22 March 2018

My Reflections on a Winning Week for Ireland

Written By Barry O'Sullivan


Last week I had the honour of representing the US-Ireland business community during a week of engagements that took the AmCham delegation to Boston, New York and Washington DC. I want to update you on some of  the key learnings and messages I took from the White House, meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, with the Departments of State and Commerce, the US Chamber of Commerce and senior MNC leaders:
The TWO-WAY nature of the US-Ireland business relationship is of critical importance at US leadership level with a very strong focus on jobs created in the US by Irish businesses.
There is across-the-board support for no border on the island of Ireland and the principles of the Good Friday agreement.
Deep concern was expressed about the EU digital taxation proposals and the potential escalation if it is implemented.
There is a strong appreciation of the increased importance of Ireland’s pro-business voice at the Brussels table.
There is a very strong impetus to ensure that steel and aluminium tariffs do not impact on EU-US relations.
Fundamentally Ireland’s importance as a strategic partner of the US – from Brexit to cyber security – is at an all-time high.
1. Ambassador Dan Mulhall and his team were masterful in how they managed the many moving parts of the week. I am particularly grateful to New York City Consul General Ciarán Madden and Acting Boston Consul General Shane Cahill for hosting the launches of our “US-Ireland Business 2018” Reports. I am grateful also to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his support. Speaking about our Chamber, the Governor said: “The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland has helped to foster the unique bond that exists between our two nations, promoting innumerable mutually beneficial business partnerships and initiatives.” 
2. We can and should be really proud of the job done by Team Ireland on behalf of the entire country –this is a job is done globally from Hong Kong to Helsinki but in the US it is demonstrated to an unbelievable level by Ireland’s access and influence.  We should better recognise on this side of the Atlantic just what a great job Team Ireland does maximising the opportunities presented internationally for our island.
3. Ireland must continue to showcase its track record of achievement in an evidence-based and unboastful manner, while still highlighting the incredible opportunities to be availed of here. Throughout the week the teams from agencies including: Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Bord Bia, Invest NI, the NI Bureau and Tourism Ireland conveyed this brilliantly.
4. US Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth is doing remarkable work deepening bonds of friendship between our countries. He joined us for our US-Ireland Business 2018 Report launch. He also attended a very dynamic Emerging FDI Roundtable organised in partnership with Enterprise Ireland kindly hosted by White and Williams in Times Square.
5. I was really impressed to hear from the innovative Irish companies that are growing great teams in America and proud that AmCham is supporting them on the road to greater success.
6. The Taoiseach was hosted at the US Chamber of Commerce by CEO Tom Donohue . The Roundtable was attended by members of the corporate leadership teams of US MNC’s with Irish operations. They were all deeply impressed with the briefing given by him on Ireland’s pro-business policies. The Taoiseach was advised that the US business community see Ireland as their key ally in the post-Brexit EU. I had the pleasure at the event to present Tom with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the US-Ireland relationship.
7. The hard work done by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week is to be greatly appreciated. From his speech at the White House to his advocacy on behalf of the new, modern Ireland, the Taoiseach seamlessly conveyed a clear message that Ireland is an innovative, inclusive and modern country and a trusted and valued partner of the US.

My overall takeaway from the week is that on display throughout was a showcase of how we do business in Ireland - which I believe is unrivalled globally.  Our collegiality is matched with a great reputation for getting the job done. Joe Schmidt described his Grand Slam winners as “ordinary men who are an extraordinary team who delivered exceptional deeds”. If I can modify this quote to “women and men” I could not better describe what was on display from Team Ireland in the US last week – GREAT JOB.

19 March 2018

"Ordinary men who are an extraordinary team who delivered exceptional deeds"

Written By Mark Redmond 


That is how Ireland's rugby coach, Joe Schmidt, described Ireland's stunning Grand Slam victory in Twickenham on Saturday. Anticipation for this match was ever-present during St Patrick's Week in the US last week. From Mike Nesbitt speaking at the Library of Congress to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement to UK Ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, at the St Patrick's Day Breakfast at the UK Embassy it was never far from people's minds.

