Irish entrepreneurs show innovative flair


17 Jul 2008

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The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report for Ireland for 2007, released this week, paints an encouraging picture for Irish entrepreneurial activity, particularly in relation to innovation and narrowing of the gender divide.

Nearly one-third (31pc) of early-stage entrepreneurs say they are using new technology, ie technologies not available five years previously, while some 45pc report their product or service is new to some or all customers. An impressive 64pc say few or no competitors offer the same product.

These findings compare quite well from an international point of view. In terms of the number of entrepreneurs reporting few or no competitors offering the same product, Ireland ranks second only to Denmark in the OECD and EU. Regarding those using new technology, we rank eighth in the OECD and fifth in the EU. We’re further down the league tables when it comes to newness of product or service – at 12th position in the OECD and eighth in the EU.

The report found 8.2pc of the adult population living in Ireland is engaged in entrepreneurial activity, up from the 2006 level of 7.6pc. This translates into roughly 2,700 companies being started each month.

There was a marked jump in the number of women entrepreneurs, with women’s entrepreneurial activity rising to 5.9pc in 2007 from 4.2pc in 2006. This is much higher than both the EU and the OECD averages (4.3pc and 3.6pc, respectively) and represents over 1,000 women on average starting new businesses in Ireland each month.

“The GEM report for 2007 demonstrates that Ireland remains to the fore in entrepreneurial activity in both Europe and the OECD. Responding to opportunities, many of these entrepreneurs are motivated by a sense of independence which being their own boss confers. Some must create jobs for themselves. The majority, however, will become employers. A small number will go on to create large businesses,” said Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD (pictured), in her foreword.

“The focus of the Government is to continue to create an enabling environment for innovative start-up businesses, thereby maximising the growth potential of all new enterprises and creating a vibrant enterprise base throughout all regions,” she added at the launch.

Helena Acheson, manager of the Enterprise Policy Division in Forfás, highlighted the importance of the rise in the level of informal investment recorded in the report. It went up from a 1.7pc increase in 2006 to 3.3pc last year.

“It is very welcome as this is an important source of capital to those starting a business. This means some 91,000 individuals in Ireland invested in someone else’s business in the previous three years. The average amount required to start a business was €30,000.”

By Sorcha Corcoran

Pictured at the launch of the 2007 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report for Ireland are Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, with three entrepreneurs featured in the GEM report (from L to R); Alvina Grosu, Culturewise Ireland; Jane Kelly, Big Mountain Productions; and Aoife O’Driscoll, Concepts Plus