HOME-GROWN companies backed by the state investment agency created 13,600 jobs last year - but they axed almost 10,000.
Overall, 3,800 new positions remain at the export businesses supported by Enterprise Ireland, according to its end-of-year statement.
The agency said this was the highest gain in employment for Irish firms since 2006 and was mainly down to good sales to overseas countries.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton praised both Enterprise Ireland and the companies involved for their performance during the year.
"Despite these very difficult times, to have highest net gains in employment in the companies it supports, is a commendable performance," he said.
One of the major boosts during the year was the €100m investment in the Kerry Group to create a food research and development plant in Naas, Co Kildare, with the creation of 900 jobs.
Enterprise Ireland said the food company was on target to take on 200 new employees by April this year, including 50 graduate positions.
Frank Ryan, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, said the agency was extremely proud of the companies it works with and their contribution to the state.
"They have proved to be resilient and relentless in their pursuit of new market opportunities and they are to be commended on their success," he said.
But Mr Ryan said they could never be complacent as home-grown Irish companies were competing against the biggest and best in the world and 2013 would continue to throw up challenges.
"In preparation for this, Enterprise Ireland will focus more resources on the strategies that deliver jobs through exports, competitiveness and innovation," he said.