Ireland remains IT hub of Europe

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DeirdreMoran
Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland

Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency IDA Ireland was a prominent exhibitor at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2013 fair held on September 9. Inside Investor spoke to Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland. about the agency’s strategy to attract more IT businesses to Ireland.

By Kamran Saddique

Q: What is your main objective to take part in the TechCrunch fair here?

A: Ireland has a thriving tech community – both with local startups, some of whom are presenting here today and with international tech companies coming to Ireland to set up European operations centers. In short, we are here to promote the thriving tech scene in Ireland. On the domestic side, the Irish government is a very active investor in local start-ups, through Enterprise Ireland, which is one of the most active venture capital entity in Europe – they made over 100 investments last year in Irish start-ups with investments ranging from 50,000 – 500,000 pounds. On the international side,  IDA Ireland works with international companies to get them to consider Ireland as an operating base. A lot of US companies use Ireland as their portal to Europe and to build their European market presence such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many others.

Q: Yes, there are a lot of big US names already in Ireland. Has IDA been involved in these cases?

A: IDA Ireland has been around for 35 years, and as you know Ireland suffered from high unemployment throughout the 1980s and the government made some forward-looking decisions including free education to improve skills and created a favourable tax environment. Ireland was then seen as a low-cost country, and this attracted a huge amount of inward investment through the access to this favourable environment and cheap, skilled labour. This basically developed three key industries, life sciences, financial services and tech. Apple came in during the 1980s and did all the manufacturing for Europe, Microsoft came in 1991, also Dell and Hewlett-Packard as early as in 1979. Then followed a second wave of companies with EMC, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and others, and a third wave of Internet companies with Google, Facebook, eBay, Paypal and so on. The all came to Ireland to focus on Europe. This is likely to continue as we are still perceived as a low-cost country in the broader European context with a low corporate tax rate and a very conducive business environment, as well as very flexible immigration laws.

Q: How about the quality of labour and supply of skilled human capital?

A: Most of all, we have a very good education infrastructure. We might not have Berkeley or Stanford, but we have excellent access to education with the highest number of third-level graduates in the OECD. We have very talented people that are hired by companies such as Google or eBay for their mid-management in IT engineering, sales, finance and so on, and we have very open borders for talent so that Ireland provides a multilingual and multicultural labour pool.

Q: Is there a disparity between the booming tech sector and other sectors in Ireland due to the overall sluggish economy?

A: The domestic market of 4.5 million people is still a little bit stagnant, in retail and construction we still see higher level of unemployment. The tech community is something like a “separate economy”. The unemployment rate is just roughly 5 per cent when retail and construction is stripped out. Good talent always finds jobs and there is competition among the companies to hire the best. For example, McAfee came here and put together a computing research team, Groupon started an engineering operation, and many others found talent here.

Q: Where would you put Ireland on a list of top locations for IT companies in Europe?

A: We are certainly among the top three.

Q: How do you see it going on over the next five to ten years?

A: We will be as aggressive as before and chasing companies, but many are already successful in Ireland and want to stay there, which really helps us, and the have our full support.

Q: Is there any work you are doing on Asia?

A: We are a small agency with 250 people, about 100 of which are based in Ireland and the rest around the world. We have made a major push on Asia over the last few years and now have offices in India (Mumbai and Bangalore), China (Shenzhen, Shanghai & Beijing), Japan (Tokyo), Korea and Singapore. It’s a different sell in many of these countries versus the US but the pitch is the same – to promote Ireland as the best location from which to target and service the European market.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland

Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency IDA Ireland was a prominent exhibitor at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2013 fair held on September 9. Inside Investor spoke to Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland. about the agency’s strategy to attract more IT businesses to Ireland.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

DeirdreMoran
Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland

Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency IDA Ireland was a prominent exhibitor at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2013 fair held on September 9. Inside Investor spoke to Deirdre Moran, VP of High Growth Companies for IDA Ireland. about the agency’s strategy to attract more IT businesses to Ireland.

By Kamran Saddique

Q: What is your main objective to take part in the TechCrunch fair here?

A: Ireland has a thriving tech community – both with local startups, some of whom are presenting here today and with international tech companies coming to Ireland to set up European operations centers. In short, we are here to promote the thriving tech scene in Ireland. On the domestic side, the Irish government is a very active investor in local start-ups, through Enterprise Ireland, which is one of the most active venture capital entity in Europe – they made over 100 investments last year in Irish start-ups with investments ranging from 50,000 – 500,000 pounds. On the international side,  IDA Ireland works with international companies to get them to consider Ireland as an operating base. A lot of US companies use Ireland as their portal to Europe and to build their European market presence such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many others.

Q: Yes, there are a lot of big US names already in Ireland. Has IDA been involved in these cases?

A: IDA Ireland has been around for 35 years, and as you know Ireland suffered from high unemployment throughout the 1980s and the government made some forward-looking decisions including free education to improve skills and created a favourable tax environment. Ireland was then seen as a low-cost country, and this attracted a huge amount of inward investment through the access to this favourable environment and cheap, skilled labour. This basically developed three key industries, life sciences, financial services and tech. Apple came in during the 1980s and did all the manufacturing for Europe, Microsoft came in 1991, also Dell and Hewlett-Packard as early as in 1979. Then followed a second wave of companies with EMC, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and others, and a third wave of Internet companies with Google, Facebook, eBay, Paypal and so on. The all came to Ireland to focus on Europe. This is likely to continue as we are still perceived as a low-cost country in the broader European context with a low corporate tax rate and a very conducive business environment, as well as very flexible immigration laws.

Q: How about the quality of labour and supply of skilled human capital?

A: Most of all, we have a very good education infrastructure. We might not have Berkeley or Stanford, but we have excellent access to education with the highest number of third-level graduates in the OECD. We have very talented people that are hired by companies such as Google or eBay for their mid-management in IT engineering, sales, finance and so on, and we have very open borders for talent so that Ireland provides a multilingual and multicultural labour pool.

Q: Is there a disparity between the booming tech sector and other sectors in Ireland due to the overall sluggish economy?

A: The domestic market of 4.5 million people is still a little bit stagnant, in retail and construction we still see higher level of unemployment. The tech community is something like a “separate economy”. The unemployment rate is just roughly 5 per cent when retail and construction is stripped out. Good talent always finds jobs and there is competition among the companies to hire the best. For example, McAfee came here and put together a computing research team, Groupon started an engineering operation, and many others found talent here.

Q: Where would you put Ireland on a list of top locations for IT companies in Europe?

A: We are certainly among the top three.

Q: How do you see it going on over the next five to ten years?

A: We will be as aggressive as before and chasing companies, but many are already successful in Ireland and want to stay there, which really helps us, and the have our full support.

Q: Is there any work you are doing on Asia?

A: We are a small agency with 250 people, about 100 of which are based in Ireland and the rest around the world. We have made a major push on Asia over the last few years and now have offices in India (Mumbai and Bangalore), China (Shenzhen, Shanghai & Beijing), Japan (Tokyo), Korea and Singapore. It’s a different sell in many of these countries versus the US but the pitch is the same – to promote Ireland as the best location from which to target and service the European market.

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