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The Island of Innovation

Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Augmented Reality or the Internet of Things, the world’s biggest brands know they must harness the power of digital technology to gain that all important competitive edge.

When it comes to sourcing excellence in digital innovation, Audi, Philips, Primark, Women’s World Banking and the Special Olympics look to Ireland for smart digital solutions.

“Irish tech companies listen to the demands of the global market and understand those needs. CEOs know the value their products and services can bring to global brands and they deliver to the exceptional standards required” says Carol Gibbons, Head of ICT within Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s Trade and Innovation agency and the VC arm of the Irish Government.

Small island, global mindset

Ireland is home to a vibrant cluster of more than 1,000 Irish digital technology companies. In addition, many multinationals firms have chosen Ireland as their strategic European base, making Ireland one of the largest and most spirited tech hubs in Europe. The strong Irish company base is dominated by an international sales focus and a flourishing startup entrepreneurship base.

Many of these Irish tech companies are proven world leaders in their industries, delivering smart, effective products to global household name businesses, across a diverse range of industries: HR to Media, Travel and Manufacturing, Financial Services, Social Media and Games, Mobility and Project Management.

“There’s incredible energy and depth in the Irish tech space,” says Gibbons. “We have a truly open innovative economy. Irish tech companies here are driven and forward-looking, and work with a global mindset. More than half of their turnover comes from export sales.”

The largest demand for Irish tech is in North America with Irish technology companies exporting €1.6bn in 2018. This is followed by the UK with €0.9bn exports and the Eurozone with €0.5bn exports in 2018.

Standing tall with global giants

Securing deals with global brands such as Audi, the Special Olympics and Women’s World Banking is far from easy, but Gibbons says Irish companies succeed because of their domain knowledge, their ability to apply relevant technology and their global experience.

Many tech titans have EMEA and development centres headquartered in Ireland. “Irish tech firms have grown up alongside these global leaders, often collaborating with them bringing technology and know-how together to facilitate new technological developments enabling more rapid research and development. Irish companies are immersed, in this culture of pursuing excellence in innovation,” says Gibbons.

Embracing innovation, fostering excellence 

“Across the globe, Ireland is known for its deep-rooted pedigree in software development. That has laid the foundation for the extraordinary digital technology innovation now happening here, across AI, Data Analytics, Blockchain, AR VR, Cognitive Cloud Computing and IoT,” says Gibbons.

“We also produce and attract amazing talent to work in this sector, and our tech firms are supported by a world-class R&D ecosystem and vibrant investment activity.”

For decades, Ireland has had a strong innovation agenda, to become one of the leading Research, Development and Innovation locations in the world. Over the past thirty years, Ireland has built a growing reputation for scientific excellence and is now a world leader in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress.

In fact, in 2018 the European Innovation Scoreboard ranked Ireland first for innovative SMEs and first for employment in knowledge-intensive activities. Ireland has also had a very strong success rate in Horizon 2020 funding, the EU-wide programme for research and innovation. Since the programme’s inception in 2014, Ireland has secured more than €500m through Horizon 2020.

“Initiatives like Ireland’s €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is game changing. The funding enables companies to collaborate on disruptive technology with true innovation value. We’re seeing an exceptional output from this in areas such as AI, Blockchain and sustainable technology.”

Backing brilliance, building the pipeline

Recently named by Pitch Book as the second largest VC investor globally, and first in Europe, by deal count in 2019. Enterprise Ireland invested €24 million in 127 start-ups in 2019 and €72 million in venture funds in 2018, as part of its Seed and Venture Capital Schemes.

“We walk the journey every step of the way with Irish tech firms,” says Gibbons. “We know the global landscape and we know what it takes to transform a high-potential start-up into a globally scaled business. On a daily basis our network of 40 international offices work with companies to help them source innovative Irish technology not just to grow and lead but to reshape the entire customer journey and accelerate growth in the years to come.”

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