Enterprise Ireland export companies increased employment by 3,804 jobs in 2012 – the highest net gain for Irish companies in six years. Total employment in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies now stands at 300,000 people – or 15pc of the total workforce in the Republic of Ireland.
Total direct employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 174,473 people, out of which 146,908 are full-time positions and 25,656 are part-time.
Enterprise Ireland client companies made new job commitments during 2012 amounting to more than 7,000 jobs – exceeding an original target of 6,250.
During 2012, a number of Irish companies were acquired by multinationals, including IBM's acquisition of Cúram, PolarLake by Bloomberg, OmniPay by First Data Corporation and Magnetic Solutions by Tokyo Electron Ltd.
Enterprise Ireland said it supported the largest ever investment in R&D during 2012 when it supported plans by The Kerry Group to establish a Global Food Innovation Centre of Excellence in Naas, Co Kildare, generating 900 jobs in the process. Two hundred of these jobs will be in place, including graduate positions, by April 2013.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Frank Ryan said the world economy is predicted to grow modestly in 2013.
He said that throughout 2012, Irish exporting companies persevered and faced severe global economic conditions with determination. “They are now, more than ever before, leaner, stronger and continue to increase their appetite for international growth,” Ryan said.
Enterprise Ireland is involved in 105 of 270 actions as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and during 2012, as well as initiatives around the diaspora, female entrepreneurship and global sourcing, embarked on a number of new value-for-money initiatives.
These include the Competitive Start Funds for specific groups of early stage entrepreneurs, investing €50,000 per start-up. Some 150 HPSUs and Competitive Start entrepreneurs were funded in 2012.
A new Potential Exporters Division has begun engaging with 520 companies looking to export for the first time.
There were 16 Ministerial Trade Missions performed during 2012, the largest of which was led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, to China in March.
Enterprise Ireland is also working with the Department of Education & Skills to attract third- and fourth-level students from overseas to attend Irish higher education institutes.
The State agency said during 2012 it also receive record numbers from female entrepreneurs for Feasibility and Start-up Funds.
Big ideas and third-level spinouts
Spin-out companies become a major focus of Enterprise Ireland’s activities during 2012 and the agency worked closely with Science Foundation Ireland to drive spinouts from third-level institutions.
It also worked with IDA Ireland on the Technology Centres programme to expand centres in the areas of cloud computing, financial services and learning technologies. So far, 30 new jobs have been created from spinout companies in the areas of manufacturing research and energy efficiency, with more projected in areas like bio-energy, nanotechnology, microelectronics and food.
Big ideas research from third level saw more than 80 technologies licensed to companies during the year and a further 13 spin-out HPSUs were approved funding.
More than 500 companies received Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 which allowed them to work with researchers in local third-level institutes and colleges.
Irish SMEs actually ranked No 1 (per capita) in the EU for Framework 7 (FP7) funding and funding from the European Space Agency.
In 2012 alone, Irish-based companies secured more than €37m from FP7 and the ESA.