Irish entrepreneurs head to Singapore on unofficial trade mission

Trip forms part of EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year programme

More than 90 Irish entrepreneurs travelled to Singapore on Sunday for the annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) chief executive retreat on what is being described as an unofficial trade mission to the island nation.

The delegation includes the 24 finalists in this year’s EOY competition as well as alumni and former winners of the programme and this year’s judging panel.

During the retreat, the delegation will hear from Singapore’s ambassador-at-large, Prof Tommy Koh; Volvo chief executive Jim Rowan; Bloomberg’s global head of macro analysis, Mark Cudmore; and Irish ambassador to Singapore Sarah McGrath. The Irish contingent will also visit the Singapore Management University and the Action Community for Entrepreneurship incubator.

Commenting on the retreat, Roger Wallace, EY lead partner for EOY, said the event is one of the highlights of the year-long programme.


He said the obvious parallels between Singapore and Ireland will give the delegation food for thought. “As small island trading nations surrounded by much larger countries, both Singapore and Ireland have learned to punch above their weight by fostering a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and having and open and dynamic trading economy,” Mr Wallace said. “There is lots that Irish entrepreneurs can learn from the Singaporean pace of change, innovation and national planning as well from across the wider southeast Asian markets.”

Although Irish exports to Singapore totalled just €36 million in 2021, trade links with the city-state have deepened in recent years, largely as a result of promotional activity by State agencies such as Bord Bia. Irish lamb hit the shelves in Singapore for the first time ever last year following a Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture-led trade mission to region.

The theme of this year’s weeklong retreat is the “Art of Entrepreneurship” with the focus on Singapore’s reputation as a dynamic economy and a gateway to the rest of southeast Asia.

“Artists and entrepreneurs are both creative and curious,” Mr Wallace said. “The CEO Retreat is designed to inspire and challenge these leading business minds to look beyond the horizon to discover next level opportunities for their businesses and their communities.”

The Irish EOY community at large generates annual revenues of €21 billion and employs in excess of 200,000 people across the island, according to EY.

The EOY programme is supported by Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland, with The Irish Times and Newstalk as media partners.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times