Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland achieved a record €1.699bn in gross new export sales in 2006, according to the Enterprise Ireland Annual Report and Accounts for 2006 released today.
Total exports for the year amounted to €11.779bn, a 12.1pc increase on 2005.
During 2006 there was a net increase in employment of 1,261 in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies, 284 companies secured first-time international sales contracts and new Enterprise Ireland overseas offices established in India, Canada and Brazil.
Software, services and emerging sectors grew exports by 16pc in 2006 to €1.437bn.
The report revealed that during 2006, 601 companies invested €100,000 or more in research and development (R&D) projects and 40 invested in excess of €2m.
Enterprise Ireland supported the establishment of 76 high potential start-up companies (HPSUs) in 2006, the highest number established in any year to date. These companies are expected to create in the region of 1,260 high-skilled jobs and generate exports worth €110m over the next two years. The total investment in the 76 companies was €47.5m, of which Enterprise Ireland invested €17.5m.
Six scaling clients were also helped to achieve international sales of over €20m for the first time.
Pat Molloy, chairman of the board of Enterprise Ireland, commented: “This impressive performance is owed directly to the ambitious international sales and partnering strategies being implemented by Enterprise Ireland’s client companies, coupled with an increased focus on competitiveness, innovation and management development.
“A thriving indigenous industry is central to sustaining Ireland’s economic growth. Enterprise Ireland’s client companies make a very positive contribution to the Irish economy, spending in the order of €16bn each year on home-sourced goods, services and payroll. These Irish companies have a considerable and often understated impact on regional economic development in Ireland.”
“Irish companies are continuing to perform strongly in international markets against global competition and their achievements represent a significant outcome in the second year of our three-year strategy 2005-2007: Transforming Irish industry,” said Frank Ryan, CEO, Enterprise Ireland.
“The performance in 2006 should encourage Irish entrepreneurs, early-stage and growing businesses to take the next steps in developing an internationally competitive business. Work is under way on the development of a new Enterprise Ireland strategy covering the period 2008-2010. In the meantime we will be unyielding in applying our full resources to achieve the aims of the current strategy.”
Other key findings show that some 194 in-company R&D projects involving €52.9m of State funding were approved by Enterprise Ireland; 155 applications-driven research projects were approved through the Commercialisation Fund, involving €29.7m in support; 63 company-college collaboration projects supported through the Innovation Partnerships Initiative; more than €10m was invested in initiatives and research projects to commercialise biotechnology research in Ireland, bringing investment in the area to over €40m since 2001; and 19 client companies were helped by Enterprise Ireland to secure contracts (estimated at €5.7m) with the European Space Agency.
Commenting on the report, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin TD said: “Enterprise Ireland aimed to increase export sales in their client companies by €3bn in three years. In fact, they almost reached this target by the end of 2006, a year ahead of the original target date.
“It is particularly gratifying for me to see the Irish-owned enterprise sector taking a central position as a major contributor to our continued economic prosperity. This contribution needs to be recognised and the Government will continue to work with Enterprise Ireland to ensure that indigenous companies get the recognition that they deserve.”
By Niall Byrne