The words you are searching are inside this book. To get more targeted content, please make full-text search by clicking here.
Discover the best professional documents and content resources in AnyFlip Document Base.
Published by Harmonia Norah, 2018-12-14 07:36:31

IDA magazine

Business magazine


Creating a ISSUE 15 | WINTER 2018





We are 9% redhead.

We are 33.3% under 25.

We are 52% of 25-34 year olds
with higher level education,
10% above the OECD average.

Home to the world’s top 10
Pharmaceutical companies
and 13 of the world’s top 15
MedTech companies.

We are 100% committed to the EU.

Ready to talk about locating in Ireland?
We are. You can count on it.

Right place Right time

Ireland eview WWW.IDAI ELA .CO


18 2 Agenda

36 Employment announcements, new arrivals and exciting

initiatives happening in Ireland

8 Celebrating 70 Years of IDA Ireland

Looking back over the foundation and growth of Ireland’s

foreign direct investment agency

10 The Remote Working Revolution

Flexible work practices have taken hold in many

businesses, but will the o ce become a thing of the past?

2W6e 18 Book Smart

Trevor Hunter, CTO at Rakuten Kobo, on the innovative

are 8.6% behind the eReading service
22 Award-winning Investment
All the winners from the inaugural Invest in Ireland

Awards, recognising the best of FDI in Ireland

26 AI Island

Ireland is becoming known as the AI Island, advancing as a

hub for development in Artificial Intelligence

32 Into the West

The Landing Space provides a new ‘starter home’ o ce

space for companies dipping their toe into doing business

We are 33.3% underin Sligo 25.
36 Lights, Camera, Action
Ireland’s allure as a film location is stronger than ever with

stunning scenery and new sound stages

We are 52% of 25-34 year olds42 Straight from the Source
The e ects of foreign investment are amplified as

with higher level education.indigenous companies grow their businesses in tandem
with FDIs
46 Leadership Now

How to lead and what employees want from their leaders–

We are ranked 7th in the world forthe latest thinking and research
48 Introducing Cyber Ireland

the availability of finance skills.A new cluster organisation is launching to provide a
unified voice for the cyber security sector in Ireland
52 The Forefront of Innovation

Some of the hottest high-growth phenomenons breaking

We are 100% committednew ground across the country to the EU.
56 The Irish Edge
Prof Luke O’Neill reflects on what gives Ireland its edge on

the international stage

Publisher: Norah Casey ©2018 42 Ready to ta lkaagbazoinuet pTeaasmsporting from Ireland?
Harmonia Ltd. We are. You can count on it.
All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored At IDA Ireland: Head of Marketing Communications:
in a retrieval system or transmitted in Caitriona O’Kennedy
any form or by any means electronic, At Harmonia:
mechanical photocopying, recording Editor: Deanna O’Connor; Art Director: Áine Du y;
or otherwise without prior permission Managing editor: Áine Toner; Sub editor: Louise Finn
of the publishers. The publisher cannot
accept responsibility for errors in Right place Right time
advertisements, articles, photographs
or illustrations.

Availability of skills ranking IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2018 1 ISSUE 15


A first look at new job announcements,
research projects, global rankings
and ongoing innovation in Ireland.


A recent survey carried out by Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Six students from Trinity College Dublin, and alumni-
Services Group in conjunction with IDA Ireland has found that the West created start-ups have tapped into the Stateside market
of Ireland is attracting highly skilled professionals with its reputation for with the first ever Tangent Pioneers international
a better quality of life, career opportunities, lower property prices and accelerator programme. The programme is led by Tangent,
potential to have more disposable income. Collins McNicholas surveyed Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, a new initiative located in the
almost 200 recent arrivals to the area, and almost three-quarters of the newly expanded School of Business. The chosen start-ups
respondents said they found it easy to find work, with 91% citing quality flew to New York for a week to spend time with Techstars
of life as one of the most important factors that they considered when NYC (a global network with access to over 1,500,000
moving. With commute times down to less than 20 minutes for almost founders, investors, mentors, and industry leaders) meet
half of those surveyed and 40% of those surveyed reporting a 20% representatives of Enterprise Ireland and deliver pitches to
increase in their disposable income, the findings, says Michelle Murphy, potential investors.
Director of Collins McNicholas, show that candidates can enhance their

careers while improving their work-life balance.


According to Forbes Magazine,
Ireland is the eighth best country

to do business in, in 2018.


Hollywood turns green in October each year to
celebrate Ireland Week, and after the sell out
success of last year’s events, IrelandCon returned
to celebrate Irish creativity and innovation across
Tech, Trade, Culture and Entertainment at LMU’s
new creative campus for graduate, professional
and interdisciplinary education in the heart of
Silicon Beach. The event featured talks from experts
like Stephen Cheung, the President of the World
Trade Center, on the changing face of international
businesses and Irish success stories like Doctor Brian
Moore, Co-Founder and CEO of Orreco.

Michelle Loughran, IDA Ireland, Naoise Farrell, Clutter and Linda Thomas, Compass.

@DeHligHhtuedmtopvhirsietythseFHGu2anwdeiNcoavmepmubserin Shenzhen today and see the really cutting edge technolog y they are developing.
A brilliant company who have worked with @IDAIRELAND in opening facilities in Athlone, Cork and Dublin.



Park Life

Edward Lifesciences Corporation, the global leader
in patient-focused innovations for structural heart
disease and critical care monitoring, announced the
National Technology Park in Limerick’s Castletroy as
the location of its new facility. The company, which
is headquartered in California, plans to complete the
new 170,000 sq ft manufacturing facility by 2021,
and will employ around 600 people in roles from a
wide spectrum of opportunities, including planning,
engineering and finance. With an estimated €80
million invested in the facility, a commitment from a
global leader such as Edwards Lifesciences is a vote
of confidence for the local community and the wider
Mid-West region.


HBAN (Halo Business Angel Network), the
organisation responsible for the promotion of
business angel investment and an initiative of
Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest
Northern Ireland has announced that it plans to
recruit 50 more female business angel investors
over the next three years. The group will run a
series of events aimed at encouraging more
female investors to get involved with start-ups
based here in Ireland, with the idea that the new
investors would bring a combined €10 million of
angel investment to the table. Since 2007, HBAN
angels have invested €91 million in 436 separate
deals. Together with investments from other funds
amounting to €149 million, an overall total of €240
million has been put into these Irish start-ups over
the last 11 years.


Between 2015 and 2017, there have
been 294 regional investments by

FDI companies.

Pictured:Elaine Keane, Simmons & Simmons, Minister for Financial Services AT THE BAR
Michael D’Arcy TD, Niamh Ryan, and Fionán Breathnach, Simmons & Simmons.
Legal services company Simmons & Simmons officially
opened a new office in Dublin in October. The leading
international law firm confirmed the move earlier this
year, stating that it plans to build the Dublin office to 10
partners, employing around 40 people in total over the
next three years. The firm, founded in London in 1896,
has a network of offices in key financial centres across
Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It founded its first
international office in Brussels in 1962. Its areas of focus
are asset management and investment, funds, financial
institutions, life sciences and technology, media and
telecommunications (TMT).

@LaMst omdountlhaoruAruCtEoO6t@h NVoivvieamnb_eMr odular joined the @IDAIREL AND panel discussion @MedTechCon with
Colm Hynes @DePuySynthes to talk about their collaboration in developing a factory of the future.

7 ISSUE 15

70 YEA S

Marking 70 years of
IDA Ireland

Foreign direct investment has been a keystone of Irish economic
policy since IDA Ireland was founded in 1949.

The mission of IDA Ireland has been
constant, since its foundation by the
government of the day in 1949—to promote
the growth and development of industry in
Ireland. In the early years of the Irish
Republic, the economy was inward-looking,
with high tariffs on imported goods, a
strategic focus on indigenous industry and
limited export trade.

A ISSION IN IND foreign companies negotiated new projects international operations, with the relatively
IDA Ireland was formed as part of the or major expansions with IDA Ireland. By youthful (42 at the time) Michael Killeen
Department of Industry and Commerce, 1972, the figures spoke for themselves with appointed director designate of the ‘new’
with a brief to “stimulate, support and 34,000 new jobs created. IDA Ireland. This ushered in a new and
develop export-led business and enterprise DYNA IC AND INDEPENDENT highly dynamic era for the organisation.
in Ireland”. Foreign investment, IDA Ireland was outgrowing its government Within a few months IDA Ireland, with its
industrialisation and exports were key to nest and The Industrial Development Act six overseas offices had grown to 230 staff,
re-energising the country’s fortunes. The 1969 gave it full control over its own and was brimming with energy, expertise
distinct strategies employed in pursuit of this and ambition. The organisation’s activity
goal were often radical, and usually
successful, bringing a host of international
businesses to put down roots in Ireland.

