Is Government Driving Entrepreneurship in Ireland?

Tom Finnigan /

That’s what a Drudge-linked article in today’s New York Times suggests. The article attributes a large part of Ireland’s economic success to a government agency, Enterprise Ireland (EI). The agency provides state funding to startup companies, supports research and development, and introduces entrepreneurs to foreign government officials.

However, a quick Google search shows that not all of Ireland’s business community is enamored with EI. A more balanced look at the agency reveals the dangers and inefficiencies inherent in public–private partnerships.

In September 2007, a delegation of Irish businesspeople discontinued their relationship with EI after a visit to Silicon Valley. The group said they were “let down” by the agency—and decided they could do better on their own. One participant said, “Enterprise Ireland couldn’t even get our nametags right at the one evening event they organised for us.”