Notes From The Commish: Startup/Multinational Hub

Grand Canal Docks Sign

In Dublin we talk a lot about the startup/multinational relationship and how we can encourage these companies, who already work side by side in their hundreds, to collaborate more closely, and ultimately do business with each other.

The potential for business becomes even more tangible when you realize that many of these global companies have R&D centers here, design and build products for global markets here, and employ key global talent right here too. I’m talking about companies like Hubspot, Workday, Etsy, Google, Zalando, TripAdvisor, Mastercard, Amazon, Intel, Groupon and scores of other well-known names.

You can sense the depth of their presence in Dublin as you walk around Silicon Docks, and many other parts of the city.

So, it would seem like a no-brainer then – and an obvious mission for this office – to make Dublin the tech hub with the most valuable Startup/Multinational engagement programs in the world.

And we’re at the early stages of figuring out just how to make this happen.

A recent conversation with Norma O’ Callaghan, an EMEA Director at global security tech firm Trend Micro, shed light on one multinational’s approach to startup engagement that’s both practical and compelling.

Trend Micro offers employees below Director level the opportunity to get involved with startups by creating cross-functional teams (say a mix of tech, finance and marketing) to participate in DealBroker, an annual IT@Cork event that introduces startups to multinationals.

If the team identifies a startup they’d like to learn more about, they secure executive-level sponsorship internally for the project before diving into an assessment of product and business model. The project concludes with a presentation to the executive sponsor and, in some cases, a longer term customer or partner relationship.

Norma says Trend Micro’s approach encourages teamwork, risk taking, and diverse perspectives on innovation and creating new solutions on the fly. It also prompts their people to have a more open mindset towards startups, a mindset they’re a lot less likely to encounter if they come in cold to pitch to a senior executive.

Back here in Dublin, about 40 multinationals have already signed up for our Evangelist programme, to provide startups with special offers, events and access to technical mentors (to sign up email Cathal –

Soon though we’ll want to move beyond this CSR type activity and Trend Micro’s model might be one way to partner with our multinational supporters.

Dublin Business Innovation Center are also exploring ways to engage in this area and we’ll hear more about their plans at the FutureScope Conference on May 31st.

I expect it to be swarming – in the nicest way possible – with multinational and startup enthusiasts looking to learn from and do business with each other.

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