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Featured Article 21 Apr 2015

As a source of foreign direct investment, Europe continues to be a hugely important market for Ireland, writes Sorcha Corcoran

Europe is a very important market for Ireland in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) with 400 of the 1,150 overseas companies with operations here headquartered in EU member states.

By the end of December 2014, over 2,000 jobs were announced by companies from European territories, with more than 40 investments approved, 16 of which are new projects, according to Andrew Vogelaar, IDA Ireland.

“In terms of market share of FDI the US is No 1 but Germany and the UK are in strong joint second positions, with 96 and 95 companies present here from these countries, respectively.

“The fourth most important market is France, with 48 companies, followed by the Netherlands with 33, while Italy and Switzerland each have 30.”

Further illustrating the importance of Europe to Ireland, Vogelaar notes that the US (21pc), Britain (14pc), Belgium (13pc) and Germany (8pc) were Ireland’s main export markets in 2013, accounting for 56pc of the value of goods exports, which amounted to a total of €86.9bn, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Sectors that have been performing strongly in recent years in terms of attracting investments from European countries include life sciences, information and communications technology (ICT) and financial services.

The most recent European announcement from German company Zalando (April 21st 2015) sees them expanding tech operations to Dublin, with plans to create 200 jobs.

Vogelaar cites France’s Sanofi and Swiss giant Novartis as key investors in the life sciences sector. “Both companies have continued to invest in their Irish operations over the past few years – Sanofi is pumping €44m into Genzyme’s biotechnology campus in Waterford, having acquired Genzyme three years ago, while Novartis’s new centre in Dublin is handling all of its digital media business, which is a first for life sciences in Ireland.”

The new Dublin centre is the fourth Novartis Ireland location. The company currently operates manufacturing and development facilities in Ringaskiddy and Model Farm Road in Co Cork and its commercial operations are in Clonskeagh, Dublin.

In the ICT sector where Ireland is fast becoming a global powerhouse, Vogelaar highlights recent announcements from SAP, Ericsson and SQS.

In May 2014, German enterprise software provider SAP said it expected to create around 260 new jobs at its Dublin and Galway facilities, 60 of which are in research and development focused on predictive analytics. SAP has been in Ireland for 14 years and currently employs 1,200 people here.

Sweden’s Ericsson, which is the fifth largest software company in the world, is hiring 120 extra people in Dublin and Athlone to complement its existing workforce in those locations of more than 1,400.

And German software quality company SQS opened a new expanded 4,000 sq ft modern facility in Dublin’s docklands in September 2013, committing to creating 75 new jobs within three years in Ireland.

The company, which is headquartered in Cologne, currently employs 200 people in its Dublin and Belfast operations. Since setting up in Ireland in 2002, employment numbers have increased by an average of 20pc a year.

“A lot of European companies with Irish operations are hidden champions,” says Vogelaar. “While US companies tend to come here seeking to launch into Europe, European companies are more talent driven. With the availability of skills in certain sectors tightening, they are coming here to chase the talent they need. Multilingual skills continue to be a key factor.

“The flexibility of Ireland’s workforce really appeals to European companies as well. A survey by Forbes magazine has ranked Ireland as having the most flexible workforce in Europe. An interesting development recently is that European companies are supplying products and services to the US market from here rather than their home country – SAP, for example, is running a global support service around the clock from Ireland.”

Another trend Vogelaar has observed over the past couple of years is the arrival of emerging fast-growth European companies to our shores. For example, the world’s largest ticket marketplace Viagogo.com, run by nine-year old UK company Viagogo Group, announced last July that it is opening a purpose-built operations centre in Limerick, where it expects to employ hundreds of people.

Turning to financial services, we don’t tend to hear as much about this sector in terms of European FDI compared to ICT and life sciences, but according to Vogelaar, it is in fact performing very strongly.

“The most significant announcement in the past few years was Deutsche Bank saying in 2013 it was going to take on 700 extra people in Ireland. Companies that continue to invest here include Allianz, Zurich, Credit Suisse and Banco Santander,” he says.

“Ireland is good at regulated financial services and the funds industry is quite strong. A high skill set is required for insurance which is a natural fit for Ireland.

“Looking ahead if we are to continue to attract European FDI generally it is important that we keep producing graduates who are at the forefront of technology. We are fortunate at the moment that we’re producing the skills that European companies require.

“If you look at Europe as a whole, Dublin is up there with Berlin and London as a place to do business as well as being an attractive place to relocate to.”

French automotive supplier Valeo Vision Systems is expanding in Tuam, Co Galway with the creation of up to 140 jobs in research and development (R&D) and operations over the next year or so.

Bringing the total number employed at the facility to 750, the growth is to meet continued automotive customer demand and to further develop next generation vision systems for Valeo’s global market.

Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA Ireland, said Valeo Vision Systems was “an excellent example of a company that continues to undergo significant transformation in Ireland”.

Internal Results Ireland is to establish a customer support centre as part of its Portlaoise operation, creating an additional 20 full-time jobs over the next three years.

Internal Results Ireland is a subsidiary of UK-based Internal Results Holdings. The company provides lead generation services to some of the world’s leading technology and telecommunications companies including Cisco, McAfee, Cognizant, Verint, Cnet and 02.

The Irish subsidiary was set up in 2011 at the same time as the company was established in the UK.   Fourteen people are currently employed full-time in Internal Results Ireland, along with 15 part-time staff.

Late last year the company moved to new high spec offices in the Technology Building on the IDA Business & Technology Park in Portlaoise.

“IDA funding was a key factor in Internal Results’ decision to expand our operations in Portlaoise,” said Internal Results director of delivery Noel Hooban. “This will contribute to the future growth of the business and employment opportunities for the community.”

Sidetrade opens Dublin office

French software provider Sidetrade has opened a new office in Dublin where it plans to create 90 skilled roles over the next two years.

Founded in 2000, Sidetrade offers companies the opportunity to digitise the management of their financial relationships with customers through cash and credit management services and debt collection software.

Sidetrade has set up the pan-European platform in Dublin to boost its capacity to service worldwide customers and to support its business operation in Europe.

“Our aim is to get closer to our clients in terms of culture and time zones while offering the convenience of multilingual support,” said Olivier Novasque, CEO at Sidetrade Group.

CEO of IDA Ireland Martin Shanahan said the agency has been targeting European companies through its offices in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

“As a French company based in Paris and listed on NYSE, Sidetrade is a particularly welcome addition to the increasing number of fast growth companies basing their business services operations in Ireland.”

The 90 new positions in Dublin will be mostly accounting and financial professionals, marketing and lead generation teams and customer support roles in a number of languages to companies throughout the EMEA region.

Article as featured - Issue 9 Winter 2014 edition of Innovation Ireland Review

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