How Ireland is Accelerating its Tech And Startup Ecosystem for Global Startups [Interview]

Ireland is unambiguously a global technology hub.

The ireland Startup Ecosystem
The ireland Startup Ecosystem

Ireland boasts of an ecosystem which is not just a hotbed for global startups, but is also a place for several MNCs and software technology development companies seeking to have a base in Europe.   

As Indian startups go global, they need to look at setting up  base in the right geographies ensuring that they have access to a (large) market as well as local talent and importantly, friendly government policies.

Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, IDA Ireland is looking to engage deeply with Indian startups – especially mid-stage enterprise startups who are planning to expand globally and you can meet the IDA Ireland team at the upcoming UnPluggd conference.

Presenting to you, an interview with Tanaz Buhariwalla, Country Director of IDA Ireland.

Qn: Could you share more on Ireland’s tech and startup ecosystem (recent trends etc)? 

Ireland’s technology sector is recognised globally by companies as one where companies can source excellent talent at competitive costs, in a business friendly, English speaking environment with a track record for investment which is second to none.

Tanaz Buhariwalla - Director, India at IDA Ireland
Tanaz Buhariwalla – Director, India at IDA Ireland

Global players such as the giants like Microsoft, Google, Accenture, Intel, CISCO, HP, FaceBook, SAP to newer companies like AirBnB, Salesforce, Ebay, Hubspot, Redhat, Slack and a host of others, have established operations in Ireland for those very reasons.  

The fact that Ireland is the only English speaking part of the Eurozone and can attract talent from across the EU adds to Ireland’s attractiveness.  Throw in a competitive tax regime with a corporate tax rate of 12.5% and attractive R&D tax credits and financial assistance and one can understand why global companies look at setting up base in Ireland when they think of doing business in Europe.  Ireland is unambiguously a global technology hub.

Ireland has been working with global technology companies for over 40 years in developing a competitive environment for international operations. During this period companies such as Intel; IBM; Microsoft; LinkedIn; Airbnb; Oracle; SAP; eBay/PayPal; Google; Amazon; Facebook and Twitter have chosen Ireland over competing locations as they deliver product and services to employees and customers across EMEA and beyond from Ireland. 25% of technology professionals are non-Irish highlighting the ability to attract talent from other jurisdictions around Europe

I would like to break down the Tech ecosystem in Ireland in parts and comment on each of them to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the Technology sector in Ireland.

Ireland’s reputation as a centre of Software excellence is unrivalled in Europe. It is home to over 900 Software companies, including both multinational and indigenous firms, employing 24,000 people and generating €16 billion of exports annually. The sector’s wide-ranging activities include Software Development, R&D, Business Services and EMEA/International headquarters.

Ireland’s ICT sector is world-renowned and continues to flourish. Nine of the world’s top 10 ICT companies are located here and the IDA supports over 200 firms. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually

Ireland is fast becoming the Internet capital of Europe. With the top ten global internet-based companies located here, it is a dynamic, exciting area, attracting both established and new players from the world of Search, Social, Games, E-Commerce, Online Payments and Marketing. 

Meanwhile, Ireland is also rapidly becoming a dominant force in Cloud Computing, building on its international reputation as a leader in ICT. Many key players have already been attracted to Ireland while a wide spectrum of technology companies with Irish operations are actively expanding into and researching the Cloud.

Encompassing all the above, we have niche sub sector ecosystems like Fintech, Cyber-security/Anti Virus, Medtech and extensive work in the broad field of IoT is being carried out in Ireland including Analytics and Big Data. 

What about government policies? How friendly are they towards startups from countries like India?

Ireland does not differentiate between a large company and a startup as long as they can positively impact the Irish economy and add to the richness and diversity of our industries and clusters. 

Ireland prides itself on being recognised as “One for the best countries for business  – Forbes Magazine” and “ Best Country to Invest in Western Europe by the Site Selection Magazine”.  This is a reflection on the low bureaucracy in Ireland and the consistent steps taken by the government to ensure we remain a welcoming country for FDI.  IDA on it’s part, works with companies and ensures they do what they are best at – their business! With necessary but minimal other distractions.

The government continues to develop schemes to ensure Ireland remains the location of choice for young companies.  The Knowledge Development Box, a corporate tax exemption for Startups, effective zero tax rate for foreign dividends and a Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) to continue to attract key decision makers into Ireland.

What is the role of IDA Ireland?

IDA Ireland is Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency.  We are a non-commercial, semi-state body promoting Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland through a wide range of services. We partner with potential and existing investors to help them establish or expand their operations in Ireland. Investing abroad raises all sorts of concerns, but IDA Ireland has got your back, we hand-hold you to the extent you require.

IDA Ireland is experienced in consulting on every aspect of your evaluation, set up and roll-out. We pride ourselves on having the know-how and connections to make things happen.  Helping get information, building networks, identifying the right location, the right partners…we guide you through the process.

As Ireland’s FDI agency we have partnered with over 1,250 clients, helping them not only establish but ramp up their Irish operations, including doing business across Europe.

Partner with us and you will soon understand why Ireland ranks high in ‘ease of doing business’. 

What sort of startups are you looking to engage with?

We work with companies across the  board.  Startups with a product or service that has a market in Europe and one that is looking to scale up internationally are the ones we are especially keen to work with.

What about Indian companies in Ireland ? Could you share a few names.

Ans: in the ICT/ technology space,  Ireland boasts of being home to India’s top five  services companies viz. Infosys, TCS, HCL, Tech Mahindra and Wipro.  Other Indian companies operating in this space in Ireland include NIIT Ltd and Kellton Tech both with large operations in Ireland, Zomato, Aris Global and Synowledge amongst others.  Particular to note is these companies perform a range of activities in Ireland including content creation, customer service, development, centres of excellence and R&D.  Infosys has set up its first R&D centre outside India in Ireland. Tech Mahindra has set up a centre of excellence in Ireland.


» For founders who are expanding in EU, you can meet the IDA Ireland team at the upcoming UnPluggd conference (apply for the meeting).