Indigenous companies need to play a bigger role in Ireland – OECD

Indigenous companies need to play a bigger role here, according to OECD deputy secretary general Ulrik Vestergaard.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international body that works to shape policies around equality and opportunities.

It has published a draft review on the Irish small business and entrepreneurship environment, which it presented at a conference in Dublin today.

The review found an increasing gap in the productively of large companies and small companies (SMEs) operating in Ireland. 

Around 99.8pc of firms here are SMEs, which is broadly inline with other OECD countries.

“The good news is that SMEs and start-ups benefit from favourable business environment in Ireland,” Mr Vestergaard said.

“However, the productivity gains for lots of SMEs has been stagnant. Boosting productivity will be crucial,” he warned.

Currently fewer than 7pc of Irish SMEs export their products and services, a low number compared to the European average, according to Mr Vestergaard.

Much of these exports go to the UK. With Brexit looming, diversification of export markets is increasingly important, he added.

The OCED report made a number of recommendations for the Irish Government to develop its policies towards SMEs, including; the scaling up of current initiatives to support exports, the establish an interdepartmental committee on SMEs and entrepreneurships, and simplifying the process for companies applying for R&D tax credits.

The review also recommended the Government encourage a wider take-up of Skillnet Ireland programmes to develop management capabilities in SMEs, with particular focus on tech skills.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of our local communities, providing jobs and prosperity across the country.”

“Through Future Jobs, the Government wants to nurture entrepreneurship and do what we can to assist small businesses and help them adapt to the needs of the future.”

Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, welcomed the report, adding that there was coloration between the SMEs that are exporting and the small businesses where productivity levels are improving.

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