Ireland’s capital city is currently buzzing with hi-tech entrepreneurs, world-renowned thought-leaders and high-flying investors. They are part of the estimated 20,000 attending the Web Summit, which has been lauded as the “new hot ticket on the tech conference scene,” by Forbes magazine.
But while the Web Summit provides a focal point for Ireland’s vibrant start-up scene and its rapidly evolving High Growth sector, it is far more significant than that.
Ireland’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reputation sometimes used to revolve around being a low-cost centre for the manufacturing, sales and customer service functions of multinationals. But in the global and highly competitive world of FDI, relying on cost alone was never going to endlessly meet investment and job creation targets.
Ireland is always looking to improve its attractiveness and long ago realised embracing the knowledge economy and innovation was key.
The success of the Web Summit is proof that Ireland has managed to move up the innovation chain and has developed into a key location where companies can come to create products and services, engage in research and development, and launch High Growth operations to scale up and rapidly grow.
Indeed, Ireland has just been ranked the top destination for added value of FDI programmes in the IBM Global Location Trends report for the second year in a row.
This accolade has resulted “from the country’s success in attracting research and development (R&D) activities in life sciences and ICT coupled with high-value investment in financial services,” according to the report.
Ireland has also achieved 13th position in a survey of 189 economies for the ease of doing business by the World Bank ‘Doing Business 2015’ Report. This is an improvement of four places since last year and ranks ahead of FDI competitors such as Switzerland, Netherlands and Israel.
Investing in Innovation
Ireland’s innovation and start-up eco-system is thriving not only due to the ease of doing business, but because of the vast talent pool available and the ability to feed into the massive multinational presence the country has to offer.
Those attending the Dublin Web Summit will witness for themselves how much Ireland has invested in its innovation infrastructure and R&D systems.
Just over a week ago the Government announced the creation of five new "world-class" research centres. They will join the seven existing R&D centres that work alongside the many incubators, universities and research labs that provide cutting edge facilities to both international and indigenous companies.
It is this focus on innovation that has helped Ireland attract the very High Growth business owners that flock to the Dublin Web Summit every year.
Such investment has also seen a rapid rise in the number of companies turning to Irish research organisations in order to tap into their knowledge in order to boost their commercial endeavours. This figure was 15pc higher in 2013 than the previous year, according to a report by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI).
This specifically helps enable the transfer of commercially valuable knowledge from the research system into Irish industry. The resulting innovation will help drive competitive advantage and sustainable job creation into the future.
So this year’s Web Summit marks a key milestone in Ireland’s rapidly evolving innovation evolution. It underlines our success in attracting the world’s best and brightest multinationals is now feeding back into a vibrant and thriving innovation eco-system.
And it is this system that will not only develop multinationals of the future, but will help spawn a generation of homegrown success stories well into the future.
Caitriona O'Kennedy, Head of Marketing Communications
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