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Irish Companies Secured E1.3bn in New Export Sales in 2008

15 July, 2009

Tánaiste Welcomes Results in Enterprise Ireland Annual Report 2008
Enterprise Ireland today (15th July 2009) reported that its client companies achieved new export sales of €1.3bn in 2008, bringing the total value of exports from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies to €14.3bn. This represents a net increase of 3% on 2007, which was itself a record year for export growth.

Reporting on progress against its other strategic targets, the Enterprise Ireland annual report outlined that, by the end of 2008, 49 companies were engaged in ‘significant’ R&D (spending over €2m on R&D a year) and 707 clients were engaged in ‘meaningful’ R&D (spending over €100,000 a year).

Reflecting Ireland’s continuing strong trend of entrepreneurship, the annual report also shows that Enterprise Ireland supported 71 new innovative high potential start-up companies (42 outside Dublin) across a range of knowledge-intensive sectors, including life sciences, biotechnology, medical devices and telecommunications, and a number of specific niche areas, such as compliance and risk management. These companies are expected to create close to 1,000 new jobs over the next three years.

In 2008, approvals for financial support to Enterprise Ireland client companies totalled €157.1m. This included support for R&D, start-ups, expansions, competitiveness improvement projects, and management development and training. Total financial payments to companies in 2008 amounted to €100.3m.

This included €30.7m in share capital investment, €55.1m in R&D, training and other capability building support, and €14.5m in capital and employment support for capacity expansion.

While some 10,522 new jobs were created in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in 2008, for the first time in many years, Enterprise Ireland reported a net decline in employment of 8,003. This brought total employment in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in 2008 to 145,758.

Welcoming the report, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan T.D. said:

“2008 saw the beginning of the global economic recession take hold and, while there was a net loss in employment, in all other areas – export sales, investment in R&D and new ventures, Enterprise Ireland clients performed robustly. High value sectors such as software, medical devices and internationally traded services continued to grow and further growth is expected in these sectors this year.”

Hugh Cooney, Chairman of the Board of Enterprise Ireland said:

“To grow exports at a time of global economic slowdown is an achievement. Yet that is exactly what Irish businesses did in 2008. That this was achieved in the face of contracting international markets is a credit to the tenacity and resilience of those Irish enterprises that continue to compete for and win new business overseas.

Frank Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland added:

“These companies and their success play a significant part in stimulating local economies. The flow of innovative high potential start-up enterprises into the Irish economy is equally critical for future growth and this remained strong in 2008. The 71 new high potential start-up companies that Enterprise Ireland supported in 2008 will be part of the wave of home grown companies whose success will drive the revival of the Irish economy.

“Clearly, Irish enterprises are operating in economic circumstances that most have never seen before, and are facing severe challenges in terms of securing their businesses and retaining jobs.

“The answer to our challenge is of course a return to export-led growth which drove the economy forward in the foundation stages of the boom. There remain real opportunities in that regard, and we are actively working with our clients to identify those opportunities and to ensure that the companies have the resources and support they need to exploit them.

“Innovation is, and will continue to be, a critical success factor so the continued commitment to R&D among our client companies is welcome and will help ensure that they are ready for growth when the global economy takes its upward turn. Enterprise Ireland will continue to support companies and play a key role in driving industry-led R&D.”

“Irish companies can apply the same kind of creativity and energy to prospering in this time of recession as they did during boom times. The problems are different; the solutions will almost certainly be different – but the requirements for innovation, productivity and management skills, allied to a keen understanding of customer needs, are still the same.”

“Enterprise Ireland has a key contribution to make to national recovery and building Ireland’s Smart Economy. We are determined to discharge our responsibilities for the benefit of our clients, the economy and Irish society.”

Enterprise Ireland – Current Focus

In terms of the current economic situation, Enterprise Ireland has adjusted its focus and company supports to help Irish client companies to deal with the current situation, and position themselves for future growth when market conditions begin to recover.

Enterprise Ireland’s key priorities are ensuring that companies have adequate access to finance; helping companies to win sales, building competitiveness, driving innovation and fostering entrepreneurship.

Access to Finance

Enterprise Ireland is administering the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund through which The Government approved a total of €100m to be disbursed over 2009 and 2010. €50m has been allocated in 2009. Under the scheme, Enterprise Ireland can give up to €500,000 to viable companies with robust business models that are facing difficulties as a result of the current economic environment. The fund supplies direct financial support to internationally trading enterprises that are investing in cost reduction or other measures to gain sales in overseas markets. This fund will also be a key factor in sustaining client company employment.

To date €9.598m has been approved for 26 projects; a further €28m is under active negotiation with 40 companies nationwide and over 100 further enquiries have been received.

As a condition of the Government’s recapitalisation of the main Irish banks, each bank is required to make available €15m in new seed capital. Enterprise Ireland has partnered with Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland to ensure that these funds are used to optimum effect. With a matching commitment of €16m being provided by Enterprise Ireland, a total of €46m in additional seed capital investment is now being made available to early-stage Irish companies through this initiative.

Finance continues to be allocated to client companies through Enterprise Ireland’s, existing funds (growth fund, R&D fund) and its seed and venture capital programme. To date, seven such funds have been established, raising approximately €500m between them.

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