Google to forge links with Irish universities

14 Dec 2005

Senior management at Google’s Irish operations, where it is on course in creating 600 new jobs, have affirmed that the local operation will be carrying out research and development (R&D) functions and is hoping to forge links with local universities in terms of working with university researchers to develop new products and services solutions.

A source close to the company told “Google is currently conducting significant online testing in Dublin. It is looking at R&D angles with local universities, not just on product but on services as well.”

At a press conference in the company’s offices yesterday, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD said Ireland was second only to California’s Silicon Valley as a primary location for digital media. He said that a key aspect of Google’s decision to locate in Ireland was access to third-level graduates with multi-level skills as well as the expanded 25-member EU.

On Monday it was reported that Google was planning to create more than 600 jobs in Ireland. The new jobs will be spread across the board, covering fields as diverse as sales, operations, legal, finance and engineering.

Google came to Ireland in 2003 with plans to create an initial 200 jobs within three years. However, the company has clearly exceeded its own projections and at present employs 500 people spread across 40 nationalities serving Google customers in over 35 countries through some 30 languages. Over two thirds of the workforce have fluency in two languages or more.

Minister Martin said: “Since its inception in Ireland in 2003, Google’s business has rapidly developed well ahead of expectations. Following this investment Google will become in a very short period of time one of the most substantial business support integration and development operations in Ireland. This decision yet again demonstrates that Ireland is by far and away the primary location for the digital media industry in Europe and second only to Silicon Valley in the US.”

Google will be locating the new workforce in a building adjacent to its existing operations at Gordon House. Some 100,000sq ft of workspace is currently being renovated by builders for the purpose.

Asked about R&D plans for Ireland, Google’s director of online sales and operations, John Herlihy, explained: “We are constantly trying out new products. We roll them out when many are not quite ready and we get global feedback in hours and minutes. We will be focusing not only on R&D but service delivery by harnessing the power of the net.

“Some 50pc of adults today source their news online and the number of blogs out there are doubling every six months. Increasingly more people are using the web as a first port of call and our business is not only organising the world’s information but targeting highly relevant advertising that will resonate with them.

“Ireland is proving that it’s an excellent location to provide those type of services,” Herlihy said. “We do R&D on a daily basis from Dublin.”

Asked about plans to work with local universities and colleges to develop new products and services, Google’s European director Angus Kelsall affirmed that plans were in the works. “Yes, there are a couple of projects we are looking at but it is too early to talk about them at this point in time.”

Kelsall paid tribute to the support given the company by IDA Ireland, which he said proved invaluable in sourcing property locations as well as cutting through government bureaucracy.

The 600-job expansion was welcomed last night by Steps to Engineering, an Engineers Ireland programme, supported by Discover Science and Engineering, Department of Education and Science, FÁS and the industry, which aims to encourage primary and post-primary students to explore the world of science and engineering and raise awareness about engineering as a career choice. Úna Parsons, industry director with Engineers Ireland, said: “The announcement shows that multinational companies still view Ireland as an attractive place to locate. This should make students and parents more confident when considering engineering as a career.”

In related technology jobs news computer hard drive manufacturer Seagate Technology said yesterday that it will expand its two Northern Ireland plans and hire 300 additional workers. The latest expansion will cost an estimated €123m, of which nearly €37m will be provided by Invest Northern Ireland.

By John Kennedy