The Irish Connection

A new global push by Ireland could mean more two-way trade and investment

A new global push by Ireland could mean more two-way trade and investment

When Miami software company Kaseya was looking to open an office in Europe in the mid-2010s, it opted to join a host of global tech ventures in Ireland and set up in Dublin. Today, Kaseya employs more than 150 people at its European hub in the Irish capital. It also has 100-plus staffers in an engineering center in coastal Dundalk, with plans to employ at least 1,000 people in Ireland by 2026.

South Florida’s e-commerce platform Wynshop is also growing in the Republic of Ireland. Wynshop now employs 60 people there, after buying an Irish venture that featured developers skilled in online grocery sales. Wynshop finds Ireland welcoming, with quality tech education and ample business incentives.

Little wonder then that Ireland recently opened a consulate in Miami, with Consul General Sarah Kavanagh (see interview pg. 18) helping court more South Florida companies to consider her nation of five million residents as a portal for business in the European Union and beyond. IDA Ireland, Ireland’s inward investment and development agency, is also stepping up activity in greater Miami. It even hosted its first booth at the eMerge Americas tech conference earlier this year, touting Ireland’s varied offerings, from training grants to tax credits for research. “Miami is the gateway to Latin America, and Ireland is the gateway to the European Union. I really see that similarity,” says Consul General Kavanagh, who took up her post in October 2022 and formally inaugurated her office this September during the historic Miami visit of Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s “taoiseach” or prime minister.


For many in the U.S., Ireland is best known for Guinness stout, whiskey, green valleys, folklore, and emigration to the states, especially in 1800s. But in recent decades, the country has become a vibrant technology and life-sciences hub, often ranked among the top destinations worldwide for foreign direct investment by U.S. tech companies. The list of U.S. tech giants operating in Ireland now includes Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Salesforce, Dell, and Kaseya. And the roster of life sciences companies in Ireland reads like a global who’s who, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda, and AstraZeneca. In all, more than 1,700 multinationals in diverse sectors have operations in Ireland, employing 300,000-plus people, says IDA Ireland.

Ireland began attracting multinationals decades back by offering scant corporate tax rates. The country became a low-tax hub for exports to the European Union (EU), now a 27-member group that tops 440 million residents. Over time, the draw has expanded beyond tax breaks. Ireland increasingly entices investors with its educated workforce and targeted incentives, sometimes linked to high-skill jobs. The country now has more people ages 25-34 with post-secondary education than the EU average: 62 percent, vs 42 percent. And it has the highest per-capita rate in all the EU of folks in their 20s who have graduated in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), says IDA Ireland. “One differentiator for us is our education system, no doubt about it,” says Consul General Kavanagh.

English as its first language also draws foreign investors, especially U.S. companies. Now that the United Kingdom has exited the European Union, “Ireland is the largest English-speaking member country in the EU, and that’s an important selling point for us,” says Catherina Blewitt, IDA Ireland’s vice president for technology at its office in Atlanta, which serves seven states including Florida. She led Ireland’s booth at the eMerge Americas conference this spring in Miami Beach.

“Ireland’s openness to investment, ease of doing business and talented workforce are among our core strengths,” says Blewitt

That helps explain why Kaseya is expanding in Ireland after searching worldwide to locate a “Center of Excellence” for engineering and technical support. It chose Dundalk in 2022 because of skilled talent and Ireland’s incentives. “Dundalk will be the heart of our EMEA [Europe-Middle East-Africa] technical support operation,” says Chief Operating Officer Joe Smolarski, “but also in follow-the-sun, after-hours support for other regions as well.”


For Jason Williams, President and Chief Financial Officer at Wynshop, Ireland has been an unexpected opportunity, both for talent and sales. Williams and his partners are software veterans who scale up tech ventures. For one of their units they bought an Irish e-commerce company in 2018. That company happened to have expertise in online grocery sales. When COVID-19 hit, the partners ramped up that specialty and formed Wynshop. Their Irish staff built the e-platform for grocery stores worldwide.

Fort Lauderdale-based Wynshop now employs about 180 people globally, with 40 in South Florida, 40 in Toronto, and 60 in Ireland, the rest scattered in varied locales, says Williams. “What we found in Ireland is a team of very skilled individuals. The common English language definitely made it easier to grow,” says Williams. “And because we had a presence there, we landed two of the top three grocers in Ireland as Wynshop clients. It’s not just a tech center. It’s a market opportunity for us.”

Williams finds doing business in Ireland easier than in some other European nations. “They are more open and inclusive. You have a number of people immigrating into Ireland from other parts of the EU, which gives it this unique culture,” Williams says. “The challenge is that it is a small country, and sometimes you’re competing with a lot of tech companies for a limited pool of skilled employees.”


Ireland’s prowess in tech and manufacturing means rising investment in South Florida and additional trade with the state as well. More Irish tech companies are joining Miami’s tech community, including Dublin-based Fenergo, which helps banks, insurers, and other financial firms comply with such rules as “Know Your Customers” in 60-plus nations.

Fenergo launched its Miami innovation hub this year to expand its client base to mid-sized firms across the Americas, offering software-as-a-service. Its Miami office now employs eight and aims to double staff in the coming months, says Chief Revenue Officer Chris Zingo.

“Miami is very similar to Dublin as a platform for corporate clients who want to serve a regional market” with Dublin looking to Europe and Miami to Latin America, says Zingo.

Both cities are also business-friendly, he says, and feature “hard-working, customer-centric, passionate people.” Fenergo joins such Irish companies in greater Miami as Fexco, Everseen, Urban Volt, Snapfix and TitanHQ.

Chief Revenue Officer Chris Zingo.

Ireland also has been boosting exports to Florida, mainly in pharmaceuticals and electronics. In 2022, Ireland’s direct merchandise exports to Florida rose to $5.6 billion, dwarfing the $131 million in goods Florida shipped to Ireland. Most of this trade passes through the Port of Tampa, but trade with Miami is growing, crossing a half billion dollars last year.

The two-way links extend to education as well. The University of Galway recently teamed up with Florida International University to send students pursuing master’s degrees in business to visit one another’s campuses and meet with multinational executives in each area.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our respective students to develop global mindsets and experience the social, cultural, and economic aspects of international business,” said Dr. Denise Holland, director of the master’s program in international business at University of Galway, in announcing the collaboration.

One weakness for business, however, is limited airlinks. Ireland’s Aer Lingus flies direct to Orlando all year, but to Miami only during the winter season, focusing more on Irish tourists seeking sunshine than business travelers. Florida executives often reach Dublin by connecting through airports in the U.S. Northeast.

Consul General Kavanagh hopes growing awareness of Ireland and increased Miami-Ireland business will encourage more flights. Ireland’s consulate in Miami is its eighth in the U.S. and part of the country’s efforts to double its diplomatic footprint worldwide under its “Global Ireland 2025” strategy.

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