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Entrepreneurship in Ireland at pre-recession levels with 35,000 new business owners in 2016

2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Survey is published

One in every 23 people in Ireland (aged 18-64 years) is a new business owner according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016 Survey of Entrepreneurship in Ireland which was published today. These figures are similar to the US and high compared to European countries.

Enterprise Ireland, supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, sponsored the GEM survey, which was authored by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons Consulting and Dr Colm O’Gorman, Professor of Entrepreneurship, DCU Business School.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurship.

Commenting on the GEM Survey, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, said: “The GEM 2016 report provides timely research which will help inform our entrepreneurship strategy and in particular, the mid-term review of The National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship. With 35,000 new business owners in 2016, Ireland ranks 6th highest in Europe for new business owners. I am particularly heartened that the rate of early stage entrepreneurship in Ireland has now returned to the levels observed pre-recession and that many Irish entrepreneurs have growth ambitions and expect to be employers.

“Like most countries, there are more male entrepreneurs (63%) than female (37%), but that gap narrows as one moves from actively planning to actually starting a new business. At 1 in every 14 women in Ireland, the number of female entrepreneurs in 2016 is the highest noted since GEM research started in 2000. Initiatives to encourage female entrepreneurship, like Enterprise Ireland’s dedicated female entrepreneurship unit, are helping to further reduce the gender gap.”

Niall O’Donnellan, Head of Strategy, People and Regions, Enterprise Ireland added: “Ireland is one of seven countries that scores above the European average for both the rate of entrepreneurship (new business owners) and rate of intrapreneurship (employees engaged in entrepreneurship for their employer). The latest GEM survey shows strong global ambition amongst nascent entrepreneurs and new business owners with almost four in five expecting revenues from international customers. In 2007, more than 40% of entrepreneurs were focused exclusively on the Irish market. This figure had dropped back to just 20% by last year demonstrating Irish companies increased willingness and ability to do business and operate internationally. Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups to grow and expand their reach in overseas markets, helping them to compete on a global scale”.

Download the full report here: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016 Survey of Entrepreneurship in Ireland


For more details contact:

Brigid Burke, Press Office, Enterprise Ireland, 01 7272430

Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, 01 631 2200

Paula Fitzsimons, National GEM Coordinator, 087 2774385


Notes to Editors

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) aims to consider why some countries are more ‘entrepreneurial’ than others. GEM began in 1999 as a joint project between Babson College (USA) and London Business School (UK). 17 years on, GEM is the richest resource of information on the subject, publishing a range of global, national and ‘special topic’ reports on an annual basis (

In numbers, GEM is:

  • 200,000+ interviews a year
  • 100+      countries
  • 500+      specialists in entrepreneurship research
  • 300+      academic and research institutions
  • 200+      funding institutions.


As the GEM research is carried out in the same way, cross country comparisons can be made of:

  • The rates of entrepreneurial activity among individuals and the potential impact of that activity
  • The attitudes of the general public towards entrepreneurship.


More key findings of the GEM 2016 Survey of Entrepreneurship in Ireland include:

  • Ireland ranks 5th highest in Europe on the TEA Index – the TEA Index consists of two groups of entrepreneurs: nascent entrepreneurs and new business owners
  • Ireland ranks 6th highest in Europe for new business owners
  • Ireland ranks 3rd highest in Europe for intrapreneurs - 1 in 13 employees are active as intrapreneurs, involved in developing or launching new goods or services for their employer
  • More than two thirds (70%) of new business owners expect to be an employer within three and a half years of starting-up
  • Almost  four in ten new business owners expect to employ 10 or more people within five years.
  • Aspiration to become an entrepreneur is highest among those aged 25 to 34 in Ireland
  • ‘Fear of failure’ would prevent 4 in every 10 people from starting a business.