IDA Ireland quickly recommended to
government that restrictions on foreign capital
be eased, removing the protectionism
enshrined in the Control of Manufactures Act
of 1932, which sought to keep industries Irish-
controlled. The protectionism of old was swept
aside during the 1950s as government strategy
shifted to maximise foreign investment,
removing restrictions on foreign capital and
introducing competitive corporation taxation
for exporting companies. This combination
of policies became, as Padraic White,
managing director of IDA Ireland from 1981-
1990, put it, their “most distinctive investment
incentive, and over time its most powerful
single weapon in the international industrial
promotion battle”.

The announcement in 1958 of the First
Programme for Economic Expansion by
Taoiseach Seán Lemass and TK Whitaker
heralded a new era of cohesion and forward-
thinking economic strategy in which IDA
Ireland flourished. During the 1960s, 450



was increasing exponentially. In 1971 the and insurance activities. new hi-tech campus in Leopardstown this
IDA made presentations to 105 different Under the provisions of the Industrial year underlining its commitment to Ireland.
companies; by 1973 that number increased Major tech players including Google, LinkedIn
to 2,600. The number of foreign offices had Development Act, 1993, three agencies were and Facebook continue to expand and have
tripled to 18 by 1979. IDA Ireland was hard created and IDA Ireland was to focus been joined by the new wave of sharing
at work across the world, challenging the exclusively on the development and economy companies such as Airbnb and Uber.
perception of Ireland as a backward rural promotion of high-quality FDI in Ireland.
country, and promoting its educated Over the next few years, between 1990 and Manufacturing in the bio-pharmaceutical,
workforce and business-friendly tax 1994, Ireland attracted 40% of US electronic medical devices and micro-electronics sectors
incentives, with the added benefit of access investment in Europe, with companies like continues to thrive also; companies like
to the common market when Ireland secured Dell, Gateway 2000, Compaq, HP, Xerox, Alexion, Regeneron, BMS and Shire are all
EEC (now EU) membership in 1973. Ericsson, Matsushita, Philips, Siemens and making significant capital investments, and
Hitachi all following suit. By the late 1990s, MSD (Merck in the USA and Canada) has
From the mid-1970s onwards IDA Ireland
focused on attracting pharmaceutical and “Today IDA Ireland has been instrumental
electronics manufacturers, two sectors in creating over 210,000 jobs in foreign
pinpointed as having significant growth industry in Ireland... Year-on-year it
potential in global terms. The first wave was
purely components manufacturing, but later continues to operate at the highest level, in
R&D and higher value work followed. By the face of continuing challenges, threats
1982, some 130 of the world’s leading and opportunities.”
electronics companies had manufacturing
facilities located in Ireland. roughly a third of all European PC production already announced two new investments this
happened in Ireland. year, totalling over 500 jobs.
By the end of the 1970s the organisation A BITIOUS ST ATEGY
employed almost 700 staff, had brought in It was also a boon to indigenous industry IDA Ireland’s current strategy, launched by
client company investment of £2.7bn (up with a significant number of firms emerging CEO Martin Shanahan in 2015, covers the
from £130m in the 1960s) and creation of to supply these businesses. 2015-2019 period. The aim was to create
192,000 jobs (up from 45,000 for the 1960s). 80,000 new jobs in client companies, and
Throughout the global banking crisis and win over 900 new investments for Ireland.
In 1983, the Telesis Report called IDA Ireland’s self-inflicted property bubble around For the first time it also set public regional
Ireland “arguably the most dynamic, active, 2007/08 IDA Ireland continued to win targets for investment and focuses strongly
efficient and effective organisation of its kind investments, under the astute leadership. FDI on spreading investment throughout the
in the world”, but with a note of caution proved resilient, with investment increasing in country, not just in main cities.
recommended that it begin to encourage the response to improving competitiveness as the
establishment of R&D facilities by foreign Irish economy restructured. Today IDA Ireland has been instrumental
firms, and the fostering of closer links with in creating over 210,000 jobs in foreign
Irish businesses. Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe industry in Ireland, has a network of 30 offices
FOCUSING ON KEY SECTO S makes it perfectly placed to act as a global globally (nine in Ireland) and a total staff of
One step ahead, IDA Ireland was already technical support hub, with a particular focus 340. Year-on-year it continues to operate at
moving on its next steps: the Strategic Plan on Europe and the Middle East. Increasingly, the highest level, in the face of continuing
for 1982-92 called for a focus on high-output technology companies are moving high-value challenges, threats and opportunities, from
growth using the best technology available. engineering functions to Ireland. The early Brexit to global tax reform and beyond.
Apple has already set up a Cork plant in 1982 investors are still going strong with Apple,
and soon, other companies at the forefront of Intel, Microsoft and IBM continuing to invest,
the personal computer space arrived—most and Microsoft celebrating the opening of a
notably IBM, Microsoft and Lotus—and IDA
Ireland responded with employment grants
to boost hiring. In 1990, IDA Ireland
developed a package to attract Intel to set up
its European base in Leixlip, Co Kildare. The
gamble paid off with the provision of 2,600
jobs, a figure which has continued to grow
and is now at 4,500.

IDA Ireland was also central to building
up the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC),
which was founded in 1987. The idea behind
the IFSC was to provide a hub for firms
involved in all aspects of international
finance—global money management, foreign-
currency dealing, equity and bond dealing

9 ISSUE 14


Working Smarter:

Flexible working has benefits for both employers and employees, and is set to
increase hugely over the next couple of years. Is your business ready for it?


The R emote working is on the rise. The
Remote widespread use of Cloud services
Workforce and sophisticated cyber security
initiatives mean that employees
11 ISSUE 15 can safely access their work emails
and servers from anywhere in the
world, from mobile phones, tablets
and laptops. What was once
invaluable for globetrotting executives on the
move but of little relevance to the wider
workforce, has now taken hold and employers
and employees are seeing the benefits of a
more flexible and freer way of approaching
the working day.

There are an estimated 200,000 remote
workers in Ireland today, out of a workforce
of just under 2.3 million people – that’s almost
nine per cent of the workforce. In the UK that
figure is 4.6 million out of 32.39 million people
in work, or just over 14 per cent. Dell have a
mission that by 2020 they will have 50 per
cent of their workforce smart working. The
International Data Corporation (IDC) expects
deskless employees to account for about 72 per
cent of the total American workforce by 2020,
up from 35 per cent currently.
While Ireland has a lot of catching up to do,
with a vibrant FDI scene and an explosion of
hubs and co-working spaces around the
country, the stage is set for this trend to take
off. Earlier this year online home furnishings
retailer Wayfair announced 200 new jobs
would be created at its Galway site, adding to
the 400 people already working there. However,
some of these new positions will be aimed at
remote workers under its “virtual programme”
which allows the company to expand the reach
of its talent pool and optimise staffing.

Liz Graham, vice president of sales and
service at Wayfair, commented on the
announcement, saying, “We are now delighted
to further expand the team with the launch


“It’s a no-brainer
that for employees,
being able to fit their
work and their lives
together in a more
flexible manner
makes life easier and
not only gives them
more free time, but
more flexibility in
how they use it.”

of a virtual workforce in Ireland that will
enable us to tap into an even broader talent
pool and provide new employment
opportunities to a wider range of highly
qualified candidates.”

OPTIMISING THE TALENT POOL Photo by Marvin Meyer work-life balance, there can be huge cost
The benefits to the employer are many. As savings on transport, parking, expensive
evidenced by the Wayfair example, reaching WORK-LIFE BALANCE lunches, coffee runs–and pyjamas are
across a broader geographic range allows more For the employee, remote working offers significantly less expensive than business suits!
candidates to apply for roles, widening the freedom from lengthy commutes and the PUSHING THE BOAT OUT
pool of talent that is accessible. flexibility to do the school run or care for a For millennials, unbound by family ties, a
sick child, and be at home when the courier/ number of companies have sprung up offering
Another benefit, particularly in city hubs, broadband installer/plumber swears they’ll the ultimate remote working experiences,
is less desk space requirements when workers be on your doorstep in the morning but doesn’t somewhere between a gap year holiday and a
are not present in the office–a boon when rents turn up until the end of the day. It’s a no- secondment abroad. Remote Year, Wifi Tribe
are high. Every square metre spared has a brainer that for employees, being able to fit and others of their ilk promise to organise
direct result on the bottom line. Desks can their work and their lives together in a more co-working spaces, accommodation and an
simply be used in a hot desking manner, flexible manner makes life easier and not only
allowing employees to sit in available spots gives them more free time, but more flexibility
when their presence is required in the office. in how they use it. Apart from the elusive

However, the real benefit to the employer,
hard to measure but very obvious, is happier,
less stressed, more productive employees. No-
one is turning up late, already tired from an
exhausting commute. The time that would
have been spent discussing last night’s TV
around the water cooler is spent getting straight
down to work.

Productivity from remote workers is
extremely strong – in part because when people
are out of the office, they don’t want to be seen
as slacking off, or forgotten about, so they work
harder, with greater focus and efficiency.



joining the first group trip, not to mention
$175,000 in funding.

