Scale Ireland’s Startups Policy Impact - National & EU

Since Scale Ireland’s launch, we have worked tirelessly to advocate for a policy environment that enables Ireland’s innovation-driven enterprises to scale and succeed globally.

So on the days when that effort results in stronger commitments from senior officials that our work - and the needs of those we represent - will be made more visible in policy at home and abroad, we think that’s a point worth celebrating. June 15th was such a day for Scale Ireland.

National Policy: Scale Ireland’s policies get taken up in the new Programme for Government

At a national level our submissions to Government were included (ad verbatim, word for word in some cases) in the new Programme for Government. The inclusion of these new provisions builds on the back of a longer-term campaign to ensure the needs of Ireland’s innovation-driven enterprises are reflected in the new Programme for Government, and that Ireland starts to cultivate a coherent enterprise and industrial policy fit for the 21st century.

(See for example the 300+ founders and industry leaders who signed Scale Ireland’s Open Letter back in January this year).

Some particular highlights included the Government’s commitment to:

  • “Establish an SME Growth Taskforce to design a National SME Growth Plan that will map out an ambitious long term strategic blueprint beyond COVID-19. It will cover scale-up and internationalisation issues, online trading, management skills, and diversification. We will ensure that our tax system remains supportive of the SME sector.”
  • “Continue to support entrepreneurs and investors in high-risk innovative start-ups through bodies like Enterprise Ireland and the SBCI. We will review our existing supports in light of COVID-19 and the economic crisis, and set out a new programme, if required. We will set clear targets to increase the survival rate of high-growth start-ups”
  • “Review the taxation environment for SMEs and entrepreneurs, with a view to introducing improvements to different schemes, so that Ireland remains an attractive place to sustain and grow an existing business or to start and scale up a new business.”
  • “Support the role that venture capital can play in driving growth in the indigenous economy, by ensuring a stable, long-term funding landscape.”
  • “Enhance the mandate for the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), in order to get low cost finance to SMEs.”
  • “We will review Capital Gains Tax in each Budget over the next five-years, in particular with the objective of supporting innovation driven enterprises that will help us transition to a low-carbon economy.”

While Scale Ireland welcomes the inclusion of these new provisions, we also stand ready to continue our engagement with the Government to ensure that these good intentions lead to real action that can directly benefit innovative startups and scaleups.

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EU Policy: Scale Ireland’s EU policy engagement results in a major EU announcement

Meanwhile, our EU policy engagement work (in partnership with our EU partners, Allied for Startups) to resolve the major issues that state aid rules were causing in stopping vital liquidity supports getting to innovation-driven enterprises resulted in a significant announcement by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Ms. Vestager indicated that State Aid rules would be adapted to extend the “temporary framework” introduced in March to relax state aid rules for struggling companies, so that it includes innovative start-ups and other “micro and small companies”. Our CEO Liz McCarthy was quoted in the Financial Times.

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Our work must continue…

While it’s important we pause and take a moment to reflect on these small yet significant wins for our community, Scale Ireland’s work is far from done. We are encouraging Ireland’s startups and scaleups community to continue to engage with your TD (using our pre-prepared templates) to signal your approval of this raft of measures announced in the new Programme for Government.

Nationally, we’ll continue to push hard to ensure that liquidity supports are quickly simplified and enhanced for technology companies in the context of COVID-19. We’ll be using the Programme for Government as a starting point to engage with all political parties and Government to look for even firmer commitments for startups and scaleups. In tandem with this, we’ll be continuing our efforts to engage with EU policymakers, to continue the work being done to create a more favourable environment for the support of Innovation driven enterprises throughout Europe. Onwards!