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Thursday 2 October 2014

Irish technology SMEs hiring new staff and growing exports - survey

Ailish O'Hora

Published 27/03/2014 | 07:35

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Edel Creely, ISA chairperson
Edel Creely, ISA chairperson

IRISH technology firms are upbeat about the future and three-quarters of them are planning to grow their workforce this year.

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In addition, seven out of 10 increased their turnover by an average of 30pc last year and six out of 10 are now looking outside Ireland for their main market, according to a survey by Amarach research for AIB.

The sector employs 30,000 people with a strong emerging technology start-up sector emerging throughout the country - many of these companies started during the recession.

AIB's Head of Business Banking, Ken Burke, said the findings clearly show the growth potential of the Technology sector in Ireland and the capacity of Irish companies to compete in a rapidly-changing global market.

"This report demonstrates that start-ups and SMEs in the technology sector are poised for major expansion and job creation and the banking industry must respond positively to support our indigenous companies to capitalise on the opportunities ahead."

Edel Creely, the chairperson of the Irish Software Association, and MD of Trilogy Technologies, welcomed the report but she added there are challenges. "Firstly, investment could be increased through more meaningful roll-over tax relief for entrepreneurs to encourage reinvestment into Irish start-ups and growth companies.

"Another favourable change would be extending and improving the Employment Investment and Incentive Scheme (EIIS) by introducing a risk-sharing model targeted at a wider group of new investors.

"And the current capital gains tax regime and the tax treatment of employee share options are not favourable to Irish companies, therefore more favourable risk reward models should be explored as a matter of urgency".

She added that "these tax changes, alongside the domestic banking sector making increased working capital available to gowing SMEs, should ensure the positive outlook outlined in this report is indeed realised".

There are in excess of 700 indigenous technology companies and 27 accelerator-incubators (which provide pre-seed funding, training programmes and other start-up supports) now operating in the Irish economy.

Three-quarters of the firms are privately held while just one in eight of them are funded by venture capital.

Of the 106 SMEs that were surveyed in this Outlook Report, three-quarters have employ less than 50 employees while 8pc employed in excess of 250 people.

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