The first group of 68 digital nomads took
off in 2015 on a year-long coordinated trip,
costing them $2,000 per month (plus a
$3,000 deposit to secure their place). In
return for this, over the year, they lived and
worked in 12 cities: Prague, Czech Republic;
Ljubljana, Slovenia; Cavtat, Croatia;
Istanbul, Turkey; Penang, Malaysia; Ko
Phangan, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Kyoto,
Japan; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo,
Uruguay; Santiago, Chile; and Lima, Peru.

While the collegiate atmosphere of a year
travelling is not for everyone, it does illustrate
the scope of remote working and the ability
to appeal to a generation and workforce who
don’t wish to be restricted in what they can
achieve and the experience they can pack
into their working lives.

“...there are challenges associated with it. It can NOT WITHOUT CHALLENGES
be isolating, and workers may have difficulty Not every remote worker gets to enjoy their
networking and fear being left behind or job from a beach in Bali, and there are
forgotten about when it comes to promotions challenges associated with it. It can be
or getting involved in new projects.” isolating, and workers may have difficulty
networking and fear being left behind or
epic experience for well-paid, adventure- his first start-up and wanted to spend some forgotten about when it comes to promotions
hungry millennials who want to spend up to time working and travelling, but didn’t want or getting involved in new projects.
a year remote working in exotic locations. to do it alone. He quickly turned the idea
into a company and soon had over 25,000 For employers, issues can include monitoring
Remote Year, one of the first, was started email signups from people interested in work, communicating company culture and
by owner Greg Caplan after he exited from putting new procedures in place. It’s important
to document as much as possible so that a
handbook is available to the remote worker
for times when they don’t have a colleague to
tap on the shoulder and ask the question to.
Technologies such as Slack (an inter-team
instant messaging app), Kanbanize (a
workflow monitoring app) and video calling
and live-streaming company-wide
announcements can help keep remote
workers included. Virtual meetings and
quick daily conference calls to check in with
the team should help remote workers to feel

There is even a website called Coffitivity
offering streaming of ambient cafe sounds, a
reaction to studies which have shown the hum

13 ISSUE 15


Tracey Keogh, Grow Remote

of background noise actually assists “What we realised is that in a lot of areas
productivity and focus – according to a peer- there are no start-ups and you’re not going
reviewed study out of the University of to create them. It can’t necessarily be what
Chicago, “A moderate level of ambient noise it is in Galway or Sligo in another location.
is conducive to creative cognition”. No need It needs to be something else.”
for remote workers to even head to Starbucks
when the sound of it can come to them. of a co-working space are what attracts the country and the effect that it can have on
CO-WORKING ADVANTAGES enterprises looking to keep up to date with revitalising rural communities to bring more
The growing number of co-working spaces what’s new and exciting. sophisticated and high value jobs out of the
around the country also offer a more social HUBS WITH NO START-UPS main cities. “After Skibbereen’s Ludgate Hub
experience for remote workers who fear being Tracy Keogh, founder of the Grow Remote and PorterShed opened up, every community
too isolated working at home. Hubs also conference has been working with Bank of across Ireland wanted a hub,” she recalls.
provide a creative ferment – some corporates Ireland setting up their co-working spaces and However, while communities may have been
even rotate teams out of their HQs to work incubators to support the start-up community. crying out for start-up spaces, she says, “What
in hubs for the fresh perspective working we realised is that in a lot of areas there are
alongside start-ups can provide, according to She has seen remote working explode across no start-ups and you’re not going to create
Joe McGinley, founder and CEO of Iconic
Offices. The benefits of the interaction and
collaboration between the various inhabitants


them. It can’t necessarily be what it is in “There are tonnes of companies that work
Galway or Sligo in another location. It needs remotely, they’re just not based here so we
to be something else.” need to connect them… and when we bridge
that gap, that’s when we start seeing talent
She noticed that in Boyle, County working remotely.”
Roscommon there were two people in a hub
who were working remotely for a UK bank
that did not have a presence in Ireland, and
this sparked ideas around promoting remote
working to large multinationals.

BUILDING A CO UNITY out that, “there are tonnes of companies that CONNECTING CO PANIES WITH
Speaking to companies about different work remotely, they’re just not based here so S A T WO KE S
locations and hubs around the country we need to connect them…and when we Vanessa Tierney, Co-founder and Executive
didn’t seem to be making much of an impact bridge that gap, that’s when we start seeing Chairperson of Abodoo, a specialist smart
and it became apparent that promoting a talent working remotely.” A growing number worker recruitment site, tells me the company
particular hub or location was not going to of companies who are running on a 100 per has raised a lot of angel investment in Ireland
work – but promoting the concept could be cent remote model are “not based anywhere”, and is currently going for a Series A raise,
the way forward. are not necessarily advertising jobs in Ireland, aiming for $10-20 million and pitching in
but would be happy to hire here. San Francisco, New York and London. Their
The realisation dawned on Tracy that the success is testament to the fact that the
best approach would be to run an event that How to deal with that? One Irish start-up appetite for expanding smart working in
would bring together hub spaces, corporates may have the answer, and they are looking Ireland is at the point where it is truly ready
interested in making remote working a for funding to take it global. to take off.
possibility and other interested stakeholders.
“It was about building a community around Vanessa Tierney, “We’ve had a lot of goodwill from IDA
remote working, bringing companies and Abodoo Ireland,” Vanessa reveals, “The more
communities together,” she reveals. successful Abodoo is in Ireland the more
“Companies’ biggest challenge is access to that they can attract companies in, because
talent. Remote workers’ biggest challenge is we can prove the talent is here.”
lack of a real community. And towns’ biggest
challenge is depopulation. So it solves the Companies like Shopify and major tech
biggest problem for everybody by bringing giants have already used their services. She
them together.” explains the concept of Abodoo as, “A non-

Although Tracy works for Bank of Ireland, biased smart working career platform
her work is to support communities and to connecting companies with smart
this end Grow Remote is a wholly workers, and we define smart workers as
community-owned project. ‘when a company enables an employee
LIGHTBULB O ENTS to be agile some or all of the time whether
At the inaugural conference one attendee working from home, a hub/co-working
admitted that he had spent three months space or a hybrid model which is a mix
trying to figure out a way to move out of office and home’.”
of Dublin but didn’t know where to
start – with rising house prices and “The reason we use the word ‘smart’
the expense of city living there is working is because it is smart to trust
a workforce searching for a way your staff and to empower them to work
out, more affordable housing more flexibly and measure on results or
and a better standard of living. output rather than hours.”

Tracy recalls a conversation E OVING BIAS F O THE
with Caroline Spollen of The SELECTION P OCESS
Junction, Offaly’s business An interesting facet of how Abodoo
innovation centre, where she
advised Caroline, “First you operates is that there is anonymity in
have to convince companies to go the matching process. Vanessa
remote, then when you’ve convinced explains, “We were really keen to
them to go remote, you can convince make that happen because there is a
them to come here.” huge element of discrimination in
hiring, against certain demographics
Another lightbulb moment was figuring
of the talent pool, and the whole
idea of embracing remote
working, apart from helping your

