More than 200 sign Scale Ireland Open Letter

There are now more than 200 signatories to the Open Letter by Scale Ireland to Irish political leaders, calling on them to prioritise start-ups in the next Programme for Government.

Earlier this week Scale Ireland published an Open Letter urging Ireland’s next cohort of political leaders to address an imbalance in the Irish economy.

That imbalance? Ireland is great at starting companies but when it comes to scaling them to operations of size, we struggle.

“To support this transition and our future prosperity, Ireland will need a balanced economy with a vibrant indigenous enterprise base”

“As a country Ireland has all the ingredients to be the best place in Europe to build and grow a start-up,” the letter pointed out.

“We are one of the most entrepreneurial nations in the EU, and we’re seeing high-growth firms emerging as global players right across the country, from Skibbereen to Strandhill; and across sectors, from digital tech to life sciences.

“However, these success stories are the exceptions to the rule. While starting up a company is relatively easy, it is increasingly difficult to scale. Ireland doesn’t have a start-up problem; it has a scale-up problem.”

Get ready for the next 1m Irish

The letter points out that under Project Ireland 2040, Ireland is preparing for a population surge of an extra 1m people by 2040.

“To support this transition and our future prosperity, Ireland will need a balanced economy with a vibrant indigenous enterprise base. High impact entrepreneurship can have a transformative impact. Underpinned by the right policy environment, a vibrant start-up ecosystem can help bring sustainable high-value economic activity to both rural and urban Ireland.

“Thanks to the foresight of TK Whitaker, since the 1960s Ireland has become a world leader in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As a country we have benefited greatly from sustained political commitment and policy focus on FDI.

“However, when it comes to backing home-grown innovation, Ireland has taken a piecemeal approach to policy for start-ups. Our agencies are doing a great job for enterprise, but they’re doing so in the absence of a political focus on start-ups. Meanwhile our European peers are doing everything in their power to grow their start-up ecosystems. We have now fallen behind.”

The letter pointed to France whose President Macron has emerged as a start-up champion, announcing ambitious measures including favourable treatment of stock options for start-ups and a fast-track visa system.

“In 2016 Portugal appointed a political start-up champion and has implemented a raft of initiatives, making it one of the fastest growing start-up environments in Europe.

“Over the past 10 years the UK has transformed its ranking as a hub for start-ups with a series of targeted measures including an effective incentive scheme that has made it a leader in mobilising private early-stage capital into start-ups.

“Looking to the future Ireland needs a more strategic industrial and enterprise policy. We need to ensure that we continue to attract and retain FDI, while improving the performance of indigenous companies.”

To read the full letter click here

Pictured above (from left): Conor Gouldsberry, Liz McCarthy from Scale Ireland and Brian Caulfield, chair, Scale Ireland. Image: Neil Donegan

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 30 January, 2020