Enterprise Ireland helps found 75 firms

ENTERPRISE Ireland (EI) helped set up a record 75 high potential export-led companies last year involving investment of €83 million.

It has pumped €17m of taxpayers' money into the ventures, all of which are in knowledge-based sectors.

They have the potential to generate 1,460 jobs and export sales of €184m over the next two years.

These latest start-ups have the ability to grow rapidly in their chosen areas of operation which include bio-technology, medical technology, food, telecommunications, electronics and software development.

Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin said: "Growing the number of new companies with significant export and growth potential is essential for the Irish economy and a key element of EI's strategy."

He was speaking at the State body's annual Start-Up Showcase event held in Dublin yesterday.

Kevin Sherry, manager of EI's High Potential Start-Up Unit, said there was potential for more start-up business in 2006.

EI yesterday also announced a €2.5m initiative for collaborative projects from industry-led networks.

Of the 75 firms listed yesterday their founders left existing jobs to go out on their own. Of those, 44% came from Irish-owned businesses. Only 12% came from the third-level sector while returning expatriates made up 10% of the numbers.

EI's chief executive Frank Ryan said the initiatives were laying the foundation for the future of the economy. He said the success and long-term strength of the economy "is directly impacted by the establishment and growth of Irish-owned companies that have the potential to become thriving international business".

Irish-owned businesses will play an increasing role in the economy's success.

Enterprise Ireland was committed to ensuring that over the next decade the country will see the emergence of a new vibrant sector of industry capable of taking on the world at what it does, said Mr Ryan.

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