15 ISSUE 15


staff lose the commute, is accessing new talent, down on expensive childcare costs, “More and Discussing the phenomenon of 100 per cent
such as people with mobility issues, parents more people are stressed and it’s taking its toll. remote companies, Vanessa reflects that, “It
who don’t want to put their children in In a lot of families both parents work so you has to be a considered decision. It is far easier
childcare all day every day but could work if cannot put a price on the ability to drop your for a start-up today to go remote. Our model
there were more flexibility, the diaspora who children to school or be there if they are sick.” is a blended approach. We do three days to
would come home if they could live anywhere four days from home and a day from a
in Ireland not just the cities.” She continues, SPREADING THE WORD co-working space or at meetings with clients
“We built it this way so they could register While recruiters like Abodoo and EmployMum or at events. A traditional company that has
and get matched on skills rather than bias were already in the remote working space, never had that level of flexibility before could
over where they are, age or sex.” Tracy Keogh of Grow Remote says that selling not just turn on the remote button.”
the idea to traditional recruiters is another There is a growing cohort of fully remote
A HIGHER CALIBRE OF EMPLOYEE part of the plan. “People like Abodoo and companies, from marketing agencies to
For SMEs and start-ups another benefit of EmployMum, they were already doing it software engineering and design. The
taking on remote workers is potentially right…but then we had to have conversations generations entering the workforce now are
accessing a higher calibre of experienced with other recruiters,” she reveals. “We were digital natives who are completely at ease with
people who are looking to pull back from the ringing them up and convincing them to look communicating through digital means, rather
at remote working and than face-to-face. However alien that may
to service that market.” seem to parents who despair over their children
“We’re trying to build donning headsets to engage with multiplayer
“Our vision is to have local a community–which is games online or borrowing their phones to
chapters set up in communities the infrastructure, the send selfies to their friends over Instagram
soft support, the stories, digital communication is rapidly
across Ireland so if a digital resources and people. becoming more normalised to them than face-
nomad is coming here travelling We need to have the to-face encounters.
they can tap into that.” recruiters in there.”
“The scary statistic, for companies that are
Tracy is proud of the not ready to embrace this,” Vanessa warns,
fact that “is that it is going to come anyway whether
committed to adding a they are ready or not. By 2025, it is estimated
rat race, and find the elusive work-life balance. space for remote working to their site after the that 75 per cent of all workers globally will be
Vanessa suggests, “You can access amazing conference: “That was a big win, because that millennial and 69 per cent of millennials want
skills and talent that have worked for foreign wasn’t there before.” smart working and will move… This is what
direct investment companies or have worked Tracy predicts that by 2020, we will see a they must do to engage and retain the best
internationally, but have reached that point huge growth in remote working in Ireland. talent and access new talent.”
in time where, perhaps they are having a “Our vision is to have local chapters set up in
family, they’re buying their first home. They communities across Ireland so
want some time back rather than hours each if a digital nomad is coming
day in the car, and you can offer them the here travelling they can tap
flexibility to live where they want.” into that,” Tracy adds. “By 2025, it is estimated
that 75 per cent of all
Having done numerous surveys with the workers globally will be
17,000 people registered to Abodoo over the A REMOTE FUTURE
last year, Vanessa has seen respondents Vanessa suggests, for
willing, on average, to take a drop of up to companies experimenting with millennial and 69 per cent
10 per cent on their salary in return for more remote working, or growing of millennials want smart
flexibility. “Maybe that SME can now afford start-ups, to give staff the working and will move… ”
to hire that ex-Facebook employee by giving option to work from home half
them the ability to work in a rural area rather the time, or even one day a
than in the city.” week and then benchmark and
Looking into the reasoning behind the high measure the performance.
numbers of respondents willing to take a “I’ve seen some companies
paycut, Vanessa surmises there is more at stake introduce hot-desking and more flexibility for Grow Remote 2019 will take place on
than the ability to find cheaper housing out of people to be offsite and companies don’t need April 15, 2019. See for
the main urban hubs, and potentially cutting to keep looking for real estate as they expand.” more information.


Ways of Working

How a business
can adapt to give
employees more

As remote working embeds itself into entirely left out of the decision-making process at the office.
business culture, the various ways in Remote workers in this scenario will quickly become dependent
which it can operate have become on communication tools including email and instant message
more clearly defined, each one services to stay in the loop.
offering pros and cons, and 3. A FULLY E OTE TEA
highlighting specific needs as the A fully remote team all operate in the same time zone from
level of remote working escalates. disparate locations –there may be an office, or not. Collaboration
Keeping a team connected with and messaging tools become vitally important at this stage to
productivity apps and communication tools is vital, ensure there is a clear vision of the work flow and tasks assigned.
particularly when there is little overlap in the working While the team is still largely in the same time zone, the working
hours of team members in different time zones. day may still be loosely based around the traditional working
Communication tools, which are useful for office hours.
communication and productivity in a traditional 4. A GLOBAL E OTE TEA
workplace are essential for remote workers, allowing A global remote team can include members based anywhere in
disparate members to communicate and collaborate the world. This adds an extra layer of complexity and excellent
on projects. The more remote and globally scattered a collaboration and communication is needed to make asynchronous
team becomes, the more important it becomes to set collaboration successful when there is little time overlap between
parameters and standards for communication to ensure some team members’ working days. There can be many benefits
that everyone is on the same page, even if not in the to remote teams based in different time zones, particularly when
same time zone. it comes to providing round-the-clock support to customers.
1. THE T ADITIONAL ODEL. The most extreme case of remote working includes a global fully
remote team with some of the team members engaged in a nomadic
In the traditional work model, the entire team is based in one or lifestyle and regularly travelling between time zones. While travel
more office locations for all of their work day, with set office hours. or acclimatising to a new environment can affect productivity,
This model offers little flexibility and employees may not find the this nomadic work style is the apex of the ‘live smarter, work
office environment most conducive to productivity. smarter’ culture that the modern digital nomad aspires to.
However the advantages are strong when it comes to sociability,
bonding, bouncing ideas off co-workers, brainstorming and direct


Many companies have already started to give employees more
flexibility in office-based jobs, with options to work from home
when a need arises, or even one or two days per week. This is a
good way for companies to experiment with remote working
culture. It can be a good balance for employees who find a quieter
space more productive, but also want time to engage with co-
workers and attend face-to-face meetings, so they do not feel

17 ISSUE 15


Tim Byrne and Trevor Hunter


E-book and e-reader retailer Rakuten Kobo’s Dublin office plays an oversize
role for the company as it competes against some very large rivals both for

recruiting talent and for growing its business, writes Gordon Smith.



Ask any writer: to keep readers turning Trevor Hunter
page after page, a key element is
surprise. For an e-book retailer, the
obvious antagonist of the story might
be a certain e-commerce giant but
Trevor Hunter, chief technology officer
with Rakuten Kobo, unmasks the real
villain from an unexpected source.

“When you talk about competition, sure,
the Kindle down the road is direct
competition but what we’re actually
competing for is time: people’s time to sit
down, relax and read compared to the never-
ending bustle of social media and clickbait.
So we’ve done a lot of innovation in our
device and the user experience just to make
a story come to life,” he says.

That places a specific set of challenges on
Kobo’s developers and engineers. “One of
the things we see with e-books in general is:
the technology is there, and digital
bookselling is there, but from a user
experience perspective, the job of technology
is to disappear,” Hunter says.

LEAN MACHINE support to Rakuten Kobo’s retail partners, SKILL SETS
which includes the likes of Fnac in France,
By way of example, Hunter holds the in the Netherlands and Walmart in The company chose Ireland for several
company’s latest e-reader which seems the US. The Irish office also provides reasons, Hunter explains. “There isn’t a
to weigh little more than a few sheets of marketing and merchandising support to its country in Europe with the experience of
paper, never mind a book. “We put a lot of retail partners. being in Europe but also the links with North
engineering into the screen, how thin and America,” he says. Although his role as CTO
light it is, the battery life and performance The Dublin site is one of just four the has a global remit, he knows better than most
of it, but ultimately, all that has to disappear. company operates throughout the world. about the quality of Ireland’s education system,
What has to be there is the story because we Rakuten Kobo is relatively lean by having graduated from the University of Ulster
sell books and we believe that more reading international tech company standards, with with a computer science degree. “I went to
of long-form books is beneficial overall– fewer than 400 employees. Toronto is the head
more beneficial than social networks or
movies,” he says. “When you talk about competition, sure,
the Kindle down the road is direct
In the same vein, Rakuten Kobo watches competition but what we’re actually
for performance and usage patterns to
understand the ways in which the competing for is time: people’s time to
technology goes wrong, so its technical sit down, relax and read compared to
team can spot issues and solve them before the never-ending bustle of social media
the user even knows there’s a problem.
That’s a practice of “preventative and clickbait...”
maintenance” that Hunter adopted from
his time working in industrial automation. office; Darmstadt in Germany focuses on the university here, so I benefited from the
company’s Tolino sub-brand and is a similar investment in higher education,” he says.
Part of the job of creating that size to the Dublin office. The company also
“disappearing technology” experience falls has offices in Japan, home of Kobo’s parent Inevitably, talk turns to the availability of
to Rakuten Kobo’s technology centre in Rakuten, the e-commerce conglomerate that skills in a market like Dublin where tech
Dublin, which it set up in late 2012. Among acquired it in 2011. companies announce new jobs on a seemingly
the 25-strong group is a team of R&D weekly basis. Hunter says that Rakuten Kobo
engineers who focus on customer experience,
from creating an account to logging in and
managing a profile. The team is also
responsible for providing software development

19 ISSUE 15


Tim Byrne looks to hire senior talent and experienced
professionals rather than recent graduates.
“We’re able to tap into a very mature higher
education market, and very mature career
development focus in this country. And despite
the competition from the social media giants
here, people that leave those companies come
out with a lot of experience. That higher calibre
is certainly important,” he says.

A plus for Ireland is how it’s become an
attractive location for people from other
countries. There’s an almost 50-50 split
between employees from Ireland and elsewhere,
from Uruguay to Slovenia to Canada. Tim
Byrne, senior director for partner management,
says: “Working as a group together you learn
and understand cultural differences which is
so important. You might start your day with a
call to Fnac in France and you might finish
your day with Walmart in Mexico and you
need to be able to communicate and engage
with different cultures well, so having that
diversity in our Dublin office has been a huge
benefit to us.”


Another attraction for potential recruits is the
variety of work on offer: Rakuten Kobo’s
portfolio includes not just e-books and e-readers,
but audiobooks, reading apps and accessories.
Says Hunter: “There are no small jobs here;
you’re not one of 10,000 people. Everybody
has to really lean in and pull their weight.
Although we’ve a small presence here in
Dublin, it pulls way above its weight in terms
of the work they do for the company. We run
with a really small footprint and that’s really
attractive for people who want to gain
experience in global e-commerce, working
with partners, working at scale, systems, doing
DevOps and doing data science. Everybody’s
getting into all of those places.”

