Recognising and celebrating local innovation: it@Cork Leader Awards

Recognising and celebrating local innovation: it@Cork Leader Awards

From multinationals to indigenous start-ups, companies shortlisted for this year’s it@Cork Leaders Awards are blazing a trail in technology.

Whether they have five employees or 500 employees, the contribution of a multitude of companies to the success and growth of the South-West’s IT sector cannot be overstated and should not be overlooked,according to the judging panel of the it@cork Leaders Awards 2019 as they shortlisted entries for the seven awards categories in advance of the gala finale to be held in Rochestown Park Hotel on October 18.

In its 13th year, the awards recognise and celebrate achievement, innovation, and commitment to the sector. Previous winners of the Tech Leader of the Year Award will this week be inducted into it@cork’s Tech Leaders Hall of Fame.

“The Leader Awards recognise all those who have gone further than most in the use of technology in their respective organisations and businesses in order to excel growth,” said Anthony O’Callaghan, chairman of it@cork, a not-for-profit independent business organisation representing the interests of the IT industry in Ireland.

It represents more than 300 member companies with over 30,000 employees.

Noting two awards categories in particular, the Multinational of the Year Award and the SmartTechnology Innovation Award, Mr O’Callaghan said: “These awards demonstrate clearly the diverse range of tech companies in Cork offering innovation, creating jobs, and driving the local economy.”

Among the categories is the Multinational of the Year Award, which, as the title suggests, looks at companies with a global reach. Eoghan O’Mahony, cluster manager at it@Cork, said:

The companies selected have a significant presence in the Cork region and have demonstrated over many years a real commitment to the future growth of the technology sector here

The Smart Technology Innovation Award recognises the kind of smart thinking that can lead to transformative change and is often an attribute of successful start-ups. It also celebrates businesses that are disrupting traditional business models in new ways.

According to the judges, the companies selected in this category have demonstrated a passion for innovation and have already made strides in bringing this passion to fruition by delivering unique technology products or solutions.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Award concentrates on efforts being made by Irish businesses to give back to and help to enhance the communities in which they operate

“The shortlist for the Corporate Social Responsibility it@cork Leaders Award 2019 recognises the huge effort of three Cork-based tech companies and their people in doing what they can to drive social and environmental change,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

“The vast array of initiatives, volunteer work, and charities supported by these companies shows that their attitude to CSR is not just an ‘added extra’ in their approach, but that it is integral in their organisation and very much at the core of their belief system and in the spirit of what they do.

At the official opening of the Spearline office in Waterford were Kevin Buckley, CEO, Spearline; Willie Donnelly, president of Waterford Institute of Technology, who opened the new office; Liam Dunne, chief commercial officer, Spearline, and Matthew Lawlor, chief technical officer, Spearline. Picture: Mary Browne
At the official opening of the Spearline office in Waterford were Kevin Buckley, CEO, Spearline; Willie Donnelly, president of Waterford Institute of Technology, who opened the new office; Liam Dunne, chief commercial officer, Spearline, and Matthew Lawlor, chief technical officer, Spearline. Picture: Mary Browne

“All entrants into this award in particular deserve commendation because each and every one are giving back in so many different ways to the community, and the people in these organisations are doing what they can to ultimately make the world a better place — be it at a local or even a global level in some cases.”

Mr O’Mahony added: “Those candidates that made it to the shortlist this year spoke to the judges in a way that made it very clear that each of these organisations takes their CSR role very seriously and has a passion for rolling out initiatives every year that they believe will help various members in and aspects of our society.

"Across the board in these three organisations, employees are stepping up and giving their time and expertise to roll out a variety of CSR campaigns.”

Multinational of the year award contenders

McAfee is a global cybersecurity company which in its 15 years in Cork has grown from 36 to almost 400 employees. Including in its many contributions to the community is its McAfee Online Safety Program, launched in 2012, reaching over 41,500 students to date and its Coder Dojo which is the longest-running, business-hosted Dojo in the world.

From fun initiatives like bringing your dog to work PAW Program & Scooters, to more serious and culturally progressive goals like its achievement of global gender pay parity throughout the organisation, to its extensive partnerships with local and national networking groups, initiatives and charities ensure McAfee is one of the most important players in the IT and cybersecurity industry, not just in Cork but in Ireland.

