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Tánaiste speech at UCC 'Silicon Valley comes to Ireland' event

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to speak to you this evening.

I would like to congratulate U.C.C., C.I.T., Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork City Council for collaborating with the Irish Technology Leadership Group on the fifth Silicon Valley Comes to Ireland event.  Likewise, I would like to commend Craig Barrett and John Hartnett for driving the continued growth and success of the I.T.L.G.   I also want to offer a warm welcome our overseas visitors, particularly those of you who are visiting for the first time.  We are delighted that you are part of The Gathering.  

2012 was the year when we started to see a renewed optimism in Ireland that we are weathering the economic storm.  Our economy has returned to growth - being driven by our exporting sector. 

Exports are now in excess of pre-crisis levels - with a 3.8% increase in the first half of 2012.  We have also seen a substantial enhancement of our competitiveness which has improved by 22% compared to the Eurozone average

2012 saw the highest net job creation from FDI in a decade with 6,570 net new jobs created by IDA clients.  Apple, PayPal, Cisco, and Eli Lilly all invested in Ireland last year.  We also attracted greenfield investments from companies such as Clearstream, Dropbox, and Nuance.

Despite this progress, the Government knows we still have a long way to go in building an economy in which everybody who wants to work has a job. 

To support employers and entrepreneurs in creating jobs and growth, Budget 2013 includes measures that will make a real difference to the SME sector by assisting their cash position and supporting their creation of jobs.  New initiatives such as the Microfinance Scheme and the Loan Guarantee Scheme are complemented by additional credit funds, such as those supported by the Silicon Valley Bank and the European Investment Fund, which are targeted at the innovation sector

During this summit, you will have an opportunity to meet the best and the brightest of Ireland’s entrepreneurs – companies at the leading edge of the mobile, cloud, biotech, nanotech, and renewable energies sectors.

Ireland is a world leader in many of these areas and is now home to 8 out of the top 10 global ICT firms, 9 out of the 10 top global pharmaceutical firms, and all of the top 10 ‘born-on-the-internet’ companies.

Our home-grown companies are also making a significant contribution.  For example, Enterprise Ireland clients now support 15% of the jobs in the Irish economy.

Despite the global economic conditions, Irish exporting companies are now, more than ever before, leaner, stronger and continue to increase their appetite for international growth.

The impressive scale of investment these companies are making overseas is often overlooked.  How many of you are aware that over 200 Irish companies now employ over 80,000 Americans across all 50 states and contribute over $25 billion in Foreign Direct Investment to the US economy?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ireland’s economic recovery is being built on a sound commercial foundation underpinned by our young, highly educated, ambitious, workforce, our strong pro-business climate, a fair and transparent corporate tax regime and a technological infrastructure and know-how demanded by businesses, indigenous or international.

We are also lucky enough to possess another vital asset – a Diaspora who wants to contribute to Ireland’s economic recovery.

By leveraging the contacts and experience of Irish and Irish-American technology leaders, the I.T.L.G has substantially strengthened the links between Ireland and Silicon Valley.  Our support of and partnership with the I.T.L.G has been one of the most successful outcomes of our Diaspora engagement.

Indeed many, including Hilary Clinton, see the I.T.L.G. as a diaspora engagement model that they can duplicate. 

As you connect with Irish entrepreneurs during this summit and hopefully into the future, I would ask you to bear a number of factors in mind.

Ireland is renowned for its pro-business environment.  We are first in the world for investment incentives and among the top 10 easiest countries in the world to start a business.   Indeed, 93% of international companies say their Irish investment is a success.

We are ranked first in the world for the flexibility and adaptability of our people and are the second most globalised country in the world. 

We are the first in the world for availability of skilled labour, have the youngest population in Europe and are among the top 10 global innovation performers.

I would like to again thank the I.T.L.G. for organising this event, to thank Dr. Michael Murphy and UCC for hosting us this evening and to wish everyone, particularly those companies taking part in the pitch competitions, every success over the coming days.

Thank You