Ireland’s Evolving Foreign Direct Investment Landscape

Ireland has and continues to be a natural choice for overseas investors, thanks to its low corporate tax regime, educated workforce, fast-growing economy and international population.

According to our recent Employment Monitor Insights Report, the year-on-year growth in the number of roles posted has risen for the first two quarters of 2019.

This shows Ireland has an active and enticing market for investors. The most significant growth has been experienced in: accountancy and finance, technology and IT and science and engineering.

While investment continues to flow in from established economies like the US, more emerging growth markets are ramping up their interests on Irish shores.

Chinese Investment in Ireland

Investment from China, in particular, has seen a significant uplift, rising 218% to €87.2 million, according to multinational law firm Baker McKenzie. Chinese investment into Europe and the US overall has dropped, but Ireland seems exempt to this.

One of the biggest investors from China is WuXi Biologics who invested €325 million in Dundalk in 2018, creating 400 jobs. This is the company’s first overseas operation, illustrative of China’s increased interest in Ireland.

Another significant influx came in 2016 from the HNA Group when they acquired Avolon, the Dublin-founded aircraft leasing company, for $2.5 billion. According to the IDA, there are now 19 Chinese companies operating in Ireland.

This June, Ireland held its first Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit, an annual gathering of business leaders from China and Europe, further indicating the development of fruitful relations between the two nations.

Centre of Excellence

China isn’t the only Asian country showing interest in Ireland. SK Biotek was the first South Korean company to invest in Ireland when it opened in Swords in 2018, bringing approximately 360 staff to the area.

Japan has also ramped up investment in Ireland with 57% growth in the last five years. Companies such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and Takeda are just some of the other Japanese groups operating here.

Takeda is Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company and across two plants in Ireland, employs over 300 people. In July, Takeda opened a state-of-the-art cancer drug plant in Dublin, delivering the first active pharmaceutical ingredient for Takeda outside of Japan.

The interest from pharmaceuticals is welcomed considering Ireland’s excellent reputation in this sector, with 10 of the top 10 pharma companies based here and €39 billion in annual exports.

An Influx of High-Growth Companies

Asian aviation finance also has a strong position in the Irish market, with eight of the top 10 Chinese banks and all Japanese Megabanks having an aviation finance operation here.

Ireland is considered a centre of excellence for Aviation Finance and Leasing, so much so that Cpl now had a dedicated team who provide talent solutions for many high-profile Aviation companies.

Cpl is also seeing an influx of high-growth companies entering Irish shores alongside the more established MNCs. The IDA defines a high-growth company as one operating less than seven years with a turnover of between $30m and $70m.

Ireland is an attractive environment for companies like this as it allows them to set up and execute their business model rapidly.

Our access to the EU is another deciding factor for companies like Qualtrics and Squarespace, offering easy entry to a market of 500 million consumers. Moreover, Ireland enables these companies to form relationships with more deep-rooted multinationals who have operated in Ireland for years.

Cpl has a significant track record in partnering with new firms like this in Dublin and around the country, assisting them in establishing their business in Ireland and sourcing top talent. This covers recruitment and RPO, managed service/outsourcing, temporary staff and consulting.

Beyond the Capital

As the source of FDI has evolved, so have the most desirable locations. While investment has and will continue to be significant in the major hubs, the IDA is developing its strategy to expand facilities in alternative locations including Waterford and Athlone.

According to the IDA, areas outside of Dublin have seen the most significant employment growth in seven years. Companies such as Rent the Runway (RTR), the online fashion disruptor, has brought its first international operation outside the US to Galway.

The new international office will enable RTR to expand its engineering, product development and data science footprint and create several jobs in the tech sector.

Sligo is another Western hub experiencing increased attention and is now home to 22 IDA-backed companies. Microsoft partner LiveTiles and leading Life Sciences companies such as Abbvie and Abbott are just some of the FDI companies helping to build Sligo’s profile.

Similarly, Life Sciences and Pharma companies have continued to grow in the Munster area, with international players like BioMarin, Janssen and Eli Lilly all setting up in the south.

Elli Lilly employs over 1,300 people at their manufacturing plant in Kinsale, while Janssen in Ringaskiddy had a €300 million addition to their existing site, creating up to 200 new jobs between 2019 and 2020.

Diversity in the Workplace

With more FDI comes an increased need for a globalised, international workforce. Ireland is home to a number of high-profile multinationals such as Amazon and Twitter, who need people with foreign language skills.

According to Cpl’s specialist languages team, the most in-demand business languages are German, French, Mandarin, Portuguese and Arabic.

Ireland is home to 535,000 non-Irish nationals, meaning we have the international population to cater to the needs of MNCs looking for multilingual talent.

Are you an overseas company looking to invest in Ireland? Cpl partners with organisations in every sector in order to design and execute the most impactful talent solutions for their business. Get in touch to see how Cpl can help your business grow.

This article was originally published in the Irish Independent ‘Business Week’ as part of Cpl’s sponsorship of the Invest in Ireland Awards 2019.