Irish Government ambitious to build home-grown digital industries

30 Sep 2011

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, told the Digital Ireland Forum that the Government is very ambitious regarding the future of Ireland’s indigenous digital industries, especially in areas like video games, where a home-grown industry can flourish.

Addressing the Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin today, shortly before announcing 200 new jobs as part of a major new US$75m plan by Google to build a new data centre in the city, Bruton said: “There is such a blossoming of opportunity but there are threats as well as opportunities.

“As a community, we have a choice to make: do we nurse the failed policies of the past, the bad loans to the property sector, do we batten down the hatches and try to get through this or alternatively do we seek to create a new future for ourselves?

“Once the technology sector was dominated by the trailblazers, the large technology companies, but now anyone in a shed can create an app.”

Bruton said that start-ups represent the future of Ireland’s indigenous industries and referenced the launch of high-potential start-ups by Enterprise Ireland and its Competitive Start Fund.

“The digital space is going to be dominated by small operators who will come up with a digital game, an app or some idea that has capacity to make progress and Enterprise Ireland has been backing those opportunities.

“It is important that we see an indigenous engine in the growing digital area. Ireland is becoming home for a new generation of born-on-the-internet companies and the decision of Twitter to locate in Dublin is an endorsement of Ireland’s business environment and we need to build on that.”

Partnerships with Ireland

Bruton also referred to Ireland’s growing partnerships with international venture-capital firms.

He said Ireland has been fortunate in the multinational base that has located in the country through the efforts of IDA Ireland, with eight out of 10 of the world’s largest computer firms based here. “As these sectors merge and transform there is a strong bedrock to build upon.

“The State has also responded. We have some 28 research clusters across the Irish education institutes, 15 of them are in ICT.”

He said that while Ireland has been dealing with the enormous debt burdens, there are reasons to be positive.

“Our export market share has also been growing with record exports, record surpluses. We are earning our way out of this,” he said.

On Ireland’s digital future, Bruton said: “I realise that this transformation that is happening, and that it poses challenges to our education infrastructure, our physical infrastructure, education – to every dimension.

“We are creating intellectual property and we know that this is an asset we need to exploit more effectively,” Bruton said, referring to a strategy group headed by technology entrepreneur Jim Mountjoy.

“We need to be building onto some of our natural strengths, that culture dimension of what has made Ireland strong.

“The Government has ambition to take the digital sector and create products that can result in new markets, such as digital gaming. We need to focus on sectors where there are opportunities.

“We set up a cloud computing group in Government because it is important that Government not only plays a part but that we can see how these technologies can help the public sector, as well.

“Now is the time to make changes. Now is the time to make decisions.

“The Taoiseach is determined to continue to make decisions and make Ireland the best small country to do business in by 2016,” Bruton said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years