Ireland’s Growth Economy was growing strongly before the pandemic and was outperforming the equivalent sector in the UK according to a new study by leading growth capital investor, BGF.
The Growth Economy refers to companies which are established for more than two years and which report turnover of between €3 million and €120 million. Based on these criteria, the BGF report identified 3,223 growth companies in the economy in 2018 – up 51% from the 2,134 such companies in 2014.
The research also reveals that revenues generated by the Irish Growth Economy in 2018 were one sixth of the revenues of the UK’s growth economy, even though the population of Ireland is one fourteenth that of the UK.
BGF supports growing businesses in Ireland and the UK by providing equity finance in exchange for minority positions. BGF is supported in Ireland by ISIF (Ireland Strategic Investment Fund) together with AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. In the past three years, BGF has invested in seven growing businesses and has several new investments due to complete in the coming months.
The Growth Economy research in both Ireland and the UK was undertaken by PwC on BGF’s behalf. The research focused on 2018 as it is the most recent year for which comprehensive data based on published accounts is available.
Key findings of the research are:
- The Growth Economy is relatively stronger in Ireland than is the case in the UK.
- Companies in the Growth Economy sector in Ireland had a combined revenue of €71bn in 2018 and grew at an annualised rate of 16% between 2014 and 2018.
- Companies in the Growth Economy in Ireland come from all sectors of the economy.
- While companies in this sector are concentrated in Dublin, there is strong growth in other regions with counties Limerick, Meath, Kerry and Wexford featuring prominently.
Speaking today, Leo Casey, head of BGF in Ireland said: “The strength of this sector of the economy is no accident. It is a consequence of long-standing industrial policy where major multinationals were encouraged to set up operations in Ireland and their presence helped develop a dynamic ecosystem of smaller businesses supplying their needs, learning from them and venturing forth themselves.”
Casey also pointed out to the need for ongoing support for companies in this sector: “Ireland is a small open economy and that forces fast growing companies to internationalise more quickly than would be the case in other markets. Fast growing companies need access to capital and that is where equity finance from investors like BGF plays an important role.”
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) is a key supporter of BGF. Its director, Nick Ashmore, welcomed the BGF report: “This is an important and fresh perspective on the Growth Economy in Ireland. Companies in this sector need access to capital to grow and bank debt alone is not the solution. ISIF will continue to work with partners like BGF to ensure that companies can avail of varied and useful sources of finance to help them achieve their potential.”