Tim Byrne says that the parent company’s
huge scale is a comfort but Rakuten Kobo

“There are no small jobs here; you’re not one of
10,000 people. Everybody has to really lean in
and pull their weight.”


“We’re one of the few companies that NOVEL IDEA: COULD
does both software and hardware, BLOCKCHAIN UNLOCK
which is quite unique. You get to see
both sides of the world.” Unlike their paper predecessors,
e-books can’t be loaned to friends,
identifies more as a start-up in its culture. young men. “It’s always something we can and there’s no way to buy them
“Every project touches every component of the get better at; it’s something we want to secondhand. Rakuten Kobo sees an
company, so our size is something that I find continue to embrace and move forward on. opportunity to disrupt the traditionally
a lot of people are really eager to get into, as Diversity is such a strength. It’s about empathy conservative book business, and
opposed to some of the larger companies here for different views, and it reflects in the quality its Dublin office is looking at ways
where it’s very much division-oriented. And of what you put across.” of collaborating with its parent
we’re one of the few companies that does both company’s blockchain lab in Belfast.
software and hardware, which is quite unique. While we speak, workmen are busy finishing
You get to see both sides of the world.” Rakuten Kobo’s new office in Blackrock. In Blockchain is an immutable ledger,
an unexpected twist, the previous tenants and in theory that could underpin a
As an employer, Rakuten Kobo encourages already had a wall that was papered with a system that allows publishers and
diversity and Hunter believes that the giant photo of hardback tomes lining heavy authors to get paid when an ebook
company is above the tech industry average wooden shelves. As the company embarks on goes to a second-hand market, for
in balancing gender and age groups, even in its latest chapter in Ireland, it’s yet another example. The company thinks its
its R&D teams which can often skew towards reminder of its origins. model of closely collaborating with
retail partners and publishers could
work in its favour. “When you think
about it, blockchain is about partners
cooperating together in a way that’s
mutually beneficial,” says Hunter.

Blockchain is just one bet on
the future. Rakuten Kobo is also
considering an ‘all-you-can-eat’
subscription model which could
do for books what digital rights
management has done for the
music industry. “There are parallels
with the music business. Piracy was
caused not by price but by lack of
access,” says Hunter. The company
has already opened its platform to
writers who can self-publish. Of the
6 million e-books, audiobooks and
magazines in its store, one in four is

Ultimately, Hunter returns to his
theme of making technology invisible
to the user. He’s interested in solving
a problem for customers, publishers
and authors; the technology to
accomplish this goal is irrelevant.
“Whether we use blockchain should
never matter. That shouldn’t be the
headline. It should be: ‘we’ve created
a new market for books’,” he says.

21 ISSUE 15




The inaugural Invest in Ireland Awards recognised excellence in the inward foreign
direct investment sector in Ireland.



T he inaugural Invest in Ireland Awards Mr Shanahan also pointed to the jobs Siobhan Roche (Director of Industry
took place in the Round Room at the and opportunities delivered in the regions, Programmes at the Science Foundation
Mansion House Dublin on 18th October, stating that, “Over recent years, IDA of Ireland), Martin Wells (Commercial
2018, recognising excellence in all areas of Ireland has pursued a deliberate strategy Director, Ibec) and Brendan Keenan
FDI activity in Ireland, across 10 categories. to further diversify investment locations ( Journalist, Irish Independent).
around the country.”
Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Companies shortlisted for the awards
Ireland presented the FDI Hero award to The judging panel consisted of Peter across the 10 categories represented a wide
Eamonn Sinnott, general manager of Intel Squires (Partner, Vistra), Mary Moloney spectrum of sectors and sizes of FDI in
Ireland. Speaking on the night Martin (Senior MD Teneo Holdings), John Breslin Ireland, including Dell, Hubspot, McAfee,
Shanahan reflected on the long history of (Entrepreneur and Senior Lecturer - Microsoft, VMware, West Pharma,
multinationals in Ireland, saying, “Over NUIG), Yvonne Kennedy (Head of Emerald Contact Centre, N3 Results,
time, many multinationals have become Foreign Direct Investment, Corporate Sanmina, Sanofi, Valeo Vision Systems,
woven into the fabric of their local Banking, Ulster Bank), Leo Moore Proctor & Gamble, Bristol Myers Squibb,
communities with almost 60 per cent of (Partner, William Fry), Stephen Mullin Gilead Sciences, WP Engine, Citrix
them having been here for over a decade; (Client Services Director, Cpl), Maeve Systems, ConsenSys, Cylance, Founders
and one-third of them first establishing Dineen (Chair of Ireland’s Financial Base (Ireland) Ltd., Rubrik, Truata,
operations more than 20 years ago.” Services and Pensions Ombudsman), Almac and Wrike.

THE WINNERS IN Eamonn Sinnott
THEIR CATEGORIES accepts the award from
WERE AS FOLLOWS: Martin Shanahan, chief
executive of IDA Ireland.
FDI Hero 2018
Dell staff accept the award from Shane Wallace of William Fry.
Eamonn Sinnott – General 23 ISSUE 15
Manager, Intel Ireland

The FDI Hero Award recognises an
individual who has across the course
of their career made an outstanding
contribution to the Inward Investment
Sector in Ireland. Eamonn Sinnott,
General Manager of Intel Ireland has
been with the company for over
27 years, building up and leading the
largest industrial investment in the
history of the State. The business
employs over 4,900 people directly
and contributes €921 million annually
to the Irish economy.

Organisational Transformation

Dell EMC

Many inward investing organisations
pivot from their original strategy to
adapt to changing business conditions
and to take advantage of new and
emerging opportunities. This
category honoured Dell EMC for their
transformation and learnings.

Commitment to Diversity

Dell EMC

Diversity is a major issue in the
workplace and in general society
today; it is also a key component
of any successful organisation and
this category shone a light on the
best examples of diversity
programs in FDI companies in
the Republic of Ireland. Dell EMC,
the winning entry in this category,
demonstrated how it has created
a diverse and inclusive working
environment to the benefit of staff
and the business.

L-R: Fergus Moyles (Valeo Vision Systems), Peter Squires (Vistra), Fintan McAndrew
(Valeo Vision Systems).

Use of R&D

Valeo Vision Systems

The Use of R&D Award recognised the
contribution of foreign owned organisations
involved in research and development in
the Republic of Ireland.The winner, Valeo
Vision Systems, demonstrated a project
where R&D has had a positive impact on
both the business and the Irish Economy.

Dell staff accept the award from Mark Buckley, Deputy CEO, CPL Resources.

Staff Up-Skilling

WP Engine

All organisations are only as good as

L-R: Fergus Moyles (Valeo Vision Systems), Peter Squires (Visttrah),eFinptaenoMpclAendwrewho drive and work in
them. This category honoured
(Valeo Vision Systems).

programs and projects that are the

best at developing the inward

investing business’ skills and talent

base. WP Engine, the winning entry

in this category demonstrated best

practice in staff development and

how said development contributed

to the business goals and developed

the quality of the labour force.

L-R: Neil Squires (Vistra), Paul Ryan and Darren
O’Dwyer (WP Engine).


CSR Initiative L-R: Donal O’Donovan (Independent Excellence in Regional
Newspapers), Orla Hogan (Microsoft Ireland). Investment & Grand Prix
Microsoft Ireland winner

Organisations do not exist in a vacuum Regeneron Ireland
and integration with the community in
which they operate is crucial. This A key platform for a successful
category looked at CSR projects FDI strategy is balanced
undertaken by inward investment investment across the country.
companies in the Republic of Ireland. Regeneron Ireland employs 800
The size of the project was not people at the largest scale bulk
necessarily a deciding factor but rather biologics production facility in
how the project integrates the business Ireland at its Limerick site.
with the greater community; Microsoft
Ireland took the award. L-R: Ivor Downey (Regeneron), Mary Buckley
(IDA Ireland), Niall O’Leary, Enda Price, Greg
McGurk, Roger Kissane (Regeneron and Grand
Prix winner).

Emerging Business Investment


This award honoured Cyclance for the
outstanding inward investment made
by a dynamic, high growth, early stage
company with the potential to grow
exponentially and create a large
number of jobs. The firm set up their
EMEA Operations centre in the
emerging cybersecurity cluster in

Pictured below, L-R: Steve Donovan and Ian McAleese
(Cylance), Stephen Mullin (Cpl Resources Plc), Shane
Grennan (Cylance), Gerard Ryan (Eversheds Sutherland).

Investment of the Year L-R: Noel Heaney, Tommy Colgan, Pat Foudy (BMS), Paul Convery
(William Fry), David Wilson, Anthony Carter, Alan Shefflin, Pat McEvoy,
Bristol Myers Squibb Sean Kelly (BMS).

