Cork’s tech ambitions are soaring, with more than 1m sq ft of office space coming on stream in the next 12 months, at half the price of Dublin.
Cork has experienced a 63pc increase in employment in tech companies in the last five years, with 13,000 workers currently employed in 61 IDA support companies in the region.
That’s according to industry body IT@Cork, which held its 21st AGM last night (19 April).
‘It is people who really make a difference. I am certain that Cork will continue to shine brightly as the tech capital of Europe’
– CAROLINE O’DRISCOLL
The organisation’s chair, Caroline O’Driscoll, made it clear that Cork is willing to capture more job opportunities, specifically taking advantage of the fact that the city is more affordable and has more available space than Dublin.
“It is without doubt that Cork’s ICT sector is playing a key role in the economic engine of this city and county. 86pc of our member companies are planning employment growth in the next three years, and a remarkable 22pc of those companies are planning job growth of at least 25pc,” O’Driscoll said.
“Entrepreneurship is pivotal to the successes we are currently witnessing … with 59 Enterprise Ireland-supported companies located here.”
Cork may succeed where Dublin has failed
IT@Cork revealed that Cork has more than 1m sq ft of office space coming on stream in the next 12 months, with office rentals averaging half the price of Dublin.
“The cost of living here is almost 20pc lower than in Dublin. We have a young talented workforce with 50pc of the population of Cork aged under 35, and we are home to 35,000 students in institutes like CIT and UCC,” said O’Driscoll.
However, she warned that complacency must be avoided if Cork is to flourish.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. Our members have voiced concerns to us over the global STEM [skills shortage] but this is an opportunity for us, too. Ireland has the highest amount of STEM graduates in Europe, which puts us at a competitive advantage. We must continue to focus on our education system to future-proof the tech sector. Initiatives like Cork-born CoderDojo and I Wish show the power of the community to help our young people gain the STEM skills they will need for the jobs of tomorrow.”
She pointed out that city growth must also be tempered with balanced regional growth.
“We welcome Project Ireland 2040 and the drive from central Government to grow the regions as effective counterbalances to Dublin, with Cork set to become the fastest-growing region in Ireland. An overheated capital city or an underutilised region is ultimately bad for Ireland Inc.
“This represents a huge opportunity for Cork, but we must ensure that we action these ambitions and have the appropriate infrastructure in place, particularly housing and transport, which are issues keenly felt by our members. This is also an opportunity for our planners to embrace the possibility of technology and to truly create [a] tech-enabled, connected smart city.”
In terms of the development of IT@Cork, O’Driscoll revealed improved diversity at board level, with 40pc of women on the board and 60pc on the executive management committee.
“It is people who really make a difference. I am certain that Cork will continue to shine brightly as the tech capital of Europe.”