Attracting and retaining migrant-led start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs from outside the EU

A joint EMN Ireland/ESRI and Department of Justice and Equality conference

This joint conference hosted by EMN Ireland, within the ESRI, and the Department of Justice and Equality, will explore recent and new developments in efforts to attract non-EEA innovative entrepreneurs and start-up talent to Ireland.

Please register by Thursday 23 January 2020 (at the latest). Enquiries to:

Join the conversation #ESRIevents

About the event

This conference co-hosted by EMN Ireland, within the ESRI, and the Department of Justice and Equality will provide a timely opportunity to consider how best Ireland can harness non-EU start-up talent in the context of a newly revised Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP).

At the event the findings of a major new EU-wide study on the migration of innovative entrepreneurs will be presented, along with the Irish report Migratory Pathways to Ireland for Start-ups and Innovative Entrepreneurs. Schemes operating in other EU Member States will be discussed and interesting innovations in Estonia highlighted. MPI Europe will also provide international context.

The Department of Justice and Equality will discuss its experience of STEP so far and provide details on new enhancements to the programme. Finally, speakers from the domestic start-up community will discuss challenges and supports in place for migrant entrepreneurs in Ireland today.

Conference agenda


Arrival and Registration



Alan Barrett, Economic and Social Research Institute


Opening remarks

Oonagh Buckley, Deputy Secretary General, Civil Justice and Equality Pillar, Department of Justice and Equality

Session 1

International start-up migration patterns and trends

 Chair: Clare Dunne, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation


Liam Patuzzi, MPI Europe

Start-up visas: A passport for innovation and growth? International trends, parallels and differences


Migratory pathways for start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs in the EU: Key findings from the EMN comparative study

Margaret James, Head of the EMN Service Provider/ICF Associate, ICF

Migratory pathways for attracting start-ups and innovators: the case of e-Estonia

Ave Lauren, Senior Researcher, Estonian Business School


Questions and Answers


Coffee Break

Session II

Migration of innovative entrepreneurs to Ireland

Chair: Michael Kirrane, Department of Justice and Equality


Migration to Ireland of start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs

Emma Quinn, EMN Ireland/ESRI


Start-up Entrepreneur Programme: Migrant Entrepreneur’s Gateway to Ireland

Aonghus O’Connor, Principal Officer, Immigration Service Delivery, Department of Justice and Equality

When Immigration meets innovation: An experience of navigating a path to Ireland for non-EEA start-ups and entrepreneurs

Aoife Gillespie, Consultant, Philip Lee


Questions and Answers



Session III

Supporting start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs

Chair: Dr. Pramod Pathak, National College of Ireland


Supporting start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs

Kevin Donnelly, Enterprise Ireland


The International Security Accelerator: attracting global start-ups to scale from Ireland, a case study

Michael O'Connor, CEO, CorkBIC

The Central Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Hub

Denise Delaney, Head of Function, Central Bank of Ireland

The funding process for an Irish start-up

William Conaghan and Lizzy Hayashida, Change Donations


Questions and Answers