Research aims to benefit Irish SMEs

Business | Tue 24 Nov | Author – Business & Finance
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Amárach Research is conducting the largest scale piece of SME research in Ireland again for 2016 on behalf of Magnet.

The Regional Business Barometer surveys over 500 SME participants and compares findings from across eight regions in Ireland to understand the differences in SME activity from one region to the next.

SMEs in 2015 were able to understand whether other SMEs in their area were planning to grow, invest in IT, experiencing recruitment challenges, technology adoption challenges and more.

SMEs are the lifeblood of any economy, yet they tend to operate in the shadow of larger companies. In fact, with foreign direct investment such a key driver of the Irish economy, the SME voice here is probably less audible than in other countries despite start-ups delivering two out of every three new jobs.

Of course, SMEs are not just important because of the volume of jobs they account for. It’s the nature of that employment – that it’s spread across the country, that it’s community-based and that it’s indigenous. This second Magnet Regional Business Barometer, in recognition of this, aims to give policymakers and others an insight into what the 180,000 firms that make up our SME community are thinking, and how they can be supported better, on a regional basis.

Despite the obstacles SMEs faced with high operating costs, cash-strapped consumers and banks unwilling to lend, a clear majority were upbeat about what the year ahead had in store for them. Yet not all regions and all SMEs were emitting this positive vibe in equal measure.

Firms in the midlands and the border counties didn’t quite share the confidence of those in Dublin or the mid-west. Smaller SMEs are more negative than larger firms.

With its ownership of transatlantic submarine fibre cables through its parent CVC, Magnet’s investment in fibre connectivity to and in Ireland directly influences the decisions of big data corporations to invest in this country.

Mark Kellett, CEO, Magnet, said: “This pioneering piece of research demonstrates the opportunity ahead for business across Ireland to further enhance their competitive positioning through the adoption of cloud technology combined with the support of existing SME focused grant assistance. Thus ending the rural/regional digital divide. This message is one we will continue to hammer home until it is addressed. I’ve no doubt we will see our Regional Business Barometer hit new heights when that long-awaited day arrives.”