Country Guide

Ireland

Ireland

Guest Editor

Jake Phillips

Head of Ecosystem Development

Jake has led and scaled ecosystem development, membership operations, and community programs at globally recognized startup hubs in both the US and Dublin since 2016. Originally from Austin, Texas he currently leads nationwide and regional ecosystem development efforts across Ireland with a focus on the design and implementation of the NDRC Masterclass Series for ecosystem builders.

Previously the Head of Community for 120+ startups at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin while also managing their First Fridays for Startups program supporting more than 600 early-stage founders in partnership with Google.

Prior to his work in ecosystem development, he was a product manager at a high growth startup acquired by GrubHub managing their B2B delivery solution. Jake is passionate about personal development as well as helping founders and their businesses become the best versions of themselves.


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Dublin, Cork, Galway

Connected Country Ecosystems

Northern Ireland & UK, United States

Differentiators

  • Only native English speaking country in the EU (post-Brexit)
  • Great ‘test bed’ for new tech rollouts/experiments due to size
  • Skilled engineering & multi-lingual sales talent
  • High concentration of multinationals

Challenges

  • High cost of living (Dublin especially)
  • Small consumer market
  • Non-favorable policies towards employee share options and CGT for founders

Editor's Guide

Introduction

The Irish startup ecosystem has been largely government led via funding and support until the last 4-5 years. Large exits and global successes have created second-wave entrepreneurs funded and supported by those early founders, resulting in a government-backed but founder-led ecosystem transition. Ireland benefits from a strong university system, one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe at 12.5% (although this will soon be phased out as a result of tax harmonization across the EU), a 25% tax credit against research and development costs, double taxation agreements with more than 60 countries, and geographic proximity to both Europe and the east coast of the US as major markets. Nine of the world’s top ten medical technology companies, such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic, have a significant presence in Ireland. Ten top digital companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Intel, and Facebook are also some of the biggest employers in Ireland, creating a deep talent pool from which startups can draw from. The Irish ecosystem, specifically in Dublin, is international, young, and very qualified for taking on other major European capital cities in terms of competitiveness.

Outlook

The Irish ecosystem is at a major inflection point for the future of its startups. A trend across the ecosystem is the tying together of regional clusters to connect the dots across the country and make Ireland one unified proposition rather than multiple small markets. The transition mentioned in the intro, from government led to privately (founder) led marks a distinct point in the ecosystem’s maturity. What Ireland needs to fix in order for the next few years to truly be transformative is the share options scheme for founding employees (recruiting talent) and tax breaks/incentives for angel investment similar to the UKs Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Manna is a drone delivery “as-a-service” company that raised a $25M Series A in 2021 and is currently running live deliveries in Oranmore, Ireland. They are the first company to apply for a “light UAS operator certificate” which would allow them to operate deliveries across the EU and will compete with global tech giants such as Google and Amazon, each of whom has its own drone delivery plays testing in US markets. Manna is an interesting startup to watch not only from the drone point of view but also because of the way they are setting up their supply chain using dark kitchens/sites to provide services faster and at lower rates. Recent partnerships with retailers such as Tesco and Just Eat further position Bobby Healy and team to take the (air) space head-on with a nationwide rollout.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

AgtechIreland has a well-established existing Agriculture industry and major players such as Kerry group and Alltech investing heavily in the country.
FintechProximity to London, most major financial institutions have boots on the ground in Ireland, still able to trade as part of the EU, and progressive stances towards regulation have allowed for a swelling fintech vertical.
HealthtechR&D facilities from many of the major global health and pharma companies dotting the west coast near Galway (parkmore as a specific example) create a strong clustering effect.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentAdvanced
  • Experienced TalentAdvanced
  • International TalentAdvanced

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

Ireland has always been a country of doers, a “get the job done” mentality, and people filled with spirit; the Irish are great craic. Despite hundreds of years under British rule and more recently the severe economic crisis following 2008-2009, Ireland found itself putting some of the best scholars out into the world…just not based in Ireland. Until about 10-15 years ago, the country was suffering from serious brain drain, with some of the best indigenous talent moving away to London, the US, etc to find high paying jobs and opportunities. While still proudly Irish, this means the economic value created by new companies/growth was often realized in those countries rather than the reinvestment of resources into local areas.

This trend has since been reversing as Dublin has become an epicenter for major global firms’ EMEA headquarters. More recent shifts to remote work has led to an increase in workers/jobs/companies based outside of the main hub cities, creating chances for talent to stay in their home county nearer to family.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

Active Investors

Atlantic Bridge (Dublin): Atlantic Bridge is a Growth Equity Firm with a Cross Border Value Add strategy investing in deep technology companies in Europe and the US.

Elkstone Partners (Dublin, Galway): Multi-family office.

Frontline (Dublin): Frontline backs B2B SaaS companies with international ambition. Whether you’re at an early stage with sights on the US, or at a later stage looking to the rich potential of Europe, we can help you get where you want to go.

Sure Valley Ventures (Dublin): An entrepreneur led Venture Capital Fund that invests in early stage software companies.

Tribal.vc (Dublin)

Startups Raising Capital
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Startups Hiring
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Non-Government Organizations

Coderdojo: Learn technology in an informal, creative and social environment.

Techfugees Ireland: Techfugees Ireland is focused on developing solutions to empower refugees with technology and promote refugee inclusion, integration and self-reliance.

TechIreland: An independent not for profit on a mission to promote Irish and Ireland based innovation to the world through data, content and community activities.

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$1.17 billion (2020)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: N/A
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 15 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 8 (2022)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
13.5% (2021)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 24 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 23
Research and development
Research and development
1.2% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 91

Sources

Startup Funding: Dealroom
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
4.9 million (2020)
Government
Government
Parliamentary Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 19 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
92.0% (2020)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
57.0% (2013)
Literacy
Literacy
N/A
Population under 15
Population under 15
20% (2021)
Median age
Median age
36.8 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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