Cork ‘could be a world leader in services industry but must act now’

CORK could be a world leader in the services industry, but it needs to act now before other locations seize the opportunity.

This is according to the founder and managing director of outsourcing firm Abtran, Michael Fitzgerald, who announced a major investment yesterday.

Mr Fitzgerald said Cork can establish itself as a global centre of excellence in the delivery of services. Ireland’s second city will never be able to compete with locations such as India on cost, but it can offer talented graduates, an ease of access and great resources, he said.

“Our people are a source of competitive advantage. More can be done, if Cork acts in a coherent way. Cork can become an internationally recognised brand for services and innovation and if it doesn’t take the opportunity someone else will.”

Mr Fitzgerald said, if this is a success story for Cork, it will be a success story for the country.

Meanwhile, as part of a €6 million investment, Abtran and the Cork Constraint Computation Centre (4C) at UCC are forming a research partnership. It is understood that around €500,000 is being invested in the project.

Speaking at yesterday’s Cork Chamber breakfast briefing, which is sponsored by the Irish Examiner, Mr Fitzgerald said the Abtran and the 4C collaboration will help to position Ireland as a centre of excellence in the €300 billion global business processes industry.

The aim of the partnership is to combine expertise around the development of next-generation technologies. The project will involve research into advanced technologies and processes for the contact centre industry, including data mining and artificial intelligence.

Mr Fitzgerald said: “It will help to create a value-added network between business, universities and the public sector to deliver smart solutions with strong market potential. We expect the findings of our research to be converted into new business development, jobs creation and even better service delivery by Abtran in shared service partnerships with our clients.

“We intend that this innovation will contribute strongly to Ireland’s growing reputation as a world class destination for internationally traded services.”

Enterprise Ireland chief executive, Frank Ryan, said:

“This collaboration with the academic community through 4C is an innovation partnership that will further stimulate innovation in business process outsourcing, generating value for all sides of the partnership and driving Ireland’s reputation as a global centre of excellence for this sector.”

Abtran, was founded in 1997 with six employees and now employs over 900 people in Cork. Its projected turnover is more than €40 million for this year.


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