The number of new business formations this year is to drop back to 12,000 in 2008, from close to 18,000 in 2007, reflecting overall domestic and international economic and market conditions. However when compared to the annual rate of new start-ups in the nineties, which was 7,000, this is still a significant figure. With approximately 1,000 new businesses being added every month it is expected that there will be close to 270,000 businesses operating in Ireland by the end of 2008. Recent research conducted for AIB by RedC indicates that existing businesses expect to grow. The research showed that 45 percent of business owners surveyed had plans to expand their business in 2008, with one in three indicating they expected their business to remain the same in 2008. The research also showed that overall business investment sentiment appears relatively strong, with 33 percent of business owners saying they planned to introduce new technology in their business and one in four expect to diversify into a new business area or service offering over the coming 12 months. Business issues and challenges remain high on business owners’ agendas. Labour was cited as the biggest business issue for business owners (68 percent), followed by insurance (48 percent), regulation / legislation (44 percent) and energy / rates (43 percent).