Bristol Myers Squibb were awarded 25 ISSUE 15
for the outstanding inward investment
made into the Republic of Ireland in
the past 18 months, for their €1bn
investment in a state-of-the-art
biologics facility in Cruiserath,
Dublin 15.



With a reputation as the
Artificial Intelligence

Island, Ireland is a hub for
AI advancement, writes

Ciara McDonnell.

We have been considering the concept of
Artificial Intelligence (AI) for a long time. The
term was coined all the way back in 1956, by
John McCarthy, a computer scientist of Irish
descent and future thinker who is regarded as
one of the founding fathers of AI as we know
it today. It remains one of the most
misunderstood technological advances of our
modern time; its reality is far from the notion
of futuristic robots taking over the world’s jobs.

One man eager to educate us on what AI
means in today’s world is Professor Barry
O’Sullivan. The award-winning academic is
one of Ireland’s leading experts in AI in his
capacity as director of the Insight Centre for
Data Analytics, president of the European
Artificial Intelligence Association (EurAI) and
vice chair of the European Commission High-
Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence.

Barry travels all over the world with his
varying roles as a global thought leader in
Artificial Intelligence. As we chat he is in
Greece, delivering the keynote speech at the
30th Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) International Conference
on tools with Artificial Intelligence.

IDA Ireland, he says, is an invaluable
support to him on his travels. “It can be very
discombobulating arriving to a new country

27 ISSUE 15


where you may not speak the “Do I believe there will be mass
language, but that’s where unemployment? No I don’t. Do
I believe that some jobs will be
“Project Debater will help peopleIDA Ireland always step in. I changed fundamentally?
reason by providing compelling,was in Japan with them Absolutely. And that’s not just
happening as a consequence of
recently. During the trip, I A I; it’s happening as a
consequence of any form of
evidence-based arguments andfound myself going into rooms automation. Think about a visit
limiting the inf luence of emotion,of huge corporate companies to Dublin Airport. You check
bias or ambiguity.”with two lads from Ireland yourself in, you put your own
bag through the system–most of
who are incredibly motivated. this is not AI, it’s automation. That is, being
They would stand up and able to read someone’s passport and so on–it’s
speak fluent Japanese, with information technology.“
incredible knowledge of the For Barry, the more interesting question is
sector. This is the same the world over. There
will always be representatives from IDA
Ireland who are absolutely amazing; I think
that they do a brilliant job.”
well-structured speech on a given topic,
delivers it with clarity and purpose, and rebuts not whether people will become unemployed,
its opponent. Eventually, Project Debater will but whether they have the opportunities to
help people reason by providing compelling, grow professionally and to increase their
evidence-based arguments and limiting the salaries over time. “Most of the jobs that the
influence of emotion, bias, or ambiguity.” kids in primary school will have don’t even
AI INSIDERS exist yet. It’s probably even true for most
AI 101 students in university today,” he points out.
“It’s a phenomenal time for AI here in Ireland,”
Barry says. “Companies like IBM, Accenture, So what is Artificial Intelligence in its most “There are jobs that will exist in four or five
Huawei, and many more are doing really well basic form? Barry O’Sullivan explains. “The years time that don’t exist now,” he continues.
here in Ireland,” explains the professor. simple version of AI is building software that “I am 45 and when I started teaching 20 years
can mimic human expertise that can be in a ago there was no such thing as social media;
“Companies may not say that they are using narrowly defined area. So for example, sorting people started using it in earnest less than
AI, but they may be using AI internally. through CDs. It can also be recommending 10 years ago. We don’t have to wait for this
Obviously companies like IBM are very public things online for people to consume or generation of national school kids to realise
about their use of AI, but there are lots of purchase. It can also be things like how to this idea. There are kids who are coming out
companies in Ireland who are using AI behind match taxis with demand in cities. It is hard of university now who, when they started, the
the scenes as well to improve their internal to imagine something that involves human smart phone was a new thing. The world has
processes or lots of processes that people are expertise that there isn’t an opportunity to use changed as a result of that innovation. Children
developing. There are a lot of start-ups as well AI for in some fashion.” will be in school for at least 14 years; we not
who are doing great things; people like only don’t know what jobs will exist in 14 years,
Soapbox Labs who are working on voice The fear surrounding Artificial Intelligence we don’t actually know what the world is going
recognition for kids.” in the greater public sphere is based on to look like then.”
incorrect information hypothesises Barry.
IBM is one of the leading voices in terms of “There is a lot of fear that is communicated LIVING IN AN AI WORLD
Artificial Intelligence, with decades of research through the various forums, either policy
into the changing face of AI behind them. Jim statements or documents that can be found IBM is committed to creating trust in our
O’Keeffe, External Relations and online or newspaper stories. Invariably it’s AI systems, says Jim O’Keeffe. “As AI
Communications Leader for IBM in Ireland, around the impact of jobs. We worry that AI advances, and humans and AI systems
agrees that this is a time of incredible is going to make everybody unemployed. Then increasingly work together, it is essential that
innovation for AI. “We believe AI will of course, there’s the whole Killer Robot we trust the output of these systems to inform
transform the world in dramatic ways in the thing.” The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots our decisions. We are working to ensure the
coming years – and we’re advancing the field is a group of organisations including Human security and reliability of AI systems by
through our portfolio of research focused on Rights Watch and Amnesty International who exposing and fixing their vulnerabilities:
three areas. Firstly, towards human-level seek to pre-emptively ban lethal autonomous identifying new attacks and defence,
intelligence, secondly using AI as a platform weapons being developed. designing new adversarial training methods
for business, and thirdly the hardware and the to strengthen against attack, and developing
physics of AI.” THE FUTURE OF WORK new metrics to evaluate robustness.”

IBM scientists from Dublin worked on an The root of the issue when it comes to AI makes sense across industries that rely
IBM global research project called Project employment, Barry believes, is that we fail
Debater. “It’s really exciting,” enthuses to see our jobs evolving to encompass AI,
O’Keeffe. “It is the first AI system that can and instead are concerned that our roles will
debate humans on complex topics. Project become obsolete as technology advances.
Debater digests massive texts, constructs a



The audience
voted IBM’s
Project Debater
programme the
winner against
Dan Zafrir in a
debate at the
company’s San
Francisco office.

on exacting data to feed innovations, but some this beautiful. I don’t consider this beautiful.’ for Data Analytics employs over 400
of the more surprising industries receiving a And even though the concept of beauty may researchers, more than 80 industry partners
transformation as a result of AI are those differ among humans, I believe the computer and is party to over €100 million of funding.
rooted in creativity. In 2016, the IBM Watson will be able to find a good range. Now, if you Insight is made up of four main sites: Insight@
cognitive platform was used for the first ever ask it to create something beautiful from DCU, Insight@NUI Galway, Insight@UCC
AI-created movie trailer for 20th Century scratch, I think that’s certainly a more distant and Insight@UCD as well as a number of
Fox’s horror flick, Morgan. Led by John and challenging frontier.” affiliated bodies. Each of Insight’s main
Smith, IBM Fellow and Manager of centres has a long track record of data
Multimedia and Vision at IBM Research, IRELAND AS AN AI HUB analytics research. In July 2013 they came
the project had Watson analyse the visuals, together under Science Foundation Ireland
sound and composition of hundreds of existing The Insight Centre for Data Analytics is home as Insight. The size of the Centre allows for
horror film trailers. Watson then selected to Ireland’s most innovative minds in the collaboration on a large scale, which enables
scenes from the completed Morgan movie for realm of AI. “The field of data analytics is the organisation to compete for funding and
editors to patch together into the trailer– progressing at a rate beyond anything we opportunities at a much higher level.
ultimately reducing what could be a have ever experienced,” says Oliver Daniels,
weeks-long process to one day. CEO of the Centre. “If we can tap into this According to experts at the Centre, today’s
new wealth of information and make decisions global market for business analytics is
“Just a few years ago, who would have based on it, we will transform the way our estimated to be worth in excess of $34 billion,
thought we’d be able to teach a computer world works. Data analytics is a massive global with big data driving a 60 per cent increase
what is or is not cancer?” says Arvind Krishna, research effort aimed at taking the guesswork in the operating margins of retailers. As an
Senior Vice President of Hybrid Cloud and out of decision-making in society. It has the outward facing institution, they succeed by
Director of IBM Research. “I think teaching potential to improve our approach to maintaining strong relationships with business
AI what’s melodic or beautiful is a challenge everything from hospital waiting lists to at all levels from SMEs to major multinational
of a different kind since it is more subjective, energy use to advertising.” corporations. “Data analytics is a leading
but likely can be achieved. You can give AI area of research in Ireland and presents a
a bunch of training data that says, ‘I consider One of Europe’s largest data analytics significant opportunity for business and
research organisations, The Insight Centre

