It is great to be back in Cork for another good news event. Today we are marking the official arrival of NGINX, a world-class IT company, who have chosen Cork as their EMEA headquarters, with plans to employ just over 100 people over 3 years.
NGINX is exactly the sort of thriving international company, providing highly-skilled employment opportunities, which we are delighted to welcome to Ireland.
NGINX is the web server of choice for the top 100,000 business websites and an extremely impressive 180 million websites generally use this software.
You will be in great company here in Cork. Over recent years we have built up a very exciting cluster of ICT companies, ranging from major international players like Apple and Dell EMC to a whole range of niche companies who are pushing the boundaries in specialist areas.
The key of course is that we have a pool of highly skilled people from which companies like yours can draw – and that is where Cork, with the University College of Cork and Cork Institute of Technology, has a great advantage.
Leaving Cork aside for just a moment – if we can - and looking at Ireland’s success in the ICT sector, you are also in very good company nationally and can draw on terrific resources and expertise.
For those of you who may not be fully familiar with the wider success of Ireland’s engagement in the ICT sector, I would like to highlight a few key points.
Ireland’s software sector is thriving, with 9 of the top 10 international companies now having operations here. Our reputation as a centre of software excellence is unrivalled in Europe. It is home to over 900 software companies, including both multinational and indigenous firms, employing 24,000 people and generating €16 billion worth of exports annually.
This has not happened by accident. We have put significant building blocks in place to create the right conditions for companies like yours. We have ensured that Ireland is currently achieving a large increase in graduate output from third level ICT courses, driven in part by Government Actions under our ICT Action Plan.
We have maintained a relentless focus on competitiveness, an area of significant relevance to all our investing companies. Through our Enterprise 2025 Strategy, we are aiming to secure a top-three ranking in the most competitive small countries in the world.
Just last week I launched the new National Action Plan for Jobs for 2017 - we have set a target of creating an additional 45,000 new jobs in the country this year.
We are currently implementing Innovation 2020 which sets out our five year strategy for research and development, science and technology, including a roadmap to deliver on the vision for Ireland to become a global innovation leader by focusing on excellence, talent and impact.
Our offer as a country remains strong – a strong commitment to our EU membership, a competitive tax regime, policy stability, a business-friendly environment and a skilled workforce with high levels of education.
This Government is keen to ensure a better spread of employment across the country, as evidenced by our 8 Regional Action Plan for Jobs. We are having great success in that ambition, with 52% of FDI jobs created last year having been outside Dublin.
On that note I will conclude by wishing you every success here in Cork. I look forward to watching your progress in the coming years.