Ireland’s enterprise policy – Enterprise 2025 Renewed – was refreshed in March 2018 to ensure that policy remained robust in the face of then-emerging changes in the global landscape. Subsequently, Future Jobs Ireland was published in 2019 setting out further enterprise policy ambitions to ensure resilient enterprises and jobs into the future with a focus on innovation and technological change, transition to a low carbon economy and availability of skills and talent.
The pandemic has accelerated pre-existing trends and catalysed a shift to new economic and geopolitical realities and new drivers of growth. Growing pressures and the increasingly obvious physical realities of climate change are requiring more ambitious commitments to climate action. While these trends and shifts, amongst others, present challenges and heightened risks for Ireland they are not unique to Ireland. Officials in my Department, supported by the wider diplomatic network, continuously monitor international responses to the pandemic and industrial policy developments.
The Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) published in June 2021, sets out the Government’s medium-term economic plan to rebuild Ireland’s economy. As well as committing to a package of immediate supports and investments to assist enterprise recovery, the Plan outlines a medium-term policy framework to rebuild sustainable enterprises, encourage job creation and sustainable and balanced post pandemic growth.
The Plan adopts a two-pronged recovery approach to rebuilding sustainable enterprises; supporting the domestic SME sector, which is critical to broad-based jobs-led economic growth, whilst leveraging the enormous strength of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sector.
The Government is committed to creating the right environment for a jobs-led recovery by helping business become more resilient and agile; increasing Ireland’s competitiveness; accelerating the provision of training, reskilling and upskilling opportunities; and through a focus on expanding sectors, such as green and digital, life sciences, the creative industries and audiovisual sector, and the health and care economy. Reflecting the importance of the green and digital transition, Ireland’s Economic Recovery Plan and related strategies commit to driving a step change in the adoption of digital, AI and other new technologies by Irish businesses, as a critical driver of enterprise productivity and competitive advantage and to supporting enterprise on its decarbonisation pathway.
Similarly, the ‘France 2030’ Investment Plan announced by President Macron on 12 October 2021, includes commitments to invest in greening energy and industry, transport, healthcare, cultural innovation, space and maritime exploration. It also includes a focus on securing access to strategic raw materials, electronics and robotics, and to training and higher education to support new industrial sectors.
The ERP includes a commitment to develop a National Clustering Policy and Framework to fully realise the economic potential from clustering. Clusters are a major part of the European industrial landscape and EU Industrial Policy places an emphasis on clustering to build resilience in SMEs. The Commission is also pursuing a range of identifying measures to reinforce the EU position in global value chains.
In launching the ‘France 2030’ Investment Plan, President Macron also stressed the importance of developing a French and European strategy for semi-conductors including building innovation capability. The Irish Government decided on 9th June 2021 that Ireland will actively engage with these instruments which include Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and Industrial Alliances. Ireland held calls for Expressions of Interest for involvement in Health and Microelectronics IPCEI and is currently examining proposals received.
The ERP is complemented by enterprise agency strategies. IDA Ireland published a new 4-year Strategy in early 2021. Enterprise Ireland is currently engaged in the development of its new multi-year strategy, 2022-2024.