This publication presents the findings of an OECD review of SME and entrepreneurship
policy in Ireland. It assesses the challenges for SME and entrepreneurship development
and offers recommendations for future policy.
SMEs and entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the Irish economy, with SMEs accounting
for more than 70% of employment. Attitudes to entrepreneurship are positive and SME
innovation rates are high. However, SME productivity has not been increasing in recent
years, business entry and exit rates are low and few Irish SMEs are directly engaged
in exports. There is also untapped potential for entrepreneurship among women, youth
and migrants, and variations across the country in SME and entrepreneurship performance.
Ireland has a strong set of policies and programmes to address these challenges. The
business environment is generally favourable, there are many best practice programmes
for supporting high potential SMEs and entrepreneurs, and strong co-ordination of
policies across government. At the same time, policies could be strengthened in areas
such as growing productivity in medium-sized businesses, increasing the start-up rate,
increasing exports, fostering enterprise networks and clusters, drafting a unified
SME and entrepreneurship policy strategy document and strengthening the role of Local