Delving into Dublin

Diverse, welcoming, lively, and breathtakingly beautiful, Dublin has so much more to offer than pubs, Guinness and brilliant craic. The capital city attracts millions of tourists each year, with endless experiences and hidden gems to explore. Ranked as one of the top European tech cities by the Financial Times’ FDI Intelligence Tech Cities of the Future 2020, Dublin is home to a thriving startup ecosystem and is an ideal location for budding entrepreneurs.

Dublin is home to the European headquarters of tech giants Google, Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook. It has a number of factors making it so attractive to US tech companies, these include its membership to the EU, low corporation tax rate, educated workforce, travel connections and market access. What’s more, the average return on investment for US companies that have invested in Ireland was the fifth highest in Europe, at 11.7%.

Education & talent

Ireland has an impressive 98% participation rate in education amongst 18-year-olds, and The Irish Education System is ranked the sixth best in the world. Ireland has also been ranked 11th globally for meeting the needs of a competitive economy with a strong reputation for producing high-quality graduates.

Dublin is home to prestigious universities, including Trinity College, University College Dublin, and Dublin City University, consistently supplying over 26,000 qualified graduates in specialist subjects.

The Irish government has invested over $700m in R&D driven by an exceptional level of collaboration between industry, academia, state agencies and regulatory authorities. This has contributed to it being ranked among the top 10 most innovative EU countries, and among the top 15 in the world.

Due to having the youngest population in Europe, with one-third of the population under 25, and almost half under the age of 34, Dublin is one of the best countries globally for attracting and retaining talent.

Dublin is also home to several unicorns, the most recent being fintech startup Fenergo. Potential future unicorns include WayFlyer, TechMet and Tines.

A medtech hotspot

Nine out of 10 of the world’s top medical technology companies are based in Ireland and it exports over €12bn of medical products yearly, making it a global hotspot for medtech. It is set to incubate the medtech startups of the next generation, and Dublin particularly is home to many cutting-edge companies.

Ireland’s global medtech hub has seen €316m in investments, 2,300 new jobs and €178m raised by startups. Biosimulytics, developer of an AI-driven software for pharmaceutical research to aid with predicting the behaviour of drug molecules, and Branca Bunús, a university spinout developing polymer-based gene therapy transformative medicines, are amongst the most promising according to TechIreland.

Investment & support

Investment is strong in Dublin as the Irish state proactively attracts and nurtures businesses. Therefore, startups based in the city have access to grants, tax incentives and many other motivations to help their business succeed.

Starting with Local Enterprise Offices, the LEO network is the go-to for information and support for launching a business in Dublin. LEO provides easy access to quality support, training, mentoring, and networking events. Eligible startups can apply for co-funding for feasibility research, salaries, and other costs too.

Enterprise Ireland is the largest seed capital investor in Ireland, investing in over 70 startups each year. In 2020, Enterprise Ireland invested $56.5m across 125 startups, supporting high potential startups developing innovative, export-orientated products and services. It can provide funding, training, and development support to eligible startups. Enterprise Ireland runs multiple programmes, including the High Potential Startup Fund, New Frontiers Programme, and the Competitive Start Fund. It also offers support specifically for female founders to encourage more women to get involved in Ireland’s startup ecosystem.

Dogpatch Labs boasts over 250 startups and 500 members, making it one of the largest incubator/accelerator spaces in Dublin. Other incubation spaces in the capital include NovaUCD, Tangent and The Media Cube.

Business angels are a vital source of seed capital for many startups, offering valuable expertise and guidance along with investment. Dublin BIC is the main point of contact for business angels in the city.

The Irish state offers generous tax initiatives to encourage startups to launch in Ireland. These include a low corporation tax rate, reliefs for the first three years of trading and tax deductions related to intellectual property.

These incentives play a key role in attracting many entrepreneurs to Dublin.

Events & networking

Startup events are a fantastic way to network and meet likeminded people, raise awareness, and gain other perspectives, as well as being enjoyable and enlightening.

The Digital Hub and the Dublin Chamber of Commerce organise regular networking events throughout the year.

A standout event is Dublin Tech Summit, bringing together global leaders in innovation, technology and business to shape the future of global trends.

Visiting Dublin Tech Summit as attendees in 2019 and then returning as an exhibitor and moderator in 2022, the Startups Magazine team were wowed by the content and calibre of the speakers, including NASA icons, technology leaders and inspiring CEOs. This is complimented with a range of exhibitors from the big names, all the way to the startups. There is so much to explore and learn.

Dublin is also home to several coworking spaces scattered across the city. These include Coworkinn, Helpingnetworks and Element78.

Life in Dublin

Many label Dublin as a bridge between Europe and Silicon Valley due to its convenient geographic location and time zone with regular flights to major cities, New York, and London. It is seen as a gateway to global markets.

Dublin has excellent public transport links, offering plenty of options to get from A to B. Dublin Bus connects most parts of the city through a network of over 100 routes. The DART is Dublin’s electric train system, running along the coast from Malahide and Howth in the north to Greystones in the south. It travels through the heart of Dublin on route. Dublin also has a comprehensive tram network, the Lucas, with two lines. Many outlying districts are also in walking distance.

One disadvantage to launching a startup in the city is the relatively high cost of living. Dublin is cheaper than London and Paris, but ranks more expensive than Amsterdam, Berlin and Moscow.

All in all, Dublin is a thriving city. Year after year it maintains its reputation as a city with endless opportunities for entrepreneurship, continuing to attract aspiring startups and the world’s largest investors. Will you embrace the opportunity?

This article originally appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe.