Ireland will miss out on a new generation of heavyweight plcs unless our enterprise policy encourages domestic businesses to achieve bigger scale, Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) chief executive, Deirdre Somers, says,
Speaking at the ‘Irish Enterprise – Funding for Growth’ conference in Dublin,  Somers said government policy on creating new businesses rightly receives considerable attention but that medium-sized companies needed greater support to address the challenges facing them specifically. The conference, organised by the ISE in co-operation with Enterprise Ireland, was attended by 300 delegates and 180 high-growth companies.
‘Ireland has one of the highest levels of business start-ups in the EU but the vast majority of companies sell at a relatively early stage’, said Ms Somers.
‘The Government’s enterprise policy should include an ambition to build at least five to 10 companies to scale with a market capitalisation of over €1 billion in the next five years whether through organic growth and/or acquisition’.
‘Encouraging entrepreneurship is not an end in itself. The end must be creating companies that have scale and importance on a global stage and which will contribute economically to Ireland for decades to come’, she said.
 Somers said it is right to celebrate successful home-grown companies achieving lucrative trade sales but that trade sales should not be seen as the best or only option available to the owners of such businesses.
‘At a national policy level, we need to start redefining success by a different metric, a different and bigger ambition,’ she said.
‘Right now, Ireland has companies that have the business proposition, capability and ambition to be the next Ryanair, Kerry Group or Paddy Power. There are many others that can benefit from the funding options, flexibilities and exits provided by the stock market.’
Speaking about wider market conditions, Somers also said:
Ireland benefits from having its own stock market, which provides Irish companies with access to investors and funding; it also allows investors anywhere in the world to invest in Irish companies.
Ireland’s own market infrastructure and capital markets ecosystem provide valuable support for Irish companies and generate spin-off employment for highly skilled financial services and capital markets professionals.
Speakers included Richard Bruton, Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation; Patrick Kennedy, Chief Executive of Paddy Power plc; and Frank Ryan, CEO of Enterprise Ireland.