Ireland’s reputation as a strategic international bridgehead for Californian tech companies planning global growth will be given a boost with the re-opening of the direct Aer Lingus route connecting Dublin with San Francisco this week.
The re-opened Aer Lingus route, which will fly five times a week starting on Wednesday, 2 April, will allow executives from IDA-client companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, to fly between their offices without lengthy and expensive stopovers.
Barry O’Leary, CEO of IDA Ireland, will be travelling on the inaugural direct flight to San Francisco where he will meet with US west-coast based clients as part of a two-day investment mission.
“Approximately 40pc of the foreign direct investment to Ireland from the US comes from the Silicon Valley area,” said O’Leary.
“Major technology companies, such as LinkedIn and Google, have their international headquarters in Dublin while their founding HQs are in the San Francisco area. What was needed was air access to bring the two operations centres closer, thankfully, we now have that and that boosts the offering Ireland can present to the vibrant Silicon Valley community, making Ireland even more visible to companies looking to internationalise.”
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Aer Lingus closed its four days a week San Francisco direct service in 2009 in the wake of the economic crisis.
Despite this, one of the enduring beacons of hope was the consistent flow of investment that followed in the wake of the crisis, with major fast-growth tech companies including Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Zynga and many others making Dublin the international headquarters for their global expansion goals.
“Dublin is a thriving hub for innovative, fast-growing businesses – so we’re delighted to see the city connected to Silicon Valley again,” said Sonya Flynn, managing director of Facebook Ireland.
“Ireland’s economy can only benefit from connections to sources of investment and growth, so we’re happy to have worked with the IDA to help re-instate this direct route. Since arriving in Ireland in 2009, Dublin has offered Facebook talent in abundance and we currently have plans to expand our team at our new offices in Grand Canal Dock.”
IDA Ireland said the IT sector represented 30pc of Dublin office take-up in 2013 and US tech giants alone invested more than US$130bn (approximately €95bn) into Ireland between 2008 and 2012 – the same as in all of developing Asia.
California accounts for 55pc of all US venture capital investment and IDA has a team of six individuals in the state focusing on these opportunities.
Over recent years, the IDA team has delivered a strong pipeline of other US west-coast giants, including, PayPal, Apple, Intel, eBay, Qualcomm, Oracle, McAfee and Yahoo!
There are 179 companies employing more than 36,000 people in Ireland from the west coast of the US. These companies are primarily based in the technology and digital media sectors. For IDA Ireland, the US west coast is the largest single source for FDI projects.
In 2013, 30 investments from US west-coast companies were approved and involved more than 3,000 Irish jobs, or about one-quarter of the total jobs created by IDA Ireland that year.
San Francisco bridge image via Shutterstock