Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Small and Medium Enterprises
The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future identifies a number of groups which will be led by Government in shaping the engagement of enterprise and SMEs in the formulation of the policy responses at the different stages of the recovery.
The groups envisaged by the Programme for Government included an SME Taskforce, to design a National SME Growth Plan that will map out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint beyond COVID-19 and Brexit. I appointed the members of this Taskforce in September, which includes over 20 entrepreneurs and business leaders, contributing expertise from a broad range of sectors.
Within the framework of the overall SME Taskforce, four constituent sub-groups were also established, with the capacity and expertise to develop specific actions in thematic areas, drawing from the recent OECD Review of SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland. These sub-groups focused on Entrepreneurship; Productivity, Digitalisation and Competitiveness; Internationalisation; and Clustering and Networks.
The proposals developed by the Taskforce include measures to help SMEs to start up, scale up and access foreign markets, as well as recommendations aimed at helping SMEs to become more productive and ready for the transition to a digital, green economy. They also focus on creating and growing local business networks and clusters, which are an important driver of regional development.
On Thursday 3 December I chaired the fourth and final Plenary meeting of the SME Taskforce, at which the final draft of the Growth Plan was adopted by the Taskforce.
The Taskforce also reflected upon the need to recognise the significance and importance of Entrepreneurship in Ireland, and in doing so, suggested the renaming of the SME Growth Plan to that of a National SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan. The recommendation to acknowledge the role of Entrepreneurship by way of its addition to the title of the SME Growth Plan is one I fully agreed with.
The work of the SME Taskforce is now complete. I am very appreciative of the time given by each of the Taskforce members to the development of this ambitious programme.
The Government noted the Growth Plan at its meeting on Tuesday 15 December and I look forward to its publication in the near future.