IN ITS end of year statement, Enter- prise Ireland reported that 2009 was a year of unprecedented challenge for Ireland’s exporters as a result of the significant drop in global de- mand and the sustained pressure of sterling/dollar exchange rates.
While Enterprise Ireland client companies achieved an estimated €500m in new export sales, total exports fell by approximately 10 per cent to €13bn.
In four of the past five months cli- ent companies recorded growth in export orders. While that growth is small, the companies have risen to LM eCoMmeLaY-0U (oJ OToXoMm-D OX MNO OU ISMED Ro) 010 MB Kio Ite couraging when compared with the situation at the start of the year.
Entrepreneurship and investment in R&D were both ahead of target in 2009 indicating improved confidence amongst client companies as they position to address opportunities in early 2010. 73 new innovative high potential start-ups were supported over the course of the year (10 per cent ahead of target) and 115 client companies were approved funding support for significant R&D.
Although 7,400 new jobs were created by Enterprise Ireland client companies over the course of the year, there was an overall net decline of 19,000 jobs.
Noting the outturn for the year, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan T.D. said that the Government made strategic interventions to protect jobs. Around 7,213 jobs were sustained in the 148 companies supported under the En- terprise Stabilisation Fund which was launched in April to support vulnerable but viable manufacturing and internationally traded services companies, with a particular focus on SMEs.
“Over 450 companies, which were approved for funding under the Government’s Employment Subsidy Scheme, committed to maintain- ing approximately 36,000 full-time jobs.”
Over the past 12 months, Enter- prise Ireland prioritised providing access to finance for client compa- nies through new and existing fund- ing vehicles and through enhanced co-operation with the main banks.
Enterprise Ireland provided fi- nancial assistance to approximately 1,600 companies over 2009. €59m was approved under the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund while a further €93.6m was paid to client compa- nies in 2009 through Enterprise Ire- land’s existing supports such as the R&D and Growth funds.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan said that during 2009, the agency pursued a sustaining en- terprise agenda that prioritised help- ing client companies through the economic crisis and companies dis- played great dedication and determ1- nation in sustaining their businesses over the past year.
“The answer to Ireland’s chal- lenge remains a return to export-led erowth. That is what drove the econ- omy in the foundation stages of the boom and in Ireland, exports equals jobs,” he said.