There has been a quiet IT revolution happening as the digital world transforms the way we live — and the world is waking up to the fact that Cork is becoming a major player on the world stage when it comes to tech, writes Pádraig Hoare.
The city has been a major European base of choice for tech giants like Apple, Dell EMC and Amazon for a generation, but the latest wave of innovators and upstarts in technology aiming to change the way we live are now choosing Cork above other European cities.
With a 63% increase in employment in the last five years, and more than 13,000 workers currently employed in over 60 IDA support companies, Cork continues to position itself as a city of tech supremacy.
The role of voluntary tech advancement body, IT@Cork in promoting the region has been lauded by political and business leaders for furthering the region’s ambition.
Its annual Tech Summit continues to wow the crowds in attendance -- including a world’s first live cyborg implanting last year.
The 2018 event’s co-chair and IT@Cork director, Gillian Bergin, said: “Representing over 300 member companies, the board is made up of volunteers from industry, academia and Government who are passionate about bringing these three areas together, along with the legal and financial profession services community, to drive greater collaboration, innovation, attract and retain tech talent in the region and ultimately create a tech cluster.
“The entire board and staff of IT@Cork give generously of their time for the greater good of the region and are making a significant impact. The organisation goes from strength to strength each year.”
It is difficult to predict how much more Cork’s IT sector can grow, but it will certainly continue to see more jobs in the near future, Ms Bergin said.
“With the increasing demand for talent by the tech companies, the calibre of graduates coming out of our universities and colleges and the cost of living in Cork being almost 20% less than that of Dublin, Cork remains a compelling value proposition,” Mr Bergin said.
“Technology is so pervasive in all businesses and sectors today, that building a strong talent pipeline in Cork will benefit the whole region.
“The nature of business and the workplace globally is changing, enabled by connected devices, IoT and smart machines.
"These enabling-technologies can transform small companies into big players very quickly and with cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and data analytics becoming areas of increasing interest for everyone, I can only see this growth going one way — up.”
The proof is in the pudding, as the old cliché goes.
Texan cybersecurity firm Forcepoint picked Cork when it came to choosing a European home in 2018.
Cork was chosen with 100 jobs to come initially.
Forcepoint stops threats such as spam, malware and malicious threats before they can even be accessed by employees of organisations.
Majority-owned by military industrial complex defence giant Raytheon, Forcepoint analyses up to five billion web threats from 155 countries daily.
Forcepoint chief executive Matt Moynahan said: “I get about a dozen calls or emails from various development authorities from around the world.
“It is a very competitive environment. You always have a vision of where you want to be and the representation of the country tells you whether you were right or not.
“There are two types of talent — there is the new talent coming from universities, which is the feeder system, almost like in baseball where you’ve got the teams that are feeding the teams that are professional. Universities are a big part of it. The other element is that Cork’s employee base has matured. It’s the perfect time to come here because you have those two things converging.”
Late last year, Park Place Technologies said it would invest in 70 new tech jobs over the next two years in Cork.
The Cleveland, Ohio-headquartered firm said Cork was chosen because of the talent pool, as well as the influence of its senior vice president for advanced engineering and call centre, Cork native Nicola Buckley.
Founder and chief executive Ed Kenty said: “When you see well-established technology companies who have been here 20 years, even though they are competitors, you know this is the right place for us.”
The Data backup and management firm Rubrik, from Silicon Valley, picked Cork as its new European base, with more than 50 jobs to be created when it officially opened its offices last April.
Rubrik has been described as one of the fastest growing tech companies in Silicon Valley with clients such as the Mercedes Formula 1 motor racing champions, US Government Departments and online travel giant Expedia.
Companies like Rubrik could have gone to a number of European cities, but input from the likes of the IDA, UCC and CIT sealed the deal for Cork.
Senior vice-president of global customer support, Giri Iyer said of Cork: “Having world-class institutions like UCC and CIT wanting to partner with a company like Rubrik means we can have input into curriculums, how we can shape the next generation of engineers, and that is a very refreshing model.”
With Rubrik, MSP @eGroup_Inc on-ramps customers to the #cloud and leverages multi-tenancy capabilities to serve clients in highly-regulated industries. Watch the full story here https://t.co/5aN2sNfsix pic.twitter.com/ez4BBUZ28t— Rubrik, Inc. (@rubrikInc) February 4, 2019
Rubrik is seen as one of the most promising in all of world tech, with $261m being raised in its latest venture capital funding round, leaving it with a valuation of more than $3bn already.
Cork will play a major part in the growth of the five-year-old firm as it becomes a world-renowned name as a defender of private data and businesses.
Founder Arvind Nithrakashyap said:
“It’s very hard for enterprise to manage all this data that is changing at such a rapid pace.
"We saw an opportunity to build a platform that can help enterprise manage that data.
“We see a huge opportunity for Rubrik, we are a long-lasting company that can be around for the next 30 years.
"Does Rubrik have the ambition to be a household name like Google or Facebook? Absolutely.
“In 2014, it was four of us with an idea sitting in an office.
"We knew we had something that could become big, but to see it come to fruition and to see new offices here in Cork, it is very humbling and reminds us we have a responsibility to build a very large company.”