There is more to Ireland than Guinness beer and summer festivals. American companies have traditionally dominated the global technology scene. According to reports by Forbes, fifteen of the top twenty-five biggest tech companies in 2017 are from the US. They cover a diverse range of specialties including information technology, space exploration, defense and aerospace systems as well as biotechnology and communications among others.
While the US may take the lead with the highest number of tech companies, Ireland steals the show as the tech capital of the world. The small European country, with just over seven million inhabitants, is reported to have more mobile devices than its population. Up to eighty-nine percent of households have reliable access to the internet. In like manner, the web analytics company StatCounter reports that Ireland has the highest penetration of mobile internet users in Europe.
Ireland hosts the international headquarters of global multinationals such as Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple and Intel among numerous others. The country has experienced a surge in the investments that multinationals continue to pump into the technology sector. Major tech hot-spots include Dublin, Cork, and Galway. Let us look at a few reasons driving tech firms to the country.
1. Favorable Tax Regime
Low corporate taxes for multinationals is the main driving force for traditional tech firms. The “Emerald Isle” has a favorable, open and transparent tax regime that is tuned to attract global multinationals. IDA Ireland has the responsibility of attracting foreign investments in the country.
The actual corporate tax rate is low at a rate of 12.5%, the lowest in the developed world. Compare this to 35% in the US. In the same way, ICT firms enjoy R&D tax credits, a matured intellectual property framework, a no tax policy on foreign dividends and attractive policies for holding companies.
2. Highly Qualified Workforce
Ireland has an extremely young, well-educated, and tech-savvy workforce. The country has a sophisticated education system and is one of the few countries with English as the primary and only language in the Eurozone. The government continues to invest heavily in education, especially in critical sectors such as science, computing, engineering, and. Also, the country is one of the top ten literature capitals of the world.
The Silicon Docks in Dublin is one of the biggest employers in the country. Google alone is said to maintain a global workforce exceeding 2,500 staff in the country, serving people in over forty-five languages across the world. Apple, in the Cork region of the south side, employs more than five thousand people.
Additionally, Ireland continues to attract a highly-skilled global ICT talent pool looking to exploit the large number of opportunities the tech scene is providing. Businesses can easily find smart, inspired, and focused talent that often exceeds expectations. The business community and the media are investor-friendly.
3. Competitive Economy And Tech Ecosystem
Ireland has the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone. Its competitiveness is increasing rapidly driven by high productivity. The globalized economy is attracting a significant number of multinationals. This gives it a sizeable exporting base. The technology industry in Ireland is reported to contribute more than thirty-five billion euros to the export kitty.
Unemployment is steadily on the decline, currently standing at 7% and dropping. A stable economy is a guarantee to investors that their efforts are protected and will bear yields. The dominance of tech multinationals has also created inspiring offshoots that are supporting the vibrant ecosystem.
Businesses that experience direct benefits from the multinationals have also shifted to Ireland to get close to the source. For example, Zynga quickly set up shop after Facebook launched in the country. In like manner, former staff working for Google in Dublin launched the Vocalytics app. Technology startups are also fighting to have a chance to work alongside their bigger and older counterparts.
A vibrant tech startup scene brings with it related investments including venture capital firms and associated business support service providers. In addition, there are numerous programs such as PorterShed, CRANN, Tyndall, and LERO, which encourage the participation of government agencies and learning institutions in supporting startups as well as research and development projects.
4. Access To European Markets
Part of the attraction of the technology multinationals is access to the lucrative European Union market. A presence in Ireland is a gateway to a broader market. This gives the country a unique advantage in that it acts as the European headquarters giving companies quick access to the European market.
5. Labor Costs And Perks
Ireland boasts of some of the most stable labor costs in Europe. Coupled with a labor productivity rate that is well above the European Union average, it is easy to see the attraction. The tech industry consists of a global workforce. Firms have come up with creative ways to keep them productive. This includes incentives such as a more favorable work-life balance, free meals, in-house amenities, and increased flexibility around work times.
The government and other stakeholders have continually invested in upgrading the country’s infrastructure. This includes telecommunications, energy, water, ground, and air transport systems. The telecommunications segment is fully de-regulated and one of the most advanced in Europe. The country has abundant natural energy and well-developed transmission systems. It is at the forefront of championing renewable energy to drive the economy.
A development initiative dubbed Transport 21 is poised to revolutionize the road networks to strengthen the country’s global competitiveness. There are international airports in most of the tech hot-spots in the country such as Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and Shannon among others.
The service industry is the number one income earner in Ireland. The country has quickly positioned itself as the global technology hub in Europe. The growth of the technology sector is also driving significant development in other areas such as financial services, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and engineering among others.
Ireland is home to the top ten global software firms as well as the biggest ICT firms from the US. It is the go-to location for internet startups, global enterprise software companies, and the leading IT services companies from around the world. Established global technology multinationals and innovative startups are increasingly looking to Ireland to establish their European headquarters.