I have fully engaged with the OECD since I launched the Review of SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland with the OECD Secretary General Gurria in March of 2018. This was pivotal research on the environment for SMEs in Ireland, the scale of which has not been delivered before. I commissioned this Review as I wanted to get an external view of how Ireland is performing. I wanted to be clear on where the strengths and weaknesses of our indigenous businesses are and where the relevant policy and programmes are working and where they need attention.
The Review has been a success in bringing together the relevant actors for a wide range of sectors, both public and private. The OECD met over 100 people individually in their two study missions in 2018.
My Department organised the SME Strategy Conference in July of this year, with the Taoiseach as the keynote speaker. We had over 200 in attendance ranging from policy makers to business representatives and from academics to many businesses themselves. We heard about international best practice, which is one of the most valuable elements of the Review. My officials have already engaged with a number of those countries identified and will engage with others on the next months.
I am working with my Department officials on how best to progress implementation of the key recommendations in the OECD report and I intend to bring forward a national strategic document for SME and entrepreneurship policy outlining planned policy interventions in the near future. This strategy will set out the policy vision, objectives, targets, lines of action and performance indicators specific to SMEs and entrepreneurship. It will cover all areas of policy intervention and all SME and entrepreneurship populations. The new SME and Entrepreneurship Strategy will be a living document which will continuously evolve in line with enterprise needs.
The implementation of the OECD recommendations will be overseen by the new SME and Entrepreneurship Consultative Group, which I established earlier this year. The inaugural meeting of the Group took place on Wednesday 27th March 2019 and is chaired by my colleague Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection. The members of the Group were very much part of the consideration of the main OECD recommendations at the SME and Entrepreneurship Conference in July this year and also attended the launch of the report in October and will provide a platform for high-level structured engagement between Government, agencies, representative bodies and small businesses over the coming months.