Netherlands overtakes Ireland as No 1 for entrepreneurship – analysis

16 Dec 2013

(Left to right) Ann Horan, CEO, DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs, Vanessa Diaz, DCU Business School, and Dr Colm O'Gorman, DCU Business School. Photo by Maxwell Photography

Ireland claimed the No 1 spot in the EU-15 countries in terms of the rate of entrepreneurship in 2005, with the Netherlands in ninth place that year. By 2012, however, the two countries swapped rankings.

Entrepreneur Watch: Ireland or the Netherlands: Which country is more entrepreneurial? illustrates the extent to which the Netherlands has overtaken Ireland in terms of business start-ups in the last 10 years.

For starters, the rate of new business start-ups in 2012 was 2.5 times higher in the Netherlands than Ireland, and more people in the Netherlands perceive entrepreneurship to be a desirable career choice while more Irish entrepreneurs report their motivation is that there was “no better alternative”.

Other key findings include that while Ireland ranks higher than the Netherlands in terms of ease of doing business and ease of starting a new business, the Dutch policy of reducing rules and regulations, reducing direct interventions targeted at business and diverting savings towards lowering taxes on business have produced an environment that is more business friendly and encouraging of start-ups.

On a more positive note, more Irish entrepreneurs are in medium or high-technology sectors and are more ambitious in terms of expectations of growing their business or developing into international markets.

Prof Colm O’Gorman, who co-authored the report with Vanessa Diaz of DCU Business School, said while Ireland still ranks highly as a good place to do business, this report indicates that the recent economic crises has had a significant impact on the number of business start-ups in Ireland.

“Ireland continues to face a significant industrial development policy – how to create a context that supports business start-ups and growth,” O’Gorman said.

Ann Horan, CEO of DCU Ryan Academy, pointed to the opportunities presented to Ireland by the report.

“Learning from the Dutch model, there is clearly a job of work to be done in terms of changing perceptions of entrepreneurship as a least-worst option and creating a more supportive regulatory environment for start-ups,” Horan said.

“In recent years, DCU Ryan Academy has been proactive in developing a comprehensive suite of training, mentoring and funding supports which respond directly to the needs of Irish entrepreneurs across the high-tech, agri-food, female start-up and social enterprise sectors,” she added.

“These initiatives, coupled with the recent creation of the Government Entrepreneurship Forum, provide a sound platform on which to rebuild Ireland’s reputation as an entrepreneurial powerhouse.”

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic