These are the Limerick leaders supporting and celebrating the mid-west.
For the entire month of May, we’ve been diving deep into the Limerick sci-tech scene, showcasing the best and brightest the mid-west region has to offer. We’ve already given you a list of 11 people you should follow to get connected to this community. Today, as our month-long Limerick love-in concludes, we look at those who are shaping this ecosystem.
Some are from Limerick, bolstering the region with their native enthusiasm and international reputation. Others are newer to the parish but nonetheless making a significant impact.
Gráinne Barry, Emily Ross and Martina Skelly
The trio of Gráinne Barry, Emily Ross and Martina Skelly have (alongside their company roles at Stats, Inkvine Communications and YellowSchedule, respectively) established SportsTechIreland. This not-for-profit organisation has set out to promote Ireland as a world-leading destination for sports innovation and technology, and Limerick is the centre of operations. In terms of measurable goals, this means doubling the number of sports tech companies operating in Ireland by 2020 through mentoring and commercialisation programmes, the promotion of research, and the positioning of a landing zone with a dedicated performance lab for organisations looking to locate in the country.
Limerick businessman Denis Brosnan is a leading name in the agri-foods sector as the founder and, up to 2003, the chair of Kerry Group. The man behind Kerry Group’s growth into a multinational business and one of the top 10 companies in Ireland has also served as chair of many other businesses in the equine, sport and healthcare sectors. He is currently the chair of Limerick 2030, the programme to deliver key infrastructure across strategic sites in the county.
Colette Cowan is group CEO of the University of Limerick (UL) Hospitals Group, which consists of six hospitals in the mid-west region. Described as “an inspiration” to those in the region, Cowan is working on bringing emerging technology solutions to medical care in the mid-west, starting with pioneering robotic surgery.
Limerick’s own Ray Downes may have packed his bags for New York, but he still helps his homestead strike the right balance for business. As CEO of Kemp Technologies, Downes finds himself mingling with international business leaders, and the opportunities in Limerick and Ireland’s mid-west are bound to be mentioned. He also plays the role of ambassador to other US companies seeking to settle in the area, having hosted visits from Gilt, WP Engine and Stats over the years.
General manager and VP of Analog Devices’ manufacturing operations in the US and Ireland, Denis Doyle has decades of experience at the company that recently celebrated 40 years in Limerick. Described as humble, unassuming and helpful, Doyle is also known to pay it forward and works to encourage more students to pursue careers in engineering through initiatives such as Limerick for Engineering.
Catherine Duffy, general manager and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust Limerick, is immensely well respected among her peers. Worldwide, Northern Trust has been growing its employee headcount year upon year, and Limerick is no exception, growing from 19 staff in 2007 to 1,200 today. Speaking about her career journey with Siliconrepublic.com, she said: “I really enjoy the people aspect of the role, seeing staff move through the organisation either by promotion or taking internal opportunities elsewhere with us in the world.”
IDA Ireland’s mid-west Ireland manager, Enda McLoughlin, believes Limerick’s city and county leaders, along with its neighbours, have worked together to foster an ecosystem like no other in Europe. For his part, McLoughlin is quick to make the right introductions and connections when needed, and eager to sing the praises of the region.
Meath native Conn Murray has found himself at nine different local authorities over the years. In 2014, when Limerick City and County Councils merged into one entity, Murray was appointed dual manager of both. In the ensuing years, this union has been credited as one of the factors helping transform the county from “whipping boy of the crash to poster boy of recovery”.
Dr Janice O’Connell
As tech ambassador for Ireland’s mid-west at Innovate Limerick, Dr Janice O’Connell has a pedigree in technology that has seen her rise in her career as a software engineer to become head of the IT department at Limerick Institute of Technology. Her focus is on turning Limerick into an innovation hub that fosters smarter working but also captures the momentum of a swirling tide of start-ups, SMEs and multinationals to create something unique.
While Regeneron vice-president Niall O’Leary hails from a farming background in Killarney, he’s now loving Limerick and his workforce is thriving there. O’Leary spent more than 20 years working in biotech, pharma and medical device companies in the US and now he’s injecting new life into the Limerick sci-tech scene. The Regeneron facility in Raheen attracts visitors seeking a peek at the state-of-the-art set-up – and now there are greenhouses and a bee motel to see, too.
As manufacturing platform lead at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Barry O’Sullivan oversees the making of millions of contact lenses. As 2018 president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and chair of the Mid-West Action Plan for Jobs implementation committee, he’s lending his vision to the Irish business community and earning high praise from his peers in the process.
Dr Norah Patten
Dr Norah Patten could be Ireland’s first astronaut, and she’s inspiring the country along the way. Last year, she was selected as a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere). Since writing about her experience as an astronaut in training for Siliconrepublic.com, Pattern was confirmed as a crew member on a two-week lunar analogue mission at Lunares taking place this summer.
Dr Mary Shire
Seen as the right hand of UL president Prof Desmond Fitzgerald, Dr Mary Shire is vice-president of research at the university, overseeing some exciting projects. A native of Newcastle West, Shire has been in her leadership position at UL since 2011 and has, in just a few short years, led the institution to become one of the most respected research hubs in Europe.