Tech cluster submission could create 1,300 jobs, says it@Cork

The IT sector’s representative body in the south of the country, it@Cork, has submitted an application to the Government seeking funding for an initiative that could create 1,300 jobs over the coming years.

The organisation last week made a submission to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation as well as the IDA for backing in establishing a proper tech cluster in the south-east with an appointed cluster manager.

The role is needed to bring the region in line with leading tech clusters across Europe which are accessing funding and streamlining their efforts far better than the ICT sector here.

With a range of interested parties in the region representing specific sectors including start-ups; SMEs; multinationals; and academic institutions, someone is needed to oversee and direct all the activity in the ICT sector, according to it@Cork chairman Ronan Murphy.

“What the successful clusters have is a cluster manager and his or her job is to try and tie those pieces together so they understand when there’s an opportunity for a company to either collaborate or innovate with a bigger company, another start-up or with other clusters in Europe.

“What a cluster manager’s job is, is to identify how with the likes of IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Built In Cork, it@Cork, Nimbus, Tyndall, Tralee IT — how can we tie them together and help to make the cluster function effectively,” Mr Murphy said.

Speaking at the it@Cork European Tech Summit in conjunction with the Irish Examiner at Cork City Hall, Mr Murphy said while some people in the region claim a proper tech cluster exists in the south-east, in reality, the raw materials exist but it has not been streamlined into a coherent package as of yet.

As a result, huge pools of European funding are going untapped by businesses in the area which if availed of have the potential to grow employment in the region.

Along with greater collaboration, innovation and internationalisation at least 1,300 jobs could be created which would have a positive knock-on effect that could support three times as many roles in other sectors.

The submission was made last week following a call from the Jobs Department for ideas as to how to divvy up its €250m regional jobs fund.

About €300,000 would be needed over a two- to three- year timeframe which would be used to pay the cluster manager’s salary — something Mr Murphy accepts would make the person a “highly-paid individual”.

The manager’s salary could be evaluated against a very clear and transparent set of metrics that would track performance.

“That person, their progress can be tracked almost like a salesperson: how much money can they generate from the funding that’s available in Europe that we otherwise wouldn’t get into the economy; how many jobs can they create; how many start-ups and SMEs can they help and how many multinationals will play ball in the process?”

The plan is a “real and tangible” roadmap to creating jobs and enhancing the ICT sector in the south-east region that isn’t reinventing the wheel but which has a proven track record across Europe, Mr Murphy added.


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