Quest designs and delivers tailored IT products to public and private organisations throughout the world to enable these organisation to run their operations more effectively. Although Quest has a presence in 24 countries, it has a long history in Ireland going back as far as 1990, and ultimately made the decision to locate its international and European headquarters in Cork in 2010.

Quest now employs more than 200 employees in its Cork office with the majority of senior leadership personnel based there. Quest puts much of the success it has experienced to date down to the talented employee base that Cork has provided, which has shaped the direction of Quest in the region and had a massive impact on the company’s direction globally.

IBM is the longest established contender to be shortlisted for the award. It is one of Ireland’s leading cloud platform and cognitive products companies.

Restlessly reinventing itself since arriving in Ireland in 1956, the company went on to open its Cork office in 1969, which now employs more than 220 people skilled in security and cloud services. IBM is the largest software development company in Cork and the southern region.

Smart technology innovation award contenders

Keelvar provides software for some of the worlds largest companies such as Coca-Cola, BMW, and Siemens when it is running its largest auctions or tender events on a global scale.

Over €60bn in spend volumes are managed on Keelvar’s platform and the firm recently launched sourcing bots that automate negotiations on behalf of these companies. Keelvar is growing rapidly and hiring for numerous roles in Cork, Germany, and the USA.

Blink is one of the biggest success stories to come out of Cork in the last few years. Founded in 2016, to build data-driven travel disruption insurance products, it was one of the first InsurTech start-ups to focus on travel insurance. Blink is the world’s first real-time resolution flight- cancellation insurance product.

Six months after it was founded, the company was sold to AIM-listed CPP Group and now Blink and team in Cork are partnering globally with some of the largest insurance companies to drive innovation in Asia, Europe and North America.

Spearline is a rapidly growing technology company headquartered in Skibbereen, Co Cork, with offices in Waterford, Romania, and India.

Spearline is providing a solution for some of the world’s largest brands with its niche technology which proactively monitors phone numbers and telecoms networks for audio quality and connectivity globally.

Corporate social responsibility award contenders

McKesson, a global leader in healthcare and a Fortune 7 company, sees corporate social responsibility as a way to provide better health for the planet and for people everywhere by using their economic, environmental, social, and governance resources thoughtfully and responsibly.

Since establishing its Cork base in 2001, employee-led community initiatives have raised over €425,000 for charities including Enable Ireland, HOPE Foundation, Breast Cancer Ireland, and Focus Ireland.

Employee volunteers in Cork have supported local charities too, including Down Syndrome Cork, Ballincollig Tidy Towns, and Cuanlee Refuge, a safe and secure crisis accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

Gas Networks Ireland aims to deliver its services in a sustainable manner that contributes to the protection of the environment while supporting the social and economic development of the communities it operates in.

McAfee Cork: A serious commitment to making community social responsibility an integral part of everything it does.
McAfee Cork: A serious commitment to making community social responsibility an integral part of everything it does.

Gas Networks Ireland is one of 33 companies in Ireland to hold the Business Working Responsibly mark and is committed to ensuring that social responsibility is at the core of its business and key to its strategy.

The company has a wide range of initiatives to back this up including its commitment to the Low Carbon Pledge, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, the STEM education programme, and Energize, in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland in primary schools across the country.

This programme is available to 5,000 sixth-class students nationwide, and aims to foster students’ interest in STEM subjects.

Earlier this year, Gas Networks Ireland published its first sustainability report. Sustainability in Action highlights Gas Networks Ireland’s progress in implementing the principles of the UN sustainable development goals across the business.

McAfee has, for many years, shown serious commitment to making community social responsibility an integral part of everything it does.

Highlights of its CSR work include the ‘Mission Enable’ project in which two crews of 13 volunteers donated 80 hours to transform the Enable Ireland Ard Na Mara Respite House into a tranquil oasis; the Green Beach Clean Up at which 36 bags of rubbish were collected over 141 hours by 32 volunteers in the fight against marine damage; the DAWG campaign whereby seven McAfee employees spent 42 hours of volunteering to fundraise for this charity; McAfee’s mini market raised €2,068 for Down Syndrome Corkand Enable Ireland,co-ordinated by a team of 33 volunteers and open to all companies across CityGate.

It has also recently set up a McAfee Goes Green campaign in which it is looking for ways to make an impact across the environment, in terms of efficiency, recycling, packaging, and the awareness of the difference that everybody can make.

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