29 ISSUE 15


Pictured above: Oliver Daniels, CEO of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

industry,” says Barry O’Sullivan. Big data AI will have a significant effect on Ireland, our weight. So for example, I am the president
innovation is a strategic priority for the Irish and its reputation as a hub for technological of the European AI Association. One can
government and Insight represents the largest advances, says Barry. “Scientifically we want become a fellow of the EurAI. Per capita,
investment in a single research centre in the to make advances, we want to make scientific Ireland has a significantly larger number of
history of the state. contributions to the field but nationally we these than any other country in Europe. Now,
want to impact in terms of the economy and all of them happen to be working at Insight,
It’s an extraordinarily exciting place, with jobs and start-ups and licensing out to which is great. If you look at the Science
innovations across industries from healthcare companies. So, we want to have near-term Foundation Ireland statistics, they will often
to architecture taking place on an ongoing economic impact as much as we want a normalise by population size and the
basis. “Insight works on a wide variety of long-term scientific impact.” performance is great. It puts us into the top 10
different aerial technologies; everything from and above the top 10 in terms of positions in
linked data to recommender systems and THINKING BIG lots of areas.”
optimisation and decision analysis,” explains
Barry. “Consider it as everything from sensing Ireland may be small, but our tenacity and Barry says that while there are lots of
and gathering data to making understanding technological expertise make us mighty. Barry positive things happening here in Ireland, we
it and making decisions from data. We work O’Sullivan believes that considering our size, should always strive for more. “We are a small
in four different areas. We work in areas related Ireland is impressive in terms of its AI country and it’s still true to say that while
to human health and performance, we work achievements to date. “You have to normalise there are certainly IDA Ireland client
in smart enterprises, we work in sustainability, things by the size of the country,” he says. companies that are doing R&D in Ireland
so everything from environmental “We are not France or Germany, for example, like IBM, there could be a lot more of that.
sustainability to sustainable relations of but when you do make allowances for the size There are some... we would love to see them
companies and sustainable transport.” of our country, we are punching way above doing more R&D in Ireland. Because of the


Pictured left: Professor
Barry O’Sullivan

“We are working
on tools to support
and care delivery
by looking at the
individual as a
whole, rather than a
collection of issues.”

Abbott Diagnostics, Longford “We are working on tools to support Ireland is Joanne O’Riordan. The recent
decision-making and care delivery by looking graduate of criminology at UCC is one of
investments that organisations like the Science at the individual as a whole, rather than a only seven people in the world living with a
Foundation are putting into research, Ireland collection of issues. Getting the full picture rare physical disability known as Total
has a very solid reputation from a research requires integrating information from Amelia. This means she was born without all
point of view that makes it attractive to the disparate enterprise systems, publicly four limbs but Joanne has never allowed it to
Googles and the Facebooks of the world and available data and data from the Internet of hold her back.
many others will feel that they can invest Things (IoT). This information is processed
significantly in R&D in Ireland as well.” using IBM cognitive analytics and provides She has used technology to enhance her
a consolidated view of the individual, key abilities in both her education and through
AI AND HEALTH insights and most appropriate actions, the wider social environment. She has
ultimately creating a digitally integrated care conquered enormous challenges at home, in
Healthcare is a sector where perhaps the management system. In turn, this system can school and around her local community,
most important AI innovations are taking be used to drive behavioural change and utilising technology along the way and
place at the moment. IBM Ireland is working improve patient outcomes.” challenging the industry to create new and
to accelerate AI research through more innovative advancements that would
collaboration with like-minded institutions Someone who has benefited from some of enable her to live her life without limits.
and individuals to push the boundaries of the advancements in AI technology here in
AI faster for the benefit of industry and Joanne says that like most people, she is
society, says Jim O’Keeffe. never far away from technology. “My phone
and my laptop give me access to the internet
and social media, which is essential for my
work as a sports journalist and speaker.”

In 2012, then aged 16, Joanne addressed
the UN and asked someone to build her a
robot that would allow her to function more
independently in the world. A team at Trinity
College Dublin answered her call, and created
Robbie, a robot that passed UN inspection and
won an innovation award from the National
Standards Authority of Ireland.

From a practical point of view, Joanne’s
wheelchair, or ‘car’ as she likes to call it, is
her most essential piece of technology. “It
enables me to be connected into my life in a
way that would be impossible without it.”
O’Riordan says that while AI advancements
have without doubt improved her life, they
improve most of our lives daily. “Think about
Alexa,” she says, referring to the Amazon
device powered by AI, which lives in so many
of our homes. “Where were we without her?”

31 ISSUE 15


WIntoethse t

The Landing Space is the latest
co‑working space set to offer a home
to FDI choosing Sligo as an Irish base.

Sligo continues to act as a hub for FDIs like Amcor
and Overstock as well as a number of young tech
start-ups. The aim now is to continue to grow and
develop the area in line with the companies that
are arriving there.The Landing Space, a new
initiative from IDA Ireland, offers a ‘fast landing
space’ for FDI and start-ups wishing to test the
water in Sligo, before committing to a long-term
property contract.

Offering a fully-furnished, gigabit-enabled property
solution, where a company can scale or land for a minimum
of three and a maximum of twelve months, the launch is
timely, says IDA Ireland Regional Manager for the North
West, John Nugent.

“It’s essentially an opportunity to get boots on the ground in a world-
class co-working environment while they finalise their ultimate property
solution,” he explains. The location of the space is of key significance,
says Nugent. “The Landing Space is across the river from The Building
Block. The hope is that the area will begin looking and feeling like a
district within Sligo where start-ups and new arrivals of FDI’s can


33 ISSUE 15


come and get started. Some might even call it Mural of the poet WB Yeats
an innovation district.” L-R: Desk spaces, kitchen and meeting room

IDA Ireland has partnered with Sligo County
Council and Sligo Institute of Technology in
order to bring the space to reality. It boasts
66 desks, and a number of meeting, conference
and breakout facilities. In terms of tenancy,
there are many options and configurations open
to potential occupants.

“We are looking at any company that can
operate from a co-working environment. That
is, predominantly people who will be working
on desks at computers doing design, software
services or creative services,” suggests Nugent.
“We are not ruling out non-tech companies,”
he continues. “There could be, for example,
manufacturing companies that have a short-
term need for an R&D group. They could be
designing a new workflow or installing a SAP
system within a manufacturing environment
and they might need a location from which to
work, outside the manufacturing environment.
That could work for us.”

Nugent hopes that the space will offer
companies the opportunity to grow and
expand. “We might see companies coming and
getting started with three to five desks and
growing to ten or fifteen desks and then moving
on to their permanent property solution. Or,
potentially companies growing up out of the
Institute of Technology where they have an
innovation centre, and this can be a step up to
the town centre as they move towards the
private rental market.”

SYNCHRONOUS CONNECTION Atlantic Way, an event aiming to connect These are roles in Artificial Intelligence and
The one-gigabit synchronous connection that employers with world-class tech talent who are e-commerce with really exciting companies
is on offer at The Landing Space is what interested in working and living in the West. like LiveTiles and Overstock,” explains the
separates it from other co-working spaces. The Up to 500 experienced tech and biotech recruitment expert. But it’s not just about the
term synchronous implies that there is a one- candidates arrived to the event, many via the jobs, he says. “When you think about it, you
gigabit upload speed, which means that if you specially commissioned Tech Train from can do the best tech work of your life, in one of
are deploying software you can do so very Dublin. “There can be no doubt that the tech, the most beautiful areas of Europe if not the
rapidly and easily. “As we try to develop the biotech and data scene in the West, North West world and get paid the same amount that you
country, I think of it as shrinking the country and Midlands is growing quickly with employers get in Dublin, without any commute or any
as opposed to regional development,” says seeking the very best talent available,” says general living costs that people have from living
Nugent. “Infrastructure like the gigabit we are O’hOisin. “Sligo is a great example of this trend. in a city environment.”
talking about, and improved roads and services The event offered an incredible opportunity
makes the country smaller. It decouples work for employers to grow their teams and gain O’hOisin points to networking events set up
and location.” access to an invaluable pipeline of tech by the IDA Ireland as key for people relocating
THE TECH TRAIN candidates attracted to living and working in to Sligo, enabling them to connect with a
When it comes to careers, Sligo is one of the these vibrant regions.” community and settle into their new home. “At
most attractive locations in Ireland for careers CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY the end of the day, this area offers people the
in tech, says Brian O’hOisin from Career Zoo. “What attracted us to this event was the very opportunity to work in dream jobs and buy a
In October, Career Zoo ran Tech on the Wild high quality jobs that are available around Sligo. house. That’s something that so many of us who
are living and working in urban areas are not
able to achieve.”



