The PwC EMEA Private Business Attractiveness Index scored Ireland well in terms of GDP growth and the start-up ecosystem, but noted that more could be done in education and cybersecurity.
Ireland has greatly improved as a place for private businesses to thrive, jumping to seventh position out of 33 EMEA countries in a PwC ranking.
PwC’s EMEA Private Business Attractiveness Index ranks countries based on various categories such as macroeconomics, education, tax and regulatory environment, skills and talent, and technology infrastructure.
Ireland scored 14th in the ranking last year but has shot up seven places for 2022. PwC said Ireland is a new entrant in the top 10 countries and had one of the largest increases among the countries in the index.
Switzerland, the UK and Sweden ranked first, second and third respectively.
Ireland retained the top spot in the index in terms of macroeconomic factors, driven by the country’s strong national GDP and productivity growth. Its health performance also jumped up this year due to the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, going from 17th in 2021 to fourth this year.
Ireland was ranked seventh in terms of a newly introduced metric that looks at the start-up ecosystem. The country was ranked third when it comes to unicorns per capita.
Ireland gained a number of new unicorns this year, with the valuations of Flipdish, Wayflyer and TranferMate rising above $1bn. While these companies have grown rapidly, job cuts have been announced recently at Flipdish and Wayflyer.
Despite the boost in Ireland’s ranking, PwC said there are a number of areas that the country can improve in to help private businesses.
The 2022 index saw Ireland drop from fifth place to 15th in terms of the inflationary pressures on the economy. While Ireland was ranked fourth in terms of the corporate tax metric, it slipped in terms of income tax and indirect tax to the 22nd and 24th places respectively.
Ireland was ranked as one of the lowest EMEA countries for providing funding to the private sector as a percentage of its GDP. The index also suggested that more needs to be spent on education and cybersecurity.
“Ireland ranked 25th out of 33 EMEA countries for cybersecurity, suggesting that even more needs to be done to help protect private businesses from the now all too common cyberattacks,” PwC Ireland partner Colm O’Callaghan said.
PwC’s recent Digital Trust Insights survey suggested cyberattacks will escalate in Ireland next year due to a greater reliance on cloud services and third-party providers.
Claire Shanahan, director of PwC Ireland Entrepreneurial and Private Business Practice, said that the path for a country to become more attractive to private businesses is not to focus narrowly on “just one or two attributes”.
“It’s rather to strike a balance across all the key attributes that private businesses are seeking, ranging from education, skills, funding and support, technology and to infrastructure and beyond,” Shanahan said.
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