Why Ireland is the Best Kept Secret for Business Expansion
By Ian Reither
Global expansion can be a difficult venture for any technology business. Tax codes, regulations and market realities differ starkly across borders, not to mention the gamut of language, cultural and skill barriers that can slow your organization's growth.
Given these realities, it's no surprise that Ireland is one of the most sought-after locations for tech companies pursuing a European presence. Between a technology-friendly government, highly skilled workforce and robust business infrastructure initiatives, it's unsurprising that many firms look to Ireland as their first destination when expanding overseas.
Before even considering regulatory and other economic incentives, Ireland is an attractive destination for business expansion due to its cultural and political advantages. Especially for American businesses, the country's status as the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone (and soon, the European Union, more broadly) represents an excellent entry point for businesses to create a European footprint. Irish norms and business expectations don't differ substantially from their stateside counterparts, allowing business leaders planning their first international debut to do so with few obstacles.
A Well-Worn Path
It's not just startups and other fledgling businesses finding their international footing in Ireland. Many Fortune 500 companies and household names in the tech industry - like Google, Amazon, Cisco, Dell and HP - have also set up shop there, seeking a favorable business climate and European market access. Their presence has created a deep talent pool, especially with regard to engineers, that other firms can tap into. Rather than struggling to convince American employees to relocate en masse (or coming up with the budget to do so), businesses can recruit locally.
This cluster of reputable names has also contributed to a growing venture capital community in Ireland. While Irish VC firms still take a backseat to their U.S. counterparts in terms of fund size, startups in Ireland are becoming more viable with the growth of funds like Frontline Ventures. Paired with a well-cultivated talent pool, tech startups enjoy access to a highly-educated workforce they would otherwise struggle to find outside of the Bay Area or other urban tech hubs.
Dublin, in particular, is a great home for tech startups, receiving accolades for access to capital, its deep talent pool, the availability of mentoring and managerial assistance, as well as its entrepreneurial culture. In fact, the European Digital City Index rated Dublin as the eighth best city in the EU for startups. As VC communities continue to mature and Dublin invests in its digital infrastructure, startups will find even more reason to choose Ireland.
Bountiful Business Resources
Ireland isn't just a destination for startups. Established businesses enjoy a variety of benefits, thanks to the Irish government's emphasis on creating and supporting critical business infrastructure. Organizations such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA and ConnectIreland can provide international businesses with the resources they need to thrive locally, from easy access and service providers to assistance with locating real estate, recruiting employees and navigating employment laws. Not only do these local entities provide a wealth of networking opportunities normally unavailable to a foreign business, they also help reduce the friction businesses often contend with when breaking into new geography.
These initiatives go beyond simple networking platforms for foreign businesses by providing a human liaison to make introductions, recommendations and more. In time, businesses will, of course, develop their own network of trusted vendors and partners, but these programs can serve as a critical accelerant to help set up shop rapidly.
Gaining a Foothold Overseas
Whether starting a new business or expanding an existing firm, Ireland presents a variety of opportunities. Bountiful business infrastructure resources and an existing community of international tech firms (and the skilled workforce they bring) present a host of competitive advantages for organizations looking to grow. Ireland is a hidden gem for businesses looking to gain a foothold in the Eurozone.
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