Microsoft and Guinness centre collaborate on BizSpark software cluster

12 May 2009

Dublin’s Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) is to establish the first and only Microsoft 360-degree BizSpark cluster in Ireland, which will be available to only six promising start-up companies in the first phase.

Under the plan, accepted companies will be provided with development facilities, in addition to the existing benefits available through the BizSpark programme – access to software, enterprise support services and potential access to finance.

The GEC is the Dublin city centre home to around 70 early stage indigenous enterprises. The centre provides a mix of flexible office space, together with a complete range of enterprise support services and finance through the AIB Seed Capital Fund or the Halo Business Angel Partnership.

Last month, GEC graduate company OpenJaw Technologies announced plans to create 35 positions in 2008. Overall, GEC graduate companies produced over 400 high-tech jobs last year.

The core GEC/BizSpark package includes dedicated business and software development facilities, software, training and business advice.  Companies with strong growth potential will be integrated into the prestigious Dublin BIC start-up programme, which provides extensive business development services and access to finance.

This 360-degree offering is believed to be the first of its kind available in Ireland.

“We are keen to kick-start the next generation of Ireland’s international entrepreneurs,” said John McInerney, manager, Guinness Enterprise Centre.

“Together with Microsoft and Dublin BIC, we can bring the necessary technology, business development expertise and seed capital to accelerate the development of Ireland’s indigenous IT sector, which is absolutely critical to our economic regeneration.

“This is just one of the programme initiatives that we are rolling out to let people know that entrepreneurship is a viable option and that there are great supports available for the right people and ideas,” he concluded.

The joint collaboration between Microsoft and GEC seeks to accelerate the indigenous software sector. By joining the Microsoft global partner network, the GEC has created Ireland’s first and only dedicated cluster environment for the Microsoft BizSpark initiative.

The six companies accepted into the first phase of the programme will receive significant help aimed at removing the obstacles to starting a software business in Ireland. The GEC has designated an open-plan office suite to facilitate the development of a Microsoft BizSpark start-up cluster of companies.

“Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in driving innovation and creating the kind of new jobs that are essential to support Ireland’s smart economy vision,” explained Ronan Geraghty, BizSpark programme manager (Ireland) at Microsoft.

“The BizSpark programme has been designed to help Ireland’s indigenous start-up community at a time when they need the support most. We have had a huge response to the programme to date, with almost 200 companies signed up to participate.

“We believe that the companies selected to participate in the GEC cluster will receive significant benefits as a result, and we look forward to working with GEC to ensure that this extension of the programme is a tremendous success,” said Geraghty.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: John McInerney, manager, GEC, and Ronan Geraghty, BizSpark programme manager (Ireland) at Microsoft