Ambition to make Ireland the ‘go-to place’ for start-ups in Europe (video)

27 Aug 2015

Pictured at Dogpatch Labs earlier today were Patrick Walsh, MD of Dogpatch Labs, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, and the head of Google in Ireland Ronan Harris. Photo by Connor McKenna

Ireland’s Government harbours ambitions to make Ireland the go-to place in Europe for start-ups.

“That’s a long-term vision,” said Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, who was opening the new Google Tech Hub at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin.

“It is a very complex network of things that you have to get right. We have been very privileged in the agencies we have, both IDA and Enterprise Ireland, and I think they would stand out by an international standard for the work that they do.”

In what is a major coup for Dublin’s burgeoning start-up community, the addition of the city to Google’s Tech Hub Network increases the amount of start-up resources available from Google in terms of mentors, access to new technologies and access to co-working space in other cities that are part of the Tech Hub Network.

Dogpatch Labs’ members will now also have access to Google Tech Hub co-working space in more than 20 locations around the world, including London, San Francisco and Tel Aviv.

Start-ups will also have access to the Google for Entrepreneurs Global Passport, where entrepreneurs from each hub can work for free at spaces designated at any other hub in the global network.

Google’s decision to select Dublin for its newest Tech Hub was the result of a campaign within Google led by Paddy Flynn, director of product quality, to beef up Google’s contribution to the start-up ecosystem in Ireland.

Dublin’s start-up ecosystem is growing up

“Strategically it is a very good sign for Google,” Flynn said. “The ecosystem has created that opportunity. Practically what it means for Dublin in general is we have a physical space that is recognised as a Tech Hub, that is sponsored by somebody like Google, that is open to community events, community development and community creation, that is the local piece to it and we have a physical centre point, Dogpatch, which is now part of a global network.”

The move comes almost a week after Google announced a new €150m data centre for Dublin that will generate 400 new jobs in the construction phase.

Google already employs up to 5,000 people in Dublin – 2,500 directly and 2,500 indirectly.

The head of Google in Ireland Ronan Harris said that the start-up community in Ireland is really thriving. “We’re seeing some of Europe’s best start-ups now located here.”

Harris said that Google, which came to Dublin in 2002 and which was quintessentially a start-up at that time, has an affinity with the community.

“Having grown up and taken our first steps in Ireland we consider ourselves having been a start-up with five people from the ground up and now we’ve grown to the thousands of employees we have today.

“But we have kept that entrepreneurial spirit and that focus on innovation is still very much to the fore of the business.

“We think it is only natural that we partner with the Irish start-up community and we do help with their growth,” Harris said.

The managing director of Dogpatch Labs, Patrick Walsh, said that the partnership with Google will be a win-win for the local start-up community.

“A big part of what we do at Dogpatch is meet-ups and workshops and we already host a number of Google ‘meet the expert’ type events and so we’re going to be able to do a lot more of that kind of stuff.

“The other piece that is really interesting is [Dogpatch members] are now part of the Google Tech Hub International Passport scheme where now they can travel around the world and access all the other co-working spaces backed by Google – in London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Chicago, San Francisco and places across Asia.”

He said that this could be very useful in helping Irish start-ups scale internationally as they will have a port of call in every major start-up hub.

The development comes on the heels of Ulster Bank partnering with Dogpatch to develop the 8,000 sq ft vaults beneath the chq Building and turn it into a focal point for the Dublin start-up community.

“The first phase was about housing companies, the next phase is the vaults, which will be much more focused on events and workshops and supporting the wider start-up community,” said Walsh.

“We would like to play a much bigger role in supporting those kind of things. This is a facility for a lot of different people and not just people in Dogpatch.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years