Cork’s potential as convention hub and food technology leader outlined

A number of Cork’s most successful businesspeople took to the stage at the inaugural Cork Global Economic Forum and Network Event yesterday to try and plot a plan for the future of the region.

Speakers at The Rebel Week Cork Global Economic Forum at City Hall, Cork. Pic: Gerard McCarthy

Speaking as part of the gathering, head of Vodafone, Anne O’Leary, emphasised the role that a new convention centre in the city could play in turning the region into a conference-host leader in Europe.

Independent News and Media chairman Leslie Buckley said there was a need to develop a science and technology park.

Chairman of Glen Dimplex, Seán O’Driscoll, said Cork needed to ensure that the boards of state agencies hold at least one board meeting a year in the city.

Despite the praise for the quality of graduates that the region has produced and its potential for further grow, there was also criticism.

Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney said that the built environment in Cork leaves a lot to be desired.

“In contrast to several of the cities discussed here, Cork has not done a particularly good job either functionally or aesthetically in terms of its built architecture in the last 20 years.

“There are no real city centre projects you can be really proud of. As we go forward, how you join up a place that has a vibrant culture, a place that people want to live in, but also what work you can do in the city centre, that is a challenge for hundreds of cities, I don’t see a great answer to it,” he said.

However, he said there remains massive opportunities for the Cork region to capitalise on its organic hinterland and become a food technology leader.

“It is frankly outrageous how the food companies and governments have allowed GM to be denigrated to the degree that it is. There is not the pipeline of food production necessary to provide greater resilience to water scarcity and enough yields to feed people over the next 30 or 40 years,” Mr Coveney said.

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