Ireland is among the world’s elite in terms of digital development having consolidated its reputation as one of the key drivers of the global digital economy.

Along with the likes of New Zealand and Israel, Ireland has been designated a “stand out” country by a new study from the Harvard Business Review.

Countries that have shown high levels of digital development in the past and continue to remain on an upward trajectory are categorised as ‘stand out’ by the business journal.

Singapore leads the way followed by Sweden, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

Despite our lofty ranking, warnings of previously innovative countries losing ground in terms of digital development abound, with the Netherlands a particularly strong example.

The Dutch scenario is pitched in stark contrast to that of Singapore where, despite both being top 10 countries, the Asian powerhouse has continued to develop world-class infrastructure through public-private partnerships and remains an attractive start-up destination while The Netherlands has “been rapidly losing steam”.

Austerity measures introduced by the Dutch government in 2010 have reduced investment into elements of the digital ecosystem resulting in stagnant demand which in turn encouraged investors to look elsewhere.

This trend appears not to have been borne out in the Irish context despite more severe fiscal constraints.

Since the economic downturn, Ireland’s reputation as a regional technology hub has grown with the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Google all establishing bases in the Dublin Docklands while others have chosen regional centres such as Cork and Limerick as their European headquarters.

The indigenous start-up scene is also booming across major urban areas although a limited pool of venture capital funding has been highlighted as a potential issue for companies looking to scale up. A number of “break out” countries are also identified by the report with Asian and South American countries dominating.

Malaysia, China, Mexico and Thailand are among those countries with potential to develop strong digital economies.

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