March saw the second highest monthly rate of business start-ups since 2007, according to figures from the business and credit risk analysts Vision-net.

A total of 2,014 companies were registered in the month – with the areas of construction, agriculture and finance showing the biggest increases.

The vast majority of industry sectors recorded a year-on-year increase in start-ups, with the professional services sector accounting for the largest number of new companies.

1,183 professional services start-ups were registered in the first three months of the year, representing an 8% jump on the same period last year.

574 new start-ups were registered in the construction sector, versus 501 during the same period last year.

Agriculture saw the largest percentage increase in start-ups, with a 45% year-on-year rise.

Other sectors that continue to see strong growth include finance (23%), social and personal services (10%), and transport & logistics (9%).

For the entire first quarter of the year, 12,626 new businesses were formed – representing a 10.3% increase on the same period in 2016.

However, other figures from Vision-net point to an increase in the number of insolvencies in the first three months of this year.

306 Irish companies posted insolvency notices between January and end-March; an increase of around 20% on the first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, there was a fall in insolvencies in the areas of finance, manufacturing, and construction.

Commenting on the findings, Managing Director of Vision-net Christine Cullen said: “Traditionally strong sectors such as finance, agriculture and professional services have experienced encouraging levels of growth and the ongoing revival of the construction industry has been well documented in the media.

“Overall, the rise in the number of start-ups this year compared to last year is very encouraging

 On the other hand, the increase in insolvencies may come as a surprise to many, especially in the real estate sector, given the acute demand for commercial and residential property in Dublin and beyond.

“Dublin still accounts for 43% of new companies registered in Ireland. This suggests a continued over-reliance on the Capital and an urgent need, on the part of Government and policy makers, to develop greater economic stimulus in rural areas of the country,” she added.