Notes From The Commish: The People’s Republic Of Tech

This month’s 1st Friday Brekkie was on April 1st so we played an April Fool’s joke.

After an engaging presentation on Built in Cork by its founder Donal Cahalane (DC), we announced that since the Cork tech scene was “on fire” the Dublin Commissioner for Startups office was moving to Cork! For a couple of seconds the air was sucked out of the room. Then someone said April Fools! and the gag was complete.

We had a lot of fun putting this joke together, working with DC, writing the press release, and tweeting about the “big announcement” to come, but as a number of people remarked afterwards, Cork really is a great tech hub and one that might benefit from a Startup Commissioner role that pulls all the pieces together.

I was brought up in Cork and love the city but I’m no expert on the needs of the tech scene there, having left at 18 years old – a long, long time ago. What I do know is that any city or town in Ireland can be a tech hub and earn a global reputation if it leads innovation in a specific industry or sector. Cork’s reputation is growing as a global security hub where homegrown success stories like Trustev, Barricade and Jumble have gone global alongside multinationals like Intel Security, Trend Micro, Malwarebytes and Fireye.

After 18 months in the role of Commissioner here in Dublin there are a couple of other things I know about tech hubs: that connecting the dots between all of the organizations within one is a full time job – even in a city where these organizations know each other well and where we’re really good at putting the interests of our startups first.

But, probably the most important thing I know (or have realised) over time is that no matter how strong our startups and how energetically we support them through organizations like mine and others, it’s government policy – around funding, visas, education and taxation – that plays the biggest role in fostering homegrown innovation, ensuring that Ireland has tech hubs, and that our cities and towns can thrive in the new digital economy.

Right now, though, it’s time for a shoutout to the People’s Republic and the great organizations supporting startups there – Built in Cork, Cork Innovates, It@Cork, Tyndall, Ignite and many others. Heard about Startup Ireland’s 2016 Gathering in Cork this November? You have now.

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