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Factsheet for measure IE-1995-1/2602 – measures in Ireland

Plato Ireland

Plato Ireland

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 1995
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Supporting businesses to stay afloat
– Other
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 18 November 2022)

Background information

Plato Ireland is 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.

It is supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment via Local Enterprise Offices, Ibec and Chambers Ireland. It receives some funding from the European Union's INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme.

Content of measure

Plato is 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). It is a confidential network based on group learning, facilitation and networking.

It is designed to address the needs of businesses by providing owner-managers with support, advice, training and a range of opportunities to develop their personal skills and management capability.

It operates as a not for profit business development programme, supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, LEOs, Ibec and Chambers Ireland.

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. 

Use of measure

Since 1995, over 15,000 business owners have participated in the Plato network

User testimonials reflect the impact Plato has had on small businesses.

Carole McCaughey of Kyles Events and Catering said the mentorship programme has helped her business "grow by 63% in revenue". In addition, the company has recruited 3 new full time managers and implemented systems for success through the mentioned business functions, in particular in sales, marketing and team management.

Shirley O'Rourke, owner of The Delicious Food company, said: "I found the programme to be excellent. We had terrific team leaders who supported us throughout the programme. A few people left the group early on & the core group formed a really good network of support for each other. We had access to speakers who brought great knowledge & practical advice in the form of Marketing/HR/Business planning etc

Lawrence Parnis, Managing Director from Absolute Event Catering Ltd, 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.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers SMEs
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Employers' organisations
Local / regional government
Employers organisation
European Funds
Regional funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Consulted
Form Not applicable Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


Employer representative organisations, Ibec and Chambers Ireland, support Plato Ireland and are involved in facilitating the networking opportunities

Views and reactions

There are no expressed views of the social partners on this instrument, but the ongoing support from Ibec would indicate a positive interaction.



Eurofound (2022), Plato Ireland, measure IE-1995-1/2602 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.