With nearly 800 Irish companies employing more than 100,000 people operating in the US, St Patrick’s Day presents an important opportunity to showcase Ireland’s pioneering business leaders to our transatlantic neighbours.
Our two nations share historically close ties and a warm friendship, and now business leaders in the United States are increasingly turning to indigenous Irish firms – who are playing a pivotal and transformative role in multiple sectors – for solutions.
In fact, in 2021 Ireland was the ninth largest source of foreign direct investment to the US economy valued at $240.1bn (€216bn).
The warm and strong relationship shared between Ireland and America is one that’s built on trust, agility and partnership, and is growing in importance by the day.
This relationship has resulted in the US becoming Ireland’s second largest single export market after the UK.
With the difficulty of the last two years meaning Irish Government ministers and business leaders could not travel to the United States, there was an emphasised importance on the St Patrick’s Day series of trade events in the United States this year, as we continue to work to reconnect and strengthen these collaborative relationships.
Emphasising the importance of collaboration and partnership in the global business environment, particularly in a time of turmoil, was an important element in Enterprise Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day global series of trade events this year, and over 60 events took place around the world over this period.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy attended a number of high-profile engagements in the United States, where Ireland is viewed as a global player in terms of innovation.
Our indigenous companies areas of expertise are some of the most sought after in many important sectors, including life sciences, cyber security, talent acquisition & management and industrial technologies.
There are many areas of growth for Irish companies in the US, and many of these were reflected in this year’s St Patrick’s Day events.
For instance, digitalisation is an area of growth, not borne of but certainly accelerated hugely by the pandemic.
And as a knowledge-based society, we have many companies with strong innovation in this area.
This St Patrick’s Day, Minister Michael McGrath travelled to the west coast to meet some of the Irish companies leading the way in the digital revolution in the US.
As is tradition, the Taoiseach travelled to Washington DC, where he had several meetings with Irish business leaders and innovators earlier last week, including a round table meeting with some of the largest Irish multinationals such as Kerry, ICON, Glanbia and Ornua (Kerrygold).
As part of our three-day Women in Business programme that we held in Washington DC earlier last week, the Taoiseach also met eight female CEOs from high-profile Enterprise Ireland client companies.
This is pivotal to our new strategy of diversity and inclusivity and increasing the number of women in leadership roles across our client base and across industry more broadly.
In addition, these eight companies – Sidero, Life Scientific, Capella Workplace Solutions, AQ Metrics, Water Wipes, Modular Automation Ireland Ltd, Carne Global Financial Services and Atlantia Food Clinical Trials – represent many of the sectors in which Ireland excel, including financial services, industrial technology, life sciences and software as a service.
Education is also a significant economic multiplier for us in terms of international students returning to Ireland.
To mark the important contribution that education makes to the Irish economy, Minister Foley visited Boston this year.
And, with financial services and fintech always an important sector for Irish innovation, Minister Eamon Ryan travelled to New York, one of the world’s most important financial sectors.
This St Patrick’s Day, Enterprise Ireland launched an international campaign, Ireland: Innovation at the Edge, highlighting the unique conditions that have led Irish companies to be among the most innovative in the world.
St Patrick’s Day is an opportunity for Irish businesses to highlight their unique reputation for innovation and agility in business.
In recent years, many Irish companies with a presence in the US have increased their footprint in the country, while new entrants have built up relationships with potential partners in the US through remote communication.
Now that travel restrictions have eased, these relationships can grow into solid business partnerships through in-person meetings, which are still an important criterion for closing deals in the US.
As pandemic related restrictions continue to lift, we can only see our links with the United States and the wider global economy growing, as the world moves through this uncertain period.
Now is an important time to reconnect those partnerships and foster these relationships with continued trust, respect and collaboration.
Sean Davis is Regional Director for The Americas at Enterprise Ireland