It doesn’t seem that long ago that Dublin was associated with Guinness, Gaelic football, and being one of Europe’s PIIGS. But, while much of the rest of the EU has been embroiled in a decade-long crisis, Ireland has been quick to shake off its economic woes. Setting its sights on becoming a major hub for tech companies, Dublin now boasts the EMEA headquarters of the likes of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Dublin’s also attracting many a bright young tech startup to its shores, including the Digitex team. There are plenty of incentives for foreign tech companies to call Dublin their home. But beyond favorable taxation rates, innovation schemes, and a supportive business ecosystem, the streets of ‘the Big Smoke’ are spilling over with a pool of world-class talent.
Recently hosting MoneyConf 2018, Dublin, it seems, is always packed with businessmen and women from around the globe. Attending conferences, making deals, looking for headquarters to set up their offices. While the rest of the world was falling asleep at the wheel, Dublin was fast becoming a major tech hub and magnet for innovation. Here are a few reasons why.
Enticing Financial Incentives
Keith Fingleton is CIO of IDA Ireland, (the government agency responsible for attracting FDI to its shores). I wanted to know why Ireland (and Dublin in particular) was causing such a stir. The financial services sector in the country has always been particularly strong, but they’ve been quick to cash in on a rising trend: fintech.
Right around the time the fintech movement began picking up full momentum, the Irish government launched a five-year initiative for the country’s International Financial Services Sector (IFS2020).
Among the incentives for attracting foreign companies is the lowest corporation tax rate in Western Europe at 12.5 percent. But there’s also a program for encouraging innovation to thrive, particularly enticing to cutting-edge tech companies. “We reward companies working on innovation,” Fingleton explains, “there’s a 25 percent tax rebate for companies that qualify.”
It’s true that Dublin’s talent roots may have begun with tax breaks and incentives, but what started as a way for companies to get a foothold in an English-speaking country within the EU has evolved into much more: gaining access to world-class talent. Now home to nine out of ten of the world’s largest tech companies; that’s a lot of accumulated expertise in software engineering, development, and programming.
Just last year, Ireland was ranked the sixth most competitive country in the world for doing business by the IMD (Institute for Management Development). One of the biggest drivers for this is the talent that the country offers. And this was a major appeal to the Digitex team. We needed the best developers able to build the DGTX robust futures exchange.
Our Dublin-born developers combine decades of experience in the telecommunications industry, famous for its need to be constantly online. Skills like these are fundamental when building a system that guarantees users 24/7 availability and 99.9 percent uptime.
Beyond home-grown talent, though, the Irish are approaching talent creation and attraction in the best possible ways, putting Dublin on the map.
The Domestic Talent Pipeline
On the one hand, Ireland is busy fostering a domestic talent pipeline. This doesn’t only mean at a university level, carrying out world-leading R&D, or compiling blockchain PhDs. Ireland is working hard to nurture talent at a grassroots level as well. The Irish government is committed to getting into schools at an early age, teaching children—and especially girls—about programming.
Since Dublin is home to so many software companies and making waves in the blockchain space, the government understands how essential this is. Through initiatives like CoderDojo, they teach kids in a fun way that programming is about much more than just sitting punching code at a keyboard. “You need to reach them early on,” Fingleton says, “we consider that vitally important.”
Allowing for Seamless Movement of Talent
Ireland also recognizes that great talent comes from without, so they have acceleration programs to allow companies to hire the talent they want. In fact, thanks to the ease of movement, Digitex was able to bring our UI expert over from Silicon Valley in as little as two months.
This openness to foreign talent is vital to counter the inevitable talent-gap companies will face as blockchain positions explode. The IDA even has a “fast track program” so that companies can work with the talent they want.
An Ecosystem Facilitating Business
Unlike the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles or the close-knit business culture of Tokyo or Beijing, Dublin is compact and open. A short stroll along any of its streets can bring you into contact with the right movers and shakers extremely quickly. In one morning, a visitor looking to do business could speak with a startup, visit a university, and even go to a meetup over a Guinness in the evening.
In fact, alongside Digitex, Ethereum giants ConsenSys recently chose Dublin as one of its new hubs in June. Why? Well, according to Managing Director for Ireland Lory Kehoe, the main reason is access to the brightest talent.
And besides the talent, it’s the ease with which one can do business in Dublin, as well as the friendly and welcoming nature of its people. “There is a blockchain ecosystem here in Ireland and ConsenSys is looking to build on that and contribute to that,” he said.
Commitment to Blockchain Technology
While the US drags its heels on the regulation of ICOs, and the UK is in a shambles over Brexit, Ireland is keeping its focus clear. The government has shown their support for blockchain technology and is even working with the ConsenSys team to design talent development programs.Kehoe said, “We think blockchain is a big deal, not just for ConsenSys but for Ireland, full stop. We need to have everybody primed.”
The Digitex team is thrilled to be a part of this exciting, forward-looking community that houses some of the biggest brains in technology and some of the brightest minds of the future. And with the positivity, enthusiasm, and dedication of its people, it’s hardly surprising that Dublin is a tech hub, and we’re proud to call it home.