SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland

image of SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland

This publication presents the findings of an OECD review of SME and entrepreneurship policy in Ireland. It assesses the challenges for SME and entrepreneurship development and offers recommendations for future policy.

SMEs and entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the Irish economy, with SMEs accounting for more than 70% of employment. Attitudes to entrepreneurship are positive and SME innovation rates are high. However, SME productivity has not been increasing in recent years, business entry and exit rates are low and few Irish SMEs are directly engaged in exports. There is also untapped potential for entrepreneurship among women, youth and migrants, and variations across the country in SME and entrepreneurship performance.

Ireland has a strong set of policies and programmes to address these challenges. The business environment is generally favourable, there are many best practice programmes for supporting high potential SMEs and entrepreneurs, and strong co-ordination of policies across government. At the same time, policies could be strengthened in areas such as growing productivity in medium-sized businesses, increasing the start-up rate, increasing exports, fostering enterprise networks and clusters, drafting a unified SME and entrepreneurship policy strategy document and strengthening the role of Local Enterprise Offices.



SME and entrepreneurship characteristics and performance in Ireland

This chapter describes the structure and performance of SME and entrepreneurship activity in Ireland. It presents information on numbers of enterprises, employment and value added by enterprise size class. It examines key business demography indicators such as the business entry, exit and churn rate, as well as the proportions of high-growth firms in the business population. It presents evidence on the productivity of SMEs, the level of SME internationalisation and rates of R&D and innovation in SMEs in Ireland, as well as on entrepreneurial attitudes and the rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the Irish population. It also examines spatial disparities in SME and entrepreneurship rates across Ireland. It shows that SMEs make a large contribution to employment. As well as many strengths, such as strong overall SME innovation performance, the Chapter highlights some priorities for policy development related to lagging SME productivity performance, low business entry-exit dynamism, and an under-representation of Irish SMEs in international markets. Lastly, the Chapter comments, where appropriate, on current challenges related to existing data gaps and measurement issues specific to Ireland.



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