Ireland must show off tech ability, urges start-up chief

Ireland has much more to do to promote its image as a centre of excellence for technology innovation, a leading expert has warned.

At a UCC Commerce Conference yesterday, the commissioner for Dublin start-up companies, Niamh Bushnell told attendees that much more had to be done to spread information on the tech innovation and entrepreneurial happening in Ireland.

A Cork native, Ms Bushnell founded and invested in companies in New York City before being headhunted by Dublin Chamber and Dublin City Council in 2014 to become Dublin’s first start-up commissioner. Her task to promote Dublin as a start-up city has been a massive challenge so far, she said.

“Regarding the reputation of Dublin as an international innovation city, nobody knows about Ireland and innovation outside of here,” she said. “If you think that people know there is great product being built here by multinationals and by start-up companies, they don’t.

“Everywhere I go I see that and particularly all the years I lived in the US, they think of Ireland as a service-based economy. They think of Ireland as green fields and a lot of dairy. They think of Ireland as a place for multinationals to do good business but not necessarily of innovation business.”

Ms Bushnell called for more support to be given to Irish entrepreneurs, saying the tax system was punitive to innovators.

She also highlighted what she described as a dearth of data and computer scientists that needed bridging if Ireland was to maximise its potential.

“There has been a slow change in policy that has been detrimental and it remains a concern,” she said.

Also speaking at the conference, which was partnered by the Irish Examiner, was vice president of EMC Dell’s Europe, Middle East and Asia’s centres of excellence, Bob Savage.

Mr Savage said much of the impact of Brexit had happened already with the changes in currency values, adding Ireland had to engage with the new US administration of Donald Trump.

“We will take our seat at the table. I’ve seen it for 30 years, we have done it with many different administrations,” he said.

Mr Savage, a former president of the American Chamber in Ireland, said there were many opportunities as well as challenges in the new political landscape facing the world.

He said that Cork’s importance in Dell EMC meant that it was set for continuous success in the future.

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