More collaboration needed between Irish start-ups and multinationals

15 Mar 2019

Image: © eyegelb/

A key failing in the Irish innovation ecosystem still needs to be addressed, says TechIreland.

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate in the Innovation Nation 2019 coffee table book published by TechIreland this week. It is chock-full of 120 pages of inspirational tales of innovation across the sectors and the cities of Ireland.

But, while chapter after chapter shares data on funding as well as interviews with key individuals, TechIreland’s Niamh Bushnell laments that there is still some work to be done on ensuring local start-ups and multinationals work together.

Future Human

When asked from a policy perspective if the book’s compilation signalled any particular areas that need attention and focus, Bushnell said: “Yes, there are a number of recurring themes, whether you’re talking to people based in the cities or focusing on specific sectors – themes like deeper collaboration, greater support from government, infrastructure to keep us competitive and support further regional expansion.

“But the most common theme from the interviews and podcasts we did with the book was the lack of real engagement in most sectors and cities between multinationals and start-ups. That view and concern is consistent – with very few exceptions – across the board.

“And I get it, it’s a hard nut to crack, but it’s also important that significant bodies of work like the Innovation Nation book call out these concerns and keep us as an ecosystem and a government working hard to find creative new ways to benefit from our shared interests and industry.”

Innovation to inspiration

Bushnell said that the idea for publishing the book was to produce something that could be of use to people representing Ireland overseas. It began as an experiment, and the 2018 edition sold more than 2,000 copies and is in embassies and consulates around the world.

“Thanks to the book and the conversations it prompts with advisers and experts around the country, you get introduced to new companies and brought closer to companies you knew but hadn’t paid enough attention to. This year’s book introduced me to bright lights like Hexafly and P4ML and Getvisibility and Nu, and makes me wonder how on earth these companies weren’t already on my radar. It also makes me realise just how potentially strong the ecosystem is here.

“I’m also inspired by the depth of conviction shown by ecosystem supporters we interview in the book like DC Cahalane, Camille Donegan, Elaine Fennelly, Ronan Furlong and others. These people take their commitment to Ireland and to innovation way beyond the day job and we wouldn’t hold up competitively on an international scale without their work and their passion,” Bushnell said.

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