If you broaden Joe's quote to include women and men it can equally apply to what was under a global spotlight across the US last week thanks to Ireland's most famous immigrant - St Patrick. There were many reminders of the great Irish women and men of past generations and the contribution they made to the USA - in the words of George Washington, quoted by the Taoiseach at the White House, Ireland was "...the friend of my country in my country's most friendless time".

But as impressive is how the US-Ireland relationship is constantly being renewed, reimagined and reinvented while respecting its heritage. Great credit is due to the work of IDA Ireland , Enterprise Ireland , Invest Northern Ireland , the NI Bureau , Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) , Tourism Ireland Bord Bia and Ambassador Dan Mulhall and the team at Ireland's Embassy in the US

The scale and impact of the leadership shown by the Taoiseach was probably more completely reported in the US media - with the Wall Street Journal reporting on the positive impact the Taoiseach had on the President and the receptive hearing for his advocacy for a US-EU trade deal.

Equally impressive was Prof Mark Ferguson's presentation to an international audience at Washington DC that 115 US companies are building IP on basic and applied research funded by the Irish Government. As AmCham Ireland's President Barry O'Sullivan said at the same event "Nobody can mobilise innovation partnerships like Ireland can".

The key message AmCham brought to the US last week was the two-way nature of the US-Ireland relationship. The Taoiseach advised President Trump that since his inauguration 59 Irish companies had created jobs in the US - with more to come. Tom Donohue CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Taoiseach that Ireland is a key strategic partner of US business within the EU. AmCham's "US-Ireland Business Report 2018" profiles some of the newer Irish companies creating jobs and opportunities in the US - companies like Wisetek , PM Group , LotusWorksNetwatch and Taoglas - we launched this Report last week at the Irish Consulates in Boston and New York

And we heard about some really exciting projects - including the collaboration between Cambridge Innovation Center , Trinity College Dublin and IDA Ireland - that would be a great Grand Slam!

At the White House the Taoiseach told the President that "The US has helped to build the modern Ireland - no longer an island at the edge of Europe but an island at the centre of the world"... and one where extraordinary teams of ordinary women and men deliver exceptional deeds that have a global impact.


25 February 2018

"Imagine all the People....."

Written By Mark Redmond 


Microsoft brought the formal part of the opening of #OneMicrosoftPlace in Dublin to a close this week with the #DublinGospelChoir singing John Lennon's "Imagine". It is an incredible building that does inspire all who visit it to Imagine. Last Thursday one area of the building, DreamSpace, was full of second level students - collaborating, imagining, experimenting with technology.

Over the next four years Cathriona Lisa Niamh James Theresa Joanne Rebecca Aisling and all their colleagues will welcome over 100,000 students and teachers "to use their imagination to create their own future". In her remarks at the opening Peggy Johnson extended a special invitation to girls at school to come to DreamSpace and pursue a career in tech so that "you can help change the world".

DreamSpace forms part of a workspace that is designed to evoke an island - an island of communities and neighbourhoods that makes it easy to meet, ideate, communicate and innovate - where there is no hierarchy of talent or opportunity - equality of talent is matched by equality of opportunity. There are now 2,000 people and 71 nationalities innovating on "The Island".

It was so fitting that Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar officially opened the building. He has set out his vision of "Ireland as an island at the centre of the world". And in the past week his Government has called on the people on this island to "Imagine all the people...".

They published Project Ireland 2040 which is designed to plan for population growth of 1 million over the next 20 years. This will bring the population of the Republic to almost 6 million - incredibly restoring it for the first time to the level it was at before the devastating famine of the 1840's. Ireland has an impressive track record of managing and emerging from crises. It has had less experience of managing success.

The Report does highlight some key success facts and figures - top of the list is Ireland's FDI story and its GDP per capita. The people behind this story will be profiled in the AmCham Ireland US-Ireland Business 2018 Report

The Government has said this is "A great opportunity for a new generation to imagine, and implement, a shared vision for each community on this island." Leo Varadkar said last Thursday that he was inspired by the journey that Microsoft has been on in Ireland - and there is so much to learn from how in 2.5 years they have shaped their island of communities with a shared vision.

