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Enterprise in Ireland – Abrel’s successful relationship with Enterprise Ireland

As an island economy, Irish businesses are probably more exposed than others to the effects of globalisation and Abrel has certainly experienced this exposure over the years – for good and bad! But being part of the EU has definitely helped our export endeavours, and securing ISO 9001:2015 and more recently ISO 14001 has helped Abrel to be recognised as premium suppliers on a global basis. But another element that is key to both protecting and growing indigenous Irish industrial companies, is the important influence that government agencies have in supporting the manufacturing sector.

In fact, the important role of national agencies in nurturing homegrown enterprises is often over-looked. And at the forefront of this endeavour stands Enterprise Ireland, a government agency dedicated to supporting Irish companies to become robust, global entities renowned for their innovation, quality, and competitive edge.

Enterprise Ireland’s Approach

With a mission deeply rooted in economic development through exports, with a view to increasing employment here in Ireland, EI operates a number of support programmes, helping companies to position themselves as leaders in their respective fields, on an international stage.

EI’s strategy is to categorise the supports available around the various stages of their growth journey. From ambitious startups to established SMEs and global Irish companies, EI provides funding, advisory services, and development supports designed to cultivate high-growth strategies and facilitate entry into new markets. They are keen to drive innovation and the growth of sustainable products and services. Operating across a network of 39 international offices, EI’s teams specialise across areas of expertise as well as across geographic locations, creating useful networks for Irish businesses to tap into when needed. Abrel has found this network to be extremely useful over the years.


Abrel & EI

Abrel epitomises the archetypical Irish enterprise that has flourished with the help of EI. Founded in 1994, Abrel has emerged as a beacon of innovation in the design and manufacture of products and burn-in board test systems for the reliability testing of semiconductor components. The company’s portfolio, which has grown extensively over time, now includes High-Temperature Operating Life (HTOL) boards, Highly Accelerated Stress Test (HAST) boards, Pressure-Temperature-Cycling (PTC) boards, the Bibtest55XL board tester, socket test probes, and the Endzone burn-in system.


Abrel’s ascent to becoming a global company with a worldwide network of customers is a testament to its technical excellence and strategic vision. However, this journey of growth and expansion has been significantly bolstered by the support received from EI over many years. From leveraging international offices for market expansion to availing of grants for product development and operational enhancements, Abrel’s partnership with EI has been key to its success. This collaboration exemplifies how strategic support and resources from a national agency can empower businesses to not only navigate the challenges of the global market but also to redefine the boundaries of technological innovation within their industry.


EI Supports that Benefitted Abrel

R&D and Product Development

One of the cornerstones of Abrel’s success has been its relentless focus on research and development (R&D), underpinned by the support from EI. The collaboration began nearly from Abrel’s inception, with EI identifying the potential in Abrel’s innovative approach to semiconductor testing. This foresight led to substantial R&D supports, facilitating projects that might have otherwise been beyond reach for a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) like Abrel.

A standout example of this collaboration is the development of the Endzone burn-in system, a project that commenced as an ambitious R&D venture heavily supported by EI about 15 years ago. The project’s goal was clear: to revolutionise the reliability testing of semiconductor components, a critical area as the demand for more durable electronic devices continues to grow. The financial and advisory support from EI was crucial, allowing Abrel to allocate resources to this project that an SME would typically struggle to fund independently.

The Endzone burn-in system’s development was a game-changer – Abrel could offer its clients a superior product, directly contributing to the longevity and reliability of electronic devices worldwide. This success story exemplifies the impact of targeted R&D support, enabling Abrel to solidify its market position and drive innovation in its sector.


Market Expansion and International Presence

Abrel’s foray into the global arena was strategically supported by EI through assistance with trade shows, networking events, and market research, particularly in locations where Abrel aimed to develop new business.

The Philippine Semiconductor & Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) serves as a prime example of how this support materialised into tangible benefits. With EI’s backing, Abrel participated in this key industry event, showcasing its latest products and innovations to a global audience. This not only allowed Abrel to strengthen its brand presence in one of its largest export markets but also provided a platform for engaging with potential customers and reinforcing relationships with existing ones.


Digital Marketing Capability

But support for Abrels international presence hasn’t just been through events and through networking with EI’s global offices, it has also been through our digital visibility and internal digital marketing skillsets. Abrel has benefited enormously from the Digital Marketing Capability Funding offered by the Digital Marketing Unit at EI. Working with Inspiration Digital Marketing, we developed a Digital Marketing Strategy, designed a new website and implemented a variety of activities to drive enquiries through the site. We also upskilled internally so that we could continue to drive our online presence over time. The site not only generates quality leads, but it supports our sales efforts, highlighting our extensive product range and our cutting-edge tech. It presents Abrel as a global player, which is important in our marketplace.


Lean Manufacturing and ISO Certifications

With the backing of EI, Abrel embarked on a journey towards lean manufacturing, a transformational approach aimed at minimising waste and optimising efficiency across all operations. This initiative not only streamlined processes but also fostered a culture of continuous improvement, significantly enhancing productivity and operational agility. The support from EI was instrumental in this transformation, providing both financial assistance and expert advisory services to guide Abrel through the complexities of implementing lean principles.

Parallel to these efforts, as referenced earlier, Abrel has achieved the ISO 9001 certification, validating our dedication to consistently meeting customer and regulatory requirements. EI played a crucial role in this achievement, offering guidance and support in navigating the certification process, thereby bolstering Abrel’s credibility and competitive edge in the global market.


Sustainability Efforts and ISO 14001 Certification

Recognising the importance of environmental stewardship in today’s business landscape (and in our day-to-day lives of course), Abrel has also made significant strides in sustainability efforts. A landmark achievement in this area has been the attainment of the ISO 14001 certification, a testament to Abrel’s effective environmental management system (EMS). This certification reflects the company’s commitment to minimising its environmental footprint through efficient resource use and waste reduction. EI’s support was pivotal in achieving this certification, highlighting the agency’s commitment to promoting sustainable business practices among Irish enterprises.


Future Prospects and Continued Partnership


As Abrel looks toward the horizon, we are excited for the future. We plan for further growth and no doubt this will be underpinned by the support of EI. Market development strategies will focus on expanding into emerging economies, where the demand for semiconductors is surging, yet the presence of advanced testing solutions is poor. Leveraging EI’s global network, Abrel plans to penetrate these markets, establishing partnerships and identifying new customer segments that can benefit from its advanced testing technologies.


Sustainable Growth and Global Leadership

Sustainability will continue to be a cornerstone of Abrel’s strategy, with ongoing efforts to minimise environmental impact and promote eco-friendly practices across all operations. With the support of EI, we plan to pioneer sustainable solutions within the semiconductor testing industry, further aligning with global standards and customer expectations.


A Successful Collaboration

The Enterprise Ireland-Abrel partnership exemplifies a successful collaboration that has propelled an Irish enterprise to the forefront of the global semiconductor industry.

The achievements of this partnership underscore the critical role of government support in enabling businesses to realise their growth potential, by providing not only financial assistance, but also strategic advice, and international market access.

EI plays a pivotal role in the economic development of Ireland, fostering innovation, job creation, and sustainable growth.

The future looks bright – together!