Taoiseach surfs US west coast to meet titans of tech

1 Nov 201737 Shares

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. Image: Surajkmali/Shutterstock

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Whistle-stop tour of US west coast will remind business leaders that, despite Brexit and EU turbulence, Ireland is most definitely open for business.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, has embarked on a pivotal IDA investment mission to the US west coast, including Silicon Valley, where he will meet more than 35 companies.

Between them, these companies employ more than 950,000 people globally – 32,000 people directly in Ireland – and have annual revenues of more than $750bn.

‘I look forward to meeting with senior executives from existing and potential investor companies in the coming days to outline Ireland’s distinct position as an open trading economy at the heart of Europe’
– LEO VARADKAR, TD

The west coast has been strategic to Ireland’s investment landscape and industrial policy of the past 30 to 40 years.

Top-tier global companies such as Intel, Apple, Gilead, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and many others have invested in and continue to expand in Ireland.

Today, there are more than 230 west-coast-headquartered companies operating in Ireland, employing in excess of 47,000 people – almost one-quarter of total employment by IDA clients.

The tradition of west coast investment in Ireland continues with pace. In recent years, a new company from the US west coast has set up an operation in Ireland on average every two to three weeks. This includes the next wave of exciting high-growth companies such as Looker, Slack, Segment, Zendesk and Airbnb.

Crunch time

The tour comes at an important time.

Ireland, alongside Apple, is embroiled in a legal battle with the European Commission over a €13bn tax bill levelled at the iPhone maker. The onset of Brexit will severely hamper exports to the UK, Ireland’s largest trading partner, but could also be a tech and talent boon for Ireland. And our corporate tax regime, coveted by European neighbours, has drawn attention from US president Donald Trump, no less.

“This trade mission to the US west coast is a valuable opportunity to engage with major business leaders and further strengthen the economic relationship between Ireland and the US,” Varadkar said.

“I will highlight Ireland’s position as an island at the centre of the world, our strong commitment to EU membership, and our status as a gateway for US firms into Europe and other global markets.

“More than 230 companies which are headquartered on the US west coast employ over 47,000 people in Ireland. These companies are attracted to Ireland due to our talented workforce and our business-friendly environment. I look forward to meeting with senior executives from existing and potential investor companies in the coming days to outline Ireland’s distinct position as an open trading economy at the heart of Europe.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said that as FDI missions go, this is a crucial one at a crucial time.

“This FDI mission will involve meetings with some of the biggest names in the world of technology and business services.

“Competition for foreign investment has never been as intense and investment missions help IDA Ireland to increase awareness of Ireland’s suitability as a place to invest.

“So, it’s really important to connect and engage with the decision-makers of these companies at their HQs and in the marketplace,” said Shanahan.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com