Stepping up to champion tech opportunities with IT@Cork

As the incoming Chair at it@cork, Anthony O’Callaghan is well qualified for the challenge, having spent four years as vice chairman alongside his predecessor, Caroline O’Driscoll, who steps down as chair in next month.

It@cork is a not for profit independent organisation representing the Tech Sector in the South of Ireland.

“Taking over the reins of Ireland’s largest technology cluster, at a time of great prosper in the South West region is both daunting and exciting, but the opportunity to continue to help it@cork grow across our member base strips away any nervousness,” he says.

Having been involved on the board of it@cork for a considerable time, he has witnessed the significant value that this volunteer-led board bring to the region: “As we look forward for it@cork in 2019/20, the opportunities are immense, there is no doubt that we are a region rising, and this is incredibly prevalent in the technology sector.”

Employing close to 30,000 people in the region, the tech sector is the fastest growing industry sector, with most members projecting significant growth in the coming years.

However, with opportunities come obstacles that must be overcome, and our members have stressed the need for affordable housing for their employees, access to a skilled workforce, availability of transport, collaboration opportunities and more

It@cork continues to drive initiatives such as collaborations with educational institutions from both CIT, UCC and the popular Skillnet offering; lobbying to both local and national government; and collaborations with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, helping companies setting in Cork and assisting indigenous companies expand through pathways to funding.

The annual Tech Summit on May 9th will also welcome a number of the industry’s most influential international speakers to the city.

“One of my first events as Chair of it@cork will be this year’s Tech Summit at Cork City Hall, and I cannot think of a better way to kickstart my new role than to gather together with innovators, tech enthusiasts and professionals from all over Europe at an event that will enlighten, inform and enable,” he says.

“Cork is set to become the fastest growing region in Ireland and tech is now the fastest growing sector in the southern region, employing an estimated 30,000 people, with the IDA reporting 63% growth in its supported companies operating in Cork over the last five years alone. Feedback from our members suggests significant growth lies ahead for both our indigenous & global companies.”

He underlines the global brands created in Cork, including Teamwork, Voxpro, CiX, Smarttech247, Poppulo and Xanadu — while, in parallel, many of the most successful multi-nationals in the world, ClearStream, Flex, DellEMC, VMWare, TrendMicro, McKesson and Johnson Controls, have chosen to make Cork their base.

“Whether its home-grown or international relocation, the reason is the same — the talent which Cork can produce in abundance. The city has transformed into a tech hub, companies that were once on the outskirts are now moving further inwards and the results can be seen daily,” he points out. “The cranes are back and the buildings are booked before a brick is laid.”

Rising to the challenge of addressing the issue of skills in the sector ranks high amongst the challenges for the future: “We must work to engage diverse sectors of our labour force in order to embrace the possibility that technology holds. We must also carefully consider how we can further support SMEs — the lifeblood of our economy.

“A passion project in my role as Chair will certainly be to leverage the great work of Skillnet to date, in giving our members access to sustainable training courses for their employees. The work done through this initiative has been stellar — in 2018 alone, 65 tech companies in the South West region took part in Skillnet training, including 50 courses and 500 trainees.”

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