One of Limerick’s most impressive businesses, Odyssey Studios, have been announced as a finalist for this year’s National Enterprise Awards. The awards, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Office, will take place virtually on Thursday 11th February. Odyssey Studios will compete against 29 other national finalists for a prize fund totaling €50,000.
Odyssey Studios was set up in 2017 by Mark Maher and employs six people in Limerick. The state of the art model making studio based on the Dock Road, Limerick is one of the largest permanent model making studios in Europe. The studio supplies blockbuster film and TV productions with miniature models, weapons, armour, props and prosthetic makeup and the teams have worked on films such as The Hobbit, Penny Dreadful and Into the Badlands. Odyssey’s next generation facility houses the latest in design and production technology for laser cutting and 3D scanning, modeling and printing. This all‐encompassing approach makes Odyssey a one stop shop for productions and individual artists from the concept stage, through to the finished article. They are currently expanding into exhibition fit-out and design and specialist training to meet the growing demands of the industry.
The film industry, like many others, came to a halt during the first lockdown. In order to ameliorate the effects of the pause in filming, Odyssey Studios maintained four employees under the Wage Subsidy Scheme and four were temporarily left off under the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
They maintained close contact with their main production company and continued to work in a reduced capacity in three remote locations on design and production of miniatures for the Foundation series in Limerick. This provided a flow of income, even if reduced, over the six months of the shutdown. When combined with Restart Grants, Revenue debt warehousing and the wage subsidy scheme, this enabled the company to successfully navigate it’s way through the first shutdown period, maintaining good liquidity throughout the time whilst retaining employees and contact with main customers.
Odyssey is now back in full production and has increased to 10 full time employees, achieved strong turnover and increase in sales in Q4 2020. During the lockdown period, Odyssey Studios produced PPE for frontline staff on a pro bono basis, fulfilling their corporate social responsibility mandate.
Also during the lockdown period, availing of time arising from the reduced activity, Odyssey management focused on developing a future growth strategy, and successfully applied for an SBCI Future Growth loan, as well as an additional LEO business expansion grant.
This funding enabled Odyssey Studios to realise its future growth strategy, including expanding its 3D printing and laser printing capacity and developing an area in the Studios to house the Odyssey Training Academy.
The company has identified increasing its reach in the International Film production market, working with artists to realise large scale public art projects, offering its expertise to the heritage exhibition sector and the development of the Training Academy as the main engines of future growth.
The 30 finalists, nominated by the Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities, represent a diverse range of businesses that are supported by the LEOs across the country. Now in their 22nd year, the awards celebrate small businesses and includes awards that recognise excellence in exporting, sustainability and innovation along with eight regional awards and an overall National Enterprise Awards winner.
This year also sees the addition of two new award categories that reflect the challenging business conditions that companies have faced in 2020. The Pivot Award will be presented to a company who has successfully pivoted their business in the face of challenging conditions in the last 12 months. The Brexit Ready Award will be presented to a company who have excelled in their preparation for Brexit particularly where it would have created specific challenges for them as a business.
Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, said; “Through the National Enterprise Awards we celebrate the very best in small local companies who are leading in their field of business expertise. Over the past 20 years the awards have been the benchmark for excellence in micro-enterprise across the country. Looking at the list of winners, finalists and participants through the years it is easy to be inspired by our talented businesses and people who are the backbone of outstanding Irish entrepreneurs, many of whom are trading successfully across the globe. This year’s finalists are no different with some exceptional companies shortlisted. The very best of luck to all finalists and no doubt they will continue to grow beyond this and become part of Ireland’s growing international business community.
Head of Enterprise at LEO Limerick, Mike Cantwell, said; “It has been a challenging year for small businesses so this is a chance to highlight positive stories and businesses that have excelled in the face of unprecedented challenges. These businesses have been through a judging process which looked at every aspect of their business and this in itself can be a huge benefit to them as they plan for the future. Whether they win or not, these finalists’ achievements deserve to be recognised and celebrated and the Local Enterprise Offices look forward to continuing to support them to help them grow and achieve their potential".
Vincent Murray, Director of Economic Development at Limerick City and County Council: “We are delighted to see such a dynamic company representing Limerick at a national level. Limerick City and County Council is constantly working to develop economic opportunities in the film industry and skills and facilities available at Odyssey Studios is an important resource to attract film makers locally as well as exporting to the international market. Odyssey represents how traditional artistic skills can be combined with cutting edge technology demonstrating the creativity and innovation that is driving economic growth in Limerick.”
The National Enterprise Awards are one of a number of initiatives that the Local Enterprise Offices run to foster entrepreneurship across the country. Others include Local Enterprise Week, the Student Enterprise Programme and National Women’s Enterprise Day.
The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.
Established in 2014, LEOs are an essential resource for any entrepreneur looking to start a business or any small business that is looking for support or advice to help them grow. The LEOs work with over 7,000 client companies across Ireland in a diverse range of sectors offering mentoring, training, expert advice and financial supports to small businesses. For more information see www.LocalEnterprise.ie/awards.