Ireland is the place in Europe for digital media with Amazon, Google and eBay investing here as well as research and development (R&D) investments by Cisco, Georgia Tech and IBM, said IDA Ireland today.
However, the international competitive environment is heating up and Ireland must address its infrastructure deficit quickly.
In its end-of-year statement for 2006, IDA Ireland said that during the year some 71 new business projects were negotiated with new and existing inward investors, involving a total investment of €2.6bn over the coming years.
Employment in IDA-supported companies increased by 3,795 in 2006, bringing total employment to 135,487. Over 50pc of jobs in new IDA-supported projects in 2006 have wage and salary levels above €40k a year.
Investment in R&D continues to increase, it said, with 54 R&D investment projects negotiated in 2006 involving a total investment of almost €470m, up from €140m and €260m in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
“Ireland is now seeking and winning high-value investments that add to our innovation and support regional development; 2006 was a very good year for these investments and we are well set for 2007,” said Sean Dorgan, chief executive of IDA Ireland.
“The quality of investments from global companies into Ireland is of the highest standard, reflecting the remarkable evolution of the business ecosystem in Ireland as international competition and Irish economic conditions have changed,” Dorgan added. “Investments in the past year, such as those by Amgen and in R&D by Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo and Georgia Tech, are clear evidence of this evolution.”
Dorgan said Ireland’s leading position in IT was reinforced by new investments by Cisco, IBM, Netgear, Sandisk and Trend Micro.
As well as this, he said Ireland was the place to be in Europe for digital media, with Amazon having a presence in Cork and Dublin as well as Google, eBay/PayPal and Yahoo! in Dublin.
According to the IDA, IDA-supported companies spent almost €15bn in the Irish economy in 2006 from annual sales of €77bn and paid over €2.8bn in corporation tax.
In 2006, almost 60pc of greenfield projects and six out of every seven R&D investments took place outside Dublin.
The agency noted that in order to sustain this momentum there needs to be a critical mass of talent, supporting infrastructure and sophisticated business services in cities and regions of Ireland.
In its competitive environment, IDA Ireland competes against city regions with a population base of over one million people. Since only Dublin has a population of this size, every location in Ireland must think and act regionally rather than locally.
Dorgan said that the successes of any one year are always the product of sustained effort over an extended period by many players from government to industry. As a new National Development Plan is about to be launched there will be increased investment in infrastructure, particularly transport, energy and education, he said.
“These will be the basis of our future success. If we fail to provide essential infrastructure quickly, Dublin may falter and regions fail,” Dorgan warned.
He said that competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) is relentless and global and its nature has markedly changed.
International investors have a myriad of location options for each part of their business process, Dorgan added.
He said global corporations can organise their business in physical or virtual form and select the most effective location for each element. “In doing so they seek three essential ingredients: the right people and skills, a supportive ecosystem and infrastructure and a positive and forward-looking attitude.
“The very strong investment achievements of 2006, combined with the ongoing collaborative national efforts to continue the transformation of Ireland into an ever more advanced knowledge economy, gives us great confidence in our ability to win exciting new investment projects in 2007.
“We have a good pipeline of potential investments and we are optimistic of winning quality new investments from new and existing clients for locations across Ireland,” Dorgan concluded.
By John Kennedy