West coast’s coolest: 12 sci-tech business influencers in Galway

23 Oct 2019

Image: © Tierney/Stock.adobe.com

A dozen influencers you need to know if you’re doing sci-tech business in Galway and the west of Ireland.

This month, as Siliconrepublic.com focuses on Galway and Ireland’s west coast sci-tech scene, we’ve identified the need-to-know influencers in this space.

From the areas of business and research to start-ups, investment and Government, these are a well-connected set to keep your eye on.

Caroline Cawley

In our journey through the west coast’s sci-tech scene by way of Galway, our first stop was to call on Caroline Cawley.

Cawley is the co-founder of the AtlanTec Festival and has served as CEO of ITAG, the Information Technology Association Galway, since 2002.

ITAG’s mission is to support and maximise the growth potential of its member companies and to improve the overall success rate of the local tech industry. With a collaborative and well-connected community of business leaders, ITAG facilitates networking and educates the wider population on hot sci-tech topics such as AI, machine learning, software development and more.

Mike Conroy

Mike Conroy’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the engineering scene in the west of Ireland is unmatched. Conroy also has a world of experience with engineering teams in the US, UK, India and China, and is an accomplished and passionate leader in his field.

Conroy joined Avaya as a vice-president of engineering in 2017 after close to a decade at Cisco and even more time at Nortel Networks. He got his master’s in engineering from University of Limerick and has also led research projects and industry applications from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre.

John Breslin

You simply can’t swing a cat in the Galway sci-tech ecosystem without hitting upon Prof John Breslin. Breslin co-founded Boards.ie and Adverts.ie as well as the Galway City Innovation District, Startup Galway and the PorterShed innovation hub, where he remains as a director. He is also vice-chair of WestBIC, which provides advice and services for entrepreneurs in the west.

Breslin is also an educator and researcher, recently appointed as a personal professor in electronic engineering at NUI Galway, where he is director of the TechInnovate and AgInnovate entrepreneurship development programmes. He is a co-principal investigator at both the Confirm and Insight SFI research centres and a funded investigator at VistaMilk.

Sandra Ganly

Dr Sandra Ganly is a woman wearing many hats in medtech and health. First, she is medtech director at BioExel, Ireland’s first dedicated medtech accelerator, which is delivered on the NUI Galway campus. She is also a mentor with NUI Galway’s BioInnovate medtech innovation programme, which seeks out novel healthcare solutions by bringing professionals from academia, clinical and industry settings together to collaborate.

Finally, she is CTO of Contego Sports, a company she co-founded with her husband Mark. Combining her expertise in biomedical engineering with his experience in sports equipment design and manufacturing, they have developed a next-generation head guard for rugby players.

Tracy Keogh

Grow Remote co-founder Tracy Keogh is one of the leaders of a remote working revolution aiming to end rural emigration and its devastating local impacts by connecting candidates with permanent remote working roles.

A recent Social Entrepreneurs Ireland awardee, Keogh presented at the Government’s Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development, where she called for more in-depth study on remote working as well as coordination across Government agencies to deliver the necessary supports.

Coming from a role working with start-ups for Bank of Ireland, Keogh is also a global facilitator with Techstars Startup Weekend, tapping into start-up ecosystems across Europe.

Lorna Martyn

Recent winner of the Woman in Technology Award at the 2019 Women Mean Business Awards, Lorna Martyn leads 700 technology professionals from the Galway base of Fidelity Investments. Martyn has been 15 years with the US multinational and was appointed as head of technology in 2017, helping to drive Fidelity’s global strategy for Ireland, India and China.

As both an advocate and coach for diversity and inclusion, Martyn proudly leads a senior technology team that bucks the trend in the industry with more than half being women.

She is on the board of Technology Ireland and is a member of the oversight committee for the Government’s Technology Skills 2022 action plan.

Kenneth Deery

Kenneth Deery is a collaborator and relationship-builder hailing from Achill Island off the west coast. Working as regional engagement manager for AIB, Deery manages AIB’s relationship with PorterShed, the co-working space for scaling tech companies in Galway city. He also owns a family-run B&B on Achill and has experience in tourism as well as banking and finance.

Deery became CEO of Galway Chamber this summer and began with ambitious plans to further strengthen Galway as a location to live and work. In previous roles, he has led business delegations to the US and has collaborated with State and semi-State organisations on various initiatives.

Niamh Costello

A Cavan woman who has made Galway home, Niamh Costello is general manager of Galway Technology Centre (GTC), which provides serviced offices for both start-ups and established businesses that are finding a foothold in the region.

As part of this role, Costello has led strategic marketing initiatives showcasing Galway as a place to do business and GTC now supports 40 companies and more than 300 jobs. It’s also planning a major expansion with the AcademyWest building, forecasting a €62m annual boost to the west of Ireland economy over the next five years.

Costello is also a member of Galway Chamber and a founding member of Galway City Innovation District.

Gillian Buckley

Gillian Buckley is the woman behind the Western Development Commission Investment Fund, the only seed and venture capital fund for Ireland’s western region. She also devised the fund’s evergreen strategy, which enabled it to become self-financing as of 2010 through a number of very successful exits.

In all, Buckley has overseen the investment of more than €44m in 122 businesses. She has also taken on roles at portfolio companies such as Aerogen, Neuravi and Loci Orthopaedics.

She is also a director of the Irish Venture Capital Association and a member of the European Venture Capital Association.

Joanne O’Connor

Joanne O’Connor has a varied background in areas such as UX design, Agile development and project management, which eventually led her to become cybersecurity training manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Galway.

O’Connor is one of the founding members of the Cyber Women Ireland group, which encourages the advancement of women in all aspects of the Irish security community. She represented Ireland at the European Cyber Security Organisation initiative Women4Cyber, which was launched in January 2019.

She also sits on the board for Cyber Ireland, a cluster organisation bringing in industry, academia and Government to focus on the country’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

John Concannon

John Concannon is the freshly appointed vice-president of development at NUI Galway. He came to his latest role from a position at the Department of Foreign Affairs and, before that, was head of the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit, the short-lived division of the Department of the Taoiseach that was wound down in early 2018.

A Galway native, Concannon made a name for himself driving ‘brand Ireland’ initiatives such as The Gathering and the marketing of the Wild Atlantic Way at Fáilte Ireland. At NUI Galway, he is responsible for new developments to grow the university’s student population as well as its programmes and research activities.

Barry O’Sullivan

Originally from Cork, Barry O’Sullivan served as CEO of Galway success story Altocloud, which was acquired by Silicon Valley software player Genesys in 2018. Altocloud’s AI-powered customer conversion platform was founded by O’Sullivan, Joe Smyth and Dan Arra. Now Genesys has grown in Galway, with the ambition of becoming one of Ireland’s largest AI development centres.

Currently general manager of Genesys Core, O’Sullivan is also an active investor and co-founded the Irish Technology Leadership Group, a group of Irish-American technology executives. He divides his time between Galway and Palo Alto, where he is managing director of Palo Alto Technology Partners, an advisory firm for companies looking to scale globally.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.