Tánaiste launches IDA Ireland’s new four-year strategy

Regional investment continued to grow in 2020 despite the serious economic and social disruption experienced as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, IDA Ireland’s annual results, published today, show.

246 new investments were won in 2020 and 20,123 new jobs were created. 95 investments were from new investors and 151 investments from existing companies. 128 (52%) of the 246 projects won were for regional locations. Employment growth of 3.6% in IDA Ireland supported companies was achieved in 2020. Total employment in IDA Ireland client companies in Ireland now stands at 257,394, accounting directly for 12.4% of COVID-adjusted national employment, up from 10.7% in 2019 as a result of the severe impact of the pandemic on certain domestic facing sectors and the employment growth within IDA Ireland’s client base. Additionally, eight jobs are created in the wider economy for every ten created by IDA Ireland client companies, amounting to estimated total direct and indirect employment of 463,309.

Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar T.D. said: “Despite a year of unprecedented challenges to our economy, these results show that foreign direct investment has been remarkably resilient. We still saw a net increase in FDI jobs of nearly 9,000 in 2020. This is a testament to the attractiveness of Ireland as a destination for companies seeking to invest.

FDI was central to Ireland’s recovery during the last recession and it will be crucial again as we rebuild after the pandemic. As a small open economy, we need both our indigenous and FDI sectors to be strong and built on solid foundations. Around half of all investment made by FDI companies this year went to counties outside of Dublin. We will continue to seek out opportunities for all parts of the country, not just our major cities and towns.

The new IDA Strategy being published today was written in the context of continuing uncertainty with the virus and Brexit. It prioritises growing the regional enterprise base, driving productivity, building a sustainable enterprise base and increasing the spill-over effects from FDI to SMEs. We will continue to keep progress and plans under review over the months and years ahead and adapt to support Ireland’s recovery.”

Ireland’s existing base of FDI demonstrated resilience throughout 2020, IDA Ireland’s Divisional Head of Regional Development and Property, Denis Curran commented: “FDI continues to make a significant contribution to the development and growth of Ireland’s regions. Despite challenging global economic conditions, 128 investments were secured for regional locations in 2020. This is a strong outcome highlighting IDA Ireland’s priority of targeting investments for regional locations. IDA Ireland will continue to prioritise regional investments in our new strategy, Driving Recovery & Sustainable Growth 2021 – 2024 where we will aim to win 400 regional investments over the life of the strategy.

However, competition for global investment is growing and has never been as intense. To compete for and win investments, regions must have the strongest possible value proposition. This will require regional and national stakeholders working in collaboration to create the conditions that meet and exceed the needs of international investors.”

Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA Ireland said: “In the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, FDI’s performance is remarkable.  It is encouraging that Ireland has been able to secure such a significant number (246) of investments and grow employment in 2020, a year of unprecedented disruption to global business and adverse impact on global economies.

246 investments in 2020 compares to 250 investments in the same period last year – an excellent outcome, achieved through a focus on our existing client base and on stronger than anticipated new name performance. Job losses were slightly up on recent years at 4.5%.

Sectors such as Life Sciences and Technology were much less affected and, in a number of cases, increased operations in response to demand for COVID related products, mitigating job losses in other sectors. At the end of the year, 52% of employees in IDA Ireland client companies remained working from home, compared to 28% nationally.”

Commenting on the number of investments (128) won for regional locations in 2020, IDA Ireland’s Head of Regional Business Development, Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux said: “47% of IDA Ireland’s client base, 755 clients, are located in the regions, employing 144,689 people, which is 56% of overall FDI employment. Our focus on regions continues to pay off and it is most encouraging that investment continued at this level into the regions in 2020, despite the upheaval caused by the global pandemic. Our focus on regions will continue in our new strategy – our objective is to win half of the 800 target investments for regional locations.”

Regional Development remains a core pillar of IDA Ireland’s new strategy Driving Recovery & Sustainable Growth 2021 – 2024 alongside Growth, Transformation, Sustainability and Impact.

IDA Ireland plans to deliver 19 Advanced Building Solutions (ABS) to regional locations over the course of the strategy in support of further regional investment.

Denis Curran explained: “The availability of competitive property solutions is a key contributor to winning mobile FDI. The planned building solutions have a geographical spread in line with the National Planning Framework reflecting our strategic focus on regional development. We will also continue to work with regional stakeholders and the private sector to market property solutions to international investors.”

Alongside the delivery of the 19 ABS IDA Ireland will continue to maintain a focus on land banks and utility intensive strategic sites to future proof the ability of our property portfolio to support the project pipeline, most notably large-scale capital-intensive projects which can have significant regional and national economic impacts.

IDA Ireland will also invest in significant infrastructure projects across our portfolio of Business and Technology Parks to upgrade and maintain these key assets in line with the evolving requirements of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland client companies.

IDA Ireland intends reviewing the strategy at its mid-point. Martin Shanahan said: “Given the extraordinarily high uncertainty around the global economic outlook and resulting impact on FDI, we believe a mid-way review is prudent. Towards the end of 2022, we will assess progress and make any adjustments necessary to respond to changes in the global or national environment. While IDA Ireland believes the strategy is directionally correct in its current focus and form, we will be as pragmatic and flexible as required in adapting to circumstances as they unfold.”