A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Marking the milestones of FDI

This year, 2019, is a year of significant anniversaries for US investment in Ireland

Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is celebrating 50 years in Ireland. Photograph: iStock

Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is celebrating 50 years in Ireland. Photograph: iStock


It may come as a surprise to many people, but when the IDA was established in 1949 its main mission was to support indigenous industry. The focus on inward investment really only came after the launch of the First Programme for Economic Expansion – the so-called Whitaker Report – in 1958.

In an interview for the American Chamber of Commerce Business Report earlier this year, IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said: “The announcement in 1958 heralded a new era of cohesion and forward-thinking economic strategy in which IDA Ireland flourished. During the 1960s, 450 foreign companies negotiated new projects or major expansions with IDA Ireland. By 1972, the figures spoke for themselves, with 34,000 jobs created.”

That track record of success has continued, with the organisation helping to create more than 229,000 jobs in overseas industry in Ireland over the years. Today, the IDA has a total staff of 340 based in 30 offices around the world.

Looking to the future, Shanahan said the opportunities for Ireland to capitalise on its current stock of investments are huge. “We already have some of the best companies in the world operating out of sites across the country. The challenge will be to maintain Ireland as a stable, cost-effective, progressive partner in their own journeys to become the best companies in their sector. This ambition is as relevant for the tech sector as it is for financial services and biopharmaceuticals.”

Another organisation marking a significant milestone is Intel. The company is celebrating 30 years in Ireland and since its arrival here in 1989 it has grown to become one of the country’s largest private-sector employers, with 4,500 employed in Leixlip, Shannon and Cork.

Intel has invested $13.9 billion in Ireland, creating one of the most advanced industrial campuses in Europe in the process. Intel’s operations in Ireland play a critical role in the company’s worldwide activities, from cutting-edge manufacturing to providing solutions for deep learning and neural computing. Fab24 is one of just two Intel high-volume wafer fabrication sites in the world, running the latest 14nm process technology which is enabling products to power the future of computing and communications.

To give an idea of the scale we are talking about here, a human hair is about 75,000nm in diameter.

Boston Scientific

Medical device company Boston Scientific is celebrating a quarter of a century in Ireland. The company set up its first Irish manufacturing plant in Galway in 1995 with fewer than 30 employees and has since grown to become the largest medical device employer in Ireland with a workforce of more than 5,500 people across three sites in Galway, Cork and Clonmel.

Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Massachusetts, Boston Scientific employs 32,000 people in more than 100 countries. It is a global leader in the development of less-invasive medical devices that impact the lives of 27 million patients every year.

The Galway plant is one of the largest facilities in the company’s global network, producing four million live-saving devices a year and shipping to markets around the world. Since opening, the site has expanded its capability to include new product development, regulatory affairs, supply chain, information technology, and EMEA region and corporate support. It has also played a central role in developing and manufacturing leading-edge products in the areas of interventional cardiology, structural heart treatments, peripheral interventions, and endoscopy.

Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is celebrating 50 years in Ireland. Since setting up in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, in 1969, the company has expanded to six sites across the country including Little Island, Cork, Newbridge, Co Kildare, Grange Castle, Ringsend, and Citywest. The company initially made citric acid at the Ringaskiddy plant and its Irish operations are now responsible for commercialising leading medicines in the fields of inflammation, cancer, vaccines, haemophilia, pain, stroke and rare diseases.

That first plant was officially opened by then taoiseach Jack Lynch at a time when the company had just 16 employees in Ireland. From that initial investment of €10 million, the company’s total investment in Ireland now stands at €8 billion. Today, Pfizer employs 3,700 people in its Irish facilities and contributes €2 billion annually to the economy.