Dublin Rises As European Tech Center
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Are Dublin’s 'Silicon Docks' A Haven For FinTech?

Ireland’s tech community is on the rise, with Dublin standing at the epicenter. As established tech giants continue to set up shop in the city and homegrown startups flourish, it’s no wonder Dublin has been named a contender in the race to be Europe’s post-Brexit tech hub.

In this week’s edition of PYMNTS’ Weekly Tech Center Roundup, we find ourselves back in Europe to take a look at what Dublin, Ireland, has to offer and if the city has what it takes outshine the competition for being Europe’s premiere FinTech center now that the U.K. has left the E.U.

Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Dublin and its tech scene: 

  • Dublin has an estimated population of 1,273,069 people.
  • The city accounts for 42 percent of Ireland's GDP.
  • Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and LinkedIn have all established European headquarters in Dublin.
  • With a lower cost of living and one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, Ireland is an attractive prospect for multinationals.
  • Dublin’s startup ecosystem is estimated to be valued at $2.8 billon.
  • The city has more than 1,200 startups, 250 global tech companies and raised more than €522 million in funding in 2015.
  • The Silicon Docks is a nickname for the area in Dublin where there is a concentration of high-tech companies.
  • Dublin is ranked 10th among European cities for having the most millionaires per capita, with one in 40 people living there a millionaire.

As the dust continues to settle after the U.K.’s decision to exit the E.U., eyes are falling on tech centers across Europe to see who will step up as the next great tech hub in the region. Germany and France have both staked their claim, but it’s clear that Ireland has some skin in the game as well.

In a blog post last month, Niamh Bushnell, Dublin's first Commissioner for Startups, explained that Brexit is an opportunity for Dublin to attract serial or fist-time entrepreneurs who are more open to the city than they have been before, therefore it’s a chance that should not be wasted.

“If we attract these founders to Dublin, they’ll bring with them innovation. With innovation comes more funding, and with funding comes more skilled talent and the kinds of roles that define the new digital economy,” Bushnell explained.

“We’ve lots to recommend us like language, culture, our committed relationship with Europe and our deep ties to the U.S.,” she continued. “We’ve also just pulled off an economic recovery and return to growth that ensures our credibility on the world stage.”

The latest data seems to back up Bushnell’s point.

As investments have slowed in London, startup growth is picking up in both Dublin and Berlin.

The quarterly Venture Pulse report, which offers a global analysis of venture funding and is co-published by KPMG and CB Insights, reveals that the U.K. had just 104 VC deals in Q2 worth $729 million. Though that may sound like a lot, it’s actually a 40-percent drop from the previous quarter where the U.K. saw 114 deals worth $1.274 billion. The research, Geektime reported, contributes this directly to Britain’s economic relationship with the E.U. and mounting Brexit uncertainty.

Patrick Imbach, head of KPMG Tech Growth at KPMG in the U.K., told Geektime that companies will continue to see increased scrutiny from investors until decisions are made concerning Britain’s free access to the markets and if the tech ecosystem can retail tech talent from mainland Europe.

“They’re particularly impacted by access to the single market. For the moment, you have passporting rights to do business across the European Union,” Imbach stated. “If these regulating passporting rights are removed, this would be a challenge in particular for FinTech businesses. People may look for other centers where local rules apply across the EU. The obvious one would probably be Dublin, maybe Berlin.”

Despite its smaller size, Dublin may have what it takes to lead the pack.

Dublin’s significantly cheaper cost of living (especially compared to neighboring London) has made it a top destination for young tech talent, with an estimated 40 percent of the city’s population falling under the age of 30.

There’s also are many global tech companies that have come to call Dublin, specifically the Silicon Docks neighborhood, home, including Airbnb, Twitter, Stripe, Eventbrite and HubSpot. According to StartupDublin, an estimated 80 percent of global tech businesses have established a base in Dublin, a number higher than any other city in the world.

Just last week, London-based eCommerce company Ve Interactive announced an expansion to Ireland with the opening of a Dublin office.

“The Irish eCommerce industry is thriving and Dublin has evolved into a global tech hub over the last decade. Ireland is the E.U.’s fastest growing economy, and, being a native myself, I’m looking forward to bringing further value to this already booming digital market with our data-led conversion technology,” Brian O’Keefe, managing director at Ve Interactive, told Tech City News.

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