Enterprise Ireland Annual Report and Accounts 2009

Chairman's Statement

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2009 was a year of immense challenges for Irish companies in both the international and domestic markets. We are encountering one of the worst recessions this country has ever experienced. But within that difficult context, Irish exporting companies are at the heart of the drive to economic recovery and growth, as they continue to win new export sales and create employment across the country. I welcome the opportunity to endorse their tenacity and their achievements.

Irish exporting companies are our best prospect for trading our way through the recession. They provide 133,500 jobs directly, a similar number of indirect jobs, and spend an estimated €19 billion in the Irish economy. In 2009, total export sales by Enterprise Ireland client companies were €12.9 billion, including new export sales of €693 million. While this represents a decrease of 10 per cent on 2008, it was a credible performance given the harsh international trading environment, and shows great resilience by Irish companies.

Enterprise Ireland worked intensively with client companies throughout 2009 to ensure they had access to funding, retained existing customers, improved their competitiveness, and expanded into new markets.

We worked with the main banks at the highest levels to ensure understanding of the financing needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and to increase the flow of funds to client companies. This enhanced co-operation will continue to be developed in 2010.

Continuous innovation and ongoing improvements in our competitiveness are essential. Companies, in partnership with their employees and other stakeholders need to embrace and maintain focus on innovation and competitiveness.

International trade missions are an integral and important part of Enterprise Ireland's strategy to help client companies access key decision makers and grow sales in export markets. In 2009, 476 client companies participated in 21 overseas trade missions. In 2010, we will maximise the impact of these events by organising missions for specific sectors in key strategic markets.

The Board and staff of Enterprise Ireland recognise that Irish companies have to work harder and innovate more to continue to secure sales in the face of tough markets and increased global competition. These companies have shown themselves to be remarkably adaptable in the current volatile economic environment. We look forward to working in partnership with them and have every confidence in their ability to sustain their businesses and secure new sales in 2010. We will be with them every step of the way.

Key external relationships and interagency collaboration

I would like to express my appreciation to all the Government departments that supported Enterprise Ireland throughout 2009: the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Innovation; the Department of the Taoiseach; the Department of Foreign Affairs; the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food; the Department of Education & Skills; the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources; the Department of Finance; and the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government.

I would also like to record my thanks to all other bodies with which Enterprise Ireland has worked in partnership, including Forfás, IDA Ireland, the City and County Enterprise Boards, Science Foundation Ireland, Bord Bia, FÁS, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Shannon Development, the Higher Education Authority, other State agencies, industry associations and third-level institutions.

There is now an important all-island dimension to all aspects of Government policy. Close working relationships have been established between Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland and InterTradeIreland. I would also like to acknowledge these important cross-border relationships, which are proving to be of benefit to companies across the island of Ireland.

Corporate governance

To ensure maximum return on investment of public funds, the Board is committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, and to ensuring that the principle of value for money is applied throughout all the agency's activities. Enterprise Ireland applies the principles of good governance, set out in the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies 2009.

During 2009, two members of the Board of Enterprise Ireland retired, in accordance with Section 9 of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Gerry O'Malley and Margaret Daly for their commitment and invaluable contribution during their tenures.

I also wish to welcome Jim O'Hara, Intel, and Dr Catherine Caulfield, Ovagen Ltd who were appointed to the Board in 2009.

Finally, I would also like to thank the staff of Enterprise Ireland for their efforts throughout 2009 and their steadfast commitment to the success of Irish enterprise.

Hugh Cooney Signature
Hugh Cooney,