An Open Letter to the Minister

Dear Minister Mitchell O'Connor,

Congratulations on your new post as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I was excited to hear your early plans around capital gains and entrepreneurial income tax relief and look forward to meeting in person to discuss them further.

I’ve been working with Dublin’s startup community for over 18 months now and I’m deeply impressed by the quality of our startups and can-do attitude of our ecosystem. Given the relatively large number of startups we have in Ireland, I'm also struck by how few of these companies are managing to scale globally.

As an expat recently returned from years in the US, I believe that many Irish startups have yet to develop a global mindset and a deep understanding of the culture of doing business in global markets. They need to travel more, engage overseas mentors and advisers more, compete more agressively for international talent, board members and accelerators, and even speaking slots at conferences.

And yet the quality is right here, in our products, teams and companies.

One approach to filling our knowledge gap is to leverage the hundreds if not thousands of talented people at our FDI based multinationals.

These people have trained to be leaders and they’ve learned the mechanics, step by step, of building large sales and product management organizations. They know how to conduct international business development. They compete every day with the biggest and win. And they’re right here in Ireland, within arm’s reach.

Minister, I would love to see a shift in our economic strategy to focus more on supporting scale ups - a small number of best of breed companies who we can help internationalize quickly and deeply.

I strongly believe that our multinationals have one of many crucial roles to play in this plan and if presented with quality companies, they will step up and play it.

I’m looking forward to discussing these ideas further with you when we meet but I'll leave you now with one other suggestion - that the DJEI launches an Entrepreneur in Residence programme whereby a young startup team gets space in your offices in exchange for regular updates on their experience building an innovative company in Ireland - warts, wonders and all.

Yours Sincerely,

Niamh Bushnell

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