Connect & Invest

West Coast Insights – TechCrunch Disrupt

IDA Ireland had the great pleasure of joining some of the year’s hottest emerging companies at TechCrunch DisruptSF this past week. They came in lots of shapes and sizes with different solutions and product offerings, but share a common characteristic … Continue reading

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Rory Mullen, Director, West Coast, IDA Ireland

Whenever a new, fresh-faced Business Development executive is transferred over from Ireland to our Mountain View office they don’t understand why their new U.S. bank gives a small twenty-five page book with their name printed on the corner. Checkbooks haven’t been commonly used in Ireland for over a decade so our ‘Millennials’ struggle to understand what they are used for. In Europe, nearly all transfers of funds are made electronically online.


Senan O’Riain, Paraic Hayes and Deirdre Moran of IDA Ireland

As we in IDA work to help West Coast companies set up successful European operations, we encounter many examples like this of how the business environments differ in Europe and the U.S. We try and explain them all to our clients as we work through each individual project, but we thought it would be useful to share these learnings in a weekly blog.

Despite the acceleration of the trend toward globalization in recent years, significant cultural, business and legal differences remain between Europe and the U.S. The differences between each of the 28 countries of the European Union (EU) can be almost as large, and this is what makes managing this market of over 500 million wealthy consumers so complex and challenging. Google’s European sales and finance teams, based in Dublin, employ people of forty different nationalities who speak over 50 different languages.

In the coming months we plan to explore areas as diverse as data privacy, regulation of medical devices,   managing multilingual sales and what to wear to meetings. It is always interesting to watch the consternation that is caused amongst seasoned, well-travelled executives from both Europe and the U.S. by the decision of whether to wear a necktie to a dinner taking place in the Valley with the Irish Prime Minister. (The correct answer is the Prime Minister will be wearing one, and you should wear whatever you feel comfortable in.)

IDA has helped over 500 U.S. companies successfully develop their international business from Ireland. We look forward to sharing some of the things that worked well, along with areas where we would like to see improvement in this weekly blog. We will try and bring some insights into the differences and challenges of successfully operating an international operation in Europe using examples from our experience where possible. The IDA West Coast team, as well as some guest client and specialist bloggers, will cover a different area each week, and we welcome your feedback on any specific topics that you would like to see covered.


Foreign Direct Investment


Ireland’s FDI sector was buoyant in the first half of the year

IDA Ireland secured over 100 investments in H1 2014, up from 70 in the same period of 2013, with potential job creation of 8,000.  40% of the investments come from companies investing in Ireland for the 1st time, as Ireland’s value proposition continues to resonate with new investors. In total IDA clients employ 166,184[1] persons, export €121bn, invest €1.3bn in R&D, and spend €21bn on goods, services and payroll[2].

Strong Q1 GDP performance likely to carry through to rest of 2014.

The strong GDP performance witnessed in Q1 (+4.1% YOY) is likely to be sustained for the rest of the year. While Q2 figures won’t be available until the end of September, high frequency statistics point to ongoing improvements in activity. The Markit/Investec PMI’s are signaling ongoing expansion in the manufacturing and services sectors, retail sales are showing YOY increases in both value and volume terms, and crucially, the labour market is continuing to show steady improvement. While official Q2 unemployment numbers won’t be out until the end of the month, the standardized unemployment rate has fallen steadily over Q2 (from 12% in March to 11.5% in July).

 Outlook positive for exporters 

Merchandise exports were up 9% YOY in May (+€660mn), led by growth in the organic chemicals and medical & pharmaceutical products, the best one month jump in 2 years.  The outlook for the rest of the year is positive with the impact of the patent cliff waning and a pick-up in activity in key trading partners. The Markit/Investec PMI’s are pointing to ongoing export growth in July, with the new export orders component expanding for 36 months in services, and 13 months in manufacturing.

Irish public finances continue to improve 

Ongoing progress in the domestic economy continues to bolster the public finances. In the year to July tax revenue was up €1.3bn (or 6.4%), with income tax (+7.6%) and VAT (+7.2%) continuing to lead the way. Fiscal discipline is being maintained with net voted expenditure just below target. Minister Noonan has indicated that the  ongoing improvement in the public finances if maintained can be used to ease the level of adjustment necessary in this year budget.


