The Industrial Development Authority was formed in 1949. In 1994, it became the Industrial Development Agency Ireland or IDA Ireland. The IDA has branches throughout the world.

IDA Ireland is the State body  which seeks foreign direct investment. It has been very successful over the last 40 years, in attracting significant investment to Ireland, based on the combination of taxation incentives, educated and high skilled workers, a favorable business environment, English speaking skills and free access to the European Union single market.

The IDA has been instrumental in persuading many multi-national businesses to establish a base or their principal European base, in Ireland. In the information and communication technology sector, seven of the world’s top ten companies operate within the State. Their activities include research and development, high value manufacturing, supply chain management, software development and technical support.

Ireland has developed significant life sciences sector. They include businesses which  operate in the  areas of pharmaceutical, biotechnological, medical devices and diagnostics. There is significant cluster of leading medical technology companies.  15 of the 25 top  global companies have manufacturing bases in Ireland. Many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies have a significant presence in Ireland.

More than 250 financial institutions have established operations in Ireland. Ireland is a significant location for funds and fund service providers. Many are located in the International Financial Service Centre, where they are supported by a range of legal, taxation, regulatory and telecommunications providers

The IDA has attracted a range of companies operating in the entertainment and media sector, including digital media, social networking, search engines, integrated telecommunications, electronic games, film and TV, intellectual property management and distribution.

The National Digital Research Center is located in Dublin’s digital hub. It provides access to creative technological research and education sectors in the development of digital media products.

The IDA markets Ireland for direct investment and provides a range of services and incentives. It also works with existing foreign investors to help expand and develop their business within Ireland.

The State has undertaken a program of strategic investment in infrastructure and  suitable properties throughout the country. The national spatial strategy (discontinued in 2013) proposed areas of sufficient scale and mass through a network of “gateways” and “hubs”.

The IDA provides a range of information and services to businesses  which  to become established in Ireland. It provides some targeted financial support (subject to control under EU state aid rules) and non-financial supports.  These are potentially available to new businesses and existing businesses.

The IDA, in common  with most of the other promotion agencies are under the auspices of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (formerly the Departmetn of Enterprise, Trade and employment. It is responsible for industrial policy following the absorption of Forfas in 2014.

The IDA may grant a range of supports to companies who have been approved for funding. Funding may only be given, when it is compatible with approved European Union State Aid criteria. Grants are made  in the following broad areas.

  • Research and development;
  • Employment;
  • Capital; and
  • Training;

An application form must be made giving particulars of the proposed expenditures. An independent accountant’s report is generally required. Declarations must be made by the directors. Audited accounts are required. A tax clearance certificate is usually required. Insurance confirmations may be required. Environmental clearance may be required in some cases. Full details of eligible employees must be furnished in the case of employment related grants.

Agencies assess businesses for support, take account of a range of considerations, including the need for the assistance value for money and the financial track record. The agencies  take account of the Government policy guidelines under EU State Aid Rule. Once approved,  the Agency issues a letter of offer or grant agreement, providing for the terms of the grant or other support. The beneficiary makes the claim to the agency in a prescribed format. .

The agency will consider the grant application in the light of the grant’s claimant business development plan and other relevant matters. Particular terms and conditions may be agreed in respect of particular grants. The reports from accountants are designed to give the Agency independent assurance in relation to the expenditure for which payment is claimed

A legal agreement is entered with the company or enterprise concerned. The agreement may have performance related conditions. Generally, the grant expenditure must be part of a project specifically approved by the agency. It must be incurred under the terms of the grant agreement. It must be incurred on an arms length basis and not be the subject of another grant.

IDA Ireland has established a research, development and innovation program of grant aid. This includes grants for feasibility studies and training. Irish tax legislation provides incentives to companies which produce qualifying patents. Up to €5 million income maybe exempted from Irish tax. The RD&I incentives provide a ranges of support, depending on the stage of development concerned.

The Services Innovation Program is partly grant supported under the IDA’s training grant scheme and is available to companies operating in Ireland. A maximum of €100,000 of consultancy expenditure can be grant aided per proposal, with a maximum grant of 60%.

Grant support may be available to companies in investigating potential RD&I project initiatives that maybe undertaken within Ireland. A Training Grant maybe available to upscale company staff to undertake an RD&I project pilot. A grant of up to €250,000 was available with an overall maximum of 50% of eligible cost, as of 2009.

Differing levels of grant aid are available in respect of RD&I support depending on the type of program concerned;

  • Industrial research; up to a maximum of 40%;
  • Experimental development; up to a maximum of 25%;
  • Training; up to a level of 25%

with overall caps.

The application involves the submission of information required within the original feasibility study. An assessment is undertaken by the IDA in respect of the strategic, commercial and technical aspects.

Different levels of funding required approval respectively from

  • the IDA board below €5M
  • €5M to €7.5M. IDA and Government;
  • above €7.5M, EU approval.

Employment Grants are only available in the border Midlands and Western regions and in limited cases outside of these regions. An Employment Grant maybe available where a permanent full time position is created. The amount paid depends on the location, level of investment and skill. They are potentially available to international services companies.

Capital grants are available to subsidise expenditure on land, buildings, plant and equipment. The grants are awarded on the basis of the percentage of total cost. They are effectively available only in the Border, Midlands and Western region.

IDA’s focus is on securing investment from new and existing client in the areas of high end manufacturing, global services, including financial services, research development, and innovation.  Its broad focus is on oversees manufacturing and international trading service. However, it continues to work with investors once they have become established in Ireland, in order  to encourage and assist in expanding and developing their business.

The IDA focuses on business sectors that are closely matched with the emerging needs of the Irish economy and that can operate competitively in a global market from an Irish base. It compiles statistics and facts for research and development in industry and for economic and foreign direct investment. It builds links between international business and third level academic and research centers, in order to ensure that the necessary skills and development capabilities are in place.

The IDA pursues Ireland’s policy of becoming a knowledge based economy by seeking to build world leading clusters. It seeks to address the competitive needs of the Irish economy by engaging actively in the development of infrastructure, business supports, service, telecom regulatory issues and education. It engages in regulatory issues in relation to EU policy.

The IDA  can provide information and statistics to businesses. It can assist in setting up businesses; It can introduce potential investors to local industry and Government service providers and research institutions. It can offer property solutions for international investors.


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