AmCham's President Barry O'Sullivan raised some key issues about implementing the national vision on the Morning Ireland Radio Show on Friday - Barry said that we need "certainty of timeline and decision-making and knowing when you will get an answer" when planning for a house, a road or a data centre. Getting this right will mean Ireland is leading and not following.

John Lennon cautioned those that might dismiss him as a dreamer by saying that he is not the only one - I guess in a week where we got to see how a building can empower imaginations and a country is asked to imagine a shared vision a song for Dreamers is so appropriate.


15 December 2017

Ireland in 2017: An Investment and Growth Story 


This week, Pluralsight, a leading US enterprise technology learning company announced plans to open a new EMEA headquarters in Dublin in early 2018. The Dublin office will house the company’s strategic business operations for the region and will lead to the creation of 150 new jobs and bring more than €40m to Dublin’s local economy.
Recent investment by US companies such as Twilio and Mobile Technologies round off 2017 as an international growth and investment story for Ireland. We are seen as an essential location of choice to gain access and service customers in European and international markets.

Because the unique set of advantages Ireland offers includes our position as the only English speaking, euro-zone member, our reputation has been enhanced in 2017 by major announcements by Microsoft, Indeed, MSD, Pramerica and many more - and shows that for US companies, Ireland's value proposition remains very strong. 
With this in mind, it is not surprising that Ireland’s popularity among European jobs seekers has surged.  Recent research from shows Ireland has recorded a 33.6% increase in its share of searches for jobs in Europe.  The research found that Ireland recorded the second largest increase of all countries across the EU15 analysed.
As we head into 2018, this investment story shows no sign of slowing down. Ireland's role in the transatlantic relationship will be vital and our voice at the European table more critical. That means it will be more important than ever to have a Chamber that advocates for conditions that enable business leaders and decision-makers with innovative teams based throughout Ireland – from Letterkenny to Ringaskiddy  - to service EMEA and international markets. 

1 December 2017

Ireland-US Relationship: Deepening Ties


Last week the Chamber met with over 1,300 members and stakeholders at events throughout the country as part of our Thanksgiving week.  As the US travelled en masse to enjoy some family time, those working for, and with, US companies here had an opportunity to reflect and take stock on an extraordinary year.

We entered 2017 with more questions than answers. As the next phase of the Brexit negotiations get underway, some of those answers are still to be resolved.  Investment flows from the US to Ireland and vice versa shows that the business linkages are stronger than ever. However, this is not something we can take for granted.

According to the IDA, 6000 jobs and €800m investment has been announced by Foreign Direct Investment this year, with over 74% of IDA clients US Headquartered. At the launch of his presidency in January, James O’Connor, Managing Director for Microsoft International Operations, announced that in the midst of global uncertainty, Ireland must remain ‘match fit’ for the challenges ahead. Eleven months on, that message is still as important as ever. In an interview last Friday with the Irish Examiner, James noted that “It is a time for making sure that we continue to be very ambitious, and that we continue to be strategic in keeping Ireland competitive from an FDI perspective.”

And the US-Ireland Business relationship is not all about inward investment.  As US Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth noted in the Sunday Independent, “it is a two-way relationship, once a country lane, US Irish commercial activity is now a superhighway valued at over at over $590bn. Irish firms like, like CRH and Glanbia, have already invested over $85bn and employ more than 80,000 people in the US.”

On Wednesday at LinkedIn, the next generation of Irish companies ready to make an impact in the US and the US companies establishing here met to discuss their experiences so far. This was all part of the Chamber’s emerging FDI programme, aimed at supporting US high growth companies in Ireland and Irish companies expanding in the US.  The success of high growth Irish companies in the US, especially in the tech sector, underpins the depth of this business relationship.

Business, like the family and cultural ties creates a uniqueness about this two-way relationship.   As US Chargé d'Affaires Reece Smyth remarked “There is no other quite like it.”   

