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Entrepreneurship

Central Bank research shows that startup companies in the first five years of existence account for two thirds of all new jobs created in Ireland. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of the economy, creating businesses, jobs and growth from which the rest of us benefit, and Ireland has some amazing entrepreneurs, but not nearly enough. As part of the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government committed to develop and implement a Strategy to increase the number of entrepreneurs in Ireland and thereby support thousands of extra jobs.

The Government’s National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland represents the first time a Government has published a comprehensive national Strategy for entrepreneurship. It is the Government’s plan to deliver an ambitious but realistic increase in the numbers of quality startups in Ireland over the next five years.

The plan follows on from and draws on the report of the expert Forum on Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sean O’Sullivan, and published earlier this year. The Minister and his Department also consulted with academics and entrepreneurs, other Government Departments and Agencies as well as the national business community through the Action Plan for Jobs forums in drawing together the plan.

National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement

The National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland was launched in October 2014 and is the culmination of work carried out since May 2013.

  1. Public consultation in May 2013 inviting interested parties to submit written views. 74 written submissions were received.

  2. Further face to face meetings were held by officials throughout the summer and autumn of 2013 with various entrepreneurs and stakeholders.

  3. Entrepreneurship Advisory Forum, chaired by entrepreneur and investor Sean O’Sullivan, established in May 2013 to examine the ecosystem from the perspective of entrepreneurs. The Report of the Entrepreneurship Forum contains 69 recommendations. 

This Policy statement sets out the Government’s strategic objectives as a facilitator within the Irish entrepreneurship ecosystem in key areas that impact on entrepreneurs and startups and signposts the direction which policy will take in the coming years. 

Six key elements that make up the ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Ireland

  1. Culture, human capital and education
  2. Business environment and supports
  3. Innovation
  4. Access to finance
  5. Networks and mentoring
  6. Access to markets

For the entrepreneurship environment to be truly effective, these elements must be mutually reinforcing, forming a coherent whole and supporting entrepreneurs throughout the entrepreneurship lifecycle. Looking at the broader picture, the first influence on the lifecycle of an entrepreneur is the attitude of society towards enterprise and the cultural values and emphasis on entrepreneurship in the education system.Society’s culture and attitude directly influences the individual’s capacity for creative thinking and attitude to risk.

The business environment has a similar role, affecting both the obstacles the entrepreneur may encounter and the rewards they hope to achieve. Taxation, business regulation and the difficulties encountered in starting a business and in exiting, should it fail to achieve its anticipated progression, also influence the decisions of both established and potential entrepreneurs.

The quality of supports available from public institutions is also a critical factor in whether potential entrepreneurs will proceed and is an influence on the potential outcomes if they do. Public bodies can provide financial support in the difficult startup phase and offer advice and expertise to avoid pitfalls. For many high potential entrepreneurs the accessibility of the innovation system to help drive forward fledgling ideas is crucial.

Often the need for access to finance goes well beyond the capacities of those involved in a startup. For some entrepreneurs this may be because unemployment or debt has drained their resources or negatively affected their credit ratings. For others, potential funding institutions may be risk averse. That is why the provision of a broad spectrum of finance options, matching the different stages of an enterprise’s development, is essential.

However, the role and influence of the State should not be over emphasised. The support networks formed between entrepreneurs and between entrepreneurs and investors can be equally important, arguably even more important, sources of essential support for startups. Business networks, angels, mentors, entrepreneurship hubs and hotspots all provide sources of practical experience and advice, contacts and interaction, helping entrepreneurs to avoid or overcome difficulties and to realise their potential.

Finally, young companies need access to markets, to clients and customers, to suppliers and distribution channels. Identifying potential customers in both the public and private sectors at an early stage is crucial to strengthening and building out the sales footprint. First time exporters also need support to develop the skills and resources they need to compete in global markets and to achieve ambitious revenue targets along the way.

Objectives have been developed across each of the 6 elements that make up the framework for entrepreneurs to grow and flourish. Under each objective we shall identify key benchmarks and develop actions with public agencies and private actors in the field to deliver continuous improvement. 

The overarching objectives are to:

  1. Increase the number of startups by 25% (3,000 more startups per annum)
  2. Increase the survival rate in the first five years by 25% (1,800 more survivors per annum)
  3. Improve the capacity of startups to grow to scale by 25%.

Implementation

The various actions will be delivered and overseen through the Action Plan for Jobs process and the DJEI will monitor progress against key performance indicators and work with partners in enterprise to achieve the ambition. To drive the strategy an Implementation Group will be established, chaired by DJEI, with membership drawn from the enterprise agencies and the key collaborative departments (Dept. of Education & Skills, Dept. of Finance etc.). This Group will have formal, structured engagement with industry partners and the National Competitiveness Council. It will meet quarterly, with sub-groups exploring certain issues or delivery as required. The Group will report annually to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Jobs. 

Related: Entrepreneurship Forum established May 2013

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