Technology businesses taking part in this week’s Web Summit in Dublin said there was more to Ireland than the low taxes which have drawn fierce criticism from other European nations.
The industry gathering brings together big players, such as Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc, but also hundreds of far smaller players looking at what the nation has to offer in the digital domain.
“There’s a pool of developers and enterprise experience in Dublin right now,” said Paulo Tubbert, co-founder of Xpresso, an Irish company that eases parcel delivery by improving communication between couriers and e-commerce customers.
“The technology ecosystem helps smaller companies,” said 24-year-old Tubbert, who recently signed up Ireland’s largest courier and is looking to expand to the UK and Poland.
Ireland’s status as the European home for Silicon Valley has come under scrutiny after the European Commission said it was investigating the nation’s tax arrangements with Apple Inc.
Qualtrics head of partnership Kylan Lundeen said his US company had looked to “maximise our interests” by setting up in Ireland, but was interested mainly in the skills on offer.
“There were other places willing to do interesting things, but there was just good things happening here in Ireland. The people, the culture, the workforce — that’s what attracted us,” he said.
The company, which specializes in online data collection surveys and is planning to hire 100 people in Dublin this year, was helped by the Irish Development Agency (IDA) state body.
The IDA has broadened its approach in recent years to appeal to smaller companies too as it fights off competition for digital start-ups from other European nations like the UK.
IDA vice president of emerging business Mary McEvoy said tax rules are less important for smaller companies.
“They might first look at Ireland because they hear it’s lower tax,” she said. “But that doesn’t tend to be the final reason, especially for early-stage tech companies or emerging companies because they may not even have revenue yet so they’re not worried about tax.”
She said that her agency first engaged with some of the household names now based in Ireland when they were small companies.
“When we look back on our own track record, when we first met Facebook they just had 50 staff in California, the same with Apple back in the 1980s,” McEvoy said.
In the past four years, the IDA has attracted more than 100 emerging companies to set up in Ireland, despite Ireland’s economic turmoil as it entered a massive EU-IMF bailout in late 2010.
“There is no more pro-enterprise country in Europe,” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said before ringing the bell to open New York’s NASDAQ stock exchange live from the Web Summit.
The conference, now in its fifth year, occurs just weeks after Dublin bowed to international pressure and closed a lucrative tax loophole favored by tech firms to minimize their tax to almost zero in some instances.
However, at the same time as it moved to close the “Double Irish” loophole, it announced it would introduce further tax breaks for intellectual property, similar to the “patent box” arrangements in Britain.
Ireland’s 12.5 percent headline corporation tax remains government policy. While it is not the lowest in Europe, the rate compares favorably with nations such as the UK or Germany.
“London is hot on our heels: it’s English-speaking, very close to the market place and is more well-known than Dublin, but Dublin is now getting that brand name,” McEvoy said.
Others are more measured about Ireland’s tech status.
“Ireland is as good a place as any to start a business,” said Mark Roden, chief executive officer of Ding, an international mobile phone top-up provider.
Since its foundation in Dublin in 2006, it has grown from two employees to almost 200 with offices across the world, from Miami to Dubai.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
INVEST IN TAIWAN: A metal components casting firm and the world’s largest maker of aluminum bicycle rims also obtained approvals to join the program Solar Applied Materials Technology Co (SOLAR, 光洋應用材料), a part of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) “green supply chain,” has pledged to invest NT$1 billion (US$34.1 million) to build a new plant at the Tainan Technology Industrial Park (台南科技工業區), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. SOLAR has been collaborating with TSMC to extract precious metals from waste and reuse them as “sputtering target” material in high-end semiconductor manufacturing, a TSMC press release issued in May said. Established in 1978, SOLAR also offers key materials and integrated services to customers in the optoelectronics, information and communications technology, petrochemicals and consumer electronics industries,
‘SWARM TECH’: Joint venture FARobot is to develop autonomous mobile robots that would first be deployed in Hon Hai’s factories to optimize production efficiency Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Adlink Technology Inc (凌華科技) have formed a robotic venture that aims to use “swarm technology” to create robots that can communicate with one another on the factory floor to optimize production efficiency. Hon Hai is Apple Inc’s leading iPhone assembler and the world’s largest contract electronics maker, while Adlink supplies industrial computers and Internet of Things solutions. Through a subsidiary, Hyield Venture Capital Co (鴻揚創投), Hon Hai holds a 51 percent stake in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) developer FARobot (法博智能移動), while Adlink owns the remaining 49 percent. Together, the two companies put up NT$200