Using International Connections To Bring Investment To Ireland
By Beatrice Whelan, Social Media and Content Specialist at Sage
We spoke to Terry Clune, founder of Connectireland about their recent initiative to bring investment to Ireland.
Hi Terry, your most recent project is ConnectIreland which was launched in March 2012. What is Connect Ireland?
ConnectIreland is a crowdsourcing inspired initiative asking individuals to use their contacts, family, friends and business connections, to identify and make introductions between ConnectIreland and overseas companies who are considering international expansion. Any individual who introduces a company that subsequently invests in Ireland and creates new jobs will receive a minimum reward from the Irish Government. For each job created the introducer will receive of €1,500 per job, up to a maximum of 100 jobs.
How many people have registered on the site to date?
Almost 15,000 people worldwide have visited the website and over 5,000 people have liked our inspirational YouTube video featuring Irish-American Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley, Hollywood veteran Martin Sheen and emerging young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. We have received interest from all over the world, but in particular from North American which has traditionally been a good investor in Ireland and its people. Since our launch date on March 8th ConnectIreland has over 40 high end potential investors in its pipeline as a result of introductions made by people in Ireland and overseas. ConnectIreland is also using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to inform audiences worldwide about the initiative but also to communicate good news stories about Ireland.
This seems like a very innovative way of bringing investment to Ireland, where did the idea come from?
Ireland has one the world’s largest Diaspora communities with an estimated 70 million people claiming Irish ancestry. Harnessing this great asset in a systematic way came about as a result of the current global economic climate. Broader engagement with all of Ireland’s stakeholders is part of IDA Ireland’s, the government body responsible for foreign inward investment, Horizon 2020 strategy. Ireland is the first country in the world to offer a incentivised referral system to boost efforts to attract foreign direct investment.
Irish Business owners would seem to be great candidates to become ‘Connectors’ as they would naturally be connected (via clients, suppliers, partners and business acquaintances) to business owners and decision makers in businesses in other countries, how can business owners in Ireland help this initiative?
ConnectIreland is something everyone can get involved with, we are asking people to think about who they know, to use their contacts – family, friends, business connections – to make introductions to overseas companies considering international expansion. To date we have leads from retirees, returning emigrants and those overseas who have heard about the programme. Certainly Irish business people are perfectly placed to be ‘Connectors’ and to help spread the message about ConnectIreland and make introductions to expanding companies. Ireland’s indigenous entrepreneurs and those working in multinationals are selling Ireland everyday and ConnectIreland is a natural fit with this message.
Have any introductions with international companies being made as a result of this programme to date?
Since the launch of ConnectIreland on March 8th, over 100 introductions have made to target investor companies. ConnectIreland’s team of FDI professionals will engage with these potential investors in a process that will involve site visits to suitable locations in Ireland and in-depth information about the benefits of doing business in Ireland.
How many jobs do you hope to create as a result of the programme?
ConnectIreland has been appointed by IDA Ireland to deliver the Succeed in Ireland initiative as part of the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and aims to create a minimum of 5,000 jobs over five years.
This programme really allows one person to make a massive difference if they find the right company that subsequently sets up shop in Ireland, have any people stepped forward as champions, making multiple connections with companies abroad?
ConnectIreland has received fantastic support from all quarters including Local Authorities in Ireland, Sage Ireland, the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) and leading Irish American website IrishCentral.com which attracts over 10 million visitors per year. Anyone can be a champion or Connector for ConnectIreland and we will continue to identify strategic partnerships to drive connections and spread the message about this unique programme.
Terry Clune founded Taxback.com while studying at Trinity College in 1996, and has grown Taxback Group to provide a range of international tax, travel and payment services, employing 800 staff in 22 countries. Awards include the Irish Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 and the HSBC European Entrepreneur of the Year 2010.
Terry’s most recent project is ConnectIreland.com, which will deliver the Irish Government Succeed-in-Ireland Initiative as part of the Jobs Action Plan 2012. It’s an innovative, incentivised global referral marketing program open to anyone who can introduce ConnectIreland.com to companies that are expanding internationally.