Enterprise Ireland firms' exports hit record €15.2bn
COMPANIES backed by Enterprise Ireland racked up a record €15.2bn in exports last year, according to the agency.
Releasing its annual report yesterday, Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan said that the figure was the highest ever recorded by its current slate of 3,500 client firms and marked a 12pc increase on 2010.
He said that 2012 would be another challenging year for the businesses but added that client-firm exports in the first five months of this year have continued to increase. He said more firms are coming to the agency seeking to expand their operations.
"We're back in the expansion business and that's a very positive step," said Mr Ryan.
Exports by Enterprise Ireland-supported firms to North America jumped 16pc in 2011 to €1.68bn, and to the UK by 4pc to €5.5bn. Exports to Germany, central and eastern Europe and to Russia combined rose 28pc to €1.6bn, while to northern Europe they climbed 18pc to €2.1bn.
The construction, engineering and consumer firms in Enterprise Ireland's portfolio recorded a 19pc, or €513m rise in exports. Software and public sector services notched up the next highest rise, adding 12pc, or €102m to their exports.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the performance of the Enterprise Ireland firms. He said although just six new jobs were created last year by client companies, that was in stark contrast to the large number that had been lost in 2010 and 2009.
Mr Ryan also said that Enterprise Ireland awarded over €2m in grants to 10 foreign entrepreneurs last year to establish businesses here. He said that each of the 10 companies had received between €200,000 and €300,000 and that he hoped a further 15 firms would be funded under the special scheme this year.
Among the firms that received money under the €10m International Fund was Rockboro Analytics, which provides credit risk assessment methodologies for companies such as banks and insurance firms. Another recipient included Kjaya Medical, which has developed a system to enable clinicians to access patient medical scans over the internet.
Enterprise Ireland's accounts show that it received €304.2m in Exchequer funding last year, down from €421.8m in 2010.
It also received €19m in funding from other third parties and an additional €9.1m of its own resources added to its funding capacity. That helped raise its total income to €343.5m.
However, it spent €309m in the year and returned €34.4m to the Exchequer. That compared to €20.3m returned in 2010.
Mr Ryan said Enterprise Ireland hadn't spent all the funds available to it largely due to the effect of its Innovation Fund. He said Enterprise Ireland had gone out to attract "tier one" global venture capital firms to Ireland. He said the draw down in the innovation funds hadn't been as rapid as had initially been expected.