[1] Forfás Annual Employment Survey 2013

[2] Forfás ABSEI 2012

Foreign Direct Investment


by caitriona OKennedy

We have just published our latest Facts About Ireland which includes up to date information about Ireland as a place for business across a broad range of categories.  These include:-

Economy, Demographics, Skills & Education, Transport, Property, Costs, Utilities and Cost of Living.

We have included as much comparative information as possible.   For example, did you know that 34% of Ireland’s population is under 24 years of age?  This compares to 24% in Germany.  Or that over 250,000 people in Ireland are in higher education?

This along with lots more is now available on our site at

We hope you find it useful.


Caitriona O’Kennedy
Head of Marketing Communications


Foreign Direct Investment




Irish GDP rose by 4.1% year on year in Q1, led by an impressive export performance (+7.4% year on year).

This excellent performance is likely to be sustained over the rest of the year, with a range of short term indicators are pointing to on-going progress in the Irish economy.

The Investec/Markit PMI’s for both the manufacturing and services sector are signalling on-going growth, with the manufacturing sector expanding for the 13th month, and the services sector expanding for the 23rd consecutive month. The services sector expanded at its fastest rate since February 2007 in June.

The numbers employed increased for the 6th consecutive quarter in Q1 2014, with a total increase of almost 70,000 employed, the majority in full time positions.  This strong performance is being reflected in the unemployment statistics (11.6% in June from peak of 15.1% in Feb 12), and in the public finances (income tax +7.4% YOY Jan-June). Overall, The European Commission is forecasting employment growth of 2.4% this year. Despite this significant wage growth is not expected given the low inflation environment.

On-going progress in the domestic economy continues to bolster the public finances. For H1 2014 tax revenue was up 4.9% with income tax (+7.4%) and VAT (+7.3%) leading the way. Fiscal discipline is being maintained with voted expenditure just below target. Overall total revenues were up 8.4% in H1, and total spending was up just 1.9%.

IDA clients saw a 4th year of employment growth in 2013, with employment increasing to 166,184.  Client contribution to the economy has also increased significantly in 2012, despite the impact of the patent cliff. Exports were up 5% to €121bn, and Irish economy spend (goods, services, payroll) was up 5% to €21bn. IDA clients also increased their R&D expenditure by 18% to €1.3bn.

Summary Forecast 2014 2015
Real GDP (% change) 1.7 3.0
Inflation (HICP % change) 0.6 1.1
Numbers Employed (% change) 2.4 2.3
Unemployment rate (%) 11.4 10.2
Inflation (HICP % change) 0.6 1.1

Source: European Commission Spring forecast 2014

Irish Economy


This is a guest post from Dan Pitt, Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation


Next week, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is co-hosting OpenTech Ireland: An SDN Gathering alongside IDA Ireland and in cooperation with the Irish Software Association, Intune Networks, KEMP Technologies, and Sanctum Networks.

As the first OpenTech Ireland symposium focused on Software-Defined Networking (SDN), this event marks an important milestone for open SDN as it moves ever closer to mainstream, global adoption. SDN has its roots in Silicon Valley. Networking giants have been based in the Valley for decades. The OpenFlow protocol, providing a standard networking language for controllers and switches regardless of vendor, began as a project at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. It seemed only natural that ONF be based in this region. However, open SDN is a global movement. ONF member companies have headquarters and offices around the world, and representatives have attended more than 20 industry conferences in at least 10 different countries in just the past six months. I have personally participated in many of these events, and each time I visit a new country for SDN purposes, I’m invigorated by the enthusiasm and innovations taking place.

Ireland has been called “the Silicon Valley of Europe,” so it comes as no surprise that it is the perfect place for open SDN to thrive. Ireland has been named the best country for business by Forbes.  Dublin has been ranked as the best city worldwide for human capital, and Ireland itself is recognized as the top country in Europe for completion of third-level education. Ireland offers a significantly low corporate tax rate in comparison to other countries highly involved in the booming technology industry. And Ireland continues to invest in science, technology, and innovation, financing €8 billion in research and technology capabilities.

Open SDN requires a unique set of skills and offers opportunities for job creation, and Ireland has the potential to provide a talent pool, tax regime, and track record for success that established and startup networking companies should find enticing. SDN luminaries from both the Silicon Valley of the United States and of Europe congregate in Dublin next week to drive conversations and jumpstart the local open SDN community serving end users worldwide during OpenTech Ireland: An SDN Gathering. I will be in attendance, delivering the opening address to kick off the event, and I can’t wait for the conversations and discoveries that are sure to inspire and motivate my work toward open SDN. I hope to see you there.

