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Enterprising Irish try different business models for size

November 19, 2007 //

Ireland’s first incarnation as a Celtic Tiger successfully attracted Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), amongst others, to set up manufacturing in Ireland. The second version of the green, white and orange striped tiger – instead of importing jobs – is looking to create them by encouraging entrepreneurs within a developing venture capital infrastructure - and to export the resulting products and services.


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DUBLIN, Ireland Ireland's first incarnation as a Celtic Tiger successfully attracted Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), amongst others, to set up manufacturing in Ireland. The second version of the green, white and orange striped tiger * instead of importing jobs * is looking to create them by encouraging entrepreneurs within a developing venture capital infrastructure - and to export the resulting products and services.

The country, comparatively small with a population of just 4.2 million people in April 2006, is growing fast and undergoing a transformation that is allowing it to punch well above its weight.

However, it was the move in the 1990s to set corporation tax at 10 or 12.5 percent, just about the lowest in Europe, that has driven the Irish boom.

In contrast Germany's effective corporate tax rate is 39 percent going down to 30 percent in 2008 and France's corporate tax rate is 33 percent with discussion of a move to 20 percent. The traditionally more entrepreneurial United Kingdom is beginning to look like a laggard with the announcement of a drop from 30 to 28 percent due to come in April 2008.

Although the Irish economy has been motoring since the early 1990s, 2001 marked a global recession which gave companies and countries a chance to review their positions. It was clear that Irish wages were catching up with elsewhere in the west and that Asia was positioning itself to grab an increasing share of the manufacturing investment pie.

The Industrial Development Agency (IDA Ireland), which sought to attract inwards investors with subsidies and tax breaks, had been a key government agency in the 1980s and 1990s. But the changing emphasis coincided with the creation of the Enterprise Ireland government agency, which provides multifaceted networking and training support as well as venture capital and R&D grants to entrepreneurs.

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