Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Strategy, Targets, Achievements and Future Progress: IDA Ireland

Mr. Martin Shanahan:

I thank Deputy Shanahan very much for his questions. On regions and targets, first, on a headline level, the IDA is targeting half of all investments into regions with this strategy. Half of everything that will come into the country will go outside of Dublin. By any stretch that is a very significant target and objective and will be very challenging, particularly given where we have come from.

The reality is, internationally, that investments are flowing increasingly towards larger urban areas and cities rather than to regional locations. We are fighting an uphill battle. Ireland has one city of scale, which is Dublin. It is a plus for the country that we have that because by attracting investment, there is a chance to move investment outside that area and familiarise investors with it.

The Deputy mentioned a couple of locations. Employment in the south east increased by 8% last year in FDI-supported companies, in the Border region by 3%, in the mid-west by 5%, in the west by 6%, in the south west by 3%, but that includes Cork, and in the midlands by 10%. The increases have been widely distributed but we are not starting from the same base. I think that is the point the Deputy is making and I agree. That is the reality of what we have to work with and what various regions have to offer, in terms of population and population distribution. We market regions for a good reason. It is because we need bulk and size in order to compete internationally.

On the breakdown of employment by region, salary levels and sector, I think we can provide that information but I do not have it to hand. My colleagues, Mr. Curran and Ms O'Sullivan, can come back to the Deputy directly on that. I do not have that level of detail with me.

On technological universities, specifically the one for the south east, we see this as a hugely important development. The ability of IDA to engage with clients and point to the fact there is a university in a region is a significant plus. More important than pointing to the moniker it has is that the substance underneath is of a standard. The process all of these technological universities have recently been through to show they are of that standard is welcome.

As I mentioned in response to Deputy Bruton, we have established a unit in the IDA focused on talent, transformation and innovation, which is to help engage with the training, education and research systems to ensure we continue to develop an offering which is attractive to investors and, more crucially, that we have an offering where investors can invest in research and development and innovation in those companies that are already here. There is significant engagement at a local level with the third level institutions led by the regional manager and supported by Mr. Curran to understand the areas where universities can develop capability and where they have capability through IDA. The Deputy mentioned some of that capability. We will continue to engage with clients and universities to matchmake, to some extent. The Deputy can be assured that in our marketing efforts, the technological university will be key in attracting investors going forward.