Dan Pitt, Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation

Foreign Direct Investment


Donal Flavin of IDA Ireland

Donal Flavin of IDA Ireland

The Irish Government recently published its National ICT Skills Strategy and Plan, which aims to increase the supply of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) talent.  The plan, involves a partnership approach between the private and the public sectors and intends building on the 2012 National ICT Skills Plan and earlier activities, which have appreciably increased the supply of computing, software and electronic engineering graduate talent since 2008, when, around that period, output was at its lowest level for many years.

For example, primary degree (honours) computing output from mainstream undergraduate programmes in 2013 was estimated to be about 80% higher on 2008, while primary degree (honours) electronic engineering output was higher by 50% (table 1). Electronic engineering doctorate output doubled during the same period. The calibre of student has also been enhanced, underpinned by much larger numbers taking higher level maths in their final leaving cert exam at secondary school; for example, between 2011 and 2013 there was a 59% increase in the numbers taking higher level maths and this is forecast to increase further in 2014.

Strong Supply Forecast

Looking ahead to 2018, primary degree (honours) computing output last November was forecasted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to grow by about 70% between 2013 and 2018, with electronic engineering growing by over 100%.

Table 1: Summary of (Forecasted) Increase in Graduate ICT Output between 2008 and 2018


2008 vs. 2013

(% cHANGE)

2013 vs. 2018

(% Change)

Primary Degree Honours Computing (Level 8)





Masters Computing (Level 9)



Primary Degree Honours  Electronic Engineering (Level 8)





Masters Degree Electronic Engineering (Level 9)



Source: HEA November 2013

The 2014 National ICT Skills Plan aims not alone to meet the November 2013 HEA forecasts, but to substantially exceed them. To achieve this, the plan has some significant new initiatives, including a special provision to increase by about 45% the number of university/institute of technology places to be made available annually for mainstream undergraduate honours degree ICT students (Level 8 – 4 Year programmes). This initiative will be underpinned by a national promotion campaign encouraging primary and secondary level students to choose computing, software and electronic engineering as a career choice. Upskilling courses will continue to be used to increase graduate output.

Higher graduate output will be complemented with an enhanced focus on attracting from abroad greater numbers of highly skilled and experienced computing, software and electronic engineering personnel.  A new international talent portal, to encourage experienced expatriate and non Irish technical and multilingual talent to work in Ireland, is planned. A more streamlined and efficient approach to processing employment permits will be introduced, involving an eForm and fast-track mechanism for pre-registered employers. The new measures will complement the provision in 2013 to increase by 50% the annual number of ICT employment permits to be made available to companies.

Industry Participation in Curricula Design

Greater talent availability will minimise wage inflation and make Irish operations more competitive with lower cost locations, where high wage inflation is an increasing concern. A further benefit to companies is Government policy advocating that universities and institutes of technology work closer with companies in curricula design, to ensure that computing, software and electronic engineering graduates adequately meet the contemporary skills requirements of enterprise. Companies are being increasingly encouraged to participate in curricula design and to avail of internship and work placement programmes, a growing feature and requirement of many third level educational programmes.

Outlook Positive

In summary, the outlook is very positive for both the supply and calibre of computing, software and electronic engineering talent in Ireland. Projected, substantial, growth is providing increasing confidence to companies in their investment decisions, and this confidence is evident with some very significant technology based investments over the last 12 months. These include investments from Qualcomm, Microsoft, EMC, AOL, Tyco International, VCE, Huawei, Citrix, McAfee, Guidewire and FireEye.  

It is a good time for multinational corporations to invest in Ireland.





Foreign Direct Investment


Is Dublin Silicon Valley’s ‘Second City’?

This gallery contains 3 photos.

While everywhere in the world is trying to be the next Silicon Valley, I think Ireland has succeeded by taking a different approach. Instead of trying that impossible task, Dublin (and Ireland in general) has established itself as one of … Continue reading

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At the RSA Conference networking event with IDA Ireland

Craicing the Code at RSA with IDA Ireland

March 3, 2014 – Senan Ryan, Vice President Technology with IDA Ireland

Judging by the crowded expo floor at the RSA Conference and the number of attendees at our Craic’ing the Code event in San Francisco last week, it is hard to imagine the security industry is experiencing a staff and skills shortage. This shortage was a major trend discussed at the conference and is an issue Enterprise Strategy Group’s Senior Principal Analyst Jon Oltsik has been researching for years. During his session “The Security Staff and Skills Shortage is Worse Than You Think,” he stated that 65 percent of companies find it somewhat difficult to recruit/hire information security professionals and 18 percent find it extremely difficult. We know there’s a problem, but what is being done to close the skills gap?

