Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) is not supported. For the best experience please open using Chrome, Firefox, Safari or MS Edge

Four smiling people in business casual attire stand behind a laptop with a smashed screen, to symbolise 'disruption'
L-R: Panellists Ciaran Byrne, Co-Founder, The Head Plan; Deirdre Smith, Associate, Rethink Digital Advisory; Corporate Partner Conall Geraghty, and Ciaran Meghen, Founder, IdentiGEN ltd.

More than half of Ireland’s technology leaders (51%) identified legal/regulatory risk as the biggest barrier to AI adoption, followed by lack of skills/talent (33%), according to our latest industry survey.

We polled the audience at our recent Technology and Digital Disruption Conference, which attracted more than 300 industry professionals to The Marker Hotel in Dublin.

The guiding advice from Oisín Tobin, our Technology Sector Lead Partner, was to “avoid building up legal debt as there will be interest accruing on outstanding issues. It can become harder to solve problems in the future due to the volume of legislation and regulation, so build in compliance from the start.”

The survey also found that more than four out of five (81%) technology leaders are investing in AI research and development. 64% said they had increased their investment levels compared to last year, while 17% said their investment levels remained the same.

Brian McElligott, Partner and Head of Artificial Intelligence, said: “Our findings underscore a robust commitment to innovation despite the complex challenges the sector faces. They also highlight critical hurdles that companies need to overcome, to harness the full potential of AI technologies. Legal complexities present a significant obstacle, emphasising the importance of informed, strategic approaches to AI implementation. As companies increasingly invest in AI, investing in the right skills and talent is also critical.”

The research highlighted that 8 out of 10 tech industry leaders (81%) do not invest in or use cryptocurrencies.

Rowena Fitzgerald, Partner and Co-Head of Financial Regulation, said: Despite the buzz around digital currencies, 8 out of 10 of tech industry leaders are steering clear of cryptocurrencies. This suggests a cautious approach towards crypto, reflecting concerns around volatility, regulatory uncertainty, and the lack of mainstream adoption.

But it will be interesting to see how the new regulations for crypto asset service providers changes this picture. The Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) will apply to certain crypto-asset issuers from June this year, with other issuers and crypto-asset service providers impacted from end-December. We expect that these new rules will reshape the sector's engagement with digital currencies and will be watching this space with interest.”

The survey also showed that more than two-thirds (67%) see financial services as a potential growth avenue for their companies.

Rowena added: "The data illustrates the sector's confidence in fintech as a key driver for growth. As traditional barriers between sectors blur, tech companies are uniquely positioned to create financial products that meet the needs of today's digital-savvy consumers and businesses.”

Ireland remains an attractive location to set up a new business, according to 85% of respondents. Additionally, close to 7 out of 10 (69%) identified Europe as their primary growth market for 2024.

Conall Geraghty, Fast Growth Company Lead Partner, said: “These results paint a clear picture of Ireland's position in the global market as an attractive location for startups. The overwhelming preference for Europe as a growth market also reveals where Irish tech leaders see their future opportunities. It reflects a strategic choice influenced by Europe's large market, its openness to innovation, and a regulatory environment that, while complex, can be navigated with the right expertise."

Commenting on the event overall, Oisín added: "In the face of ongoing global challenges, this conference offered a focused setting for industry leaders to come together, share insights, and address the sector's latest trends. Our technology lawyers advise some of the world’s leading companies and today we discussed some of the key trends we are encountering with our clients. These include AI regulation, Fintech risks and opportunities, and scaling a technology company globally from Ireland. We also provided practical advice on technology regulation to help companies adapt to an increasingly complex legal environment."

Digital entrepreneur and COO of Kinzen, Áine Kerr, chaired the event and said: "At a time when more and more companies are being asked to do more with less, this conference marked an important opportunity to review the distance travelled by Irish companies in Fintech, AI and into international markets while also focusing on what will be needed in 2024 and beyond for Ireland to maintain its competitive advantage.

With increased regulation around financial services and artificial intelligence, there is an onus on Irish companies to balance how they optimise for speed and innovation while ensuring compliance and adherence to gold standards - that's a tension we spent a lot of time understanding and exploring today."

Read about the survey findings on Irish Legal News. For more information and expert advice on how any of these topics may impact on your business, please contact a member of our Technology team.

Share this: