Two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland created by entrepreneurs – 19,000 firms started-up in 2012

5 Jul 2013

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reveals that 19,000 businesses were started-up in Ireland in 2012. Not only that, the GEM research indicates Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exports than their OECD and EU counterparts.

This year’s research has been compiled by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons consulting, who is also the national GEM co-ordinator, and Dr Colm O’Gorman, professor of entrepreneurship at Dublin City University Business School.

Since GEM research has been carried out in Ireland for nine of the last 10 years, the 2012 report contains a 10-year perspective. High levels of entrepreneurial activity, with many people perceiving opportunities to start new businesses, characterised the earlier period (2003-2008). The overall culture was very supportive and entrepreneurship was considered a good career option.  

Mirroring the changes in the economic environment, an overall decline in the rate of early stage entrepreneurial activity, particularly among men, is apparent in the latter period (2010-2012 inclusive), as is a rise in the proportion of those starting a new business out of necessity.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ireland

However, significant improvements in the overall entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ireland make it an increasingly supportive environment for starting a new business.

Advances in access to seed and venture funding, international incubator supports, access to top-level mentoring supports, and Enterprise Ireland’s and the City and County Enterprise Boards’ wide range of supports for start-ups, have all contributed to making Ireland a highly attractive location in which to start a new business venture.

Improvements in the degree of perceived innovation and intended internationalisation among those starting new businesses in the more recent period are also very positive and suggest an improvement in the quality of the new enterprises being started. Successful entrepreneurs continue to be held in high regard.

The GEM report indicates that Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exporting than their OCED and EU counterparts. This focus of entrepreneurs on developing innovative products and services for export is essential for growth and economic recovery. The increase in the level of ambition and export focus among women entrepreneurs is also welcome.

Entrepreneurs creating jobs in Ireland

“Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in the first five years of existence. That is why we have placed entrepreneurship at the centre of our plans for jobs and growth,” Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, said in relation to the latest GEM report.

“Through the Action Plan for Jobs, we have put in place a series of measures to support greater levels of start-up activity across the economy, including a range of new credit measures and world-class supports for small business through the local enterprise offices. Now we are taking advice from world experts and taking views from the public on the next phase of our plan to support more entrepreneurs and start-ups, and ultimately create the jobs we need.

“Today’s report is a very welcome analysis of entrepreneurship in Ireland. It provides substantial detail on trends across a range of indicators and will be of immense help as we frame policies in this area.”

Commenting on the report, the chairman of the Government’s new Entrepreneurship Forum Sean O’Sullivan said Ireland has always been a place full of dreamers and doers and that’s essentially what entrepreneurship is, a blend of the two.  

“As citizens, we must take on the responsibility of creating our own jobs, and figure out how to be more efficient, working at greater speed with higher innovation and reduced cost.  

“If we can field world-class rugby players, artists, and scientists, why can’t we also field world-class, fast-growing indigenous businesses? An Ireland that restores economic growth is an Ireland that expands opportunity and quality of life for all its citizens.

“After the battering we’ve endured in recent years, we’ve got a long road ahead of us to return to being No 1 in entrepreneurship in Europe. As Taoiseach Enda Kenny has made it clear, however, Ireland is open for business. Our challenge is to seize this opportunity, move quickly and boldly go beyond where we have ever been before,” said O’Sullivan.

Entrepreneur image via Shutterstock

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