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Ireland ‘a very special place to be’ when it comes to emerging tech

Irish businesses are already utilising emerging technologies and Industry 5.0 as Ireland continues to be an attractive location for investment in this area


Emerging technologies and Industry 5.0 — artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics and cobotics will be the front runners in the next wave of inward investment. In order to ensure Ireland remains a competitive location of choice for business and secures these investments, we must ensure we are investing in research and innovation.

Emerging tech is being driven by big data and data analytics and Ireland is recognised as a global leader in this area. In research of more than 300 C-suite executives from leading companies around the world, Barry Scannell, consultant in technology for William Fry, points to the impressive results.

“Our most recent William Fry Global Trends in Technology & Data report found that 97 per cent of respondents view Ireland as a favourable location for data-related investment and that 92 per cent rate Ireland’s data-related regulatory climate as ‘good to excellent’. In fact, we found that data-related regulatory issues are now the primary consideration when choosing an international location.”


Scannell continued: “Ireland is the only English-speaking common law jurisdiction in the EU, with hundreds of thousands of people employed in the tech sector by major multinationals, a tax regime geared towards investment and innovation, a highly educated and energetic and hard-working employee base, and one of the most favourable countries in the world for data-related investment given our tax and regulatory regimes.

“All of these together make Ireland a very special place to be when it comes to emerging tech.”

Mark Yeeles, vice-president of industrial automation at Schneider Electric UK & Ireland, sees the main drivers of inward investment in emerging tech to be found in the shift from the financial bottom line to the new term — the “triple bottom line” or TBL.

Yeeles says that TBL has become part of everyday business language, adding social and environmental to the traditional financial. This is often referred to as the 3Ps ― people, planet and profit.

“Today’s investors, customers and employees demand social and environmental responsibility before they invest in, or work for, a company. Employees and capital are the lifeblood of any business, so meeting TBL targets are essential for long-term survival.

“So technology makes it possible to achieve success measured against all three dimensions of the TBL. In addition, today’s uncertain environment of supply chain issues, global disruption and ever-changing customer and market demands means only the most agile companies will be the ones who survive,” he says.

Kieran Towey, applied intelligence lead with KPMG, sees the attraction of emerging tech, especially elements such as AI, having the biggest impact on data, using cognitive automation to remove manual labour.

“In sectors such as manufacturing, the impact of emerging tech is very powerful when replacing the human senses with computer senses — monitoring the environment and possible changes well before humans might become aware.”

Towey feels the Irish Government has done a lot to really encourage a strong workforce which feeds local and FDI companies.

“From Enterprise Ireland, the Science Foundation of Ireland, Ireland’s Machine Learning Labs and Ireland’s Insight Centre [Europe’s largest data analytics research organisation] we are producing highly educated, highly specialised individuals to complete the work needed in emerging tech,” he says.

Elizabeth Carvill, senior executive, strategy and impact at Knowledge Transfer Ireland, also feels leveraging Irish R&D is key for companies looking to innovate their business practices and move towards achieving the goals of industry 5.0.

“At Knowledge Transfer Ireland [KTI], we signpost businesses to assist with finding partner institutions, research centres or technology gateways with whom they can collaborate. KTI provides various tools and resources to help guide industry through the process of engaging in collaborative research with third level and helps industry find out more about the kinds of State financial supports available to support research and development,” she says.

Ryan Margolin, chief executive of Professional Hair Labs, views Industry 5.0 as providing direct and positive benefits to his own sector. As a business owner, he takes notice and invests in emerging technologies to help maintain trust with stakeholders and customers as well as to keep the remote workforce connected and ensure the company is prepared for any type of disruption.

“Currently, our own company Professional Hair Labs relies on tech in our own business to protect our brand. One of these goals was met by developing a software called Clarity Codes. This is a software used to protect cosmetic products and brands against counterfeits by integrating non-replicable QR codes into packaging, which gives full traceability to their production journey into the consumer’s hands.

“The technology behind this software ensures that we have real-time data on hot spots where counterfeits are being reported, but also hot spots where our company could be focusing on further developing supply chains globally. This software is working alongside our IP team and also the business development team to reach new countries with existing data that can be shared with new distributors.”

Finally, with regard to the R&D tax credit, Ken Hardy, R&D incentives practice leader at KPMG, feels we can’t be complacent as increased competition for FDI and the impact of global tax reform would argue for an increase from 25 per cent to 35 per cent.

“Recent KPMG research asked what portion of R&D activity would happen here without the tax credit and 50 per cent of multinationals said that two-thirds of their current Irish R&D activity would likely happen elsewhere. Eighty-three per cent said they’d carry out more R & here with a higher credit rate of 35 per cent and 92 per cent said that an enhanced R&D tax credit rate of 50 per cent would incentivise R&D of green technologies ― for example solar, wind, hydro or biomass energy,” he says.

“Overall claimant companies actually spend a lot more than €2.6 billion, so the multiplier effect benefit of the R&D tax credit to the economy is substantial and needs to be recognised when assessing its cost.”

Jillian Godsil

Jillian Godsil is a contributor to The Irish Times