Ireland – Tax incentives for US tech firms, but what happens to local talent?

Ireland is well known for its technology industries, but lately there seems to be some discontent amongst entrepreneurs there that the tax-incentives created by the government to attract overseas tech businesses – particularly US firms – are not nurturing home-grown talent. Recently it emerged that the The Digital Hub, an incubation space for tech development, had 55 desk spaces reserved for US companies but home-grown Irish startups were having difficulty getting space there.

A case in point is the recent launch of Moli, a Florida-based company with $30 million in venture backing which, though it initially looked like it was employing a lot of people in Dublin, turned out to have a very small presence there. You might say Ireland is a sweet place for Moli, but not for sweet Molly Malone.

So moves are afoot, driven by Irish-born but UK-based Paul Walsh, current chair of the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA). to create an equivalent body in Ireland to represent the digital industry, reports Silicon Republic. The body has a working title of the Irish Digital Industry Association and a recent meeting included founder John Breslin and Joe Drumgoole of ‘digital lifestyle’ storage firm PutPlace.

Feedback from Irish commentators about the whole topic have been broadly positive:

Maryrose Lyons:

“Think of the association as a framework; with an online social networking space and (hopefully) a vibrant offline component where people can meet.”

Paul Campbell:

“…it’s another sad day for Irish technology startups when another US company gets huge outside investment to take advantage of Irish initiatives to grow businesses.”

and Joe Drumgoole

“The idea of an association is sound’

The idea doesn’t sound like a bad one and so long as it doesn’t turn into an expensive, empty talking shop or too draconian in its dealings with the myriad of other groups in existence, it looks like it will get a fair wind in the community there. But what’s your view?