FDI and the global scaling of home-grown technology companies is essential to Ireland’s prosperity, writes Cian Hughes.
Ireland’s future prosperity relies on FDI and the global scaling of home-grown disruptive technology companies.
Craig Barrett, former Intel CEO, tells a remarkable story about how Intel Ireland came to be. His first conversations with then San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery emerged into a vision to bring this upcoming computer giant to Ireland. This led on to the first Intel presence in Ireland which started out in offices over a car garage in Palmerstown in 1989. Now, almost 25 years and €6bn investment later, Intel Ireland is the largest Intel manufacturing plant outside of the US, employing more than 4,500 people at the Intel Leixlip Campus. Furthermore, in excess of 850 construction workers have been employed on its Leixlip site for the past two years. Intel Shannon, part of Intel’s embedded communications group, employs a further 200 people. Intel Belfast, formerly Aepona, a company that Intel acquired in May 2013 for approximately $120mn, employs over 200 people at centres in both Belfast and Wicklow. McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, employs a further 300 people in Cork, and Havok, another wholly owned subsidiary, employs 40 people in Dublin.
This bold initial investment by Intel in Ireland’s technology economy was the catalyst that saw Silicon Valley and the top US technology choosing Ireland as its international headquarters of choice. Ireland now hosts international headquarters for more than 1,000 FDI companies employing in excess of 150,000 people.
In 2003, Google opened its EMEA headquarters in Dublin, in the heart of the historic docklands district now dubbed ‘Silicon Docks’. Initially, Google employed five people; the Irish operation is now Google’s largest outside of the US currently employing more than 2,500 people from over 65 different countries. Facebook will soon follow in Google’s footsteps, having established a presence in Dublin in 2009 and is now expanding to a new office space in the city that will make Dublin the social media company’s largest operation outside of its global headquarters at Menlo Park, California.
Ireland topped Forbes‘ list of ‘The Best Countries For Business’ out of 145 nations reviewed in 2013, when compared against the 11 criteria of: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. However, the success of Ireland’s inward investment is based on far more than the advertised 12.5% corporation tax structure. The native English-speaking highly educated and motivated workforce with a confident ‘can do’ attitude have now built over 25 years of domain expertise working with global blue chip companies.
Education plays a major part in this inward investment ecosystem. A determined and future-focused supporting education system is imperative at every step of the education journey and Irish universities are continuing to produce top graduates. Ireland is ranked in the top 20 of world’s top higher education systems.
Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is rated by QS ‘Worldwide Universities Rankings’ as one of the top 100 universities in the world at number 67 and both University College Dublin (UCD) and University College Cork (UCC) improved their positions in the coveted top 200 in 2013. The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is 34th this year in The Financial Times’ prestigious rankings of the top graduate business schools in Europe. A focus on maths, science, computer studies and foreign languages from the early stages of primary education and the availability of sales and marketing programmes for global markets at second and third level is critical to main competitiveness.
The Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI), based in DCU holds classes for academically above-average students aged from six to 17. These bright children are the future technologists and entrepreneurs that will produce the innovations and next revolutionary technologies.
At CoderDojo, the non-profit global movement founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao in Cork, young people between the ages of five and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programmes and games. Since it was founded in 2011, there are now more than 200 dojos worldwide operated solely by volunteers, with over 6,450 attendees in over 22 counties.
The IDA has played a significant and tireless role in attracting these large multinationals to Ireland. This is now supported by the referral model and incentives offered by Connect Ireland to attract smaller and mid-tier scaling international corporations to establish their operations in Ireland.
Ireland’s future prosperity relies on FDI and Irish entrepreneurs driving the global scaling of home grown disruptive technology companies. Both indigenous entrepreneurs and inward investment from multinationals provide key ingredients to a support a sustainable and successful ecosystem of investment and entrepreneurship.
Cian Hughes is a founding partner of SVG Partners and head of Operations, ITLG.
About the ITLG
The ITLG, formed by Irish investor and entrepreneur, John Hartnett in Silicon Valley California is now in its sixth year. The Group includes senior executives from some of the world’s leading corporations, each of whom are committed to promoting the technology connection between Ireland and Silicon Valley, and helping Ireland address the challenges of embracing new technology opportunities. The ITLG are committed to supporting inward investment from US technology companies to ensure that Ireland continues to be seen as a strategic area of R&D investment and opportunity for these companies. Additionally ITLG are supporting the growth and development of small and start-up Irish technology companies seeking to leverage both the US marketplace and the US technology investment community.
At the ITLG Silicon Valley Global Technology Forum, the ITLG team, led by Dr Craig Barrett, former Intel CEO, will bring over 40 high-profile technologists and investors to Limerick in January 28th 2014. The ITLG will meet with over 50 Irish start-up technology companies, 20 of which will go to Silicon Valley later in 2014 as finalists in the ITLG Silicon Valley Awards.