Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (302)

Robert Troy


302. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the ranking of 22nd in the EU for Ireland for new start-ups; and her priorities to improve the ranking. [39562/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have a strong focus of developing indigenous businesses. I am consistently engaging and listening to the needs of start-ups and established small businesses.

I am keenly aware of their importance as SMEs account for 99.8% of all enterprises in the State and are predominantly indigenous. My Department through its Agencies, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), provides a range of tailored supports to small and medium enterprises. Supports include access to finance, management development, mentoring supports, business development programmes, market supports and trade promotion.

Ireland continues to be very supportive of entrepreneurial activity and once again ranks 1st in Europe in terms of our entrepreneurs being held in high esteem. The 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor annual index of early stage entrepreneurs indicates that Ireland had increased rates of entrepreneurship in 2018 and holds a position of 5th in Europe compared to 6th in 2017. Importantly, also reported is that the gap between male and female entrepreneurs has continued to narrow from a previous 2 to 1 ratio to a ratio of 1.6 to 1 in 2018.

While Ireland has a healthy and positive perception of entrepreneurship, I am cognisant of the need to create and support an environment where our budding entrepreneurs can thrive and succeed.

That is why in the 2019 Budget I allocated an additional €3m to Enterprise Ireland and €5m to the Local Enterprise Offices.  This extra funding assists our Agencies to reach more of our entrepreneurs and SMEs to help grow and scale their businesses which are at the heart of our economic growth.

Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides support and advice to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that have an innovative product, service or technology, and the potential to export.

The 31 LEOs are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other non-financial supports for anyone intending to start or grow their own business. The LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

My Department also runs the www.supportingsmes.gov.ie online portal that enables start-ups and small business to navigate the supports available from all the different government departments, agencies and initiatives. This online tool also advertises upcoming events that would be of interest to entrepreneurs and established SME’s such as financial literacy classes or business management workshops.

To further my commitment to the future growth of our indigenous small and medium enterprises, I commissioned the OECD Review of SME Policies in Ireland in March 2018.

The aim of the review is to provide tailored analysis and recommendations to my Department and the Irish government on how to improve the design and implementation of national SME and entrepreneurship policies and programmes, based on an assessment of the country’s current SME and entrepreneurship performance, framework conditions and policies based on international comparisons.

This is a collaborative body of work and involves considerable input from Government departments, agencies, representative groups and most importantly, indigenous businesses themselves. This review is currently nearing completion and will be launched with an accompanying SME Strategy Roadmap by myself and the OECD Deputy Secretary General Knudsen on the 23rd October 2019. This will assist my Department in developing a SME Strategy which will be part of the Future Jobs Framework.

I and my Department will continue to hold structured dialogue with key stakeholders and advocate across Government to ensure the needs of SMEs and entrepreneurs are considered in the execution of national policy.