IDA Ireland: Era of optimism with growth evident in all sectors

IDA Ireland is experiencing its highest ever level of employment in client companies with all regions experiencing growth.

IDA Ireland: Era of optimism with growth evident in all sectors

IDA Ireland is experiencing its highest ever level of employment in client companies with all regions experiencing growth.

That’s in spite of increasing geopolitical and economic uncertainty. Nationally growth hit 7% last year, with almost 230,000 people employed in FDI companies by the end of 2018.

All regions saw an uplift, with the West of Ireland increasing by 8% and the Midlands by 14%. The border region grew by 3% with Dublin and the Mid-East by 7%, the Mid-West by 6% and the South-East by 7%. The South-West Region, which comprises counties Cork and Kerry, grew by 5% with Cork benefitting most from increased investment.

Some 186 multinational companies are based in the South Region, employing 41,108 people.

The bio-pharmaceutical industry continues to grow with more than 9,000 people employed in 24 companies. The sector saw a 9% increase in the last 12 months with significant announcements from the likes of Janssen and Eli Lily.

The technology sector across the South West which includes international giants like Dell EMC, Apple and McAfee, grew by 6% to 16,758 jobs. Engineering and industrial sector jobs are showing slow but steady growth and while there was a slight decrease in consumer business jobs, there was extremely strong growth in the international financial services sector, where 16 companies now employ 1,500 people, a 12% increase in just 12 months It’s a sector of significant potential growth in the coming years.

An example is Clearstream who made a significant jobs announcement in 2018 and moved to more spacious new offices in Navigation Square, Albert Quay, this year, giving them substantially increased capacity for further growth.

Cyber-security is recognised by IDA Ireland as another fast growth sector and are supporting the establishing of a national cluster focused on Cyber Security called Cyber Ireland to position the Republic as a leading location for cybersecurity expertise.

This is the first time the State body has funded such an initiative and it comes after calls from industry for action to help it meet key challenges and boost awareness of the strength of the sector locally.

Cyber Ireland, which will be based in and run from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), aims to provide a collective voice for companies working in cybersecurity, which collectively employ more than 6,000 people in the Republic.

Dr Eoin Byrne, cluster manager with Cyber Ireland, the CIT-based organisation which helps promote Irish-based cybersecurity, an industry with a particularly strong cluster in Munster.
Dr Eoin Byrne, cluster manager with Cyber Ireland, the CIT-based organisation which helps promote Irish-based cybersecurity, an industry with a particularly strong cluster in Munster.

IDA Ireland’s Regional Business Development Manager for the South Region, Ray O’Connor, says global companies recognise Ireland as an attractive place in which to invest.

Investors are aware of Ireland’s strong value proposition about skills availability, accessibility and connectivity, strong regulatory framework and pro-business ethos.

"We are making it known that, post-Brexit, we continue to be a world class investment location for international companies and an excellent gateway location to Europe. After that we are communicating the choice Ireland has to offer by way of regional locations.

"Winning investment for regions is a key focus for us.”

In all, 58% of employment was outside of Dublin in 2018, which is the highest number of people employed by IDA clients outside of Dublin in the history of the organisation, with more jobs added in the regions than at any other time over the past 17 years.

Ray O’Connor says: “The South Region is well-regarded and has a strong track record as a hub for technology and Life Sciences with a highly skilled workforce, clusters of similar companies and supporting services, good infrastructure and competitiveness.

Pfizer for instance recently celebrated 50 years in Ireland. They employ 3,700 people.

"Rowa Pharmaceuticals in Bantry, who employ 100 people, recently celebrated 60 years in business in Ireland. They export pharmaceutical products to 80 countries worldwide. That type of longevity is of enormous benefit to local economies.”

The laboratory team at Rowa Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Rowex Ltd) in Bantry, Co Cork.
The laboratory team at Rowa Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Rowex Ltd) in Bantry, Co Cork.

Munster is the province with the most cities in the Republic of Ireland. It has many large towns including a number of growing satellite towns. There are 70,636 people employed directly across 356 IDA Ireland client companies in Munster.

When one considers the multiplier effect of these roles, there are an estimated 56,509 additional jobs supported by overseas companies in Munster – so the impact of FDI in Munster supports an estimated 127,144 jobs directly and indirectly. Since 2009, there are an additional 23,372 people working in IDA client companies in Munster – that’s an increase of 49%.

Cork has the highest number of IDA client companies with 169 ensuring total employment of 38,867. Clare is next with 66 IDA-backed companies employing 6,948. Next is Limerick with 56 IDA client companies employing 11,796.

Waterford has 38 IDA-backed companies giving employment to 7,064. Kerry is home to 17 IDA client companies employing 2,241. South Tipperary has 7 IDA-client companies with 3,516 employed and North Tipperary with 3 companies employing 204.

Ray O’Connor pinpoints Cork’s Docklands as one area of investment and opportunity across a range of services activities form Technology to Financial Services. Investors, he said are attracted to Cork for a variety of reasons.

“It is an established city with an expanding population which give it the relative scale. The existing clusters already here drive interest from others,” he continued.

“Those clusters – like medical technology or bio-pharmaceuticals – draw in other companies. It’s the same with tech companies.

There are 67 such companies operating in Cork and that is attractive for other tech companies because they know that the infrastructure is here to support them but also the talent is here that they can draw from.

Cork is a university city. Between UCC and CIT there are over 30,000 full and part-time students.

And looking at that performance in the last 12 months, and indeed in the last 10 years it is no surprise that Mr O’Connor and IDA Ireland are confident about the coming years.

“People shy away from uncertainty and given the certainty as well as the confidence in Ireland and the fact that we are and will remain part of the European Union means that more overseas companies are likely to consider establishing a European base.”

Among the key challenges for IDA Ireland each year, he said, are the global challenges and competition Ireland face in the international environment when competing for FDI as well as the increasing effect of technology disruption across all sectors.

Across Ireland, IDA is very focused on trying to ensure a good geographical spread of new projects and jobs – and the organisation has made considerable progress on this in the past number of years under its current five-year strategy.

As for ways in which Cork can enhance its offering, the IDA regional manager says:

We need to invest in improving infrastructure in terms of public transport and road improvements as well increasing the delivery and availability of good quality housing and apartment living in our city centres.

"Collectively we also need to ensure we work together to maintain our competitiveness and well as enhancing the attractiveness of our cities and urban areas.”

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