Life sciences, cleantech report growth in 2020, says Enterprise Ireland report

Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland
Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland

Net job creation figures fall into the negative as Brexit and Covid-19 bite



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11 January 2021 | 0

Despite the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid-19, job creation in Enterprise Ireland-backed companies was largely stable, according to the state body’s annual report released today.

However, with 16,496 new jobs created in 2020, job losses increased to 17,368, resulting in net job losses of 872 for the year.

There was good news for some sectors with client companies in life sciences and cleantech, reporting growth of 6.6% and 6% respectively.




A total of €124 million in Covid-19 funding under the Sustaining Enterprise Fund which was availed of by 418 companies, securing 17,710 jobs across the country.

In total, €142 million was provided to 1,919 companies under a range of Covid-19 funding initiatives, including €11.8 million under the Online Retail Scheme.

There was also €8.2 million approved under the Enterprise Centres Fund. In addition, 8,650 companies were supported through Enterprise Ireland’s Covid-19 information hub, online support and helpline.

According to Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon: “2020 was a very challenging year for Irish enterprise due to the dual threats of Covid-19 and Brexit. Our client companies, which employ over 220,000 people, showed resilience and sustained their businesses and jobs throughout the pandemic.

“Following the introduction of new liquidity measures from Government in April and in the July Jobs Stimulus, our priority was to help Irish companies to survive and sustain jobs. This was achieved through a range of initiatives, the most important of which was the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, under which we approved €124m to ensure that viable companies could access the funding they needed to reset and recover from the impact of Covid-19.”

Enterprise Ireland continued its focus on assisting Irish businesses to prepare for Brexit in 2020 and approved €7.6 million to support 1,000 customs roles to help Irish exporters to the UK to strengthen their capability to comply with new customs rules arising from Brexit.

Sinnamon said: “The trade agreement reached on Christmas Eve provides certainty for exporters. Our plan now is to help exporters to the UK in three main areas; helping businesses who haven’t yet put in place people and processes to handle new customs procedures for exporting to the UK to do so; ensuring exporters remain competitive in the UK by engaging with their supply chain and customers; and helping them identify new opportunities for growth both in the UK market, and also in Europe and beyond.”

Priorities for 2021

Enterprise Ireland also announced its new strategic priorities for 2021 which has set out ambitions to sustain and increase employment to 222,000, support a recovery in exports, with a continued focus on market diversification, in particular to the Eurozone, and to increase the level of R&D investment by Irish companies to €1.25 billion.

The plan is based on the core pillars of strengthening Irish enterprise to respond to Covid-19 and Brexit; driving transformational change through accelerating the pace of innovation, digitalisation and the transition to a low carbon economy; and scaling and growing the export and start-up base across regions, sectors and companies of all sizes.

“Last year underlined the importance of efficiency, agility and innovation in business,” said Sinnamon. “In 2021 we will support transformational change within our client base and, in particular, help more Irish SMEs to adapt their business models and invest in R&D, increase adoption of digital technologies, and respond to climate change and carbon reduction opportunities for future business growth.

“Another priority area for 2021 is to maximise the number of start-up companies, increase the number of high growth clients achieving scale and expand the number of exporting companies. Having strong, innovative, regionally based exporting companies is vital to balanced economic development and sustaining and creating high value jobs into the future. 2021 will be a critical year for Irish enterprise and we will work closely with Irish businesses to help them accelerate the recovery,” Sinnamon concluded.

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