Venture capital (VC) firms have added 20,000 jobs to the economy in recent years, according to new research.
The study, undertaken by Dublin City University, found that VC firms have added an annual 1,600 to the economy since 2003.
Significantly, the study showed that up to 60,000 jobs have been created indirectly from VC firms' activities.
The study was undertaken over a two-year period between 2013 and 2015, during which VC firms created 3,672 jobs here.
"The fact that this growth was achieved even during the last five years amid one of the toughest recessions in history emphasises the important role of venture capital-backed companies to the economy," said the Minister of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Mary Mitchell O'Connor.
She added: "The study confirms that Government investment through Enterprise Ireland at the early stage and later expansion funds through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has a multiplier impact."
Irish SMEs raised €1.2bn in venture funding between 2013 and 2015. The report's author, Dr Eric Clinton of DCU Business School, said: "We found that VC-backed companies grow faster, create more jobs, exports and invest more in R&D than other SMEs."
Dr Clinton added that "VC-backed firms are an important constituent in helping to build a knowledge economy. We found that high tech companies account for 98pc of funds raised which is the highest technology weighting in Europe and more equivalent to Silicon Valley".
The average yearly growth rate in revenues for the VC sector since 2012 was 29.4pc with over 80pc of this generated through exports.
In the three-year period to 2015 VC-backed companies generated exports of €1.5bn-a rate of 25pc growth annually.
The study found that employment figures were boosted by 19.7pc in 2015 and by 14.4pc per annum from 2013 to 2015.
With the overall rise in employment rate rising by 3.4pc during the same period, the survey underlines the growing importance of the VC sector.
Michael Murphy, chairman, Irish Venture Capital Association said: "The level of venture capital investment and the added value that it brings has been due to the well capitalised Irish venture capital infrastructure which has been developed over many years. This has enabled Irish VCs to nurture quality companies from startup until they can attract overseas investment."