27 October 2017

The South-East Region- It's closer than you think 


Ambition and innovation were at the centre of the contributions at the Chamber’s Leadership Forum on Wednesday evening (25 October) to promote the South-East Region. Hosted by State Street Kilkenny and attended by senior leaders from Chamber members, County Councils, Higher Education Institutes and Chambers of Commerce, attendees were universal in their commitment to promotoing the South-East region as a perfectly positioned location for both inward investment and domestic business growth.
The discussion was informed by two very dynamic panels. The first panel, anchored by Chamber President James O’Connor with representatives from Glanbia, Kilkenny County Council and IDA Ireland spoke about the key opportunities and challenges facing the South East. Our second panel was opened by our Deputy President Barry Sullivan with contributions from the Waterford Institute of Technology and Westford County Council. The contributions from the delegates covered key stakeholders from Tipperary and Carlow.
Some key takeaways:
- The collective “one region” approach is happening and working
- Broadband access, planning for the impact of Brexit and continued capital investment is vital
- The National Planning Framework should recognise the potential of the South-East
- The existing strong collaboration between the key stakeholders – County Councils; Chambers of Commerce; Higher -  Education Institutes and business must be deepened
- The unique “selling points” of the South East – on the doorstep of our capital city – needs imaginative and continued promotion

This event formed part of the Chamber’s deep commitment to promoting all the Regions of Ireland as great places to create jobs and innovative collaborations.

29 September 2017

'Ireland's reputation earned through talent'


Last week, we welcomed Kevin Delaney, Global Vice President of Learning and Development at LinkedIn to address our members and stakeholders at our annual Education Conference.   In his inspiring speech, Kevin remarked that LinkedIn’s goal is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce and that Ireland plays a pivotal role in that ambition. He added that the leadership team at LinkedIn looks at Ireland and its team here as crucial to their overall global strategy.
Kevin’s vision aligns with what the leadership of our member companies tell us-  that Ireland plays a crucial role for US companies operating in international markets. But critically, it is talent available and developed here that attracts US Multinationals to choose Ireland as a hub to service European & global markets. It is this Talent that has led to Ireland’s reputation as the location of choice for US business investment being at an all-time high.
It is important to note, with 700 Irish companies in the US, the Ireland-US business relationship is not a one-way street - Irish companies are now creating almost as many jobs in the US as US companies create in Ireland. Therefore any potential policy changes by the US administration to reduce burdens on business will be seen as good news for these Irish companies, who operate in over 2,000 locations across all 50 States of the US. 
The US Administration’s Tax Blueprint announced this week reminds us that Ireland is competing globally, as part of the European Union, for inward investment and that tax is a really important lever. We welcome the statement by the American Chamber of Commerce EU that recent tax equalisation proposals by the European Commission and some members states would hurt the attractiveness of the EU as an inward investment location.
In the context of the discussions on both sides of the Atlantic, we also welcome this week’s re-statement by Minister Paschal Donohoe of the certainty of Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate and Ireland’s commitment to maintaining sovereignty over its corporation tax regime. While our corporate tax rate is part of the reason why our reputation with US investors is at an all-time high, it is not the number one reason. That simply comes down to talent!


18 September 2017 

Broadband access key to Ireland's competitiveness 


Just over three in 10 households in Ireland don't have a fixed broadband connection, according to the latest data from Eurostat.  However, according to the ComReg quarterly report, 68.7% of actual broadband connections in Ireland are now greater than 30Mbps (megabits per second), ahead of the accepted international definition of 25Mbps.
The Chamber’s recent pre-budget submission to Government has restated the imperative that Ireland has the broadband coverage demanded by our knowledge-intensive economy. This is important if we are to avoid digital, and thereby economic blackspots.
We welcome the Government’s ambition to ensure that the population of Ireland has access to quality fibre based broadband services across the island in its ‘National Broadband Plan’. There has been a step-up in the provision of digital infrastructure among Ireland’s competitors with basic broadband now widely available throughout the EU.
The challenge now is to improve the access to fast broadband outside the main population centres to add workplace flexibility, increase labour participation and widen the available skills and talent pool in Ireland's city-regions.

