European report says Irish digital systems below par

Serious misgivings have been expressed over the adequacy of Dublin’s digital infrastructure with a range of connectivity issues raised by a new report.

European report says Irish digital systems below par

The European Digital City Index (EDCI) which assesses the attractiveness of EU capitals and other tech hubs compiled by the European Digital Forum ranked Ireland eighth out of 35 cities for both startups and companies looking to scale.

The report ranked Ireland ahead of the likes of Lisbon, home to the Web Summit from next year, Barcelona and Cambridge but behind major tech hubs such as Amsterdam, Berlin and London which topped the pile.

The report pointed to the number of multinationals based in Ireland, many of whom, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are based in the capital’s “Silicon Docks” area.

“This concentration of world-leading organisations has positioned Ireland as a major European business centre, in turn attracting some of the world’s most talented people.

"One of Europe’s largest startups, King.com, has been tempted out of Sweden to Dublin and Enterprise Ireland has recently announced the creation of a €500,000 fund to persuade other startups to follow suit,” the report reads.

The findings make for damning reading in terms of the city’s digital infrastructure, however.

Mobile internet speeds are ranked 33rd out of the 35 cities evaluated, while Dublin also languishes second from the bottom in relation to the availability of fibre broadband.

The quality of transport infrastructure both to and from Dublin and within the capital, fares relatively poorly with a ranking of 21st.

Encouragingly, the entrepreneurial culture of the city is lauded, with a third-place ranking, and the willingness of entrepreneurs to take on risk is deemed the greatest in the EU.

A positive perception of entrepreneurship generally is also praised, an area in which Ireland is often seen to lag behind the likes of the US.

Access to capital, a perennial bugbear of startups, is considered to be relatively healthy in Dublin too.

The report finds that per capita, Ireland has more venture funding than in any other country in Europe.

Other facets of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that are praised include the availability of skilled labour and the flexibility of workers.

Former Enterprise Ireland software chief Pat Byrne said the Irish workforce had an incredibly strong international reputation.

“The Irish workforce capability and flexibility is really outstanding and we’ve a huge advantage over the UK or anywhere else [in that regard]... within small companies in particular, working up to 60 or 70 hours a week in order to get something done,” Mr Byrne said.

Despite its top position, London’s lifestyle, cost of office space and labour costs are seen as negatives.

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