Poor web speed costs Ireland in startup league

Ireland has the third-lowest business startup costs in the world — a distinction we share with Britain — but weaker internet services mean the UK substantially outranks us in a global index measuring opportunity and entrepreneurship.

While Britain ranks eighth in the entrepreneurship category of the Legatum Institute’s global prosperity index, we lag eight places behind even though we share the same business startup cost of 0.3% of gross national income per capita.

Where Britain fares far better, however, is in the area of ICT — for instance its number of secure internet servers per 1m people is 66% higher than in Ireland.

Here, we have 718.6 secure servers per 1m, compared to a far superior 1,193.5 in the UK. Internet bandwidth — the greater the bandwidth, the more efficient the transfer of data — is also streets ahead in Britain.

Not only is internet bandwidth in Ireland — at 479 Mbps (megabytes per second) — well below the global average of 997.74 Mbps, it’s nowhere near the UK figure of 20,000 Mbps.

Against this backdrop, our lower ranking when it comes to opportunity and entrepreneurship is more understandable.

When it comes to mobile phone ownership, Britons possess 123.8 per 100 people, higher than both Irish ownership at 102.8 phones per 100 people and the global average of 106.8 per 100 people.

We spend less on research and development than the UK at 1.8% of GDP compared to 2.3%. However our ICT exports are higher, representing 5.8% of all exports compared to Britain’s 4.2%.

Our unemployment rate is also far higher, 14.7% compared to 7.9%, as is our percentage of non-performing loans — 24.6% compared to 3.7% in Britain.

So how do the citizens of Britain and Ireland rate the two countries when it comes to potential for starting a business? Here, six in 10 of us think Ireland’s a good place for entrepreneurs, while in Britain the figure is nearly seven in 10. Britons also have a stronger belief in working hard to get ahead (83.7% compared to 81.4%).

Belief in getting a job is also greater among our neighbours. Just one in 10 of us believes its a good time to get a job compared to nearly two in 10 of across the water.

The London-based public policy think-tank ranked 142 countries across eight categories. Ireland’s economy ranked 12th while Britain ranked 13th.


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