Notes From The Commish: A New Era

Ciara O’Brien of the Irish Times tweeted me an article yesterday about Estonia’s rise as a tech hub. “More competition” she noted, and she’s right, but Ireland easily holds its own against startup hubs in Estonia, the Baltics, and across Europe for that matter.

In fact, Ireland’s startup boom is full throttle and the positive news stories just keep coming.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen significant raises by great companies like Currency Fair, Boxever and Bizimply, topped off nicely by Intercom’s new $50M funding round on Thursday.

Gil Dibner, a London-based VC and big fan of Dublin’s tech scene, ranks Ireland 5th of 25 countries in Europe for raising capital, just behind the behemoths of Germany, France, the UK and Israel.

A recent Sunday Business Post supplement profiled 100 startups to watch in Ireland. Editor Tom Lyons said they could have easily profiled a thousand, there’s that much potential bursting out of this market right now.

With all this sustained activity, it feels like the dawning of a new era in Irish tech. We’re scaling, maturing and going global as an ecosystem and that’s really exciting. This new era also obliges us to think hard about how we support scaling companies to ensure that while they’re “killing it” internationally, their connection to home remains strong. The future for our digital economy and next generation of success stories depends upon it.

To remain close to home, these companies need to be able to attract global talent to Ireland, execute strong exits and reinvest their earnings here as serial entrepreneurs and investors. In other words, they need Ireland’s tax code around share options, capital gains, and angel investment to be much more competitive than they are at present.

Government policy has played a significant role in Ireland’s tech success story to date. A more globally competitive tax environment for our scaling companies could and should be their next major win for us.

The OECD says that Estonia has the most competitive tax system in the developed world. If we can level the playing field for Ireland through policy change, we’ll continue to speed past them and others in Europe fueled by our entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and our truly global perspective.

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