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Ireland 'could be top of the class in digital toy market'

Irish MEP Sean Kelly moots Ireland as a prime manufacturing location for niche – but lucrative – business.

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SANTA CLAUS WILL have dropped off any number of digital and tech-based toys in his rounds late last night.

One Irish MEP, noting the popularity of the tech toy among this generation, has suggested that it is a niche industry in which Ireland could make a real impact.

Seán Kelly, MEP for Ireland South, and 2014 MEP of the Year for Digital Agenda, told TheJournal.ie yesterday that manufacturing is an “essential road” for an economy to take on the road to real sustainable growth.

“Even in Europe, the level of manufacturing has dropped and everyone in focused on increasing it to 2020 and beyond,” he said.

Ireland, of course, can’t compete in mass manufacturing, but it could potentially exploit a sector in which it already has created a space for itself: the digital and tech world. Kelly said:

We’re not going to be producing motor cars here; it’s niche areas we should focus on. There is a market for digital toys and it’s only going to grow. It’s a market that is not just around Christmas as kids get more and more tech-savvy and tech-driven.Ireland has top tech companies here and with proper research and development, we could be looking at an area in which we could compete.

Kelly has taken an interest in Ireland’s tech scene since his appointment as Industry Rapporteur for Data Protection. Last year, he was awarded by IAB Europe for his questioning of strict data privacy law which could compromise online businesses, press freedom and the data-driven economy.

He said that a number of MEPs had shown interest in setting up Coder Dojo young people’s coding projects in their countries after Kelly promoted the Irish model to them. “The time is right for it,” he said.

“The digital world is going to grow and grow, and I’ve been trying to encourage Irish companies to look at internet sales. A group came over from Connemara to me and they had set up a network of companies trying to improve their online sales – they managed to increase sales by 30 per cent, which is a great result.”

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