“What kind of future do we imagine for ourselves and for the planet? How can we improve the quality of life for all humanity?” asks Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland. “These are the kinds of big, future-facing questions that challenge and drive us all to find big answers — and innovative Irish companies are providing answers right now.”
“People are increasingly searching for ways to capitalize on change while at the same time working to ensure that it’s the right kind of change – the kind that helps people and the environment, that promotes diversity or improves conditions for those in need,” says Sinnamon. “Irish businesses are at the center of technological innovation and are driven by commercial imperatives but also by a desire for a fairer, more equitable future.”
Such questions require vision from innovators who can look into the future and see the bigger picture, but also get things done in the here and now.
“This is not just an aspiration. It’s something Irish businesses are achieving right now. It’s why Ireland is the second largest medtech exporter in Europe and is a fintech leader across payments, regtech, and funds. Ireland is also a global center for agritech innovation and has a world-class track record delivering large and complex high-tech construction projects around the world,” says Sinnamon. “Whatever the sector, Irish businesses are out in the world developing solutions to meet the toughest challenges facing it, bringing what we know to be the ‘Irish Advantage’ to business partners around the world.”
Irish companies are currently achieving international sales at record levels.
“They are doing that by driving innovation,” says Carol Gibbons, Department Manager Digital Technology & Director ICT Commercialization at Enterprise Ireland. “Innovation is a game changer in relation to a company’s ability to compete and, in the 2017 European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland was ranked number one for innovative capability. That is what distinguishes us and enables us to compete in global markets.”
And it’s not just Enterprise Ireland saying this.
“We have a global presence with offices around the world. We spend a lot of time speaking with the international customers of our client companies. The feedback we consistently get is that Irish companies all go ‘the extra mile’,” says Gibbons. “We hear time and again that Irish companies work as trusted partners. They look at the demands their customers are facing, talk to them about the markets they are in and the products they need, and then innovate new products and services to suit. That is how Irish companies compete globally and why so many are leaders in their market segments, with technology playing a key role.”
Improving global quality of life
With innovators such as Aerogen, the world’s leading medical device company specializing in aerosol drug delivery systems; and Nuritas, which combines artificial intelligence and genomics to discover and unlock natural bioactive peptides, Irish companies are helping change the lives of billions of people worldwide.
Through companies such as Moocall, a specialist in sensor-based herd management software, and TerraNutriTECH, which automates animal nutrition to improve herd health, and thanks to businesses like C&F Green Energy, which is powered by a mission to make wind energy affordable, and NVP Energy, whose smart business solutions take wastewater from production lines and turn it into an energy source — Ireland is making a real, global difference.
When asked if innovators can continue to get the most from machines, without losing our essential humanness, Gibbons sited these examples:
Aylien, a developer of AI-driven content analysis solutions that make it easy to understand vast amounts of human text using deep learning and advanced natural language processing; Artomatix, creator of the world’s first 3D art engine; and Pointy, a revolutionary new system that automatically displays retailers’ products online, using algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels and helping traditional retailers compete with e-commerce ones.
Merging physical and digital worlds
With the help of innovators such as Soapbox Labs, who develops speech recognition solutions specifically for children’s voices to ensure the highest accuracy possible; RecommenderX, who uses machine learning to guide enterprise teams to better, data-driven decision making; and VR Education, whose virtual and augmented software is changing how education and training is delivered.
Gibbons explained that it’s now possible to use technology to connect people around the world so that they can transact more easily, securely – and fairly. For example, pioneers such as AID: Tech, who uses blockchain technology to revolutionize how governments, corporations, and NGOs deliver charitable aid and benefits across the world; and Sysnet Global Solutions, developer of compliance security solutions that protect us online.
“Ireland has a strong entrepreneurial agenda, is very agile in looking for international opportunities and has a highly educated, flexible workforce with a forward-looking mindset,” says Gibbons. “They are supported by initiatives such as Technology Centers, which bridge commercial knowledge with academic research, ensuring Irish companies are ready for future developments, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Its business community is supported by a world-class R&D ecosystem and operates alongside some of the world’ biggest names in technology, life sciences, and financial services, all areas for which Ireland is a global hub. The result is that Irish companies grow up meeting the standards of global leaders.
Ireland is a country where entrepreneurs are held in high esteem at home and are ambitious for success abroad. They succeed not despite coming from a small island in the Atlantic but because of it.
“We have always been outward looking, we’re a small country but we have big ideas – global ones,” says Gibbons. “We are natural networkers and we gain through our networks. It means that when we look at a new market, we can gain good entry quickly. That’s a real positive.”
Ireland makes an impact on the world stage in all walks of life, from arts and literature to humanitarianism, so it’s no surprise to that it does so in business too.
“Don’t be deceived by our size,” cautions Sinnamon. “We’re a small country that makes a big impact.”