by Áine Ní Shionnaigh
Ireland is finally being officially recognized worldwide for what it is i.e. a great place to live and work. Recent accolades, to name a few, include: Forbes – Ireland is the best place in the world for ease of doing business, Citibank – Of the most competitive cities in the world, Dublin is the city with the best ‘human capital’, ECA International – Dublin is the second most livable location in the world for North Americans, Condé Nast – Dublin is fifth of the world’s top shopping destinations, well ahead of New York, Paris and London, Conde Nast – Dublin is one of the friendliest cities in the world, Travel Weekly - Ireland is the best travel destination in Europe, Global Traveler – Ireland is the Best Tourism Destination in the world, Lonely Planet – Ireland is listed in the Top 10 countries to visit for 2015. Dublin has also been the focus of numerous positive travel articles in The New York Times over recent weeks.
One of the most notable good news stories of late is the meteoric rise of Dublin as a global tech hub. Fairytale like, an area of wasteland at the Dublin docks has literally been transformed into the most highly regarded business and technology hub in Europe. Many high tech multinationals such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., are thriving here. Over 7000 highly educated tech professionals work and more importantly live in this small area around Grand Canal Dock. Tech start-ups from around the globe are literally queuing to set up base here. Just beyond the docks, PayPal, Amazon, Twitter, Zynga, Hub spot, Dropbox and the 2 NYC born Etsy and Gilt Goupe, to name a few have all followed Google and set up home in a city, which to put into perspective, is one fifth the size of San Francisco. This is the beauty of Dublin, it feels like the largest small town in the world.
So who was responsible for waving the magic wand that transformed drab derelict warehouses into techie filled trendy lofts? This is where the fairytale analogy ends as there is no magic, just astute Irish intellect and foresight. Successive Irish governments have developed an open economy and invested heavily to develop Ireland's infrastructure. Much credit has to be given to IDA, the Irish government agency tasked with attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into Ireland.
After the dotcom bubble burst, many of the European countries withdrew their foreign development offices from Silicon Valley. The IDA Ireland office in Palo Alto did not and continued to build relationships. One of these key relationships was with Google who began to eye Europe for a place to relocate to. Three times Google unequivocally stated their decision to move their headquarters to Neuchatel, a postcard pretty town in Switzerland instead of Ireland. This is where the determination and tenacity of the IDA shone through. IDA argued that, although Neuchatel had everything Google needed, it lacked one crucial factor, a suitable building which would cost easily in excess of $50 million.
Google wanted a property that resembled a village type, college style, campus environment. IDA had the perfect solution. They brought Google to see a rental on Barrow Street. This enlightened move by IDA was a watershed moment in the economic history of Ireland. Add to the equation: access to young talent from all over Europe, enlightened Irish public policy specifically the Tao Docklands Strategic Development zone which gives council planners the power to make decisions that cannot be appealed to An Bord Pleanala ensuring minimum delay for developers. End result: Google picked Dublin for its headquarters and that’s where the story of Dublin becoming a Global Tech Hub begins.
I took a stroll around Googles current base when I was home for Christmas, there are over 2500 staff, wonderful views of Dublin city, a stunning glass sky bridge that connects 3 of its 4 buildings, swimming pool, pool room, games room. More than 65 languages are spoken by employees from over 60 countries. Google and what followed has transformed Dublin’s city center and has done so much for Dublin city center inward investment.
What is the draw that Ireland has that makes IDA’s job easier in attracting all these multinationals and start-ups? Unequivocally the answer is talent. Ireland boasts the youngest population in all of Europe, Ireland is the only English speaking country in the Eurozone and provides an ideal hub for organizations seeking a European base. The brightest talent from across Europe is attracted to Ireland and offers a multinational and multilingual melting pot of skills. The VP of Dropbox, Sujay Vaswa confirmed this recently by stating “Our No 1 decision criteria when we were looking at where to expand Dropbox in Europe was. “Where is the talent?” The IDA have being collaborating with the Irish education system for years encouraging extra emphasis on science, math and technology. Ireland is renowned for its great academic institutions, there has always been a history of the Irish being great educators.
The magic of Dublin is that it’s not just a tech hub, it has always been a literary and creative hub, all of which are intrinsically linked. A freelance writer Ratha Tep actually moved there and is so happy to be living in Dublin city “with its ivy-swathed Georgian buildings, winding cobblestone side streets and amiable spirit”. “What I found was a newly energized city rich not only with jovial cheer, but also an abundance of artisan offerings and a creative, literary spirit”
After all, what makes Ireland special is the Irish themselves.
Teideal: Ta Baile Átha Cliath ag baint taitneamh as na h-amanna.
Faoi lathair ta mBaile Átha Cliath, Eirinn ag baint formhor na awards atá le fail: lena n-áirítear an dara chathair is fearr ab fhearr le Meiriceánaigh chun cónaí ann, ceann scríbe siopadóireachta is fearr os comhair Páras, Milano, Londain, ceann scríbe taistil is fearr, Forbes áit is fearr le gnó a dhéanamh agus fós ar an stádas cánach na hÉireann tá ceist amháin agus gan ach go bhfuil labhair riamh faoi.
Bhi tús iontach le 2014 de bhri an bhfógra i Nollaig 2013 ag na Stáit Aontaithe Bíobla, Forbes, a ainmníodh Éire an tír is fearr ar fud an domhan le haghaidh gnó, den chéad uair i sé rangú de 145 náisiúin.
Díreach thar na duganna, thainig PayPal, Amazon, Twitter, Zynga agus Dropbox, a ainm a lua go léir ina dhiaidh sin Google agus ar bun sa bhaile i gcathair, a bhfuil a chur i bpeirspictíocht, tá Eirinn nios lu na San Francisco. Is é seo an áilleacht i mBaile Átha Cliath, mothaíonn sé cosúil leis an mbaile beag is mó an domhan.
Mar sin, cé a bhí freagrach as usaid an draíochta a chlaochlú stórais tréigthe dorcha i techie líonadh nua aimsire. Tá sé seo nuair a thagann deireadh leis an analaí síscéal mar nil aon draíochta, ach intleacht agus suileacht cliste Éireannach. Rialtais i ndiaidh a Éireannacha a bheith forbartha geilleagar oscailte agus infheistíocht mhór chun bonneagar na hÉireann a fhorbairt. Tá cuid mhór creidmheas a thabhairt don IDA, an ghníomhaireacht rialtais na hÉireann de chúram hinfheistíocht dhíreach choigríche (FDI) a mhealladh go hÉirinn.