IDA Ireland’s end-of-year statement shows a 22pc increase in research, development and innovation (RD&I) projects, and its CEO Barry O’Leary is “guardedly optimistic” of Ireland’s ability to continue to attract high-level foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009 and beyond.
New RD&I investments planned in 2008 reached €420m, including a €50m R&D investment at Boston Scientific in Galway.
Announcements in 2008 in ICT included a €29m R&D investment in Dublin by Business Objects, a subsidiary of SAP and the largest business intelligence company in the world, with the creation of 100 jobs; an expansion by Synopsis, the world leader in providing software and intellectual property products, of its R&D operation in Dublin, creating 50 software and electrical engineering positions; and global IT leader EMC announced a €20m investment in R&D activities, resulting in the creation of 20 jobs.
IBM made encouraging moves in the RD&I area with three major announcements in 2008. The company is to establish an Exascale Stream Computing Research Collaboratory in Dublin, creating 40 jobs; a new Green Data Centre and Global Supply Chain Hub includes an investment of €30m; and Europe’s first Cloud Computing Centre was established in Dublin, creating 21 jobs. Meanwhile, ON Semiconductor established an R&D centre in Limerick, creating 49 highly skilled positions.
Almost one third of RD&I investments involved collaboration with Irish third-level institutions and research institutes, many of which have been supported by Science Foundation Ireland.
IDA Ireland won a total of 130 FDI projects in 2008, and new investments secured were up 14pc on 2007. The number of new companies investing in Ireland for the first time was 16pc compared with the previous year.
Despite such positive messages, industry observers have focused on the jobs report. In 2008, there were 10,044 job losses at IDA Ireland-supported companies, accounting for 7.4pc of the employee base. However, 8,837 jobs were created, resulting in an overall decline of 1,207 jobs or 0.8pc of the employee base.
“Building on the successes achieved in 2008, IDA Ireland continues to see good opportunities for FDI over the next three to four months, and a number of key project announcements will be made in this timeframe,” said O’Leary (pictured below).
“We all recognise the difficult economic environment and the need to face local and global challenges. The ability to think beyond the present and reposition Ireland’s competitiveness, including in energy, will ensure we will continue to win significant FDI from a large number of the world’s leading companies.”
By Sorcha Corcoran