Irish start-up leaders publish open letter urging for policy change

28 Jan 2020

From left: Conor Gouldsbury, Liz McCarthy and Brian Caulfield. Image: Scale Ireland

An open letter from Intercom’s Des Traynor, Scale Ireland’s Liz McCarthy and many others is calling on the Government to implement policies that are more favourable to Irish entrepreneurs.

Today (28 January), more than 50 of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs and start-up leaders published an open letter calling on the Irish Government to give greater priority to “high-growth, innovation-led business”.

Among the signatories was Intercom co-founder Des Traynor, Teamwork co-founder Peter Coppinger and Scale Ireland CEO Liz McCarthy. The letter acknowledges that the existing taxation-led policy for foreign multinationals “has been a runaway success”, but says policy has hampered the development of indigenous start-ups.

The letter draws on policy proposals put forward by Scale Ireland, suggesting how the next Government could improve the environment for high-growth, innovation-led companies in Ireland.

Policy proposals

The proposals include the appointment of a Minister for Start-ups, the creation of a national start-up strategy, and for changes to existing schemes that would make it easier for start-ups to secure investment and attract talent.

The letter, which was published ahead of Ireland’s upcoming general election, reads: “Since the 1960s, Ireland has become a world leader in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). However, when it comes to backing homegrown innovation, Ireland has taken a piecemeal approach to policy for start-ups. We have now fallen behind.”

On behalf of Scale Ireland, McCarthy wrote: “If Ireland is serious about creating a leading global knowledge economy and really driving balanced regional development, we need to unlock the potential for the growth of start-ups throughout the country.

“We’re seeing pockets of exciting start-up activity emerging outside the major cities, and as a country we have to do more to support this.”

Following the footsteps of France

The letter refers to the recent changes to stock options and visas for start-ups that were recently introduced in France, calling French president Emmanuel Macron a “start-up champion” and commending the country’s “ambitious measures” to help start-ups grow.

The letter reads: “Looking to the future, Ireland needs a more strategic industrial and enterprise policy. We need to ensure that we continue to attract and retain FDI, while improving the performance of indigenous companies.

“That is why we – founders and start-up leaders from across Ireland – urge you, our political leaders, to prioritise start-ups in the next programme for Government.”

The letter in its entirety can be read here. Other prominent figures who have signed the open letter include Atlantic Bridge co-founder Elaine Coughlan, Draper Esprit venture partner Brian Caulfield and ApisProtect co-founder Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic