Record year for Enterprise Ireland as employment soars

9 Jan 2017

Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland. Image: Connor McKenna

The number of people employed in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland has reached a record high of more than 200,000, with the vast majority based outside of Dublin.

Enterprise Ireland-supported companies have had it good over the past three years, adding a total of 45,592 new hires to bring the total employed by such firms to 201,000.

Those jobs were well ahead of the state agency’s target, with the full total a new record. Start-ups, it seems, are booming.

More interesting though, is the spread of roles, with nearly two-thirds based outside of Dublin. That’s true of both the 2016 numbers as well as the total, with more than 130,000 located outside the capital.

Since 2013, 308 high performance start-ups have received Enterprise Ireland funding, with 167 female-led start-ups joining the fold. The pace of female-led start-ups is speeding up too, with 63 in 2016 alone.

Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of the agency, said her organisation’s focus in recent years has “paid dividends” through job creation. Sinnamon wants to “build on this success” by better positioning Irish enterprise ahead of an uncertain, post-Brexit world.

Despite global economic challenges, Enterprise Ireland attributes the strong performance by Irish businesses over the last three years to an improving entrepreneurial climate for start-ups, and dynamic Irish companies innovating and scaling up in key sectors such as food, fintech, business process outsourcing, non-food manufacturing, ICT and construction.

“Enterprise Ireland has set ambitious targets in its new 2017-2020 strategy, which aims to support more Irish companies with global ambition to achieve greater scale and expand their global footprint,” said Sinnamon.

“This new strategy aims to increase client company exports to €26bn per annum by the end of 2020, with an ambitious target to grow the level of exports to over two-thirds outside the UK over the period.”

It looks like innovation will be the buzzword of the coming years, with Enterprise Ireland hoping its supported companies can reach the target of €1.25bn in R&D expenditure per annum by 2020.

The eurozone will be prioritised, with optimistic targets of a 50pc increase into this region by the end of the decade.

“Despite global economic challenges in 2016, job creation by Irish companies remained strong,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD.

“As these results show, Irish companies have an unparalleled capacity to create jobs in towns and cities right around the country, with almost two-thirds of the new jobs created outside Dublin. Every region has benefited from these results.

“Despite the undoubted challenges ahead, I’m pleased to see that Enterprise Ireland has set an ambitious target of another 60,000 jobs in the new strategy.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic