In Depth

Thinking of expansion into Europe, how about Ireland

When the 2008 Eurozone crisis hit Europe, many countries bore the brunt. While some acted swiftly, others are still clawing their way back. Ireland was among the first countries to swiftly deal and emerge stronger. As per current predictions, the country’s economy is looking to grow at 1.4% next year and at this point is the highest in Europe.

From negative to positive and now on an upward swing, the Irish turnaround is very heartening to say the least. Among various measures adopted by the Irish government is inviting foreign companies to setup shop in Ireland – to help provide local employment and in turn boost the economic indices of the country. Continuing this effort is IDA Ireland – the Irish body whose primary responsibility is to bring in FDI in to the country.

YourStory caught up with Emmanuel Dowdall, Global head of IDA’s Ireland’s consumer content and business services division (CCBS) to discuss his recent India visit.

Gateway to Europe

Among the foremost things that Ireland can flaunt is the work force that it offers. More that 50% of the country’s population is under 25 years of age, thus ensuring a strong supply of local labour. A sizeable chunk of people in the 18-25 age group are completing their tertiary education, thus making skill availability high. The government is also committed to continue improving local availability of talent, through various investments it has made in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “The local talent is well geared towards business that specializes in engineering and ICT areas,” says Emmanuel.

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yourstory_idairelandRecent ratings and reports by financial agencies also indicate the conduciveness of Ireland as a destination to do business. Ernst & Young and The Economist Intelligence Unit calls Ireland one of world’s most open countries in terms of trade, capital movement and cultural integration.

In the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, Ireland ranks first for corporate tax rates, investment incentives, and the availability of skilled labour. In the Forbes Best Countries for Business rankings Ireland has moved from 14th to 6th place in a short period of time. And it is ranked 7th out of 183 countries by World Bank for Pro-business environment and ease of operations.

Many big names like Google, Linkedin, Amazon, Dropbox and Airbnb among others have setup operations in the country. “Ireland can be your global headquarters or European or AMEA headquarters. We provide you the ease of accessing European markets from here. The local talent and workforce are among the best you can have amongst any EU nations,” emphasizes Emmanuel.

A close association with industry bodies in Silicon Valley will enable companies get the best of both worlds, says Emmanuel. Associations are offered at three levels namely – industrial level, academic level and as a collaborative platform. Emmanuel stresses on the non-bureaucratic, non-adversarial regulatory system which encourages an open and collaborative environment for companies based in Ireland. Easy tax structures and tax credits to encourage R&D are among the benefits they have to offer. Ireland has a stable tax regime of 12.5% and offers a 25% concession for R&D.

Unlike the US market, the EU market is heterogeneous – it is made up of 27 different pricing and regulatory structures. Ireland’s geographic proximity to EU region combined with multi linguistic workforce helps in catering to the needs of each country of EU individually, explains Emmanuel.

Local demand in Ireland

As a small country with about 5 million population, the local demand is not very strong in Ireland for companies seeking a big local market. However, there is a mandate by the government to enhance facilities in areas such as financial services, technology, engineering, life sciences, pharma, medical devices and telemedicine. Companies having specialties in these areas can therefore benefit from catering to the local Irish demand as well as serving Europe and other neighbouring markets from the Ireland base.

Government of Ireland also encourages collaborative research and gives tax incentives and funding support. Companies that have an offering in smart cities, ehealth monitoring are growing 18% YOY, says Emmanuel.

Indian bigwigs like Wipro, TCS, Reliance Lifesciences, Ranbaxy, Wockhardt already have a presence in Ireland and even new companies like Aditi Technologies and Synowledge that provide ICT services have found Ireland to be an important part of their growth plans.

The startups scene

Emmanuel says Ireland has a huge network of business associations that want to make it easy for businesses entering the country. The American Chamber of Commerce and the German Chamber of Commerce, among others have a presence in Ireland to help startups understand market conditions prevalent in their respective countries, and handhold them if they are interested in entering the said markets.

While the focus is on the person whose skills are being sought after, Emmanuel says Ireland does believe in helping the person settle down completely in the country, along with their families.

IDA Ireland is keen to onboard startups that have businesses in the online space, particularly those that are employment intensive and in areas of web, consumer service, cloud, and KPO/BPO. “Internally we have a team that targets early stage companies – even those who come to us with little more than just a concept. We help these companies get started and see through till they get funding from VCs,” shares Emmanuel. So if you are a startup which has European plans, and has business in the any of the areas mentioned here, Ireland as a base is worth checking out.

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