Thursday, 10 July 2014
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
Trade Missions Participation
9. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of trade missions undertaken by his Department since 1 January 2013 including those organised by the Industrial Development Agency Ireland and Enterprise Ireland where there was an involvement by companies based in west Cork; and the benefits accruing to these companies and the west Cork region as a result of those trade missions. [29849/14]
I tabled this question because of the frustration many people feel. Cork is a large county and west Cork suffers from having the city in the same administrative area. When the IDA and Enterprise Ireland present figures, they present them for the whole county in the round. Cork city attracts a lot of investment and often west Cork does not attract the same attention from Enterprise Ireland and the IDA. Given the difficulty of attracting Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to Cork, can the Minister outline how Enterprise Ireland and the IDA can bring companies from west Cork to the market?
There have been 29 ministerial-led trade and investment missions since 1 January 2013. Normally, IDA investment missions would not involve Irish companies, so half of them are not relevant. Enterprise Ireland trade missions are open to all Enterprise Ireland companies. A full listing of events is published so that companies can participate. Since 1 January, 30 Cork-based companies participated in trade missions. I will obtain the breakdown for the Deputy in respect of how many came from west Cork. Trade missions help to win orders and achieve export sales. Commercial confidentiality governs individual deals, but notable deals have been secured by Cork companies, although some of them are not from west Cork. GTSS secured a contract at the National Maritime College in Cork and Digisoft secured an IT contract in South Africa. I shall obtain information for the Deputy.
Apart from trade missions, Enterprise Ireland works with approximately 700 client companies in County Cork and almost 20,000 people in sectors such as food and drink, consumer products and internationally traded services. Ministerial-led trade missions in the past 18 months have focused particularly on emerging markets. Such markets can be more challenging for companies that need scale, market presence and resilience to succeed. Ireland needs to develop these markets, where 90% of future trade growth is likely to be. It is important to recall that Enterprise Ireland has a network of 28 overseas offices that are available on a year-round basis to companies in west Cork and elsewhere. They provide a range of services to meet client needs in internationalising, including market knowledge, incubation and hot-desk facilities.
The reply identifies the problem. Each of the companies the Minister mentioned is based in Cork city. West Cork is the size of a mid-sized county. Using Cork-based figures does not give the same appreciation of the challenge we have in attracting Enterprise Ireland industrial and commercial activity to an area the size of an ordinary county. The figures mask the reality or make interpretation difficult. In the Minister's answer, west Cork is lumped in with Cork city, and this does not provide a true picture of what is happening in west Cork or north Cork. Perhaps we need a more nuanced approach.
Enterprise Ireland works with any company, no matter where it is based, and if companies need to see products developed through research or need to implement lean techniques, we will support them. This year we are introducing a step change for manufacturing, examining companies and auditing them to try to lift their capabilities. If companies in west Cork have ambitions that are not being fulfilled, we will be happy to support them. Counties are the usual boundaries under which we publish data but I can seek a breakdown of the data.
Our agencies respond to companies and provide start-up grants for anyone who wants to start a business. These grants are available to all companies, no matter where they come from or where they choose to locate. We do not have the ability to tell someone who wants to start in Cork City to start in west Cork. We will support any companies and if the Deputy feels some companies are being overlooked, I would be happy to deal with that.