Ireland primed to become European tech hub

Ireland has the capacity to become a new technology hub for central and Eastern European firms looking to access the US market, according to professional services giant, PwC.

In its latest ‘Pulse’ CEO survey, PwC found that Irish technology firms are upping their interest in central and eastern European markets, with 30% planning to target the region in the coming year, as opposed to just 19% this time last year.

It also notes that since 2004, Irish exports to the 11 EU countries in central Europe have grown by more than 300%, to €2.2bn, while exports of Irish indigenous companies to the region reached €400m last year.

Central European nations are expected to continue growing faster than their western European counterparts and this — according to PwC — can only generate wide-ranging export opportunities for Irish firms.

“There is an untapped opportunity for Irish and Central European businesses to work more closely together. With many of the key US technology companies in Ireland, we have a unique opportunity to be a ‘tech hub’ for Central European companies looking to access the US market. Central Europe also offers a perfect location for Irish companies seeking to expand into new export markets or source key talent for new partners to develop their business,” according to John Murphy, tax director at PwC Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland agrees; its regional director, Conor Fahy adding: “Ireland’s technology and start-up eco-system is uniquely located to provide a platform for central European companies in the ICT and technology space to expand into the US and UK markets, while providing a dynamic environment for Central European entrepreneurs to migrate their ideas into businesses.”

Eight central European nations (Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia) joined the EU during Ireland’s presidency 10 years ago. Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia joined in 2007 and 2014. The region has a growing reputation for turning out top global IT professionals and consistently ranks top of the world listings in educational achievement in areas such as maths, science and technology. Last year, 16 of the 24 finalists in Google’s annual ‘Code Jam’ programming competition hailed from central Europe.

PwC is acting as chief sponsor of the Central European Technology Conference – being held today at Dublin’s Convention Centre – which will focus on bringing together Irish and Central European-based technology firms, with a view to developing new cross-border business relationships.

PwC’s urging of Irish tech firms to look more closely at the central European market comes just days after the firm supported the Irish Exporters’ Association’s push for Irish goods and services exporters to put more emphasis on Africa. At its launch last week, the IEA’s African Business Forum said South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco were the nations with the most potential for export businesses. Trade between Ireland and African nations grew by 200% in the past few years and it is expected to be worth €24bn by 2020.

“Africa can no longer be viewed as a marginal player in economic terms, with growth rates across the continent projected, for 2014, at 5.1%,” said business and employment minister Ged Nash.


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