By @SimonCocking. Delighted to bring you this interview with Barry O’Dowd who has some great insights into why it has been a great year for Ireland in 2015 and the work the IDA does to help keep attracting more great companies to Ireland.

How was 2015 for you at the IDA Emerging Business?

Emerging Business Division continued its success in attracting many early stage fast growth companies. Since it was set up in 2010 over 130 international companies have been attracted to Ireland through the programme. 2015 saw many companies setting up Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Wexford as well as Dublin. Well-known names such as Zendesk, Qualtrics, Riot Games, New Relic, Squarespace, Arista Networks and Alien Vault have come through the programme and are now well established. The arrival of new name companies such as Slack, Amazing.com, Asana and Wrike are building on the success to date.

What were your big wins?

The year started off really well, with Viagogo announcing in January a major expansion of its Limerick operation where it plans to grow to over 200. It started in Limerick in 2014 and now has over 130 on board involved in its new, purpose-built operations centre. Viagogo enables people to buy and sell any ticket to any live event anywhere in the world. It has partnerships with some of the biggest names in global sports and entertainment including Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, Scottish Rugby and Madonna. The company is expanding the scope of its operation to include software development in addition to international customer services.

March saw the arrival of Slack in Dublin and Malwarebytes in Cork. Slack is a privately held software company headquartered in San Francisco, which is transforming the messaging space with customers such as Airbnb, Dow Jones, eBay, Expedia and New York Times. It plans to establish its European Headquarters in Dublin undertaking customer support and account management functions.

Malwarebytes in Cork, where it plans a 50 person team, is involved in cyber security and has been nominated as one of Forbes America’s 2015 Most Promising Companies List. Also on the cyber security side, Cork also was the new home of choice for eSentire, an Ontario-based company. It established a European Headquarters and Security Operations Centre, where it plans to employ 100. eSentire has been named on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Companies to Watch and has been cited as a Canadian Innovation Exchange CIX Top 20 Most Innovative Canadian Company.

In June a big announcement took place. 185 jobs from 6 new companies – 5 US and 1 European across a range of activities such as Technology, Fintech, Business Analytics and Medical Devices. These included NuoDB, which is a leader in Scale out SQL database technology which plans to employ 50 people over three years involved in Software Development, Engineering and Tech Support.

During the Web Summit, 320 new jobs were announced by six North American companies, including Squarespace: 150 jobs, Amazing.com: 50 jobs, Asana: 30 jobs, Pond5: 30 jobs, Wave2Wave:30 and Primary Integration: 20 jobs.

Galway has been the recipient of phenox GmbH from Bochum, Germany. It will employ 65 people in its new Neurovascular Devices, Development and Manufacturing Centre which will become part of the thriving medical technologies cluster in the region.

Anything you’d like to have done differently?

In response to the market growth and the success of Ireland, IDA has been building its overseas marketing team and opening new offices. For example in spring 2015 the new Austin, Texas office was opened. Texas is North America’s fastest growing area for fast-growth companies and IDA is endeavouring to capitalise on this.

What sectors saw the most companies coming to Ireland?

International Services and Technology such as Data Analytics and Business Intelligence are key growth areas. In addition, the Technology sector is performing very well with a number of niche areas such as security doing particularly well. Medtech continues to grow and build upon Ireland’s reputation as one of the leading clusters in the world for Medical Devices.

When you’re overseas selling Ireland, is it a tough pitch, or are people already interested in coming to Ireland?

Our track record at attracting mobile investment is well proven. Ireland continues to perform well in global rankings and recently was rated #4 in the recent Forbes Best Countries for Business.

Ireland has become a Launchpad for high-growth companies across the world. Ireland and its talented workforce are playing a big part in the development of early stage companies as they embark on their next phase of expansion. This is in line with the well-established trend for many companies to start out with modest plans and later become some of the top employers in Ireland such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Is there a shortage of space in Dublin, or are the new and renovated office spaces coming on stream quick enough?

Property solutions are a key requirement for fast-growth companies. A range of space sizes are available for high-growth companies. Flexibility in terms of lease arrangements is critical and many new landlords have entered the market. Many of the companies that have started commenced in co-working and incubator space such as the Digital Hub, Dogpatch Labs and IT Innovation Centres throughout the country. As they grow, the companies have migrated to larger spaces and this has been catered for by the market. Squarespace for example, is now in its third home, having started in Dogpatch Labs and is now in a more permanent facility where it plans to grow to 275 by 2018. Arista Networks commenced in the Limerick Institute of Technology Innovation Space and has since graduated to larger space at Shannon.

Are Currency Fair, and Intercom among others a representative example of new companies moving into existing spaces?

We have seen a big growth in indigenous companies such as Trustev, Datahug and Currency Fair as well as leading overseas companies such as New Relic, Zendesk, Adroll, Udemy, Squarespace, Adara, Riot Games, Qualtrics, HubSpot and Nitro moving into existing spaces. As some of the larger companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter move into new options they are freeing up available space. This churn is proving very positive for both property providers and interior fit-out specialists.

What areas are you most excited by?

Ireland has compelling strengths in a number of clusters including Life Sciences and Technology. These in turn are seeing major waves of convergence which will provide many opportunities for Ireland to build on. The education system is focussed to provide relevant talent to support these clusters and this will be one of Ireland’s competitive advantages. The Insight Centre for Data Analytics is an example of the depth of science and technology available.

Is Ireland a good place for FinTech, if so why?

Fintech was highlighted in the Government’s recently published IFS 2020 strategy with three action plans drawn up – greater sectoral collaboration, engaging both Irish-owned and foreign-owned small-and-medium-sized enterprises and multinationals; identifying domestic and international sources of funding; and supporting upskilling and mentoring programmes with participating companies. The sector has promising job growth potential over the next 5 years.

Your tips for success for new emerging startups?

“Talent, Talent, Talent” – Ireland has an abundance of middle and senior management available with deep experience from the cadre of international companies located here. The management talent is critical and many of the companies have found willingness from highly experienced managers in Ireland to move from the bigger companies to the early stage ones. This is a distinct advantage that Ireland offers against its competitors where there is not such a concentrated abundance of management talent.

For more information about the IDA see here:

Barry O’Dowd is Global Head of the Emerging Business and New Forms of Investment Divisions at IDA Ireland. IDA is Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, and is a non-commercial semi-state body promoting Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland through a wide range of services.

Prior to his current position Barry headed IDA’s Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Division. Currently 9 of the World’s Top 10 Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies have businesses located in Ireland and Barry led an IDA team which had these as customers.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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