When it comes to startups in Europe, London is widely recognized as the hotspot for that. Other cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Stockholm come in next to it. Dublin on the other hand, may not have been a strong contender, but it is showing a lot of promise.
The startup industry in Dublin may not be Europe’s biggest and most busiest, but it shows a lot of potential – and the city is definitely not short in good industries, investors and innovators either. In a 2016 study by the European Digital City Index, Dublin comes in 8th of the top 10 European cities which are great for digital startups. That’s not too bad, considering that Paris is just 3 spots away (the City of Love came at 5th) while Vienna finished at the 10th spot.
There are reasons why the Irish capital earned this good spot in the rankings. These reasons also prove why Dublin is a good ground for techpreneurs and digital startups.
Good Policies and Strong Government Support
The Irish government has several programs that are created to support startups and help them grow. The National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) is a government-funded incubator which helps startups accelerate their business. NDRC’s LaunchPad grants micro seed investment of up to €30,000 and they also have a community and accelerator programs specifically created for female founders (NDRC Female Founders).
Aside from that, Dublin benefits from Ireland’s good tax policies. Standard Value Added Tax (VAT) is at 23%, but the government can also grant lower rates at 13% and 9% depending on your startup’s circumstances. Corporation tax is also at 12.5%, but several grants can help offset this cost.
Aside from that, many experts now see Dublin as the best alternative after UK’s Brexit. This actually gives Dublin a more competitive edge against London because Ireland, being an EU-member, has the benefits of tax and trade treaties from its EU membership.
Supportive Startup Community
Aside from the government itself, the startup community in Dublin is very vibrant and supportive. Several prestigious universities also lend programs and grants to startup entrepreneurs in the city. This includes The Innovation Academy, a program targeted for executives and researchers which is provided by the University College Dublin (UCD). Organizations such as Wayra Ireland, LaunchBox (for students from The Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus) provide mentoring and business lessons for startups and would-be entrepreneurs.
You can also find a lot of organizations that are willing to provide startups with the capital investment they need. Enterprise Ireland offers various types of funding and grants to competitive startups and new graduates which could be as high as €50,000. The Dublin Startup Commissioner also provides a modest grant via their Dublin Startup Community Fund to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Most of all, Dublin hosts several events to foster a stronger startup community and help founders forge partnerships and network with other founders or potential talents. These events include UPRISE Festival which is technically a tech event that gathers resource speakers from The Economist and UNILAD. Another event is the StartupGrind Meetup which happens every month to educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs across Dublin.
Several serviced offices and coworking spaces are also available in Dublin such as Dogpatch Labs, CoCreate and The Hive. These can help startups establish an office with minimal costs compared to leasing a whole office space.
Small Population but Rich in Talent
Dublin’s population might pale in comparison to London, but it boasts of having the youngest population in Europe – with over 40% in the 29 years and younger bracket. The best part is, the city is full with foreign and local talent and many of the younger ones are open to work in startups and medium-sized enterprises.
The physical location of Dublin actually makes it a good gateway to other parts of Europe and even to the United States and Middle East. Again, being an EU member, it also benefits from a range of trade and tariff benefits across different locations and economic powerhouses across Europe.
Despite these benefits, a disadvantage however with Dublin is that it is ranked as having one of the worst digital infrastructure setup in Europe – finishing only in the 50th spot. That finding is still based from the same ranking compiled by the European Digital City Index which placed the city as the 8th best for startups. This poor ranking is believed to be caused by Dublin’s high broadband rates and the lack of fibre Internet access on a larger scale.