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IDA Ireland (Industrial Development Agency) was formed in 1949 as part of the Department of Industry & Commerce. The IDA was initially briefed to stimulate, support and develop export-led business and enterprise in Ireland. This covered both indigenous and foreign investment and start-up enterprises. This was against a backdrop of economic protectionism and restrictions on imports.


The introduction of the first Programme for Economic Expansion was part of a series of moves in the 1950s to achieve economic expansion in Ireland. This programme removed protectionism, encouraged Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and promoted exports.


The signing of the Anglo Irish Free Trade agreement contributed to the opening up of the Irish economy between Ireland and its main trading partner.


In 1969 the IDA was incorporated as an autonomous state-sponsored body under the Industrial Development Act and made responsible for all aspects of industrial development. This put the IDA on a stronger footing, giving the body more flexibility.


Ireland became a member of the European Economic Community, later the EU, in 1973. This move transformed many aspects of life in Ireland and opened Ireland up for free trade with its European partners.


Following a government review the IDA was broken up into three separate organisations. From this point the IDA was to focus exclusively on the promotion and development of high-quality foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland. This was initially to be in the manufacturing and international services sectors but has since expanded to include a number of high-performance sectors.


Forbes magazine declares Ireland 'best country for business' and the IDA marks a record year for FDI in Ireland.


IDA Ireland's current strategy is based on a policy of attracting investors from a range of industry sectors who are seeking the best location for their Advanced Manufacturing, Global Business Services and R&D operations. 


Employment levels in foreign owned companies have reached 210,443 by the end  of 2017. This figure surpasses the overall five year target of 209,000 which was set in 2015 in IDA Ireland’s Winning: Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019 strategy.  
IDA End of Year Results 2017


2019 marks 70 years of IDA Ireland. Foreign direct investment has been a keystone of Irish economic policy since IDA Ireland was founded in 1949.