25 August 2017

Ireland's Global Footprint to Double by 2025

This week, in Canada, the Taoiseach expanded on his vision for Ireland to be “an island at the centre of the world”. Announcing Ireland’s Global Footprint 2025, he stated an ambition to double “Team Ireland” within the next eight years. While the details are to be worked out by Minister Simon Coveney it would appear that this includes not just the overseas Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFaT) team but also IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland (EI). The Taoiseach said he was “hugely proud” of the work they do.
That pride is fully justified. Our member companies constantly call out IDA as a best-in-class inward investment agency that provides invaluable partnership support when they establish and expand their mandates here. This is also true of the EI & DFaT teams who do trojan work on limited resources. Our Chamber welcome this recognition of the need to adequately resource these key State agencies if we are to maintain and enhance our position on a very competitive global business stage.
IDA do a super job winning investment - but our members know that we also need a laser like focus on the “after-care” service. To paraphrase – if we don’t continue to build, they won’t continue to come. The Chamber looks forward to similarly ambitious tax and investment plans in the forthcoming Budget designed to retain the very significant business investment we have fought hard to attract here.

23 August 2017

STEM graduates well positioned for the in-demand careers of the future

Leaving Certificate students across Ireland are calculating points this week and thinking about courses, careers and next steps.

For those considering a course at third level, science and technology disciplines (STEM) are an excellent start to unlocking opportunities in some of Ireland’s fastest growing sectors.

Research from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) found that 72 per cent of Irish people have a favourable view of STEM careers as well paid and desirable while the European Commission estimates that 90 per cent of jobs in the future will require digital technology skills. 

Graduates of STEM subjects can count themselves likely to join the #WorldofTalent in Ireland at one of the many global companies located here, with many  companies requiring STEM skill-sets. With more than 170,000 people already working in STEM sectors, a huge variety of roles from advanced manufacturing, life science and pharma research to cyber-security and data science are available.

Even for those not thinking too far ahead, the skills learned in STEM disciplines  such as project-work, collaboration and communication are invaluable in life and in the workforce. Whether it’s a career that hasn’t been invented yet or one in a leading-edge company, the opportunities starting from STEM are limitless.

8 August 2017

Five US Investment Trends for Ireland 

According to the IDA’s first half year results, Foreign Direct Investment will create around 11,000 jobs this year. With US companies accounting for 74% of all IDA clients, many of these jobs will be created by US companies. Reflecting on the strong investment activity of US companies in the first six months of the year, five key trends are emerging:

#1 Substantial Investments

Announcements such as Zendesk (300), Microsoft (600), Citrix (150) and (500) show that companies are committed to building their talent pipeline in Ireland. Perhaps more significantly, companies are expanding their current footprint. Microsoft for example, has chosen Dublin as one of only four locations worldwide for a new Global Inside Sales Centre.
#2 Multinationals are investing nationwide 

A strong trend carried over from 2016 is the regional spread of jobs announcements. The South East region saw investments by US multinationals including Red Hat, which plans to invest €12.7M, and create up to 60 jobs in Waterford. In the North East companies are expanding like Mobile Technologies which will hire 150 people in its newly established European Contact Centre HQ in Drogheda. In May, MSD announced that it will create 330 new jobs and invest €280 million over the next three years at two of its Irish manufacturing sites at Carlow and Cork. 

#3 City regions are still winning

The larger cities outside of Dublin, in particular Cork and Limerick remain prime locations for US investment. From new ventures such as AlienVault to Stryker in Cork, the South remains a popular destination for US FDI. Meanwhile in Limerick, Northern Trust announced 400 new jobs in June. What is significant about this investment is the company's rapid growth. In just ten years Northern Trust has gone from a staff of 19 to just over 1,000 in Ireland.  

#4 Companies are investing for the long term 

While Ireland’s stock continues to grow in terms of attracting new high growth companies here, other US companies are celebrating significant milestones such as BNY (15 years in Wexford), Allergan (40 years) and Waters in Wexford which celebrated its 20th year here by opening a new ‘Manufacturing Centre of Excellence’. 

#5 Silver lining from Brexit  

Companies continue to navigate the post Brexit world. Citi, JP Morgan and Bank of America’s announcements to relocate operations to Dublin in response to the UK's decision to leave the EU demonstrates that Dublin is regarded as a solution for companies wanting continued access to the Single Market.