Tánaiste Speaks to SMEs on Long-term Plan for Future

Dublin 25th September, The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD, today (Friday the 25thof September), joined by Minister of State Damien English TD and Minister of State Robert Troy TD, chaired the first meeting of the new SME Growth Taskforce. 

The SME Growth Taskforce is a commitment in the Programme for Government and was formed in order to design a National SME Growth Plan that will map out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint for SMEs and entrepreneurs beyond COVID-19. The Taskforce is composed of a broad range of business people with expertise in range of sectors, as well as SME representative groups and other individuals uniquely positioned to contribute to a long-term vision for the SME sector.

The Tánaiste said,

“It’s been a really difficult few months for business. Beyond the immediate challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit however, we need to set out a long-term, strategic vision for our small and medium sized enterprises. We must look at how we can raise productivity levels among the SMEs which are lagging and encourage innovation. Digital technology and the need to decarbonise are transforming almost every aspect of our lives and we need to plan for how SMEs can adapt and take advantage of the opportunities this presents.

“I met with business leaders and representative bodies today to start looking at how we can put in place a plan so that our SMEs can continue to sustain Ireland’s economy in the long run. This group will continue this work and I look forward to the proposals they bring forward.”

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD said,

“In setting out a long-term plan for the sector, the work of the SME Growth Taskforce will focus on a number of key themes, including increasing start-up rates and business dynamism, enhancing productivity, innovation and digitalisation, bolstering business clustering and networking, and increasing SME activity on foreign markets. I am confident that this work will represent a positive step towards positioning Ireland as the best place to start, grow and scale a business”. 

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD said:

“As an integral part of our country’s economy, SMEs and entrepreneurs are central to our ambition to generate broad-based growth and prosperity in every part of the country.  I look forward to working with the Taskforce to ensure we can harness the potential of our SMEs and entrepreneurs by boosting innovation, productivity and economic growth, resulting in higher living standards for all our people.” 

The meeting also heard contributions from Kristin Schreiber, Director of SME Policy, European Commission; Jonathan Potter, Senior Economist, OECD; and Frances Ruane, Chair, National Competitiveness Council. 

The work of the SME Growth Taskforce will draw upon the recent OECD Review of SME Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland and will have a small number of focused sub-groups, which will have the capacity and expertise to progress work on thematic areas arising from the OECD’s recommendations and respond to the long-term challenges faced by SMEs.

The SME Growth Plan will ultimately form part of the National Economic Plan, which will be published in November of this year.