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16 Feb 2017
On the far edge of a European economy that has appeared unstable and tumultuous for the best part of the last eight years, one country is laying the foundations of a global reputation: Ireland.
Since the financial crash of 2008, Ireland - and Dublin especially - has been building itself into a competitive hub for technology firms, especially start-ups within the FinTech sector.
Now considered to have the seventh best eco-system for start-ups out of all European cities, the capital’s ability to attract multi-national companies such as Google and Facebook has fused with its dynamic, supportive environment for new entrants to create all the ingredients for a thriving petri dish of innovation.
Take Silicon Docks, for instance. Coined by Financial Times journalist Jamie Smith as a flattering comparison to its Valley namesake in California, the area has lived up to this ambitious title by regenerating a previously derelict spot and turning it into a prime location for tech investment. With a mixture of real estate support, recruiting help and favourable tax conditions, it is the perfect example of how a joined-up approach by Ireland’s government and business community has paid dividends for the country’s tech prospects.
All of this is music to the ears of upcoming entrepreneurs and employees, both in the country and elsewhere on the continent. Initiatives like The Digital Hub, set up by the government in 2003, have helped hundreds of companies to progress from their humble roots, generating thousands of skilled, well-paying and - importantly, considering the competition to attract career-minded individuals - exciting jobs to the region.
The result has been a flurry of innovation, with start-ups from Wattspot to FoodCloud and Storyful encouraged to take the seeds of their ideas and turn them into useful, profitable tools. The mentality in the area is one of optimism, mixed with a desire to improve. From the bottom to the top, the Irish tech sector is looking forward to a bright future.
All of this has not just been helped, but super-charged by the specific economic conditions that have been developed over decades in both the capital and the wider country itself.
After receiving a shock to the system following the knock-on effect of the 2008 financial crisis, the country’s financial sector has recovered remarkably well, with the technology industry being helped in tandem. Pro-active government support deserves a lot of credit for this, but the nation’s wider business and cultural environment always had the potential on its own.
English, the business world’s go-to language, is a major factor. Politics, rule of law and general crime levels are relatively low by world standards, creating a stable, peaceful environment in which to make long-term plans. A large, well-educated young population is hungry for secure, career-orientated jobs, enabling firms to hire and promote locally. And with the lowest corporation tax in Western Europe, start-up relief and business tax exemptions under certain circumstances, the figures also add up.
Add in the looming prospect of Brexit happened and the Irish capital has now set its eyes on the vast and lucrative FinTech sectors in London and Edinburgh. It knows that nowhere else in Europe offers such a similar cultural environment to British tech employees, or has a better opportunity to tempt them over. Put that into context with the wider benefits of living and working in this thriving country and Ireland now has a chance to turn its European tech hub into a global one.