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Celtic Tiger 2.0 - The Rise of Ireland's Entrepreneurs

The Celtic Tiger is back. It is reformed, humbled and roars with less bravado, but it is no less ambitious. It may even be here to stay.

The Irish economy, while by no means booming, is out of recession and heading in the right direction. The country's €85bn international bailout in 2010 sent shockwaves through the nation, but Ireland has been widely hailed as the poster child for taking IMF medicine, putting its head down and getting on with it.

Earlier this month, Dublin returned to the capital markets for the first time since exiting its bailout programme in December 2013, raising €3.75bn, despite a much stronger book of demand. Rating agency Moodys also recently upgraded Ireland's credit to investment grade, citing an 'acceleration in Irish economic growth'. The embers of the economic fire are starting to glow again.

But things have changed. It is not the Celtic Tiger of the late nineties' boom years that is roaring. Big business is not back. This is the Celtic Tiger 2.0. Ireland's Entrepreneurs.

It has not been easy. In its darkest days, Ireland was once again teetering on the brink of seeing its brightest and best decamp to other shores. Faith in big business was lost, and with an unemployment rate reaching 15.1% at its peak, the Celtic Tiger was nowhere to be seen.

But people underestimated the strength of Ireland's entrepreneurial spirit. The unexpected side effect of the past few years has been the exponential rise of the Irish entrepreneur, helped in no small part by Enterprise Ireland, a government sponsored organisation with the largest venture fund in Europe.

The Irish ecosystem is almost perfectly set up to support entrepreneurs. Ireland's low corporate tax rate - 12.5% - has long attracted talent, and not content with being the only English speaking country in the Eurozone, recent research by Frontline Ventures, an Irish venture capital firm, showed that Ireland has the youngest population in the EU (a third of the population is under 25) and two thirds of the population is third-level educated - the highest rate in the Western world (compared to the 29% EU average). Ireland also has the highest proportion of science and engineering graduates in the world. Added to this, Ireland's track record for investment is almost exemplary. Technology companies account for over 90% of venture capital investment in Ireland, compared to 31% in Europe, and the investment by US companies into Ireland is greater than that made in Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. This has created a crucible for innovation. Dublin's Web Summit and F.ounders conferences have, in the last few years, become two of the most popular conferences in the tech world.

Hot on the heels of the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, Dell is the latest company to spot Ireland's potential with the high profile launch last week of its latest Centre for Entrepreneurs in Ireland. Led by Dell's Entrepreneur in Residence Ingrid Vanderveldt, and running programmes by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, Dell aims to replicate its US and UK models and build out a global ecosystem of support, networks, and access to expertise, technology and financing in Ireland.

The Irish start-up scene has its success stories to rival Silicon Valley's best too. The latest one, online payments company Stripe, set up by two Irish brothers now based in the US, recently raised $80m in funding, valuing the company at $1.75bn. Others are set to follow.

While the buzz has historically been on the ideas and start-ups coming out of London, Berlin and Tallinn, Dublin's tech scene - Silicon Docks - is booming. Ireland is open for business. The Celtic Tiger 2.0 is waiting.

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