Friday, September 21, 2012
A cluster of emerging Cork-based firms have been succeeding against the economic odds in recent years.
Many of the most successful can thank the Rubicon, the CIT-hosted business incubation centre — home to at least 50 companies at any one time since the demise of the Celtic Tiger in 2008-09.
The Rubicon’s programmes include New Frontiers, PINC, EnterpriseSTART and the Discovery Zone. These initiatives assist businesses in numerous categories, most of which fall under the two broad umbrellas of "start-up enterprise" or "existing company seeking to evolve".
Big success stories include Gerry O’Brien’s Radissens Diagnostics (see p10), David Buckley and Brian Jackson’s daily discount service Foffit.com, and Eugene Heavey’s mobile phone interference reduction specialist firm Ferfics, which has generated around €2m in investment, including backing from Enterprise Ireland.
Another is Conor Quigley’s Safe Care Technologies, which provides hardware and software solutions for the elderly and people with disabilities. Safe Care evolved from Future Homes, a company which sought Rubicon’s expertise when it needed to navigate a change of direction.
"Every start-up faces similar challenges and being part of the team in a highly supportive environment has been of enormous benefit to me," said Conor Quigley.
"The Rubicon Centre provides me with a network of supports and as a participant on the New Frontiers Programme I have learned how a company can succeed and the pitfalls to be aware of when scaling your business up.
"The environment here is positive and motivating for all participants who are all committed to developing a successful business and I would recommend any entrepreneur starting out on their journey to start on a programme such as New Frontiers, the advice and support you receive will be invaluable in the long run — you won’t regret it."
Originally known as the Genesis Enterprise programme, New Frontiers has since evolved into a nationwide programme. This initiative helps entrepreneurs at the outset of their development cycle.
"We have a development ladder," explains Rubicon general manager Paul Healy. "With New Frontiers, the first stage is part-time. You can stay in your job, and you can use the programme on a Friday night and Saturday to assess the value of your business idea.
"So, for the first six weeks, you don’t have to risk the family silver. We want people to think about it first, then come up with a realistic plan, and then execute it."
The Rubicon view is that any start-up is a high risk venture. They work closely with Enterprise Ireland, Cork City and County Council, the local Enterprise Boards and others to give start-ups the best possible chance of success.
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