market, said: “We have a lot of materials within the facility like plastics and cardboards that may be of use to some businesses here today. We’re very conscious of being environmentally friendly at Irema and I think the SMILE Exchange is a really good way of networking with other SMEs with interests similar to ours.”

The fifty five companies who attended the event ranged in description from IT to footwear, transport to engineering and jewellery to foodstuffs. Founded in 2010, SMILE Exchange (an acronym for Saving Money through Industry Links & Exchanges), began in Cork but has grown nationally with its 1000 members spread throughout the country.

“We are delighted to welcome our 1000th member today,” said SMILE Project Manager, Michelle Green, “and to have come so far so quickly. There were over 100 synergies identified from today’s networking session and we’re confident that many of our members will once again benefit from meeting and working with each other in the future.”