The state of Texas will soon be home to the Irish governmental agency responsible for helping U.S. businesses expand to Europe.
IDA Ireland, a business development team tasked with attracting foreign investments to their country, is establishing an office along downtown Congress Avenue in Austin in the coming weeks. The group will share space with a new Irish consulate, said Pat Howlin, director of IDA Ireland’s North American operations.
"This is a Texas office that happens to be in Austin," Howlin said, emphasizing his group's focus on the entire state, especially its technology, bioscience, engineering and financial services sectors—many of which already invest in Ireland.
Two IDA Ireland team members will immediately be based in Austin. Sean Storan, a vice president with the governmental agency, will work with more established companies that might already have a presence in Europe, and his colleague Gerard Hayes will oversee emerging technology companies as they expand and potentially move into European markets.
"There are a lot of similarities between Ireland and the ecosystem here in Texas," Hayes said. "There's been tremendous growth here in the state of Texas, particularly in the emerging environment, and i think you're seeing the same in Ireland."
IDA Ireland will have a presence at the South by Southwest start-up village, Hayes said, including a panel discussion with business executives already established in Ireland. The panel will be held at 5 p.m. March 14 at the Hilton Austin, he said.
"They'll be speaking in terms of how it was for them setting up in Ireland," Hayes said. "It's a good opportunity for companies here in Austin and Texas to come and here that pitch."
IDA Ireland has locations in many of the other major U.S. markets, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Irvine, Calif. (Orange County), Mountain View, Calif. (Silicon Valley), and New York City. Enda Meehan, IDA Ireland senior vice president of the Austin office, will split his time between Texas and his Chicago office.
Meehan estimates there are already 1,200 international companies established in Ireland, including more than half from North America.
"So there is a long track record of U.S. companies establishing international operations in Ireland," Meehan said.
The goal of IDA Ireland's Texas operation is not to immediately lure businesses to Ireland, Howlin said. Instead, Howlin said his team intends on working with companies to establish their footprint in European markets and help others expand.
"It's probably a longer term kind of relationship building, but it's positioning ourselves to be in the right place at the right time when an opportunity for a company does come along," Howlin said.
For more information, visit the IDA Ireland website or read this infographic detailing the group's efforts.