I recently had the pleasure of joining Stephen Brennan, Board of Directors for AdaptiveMobile and former VP of Symantec Research Labs, and Sara Peters, contributing editor for Dark Reading, to discuss the shortage and the measures we’re taking in Ireland to address this issue.

The security sector in Ireland has steadily grown in the last decade with the addition of several Silicon Valley giants, such as Symantec, McAfee and FireEye, creating two main security clusters in Dublin and Cork.

To aid in the growth and success of these companies and make way for more, Irish universities are working with multinational companies to develop degree courses that will produce purpose-ready graduates, ensuring the availability of high quality technical talent continues to increase. Ireland’s research institutes have a worldwide reputation for research in information security. UCD is renowned for its work in cyberforensics, and the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) are recognized European leaders in trust management research.

Additionally, as the only English-speaking country in Europe that uses the Euro and the closest European country to the U.S. time zones, Ireland is a great place to live and conduct business.

Today, Ireland’s security sector is thriving with more than 6,000 people employed through several multinational companies, carrying out a range of security-focused activities from R&D to customer support. Symantec, FireEye, McAfee and Mandiant created more than 700 jobs in Ireland in the last year alone.

Outside of setting up operations in Ireland, what else can we do to address the shortage? According to Oltsik, companies should look to improve the work experience for infosec professionals, integrate security into the corporate culture and outsource, among other actions. We may be experiencing a shortage now, but there’s hope. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan projects that the number of professionals will grow globally by more than 11 percent annually over the next five years. What are you doing to “craic” the code on this shortage and ensure the information security talent pool flourishes?


Foreign Direct Investment


by Emmet Oliver

ITS been a tough few years for owners, renters and indeed investors in Irish property. The falls in values have been truly extraordinary- for instance apartments fell 63% in value from their Celtic Tiger peaks to 2013, with houses down by almost 50% from peak.
According to the Irish Financial Regulator these falls in capital values were “one of the OECD’s largest and most protracted” property downturns ever ( ).
Understandably a recovery from such falls was going to come at some point, property prices often overshoot on the downside, veteran property watchers like to remind us all. The Economist for instance reckons Irish property prices have overshot already- based on a number of metrics, including rents.
The recovering values have attracted a great amount of buying interest in Irish property- Donald Trump has just purchased the luxury Doonbeg resort in Co Clare, US investors Kennedy Wilson have bought 21 properties in Dublin already and this firm has publicly called the bottom of the Irish property market ( Russian, UK and other European buyers are also active.
What this means for companies investing in Ireland in a corporate sense is slightly different. Firstly value abounds in terms of making capital investments compared to the peak of the Irish boom. Secondly, workers working for overseas companies can avail of far cheaper accommodation than was available in the boom years, although there is some renewed pressure in this area, in Dublin in particular, such has been the wonderful growth of the Silicon Docks area.
Also getting a strong regional property offering was starting to become a challenge in some areas, particularly with the private sector nursing significant losses on developments built during the boom years.
However in order to plug this gap, IDA itself has moved to build property in regional locations in Ireland, as our annual statement in January(  indicated.

“IDA has identified a number of specific locations where the private sector is unable currently to develop property solutions. In order to boost regional development and win new business, IDA plans to build new advanced manufacturing facilities in Waterford and Athlone, and office space in Letterkenny, Co Donegal”.

Obviously many investors are getting on with their own building and property development programmes, with the likes of Allergan in Co Mayo, Regeneron in Co Limerick, Hewlett-Packard in Co Galway and Microsoft in Dublin, among those either building now, or planning to build in the near future.
While this is good news for Ireland and these companies in terms of accessing new plant or office capacity, it is even better news for an embattled Irish construction sector – we estimate here in IDA that IDA client companies, if the numbers are combined, are among the largest providers of construction employment in Ireland at present.
While the sharp downturn in the construction sector has left a painful legacy, it represents a sharp advantage for Ireland when attracting international mobile capital.
The Ireland Society of Chartered Surveyors estimated last year even building materials are down by 40% from the peak in 2007 ( ) as the value game takes hold. As long as Ireland retains these competitive gains, and the Government in Ireland is determined on this front, value will remain ever present for those making investments in Ireland.