National Software Centre in Cork morphs into a venture capitalist – plans to invest in start-ups

7 Sep 2012

Pictured: director of the National Software Centre Shemus Eivers speaking on the occasion of the Centre's 10th anniversary

The National Software Centre in Cork is to begin investing in post-incubation-stage companies. The 10-year-old operation currently hosts companies employing more than 300 people.

“Companies in the post-incubation stages of development require a strong peer network and collaborative environment in which they can grow,” the director of the National Software Centre (NSC) Shemas Eivers explained.

“Here at the NSC, we have been providing support to a fledgling IT sector for the last 10 years. Now we want to invest in the future to provide increased employment opportunities for growing companies.”

Cork’s digital hub

The Mahon-based NSC was created in 2002 on the back of a report published by Cork City Council in the late 1990s calling for the creation of a digital hub in Cork.

Founded by Shemas Eivers, Teddy McCarthy, Aidan O’Driscoll and Donagh Kiernan as a public-private partnership between the IT industry and Cork City Council, the NSC is kitted out with world-class broadband infrastructure to provide physical and virtual office space for digital firms.

Currently there are 80 companies employing more than 300 people at the NSC, including global coding phenomenon CoderDojo. Indeed, the first start-ups to emerge from the one-year-old CoderDojo movement have located at the NSC.

The NSC houses a cluster of Irish technology companies, including Avnet Client Solutions and ePubDirect. The presence of the NSC also encouraged a number of major international technology firms, such as Big Fish, McAfee and Solarwinds, to locate there.

There are 4,000 people employed in IT in the Mahon area alone.

The NSC can also accommodate temporary residents and to date, almost 130 physical companies have passed through it in the last decade.

The NSC is participating enormously in the growth of telecommunications infrastructure in Cork. It currently acts as a traffic-switching site for a number of organisations, such as eNet, Smart Telecom and Vodafone.

The NSC, as part of the Cloud Valley initiative, expects to play a major role, both as a hub within the Mahon local area, and as a routing and switching centre for the roll out of a massive Cork WDM network. A key objective of the Cloud Valley project is to achieve the critical mass necessary to attract an international fibre connection to Cork.

The NSC also functions as a backup and recovery site for customers of the Cork Internet exchange.

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