Monthly Archives: April 2017

Start ups are Choosing Galway

Galway isn’t just a great place to live; it’s an ideal location for entrepreneurs who are starting their own businesses. John Breslin (Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway and Director, TechInnovate) outlines why start-ups are increasingly choosing Galway as their place of business.

Galway is an excellent base for start-ups. It’s compact enough to walk around most of the city area; it’s a college town with a young feel to it and lots of skilled talent; it’s multicultural; there’s lots to do within a one-hour drive of the place, from the Burren to Connemara; and it has a diverse tech ecosystem between the ICT and medtech sectors. One thing that was missing up until now was a downtown innovation cluster (like Dublin’s Digital Hub or Silicon Docks), with a density of creative, innovative and entrepreneurial types. But we are working to make that happen and to allow start-ups to flourish in proximity to transport, cafés and restaurants and shops, the harbour and the sea, and everything else that Galway has to offer (the PorterShed innovation hub, backed by AIB, is part of this effort).

Here are a few more reasons why start-ups should choose, and are choosing, Galway.

 

1. Friendly and Welcoming to Entrepreneurs

Galway has a long tradition of welcoming tourists and visitors – so much so that it was recently named as the “Friendliest City in the World” by Travel and Leisure Magazine – and that welcome is now being extended to entrepreneurs who want to start here and others who want to join existing start-ups here. This is being accomplished by the emergence of coworking spaces with seats for visitors, new start-up incubators, and initiatives like Enterprise Ireland’s dedicated competitive start-up fund for the West of Ireland. These initiatives, combined with the quality of life and the range of larger companies already present in the Galway tech ecosystem, makes it an exciting and enjoyable place to found, or be part of, a start-up.

 

2. Tech and Medtech Ecosystems

We are seeing closer cooperations between the multinationals and relevant start-ups in their space and related spaces – knitting together the ecosystems. Galway is a global medtech hub, with eight out of the top 10 medtech companies having operations on its doorstep. There have been some great indigenous medtech successes, with Embo (a spinout from BioInnovate) raising €3M in cash, and others like Apica and Creganna being acquired for tens or hundreds of millions. Similarly, there are exciting companies emerging in the ICT space: ExOrdo’s research conference management solution is contracted to major US corporates and is a preferred provider for IEEE conferences; Pocket Anatomy in Galway won The Next Web top start-up award for their 3D app of the human body and joined the US StartUp Health Academy; Birdleaf.io are gaining attention for their platform that provides customer demographics from email addresses; and BuilderEngine have a fantastic CMS offering to rival WordPress and Drupal that features easy-to-use inline editing and ecommerce functionality.

 

3. Downtown Hubs in “Silicon Square”

As with all capital cities, Dublin is where most of the start-up activity is happening. However, rents are overheating in the capital (for both company space and employee accommodation) and don’t show any immediate signs of cooling. Fortunately there are various efforts underway to make the regions more attractive to start-ups. One such example is the Galway City Innovation District, which we are currently kicking off with a new downtown innovation hub – the Portershed, backed by AIB.