The arrival of Overstock showcased Sligo and WORK TO LIVE
all it had to offer, providing a springboard for With direct transport links to
other companies to follow suit, says John Dublin and a world of outdoor
Nugent. “It gave companies a first mover pursuits on your doorstep, Sligo is a
advantage because as you see people choosing huge draw for those who are looking
to live where they want to live as opposed to to achieve the ultimate work/life
being where the jobs are; Sligo gives people a balance. As the largest urban centre
chance to live in a phenomenal location. The in the North West, it has its own
activity that most people consider when they airport, as well as a direct rail line
think of Sligo is surfing, and they’d be right. to Dublin and the N4, connecting
Sligo is a phenomenal location for work/life Sligo to the capital by road.
balance, outdoor pursuits and world-class
surfing. We’ve been able to offer technology For many, the call of Sligo is the
employees the opportunity to live and work call of nature. With world-class
in this location, which they are happy to do. surfing up and down its rugged
If people are happy to live and work in a coast, and walking and hiking trails
specific location, such as Sligo, then companies traversing the county, it has become
are happy to locate their operations there, or a magnet for those seeking to
build teams around those people.” exchange fast-paced urban living for
an altogether more relaxed idyll.
John Nugent cites the arrival of Overstock as Overstock was followed by LiveTiles, an Seasoned surfers and learners
a watershed moment for Sligo. The American Artificial Intelligence company from New alike converge on the sands at
e-commerce and technology leader established York, and E3 Retail, a software services Strandhill, and there are plenty of
its European base in Sligo in 2013, and business to the e-commerce centre. The surf schools in the area. Enniscrone
currently employs 40 technologists. In October problem, says Nugent, is that up until recently beach is another popular spot while
of this year, Overstock announced an Sligo hasn’t had appropriate property Easkey is a magnet for experienced
expansion to its Sligo base and the creation solutions for the software and technology surfers who can take advantage of
of 100 highly skilled R&D jobs. “Overstock sectors. “The Building Block only came on the two reef breaks the beach offers.
coming to Sligo five years ago was a complete stream less than two years ago and was almost
watershed moment for us because they came full immediately. That gave us a very strong
to put hardcore software developers in a brand indication that there was a need for that kind
new operation here,” says Nugent. “Sligo at of co-working space. We did not want to
the time had no heritage in that space and replicate or in any way detract from what
there was no reason for that company to they are doing at The Building Block, but
choose Sligo, based on the evidence around we wanted to offer new FDI that are
them, but they saw the potential of a location considering the region or the town of Sligo
to attract talent to and I think that’s where an opportunity to try before they buy, tap
Sligo is at right now.” into the talent pool and experience Sligo
before fully committing in a longer term lease
for a property solution.”

In the development of The Landing Space,
and continued development of Sligo as a
technology district, the hope is that the area
will continue to blossom and grow. John
Nugent is confident that the services offered
by the area will result in the North West
continuing to grow as a centre for technology
services, software development and large-scale
services companies. “The Landing Space and
The Building Block give two complementary
pillars that can seek and service talent coming
back to the location and give companies a
space to trial the location with a view to
growing that location here in Sligo.”

35 ISSUE 15



Lights, S ection 481 tax relief for the film
and television industry, originally
Camera, due to expire at the end of 2020,
received a reprieve in the Irish
Action Government’s Budget 2019. Now
extended to 2024, it is joined by a
Deanna O’Connor speaks to new time-limited regional uplift of
Steven Davenport, Inward up to an additional five per cent
that will taper out over five years. The
Production Manager at Screen Government’s support of the film industry in
Ireland, about Ireland’s allure as a Ireland is vital and recognises the thriving
film location.
Steven Davenport is Inward Production
37 ISSUE 15 Manager at Screen Ireland (Fís Éireann),
formerly known as the Irish Film Board (Bord
Scannán na hÉireann), Ireland’s national
development agency for the Irish film,
television and animation industry. In his role,
he is the first port of call for local and
international producers looking to film on
location in Ireland, and aims to ensure that
Ireland remains a film-friendly location by
providing on-the-ground logistical support to
international production through a network
of partnerships throughout Ireland.

As far back as John Ford’s The Quiet Man, David
Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart
and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan,
major Hollywood blockbusters have chosen
Ireland as a film location. These films have
helped to cement the country as the highly
sought-after filming location that exists today.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens and
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi famously
chose Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to form part
of the setting for instalments of the iconic movie
franchise. Reed Morano’s spy thriller The
Rhythm Section recently made use of Ireland’s
versatile cityscapes, while the country also
provided a dramatic period backdrop for Floria
Sigismondi’s gothic horror, The Turning.


The Breadwinner Black 47

WE TALK ABOUT FILM A LOT BUT TV “My experience of working in Ireland
DRAMA, NETFLIX AND ANIMATION continues to be absolutely positive in every
ARE ALSO IMPORTANT SECTORS. way. What a crew! Dedicated, highly skilled
HERE IN THESE AREAS? and equally highly motivated, creative,
Ireland has also been at the forefront of the good-humoured and fun to be around. I
explosion in TV drama production over the have been fortunate in working with Irish
last ten years, with series such as MGM’s HODs at Ashford Studios who are brilliant
Vikings, AMC’s Into the Badlands and from the in their own right, and help perform the
mind of George R.R. Martin, the SYFY/ alchemical art of translating words on a
Netflix space thriller, Nightflyers, all choosing
Ireland as their preferred filming location. page to moving images on a screen.”

Ireland has also achieved considerable MICHAEL HIRST, CREATOR OF VIKINGS
success in the animation sector in recent
years, with Irish animation studios embracing Invented Christmas (Bharat Nalluri) and New space settings in Nightflyers (Jeff Buhler, George
new formats for storytelling and working with York Streets in Greta (Neil Jordan). RR Martin) and the dystopian future in The
some of the biggest names in global Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos).
broadcasting, from Disney and Nickelodeon Ireland’s rugged landscape has served as
to Cartoon Network and the BBC, all the Scottish highlands in Braveheart (Mel Gibson) HOW DO OUR TAX BREAKS COMPARE
while garnering a plethora of major awards and The Rhythm Section (Reed Morano) and the AGAINST OTHER COUNTRIES?
and nominations. Massachusetts countryside in the BBC TV The Irish tax incentive for film and television
adaptation of Little Women (Vanessa Caswill). is very competitive and one of the world’s
WHAT RANGE DOES IRELAND HAVE We have a phenomenal landscape which offers leading incentives for this industry. It is clear
TO OFFER IN TERMS OF LOCATIONS? multiple possibilities for film and TV and simple in terms of how it works and is also
Ireland has a huge amount to offer in terms production which are available to browse applies to spend on post production and VFX.
of providing endless dramatic filming through our online database. The key benefits are:
opportunities. Ireland’s diverse locations offer 1. €70 million per project cap
every possibility from picturesque rivers and Ireland has not only featured in film and 2. No annual limit
waterfalls, historic castles, breath-taking lakes TV drama, but has been an iconic setting for 3. International cast and crew working in
and mountains, a dramatic coastline, all many incredible locations such as Ahch-To in
alongside period streets and modern cityscapes. Star Wars VII & VIII ( JJ Abrams, Rian Ireland qualify
Johnson), mystical caves in Harry Potter and the 4. Available on all goods and services
Really, looking at what has filmed here over Half Blood Prince (David Yates), haunted houses
the last number of decades you get a strong and eerie settings in The Turning (Floria sourced in Ireland
sense of the versatility of Ireland’s film Sigismondi), post apocalyptic lands in Into The The minimum spend per project is €125,000
locations. Ireland has seamlessly doubled as Badlands (Alfred Gough, Miles Millar), outer- minimum compared with €1m in the UK.
many international locations including
Scandinavian settlements in Vikings (Michael
Hirst), period Britain in Love & Friendship (Whit
Stillman), gothic Victorian streets in Penny
Dreadful ( John Logan) and The Man Who


Vikings extras


39 ISSUE 15


“In Ireland Star Wars The Force Awakens crew on location
the local crew
worked miracles
building sets
cantilevered out
over 700 foot cliffs.
I don’t know if
I’ll ever have an
experience that
will quite live up to

it again.”


Ireland has a long-standing, diverse and Over the years, Irish creative filmmaking
exceptionally rich culture of bringing stories talent has been recognised on the international
to the screen. It is home to world-class and stage; coming to fruition when John Crowley’s
award winning filmmakers with a wealth of Brooklyn and Lenny Abrahamson’s Room
experience and an impeccable international received a combined total of seven Academy
reputation. Thanks to our excellent crew base Award nominations in 2016. Crowley and
and technical infrastructure, combined with Abrahamson follow in the footsteps of
our breath-taking scenery and competitive internationally acclaimed directors such as
tax credit, Ireland has emerged as a global Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan and John Boorman
hub for screen content production. and are joined by talent such as Paddy
Breathnach, Dearbhla Walsh, John Butler,
“It’s a great place to make movies. You’ve Neasa Hardiman, and Emer Reynolds to
got wonderful talent. You’ve got great name just a few.

craftsmen and crew, a wonderful spirit and Also the success of the animation industry
beautiful locations and facilities.” has been fantastic and Cartoon Saloon having
become a three-time Academy Award
BA BA A B OCCOLI, P ODUCE , THE HYTH SECTION nominated animation studio is really amazing.

The increased level of production has not
only developed and expanded the crew base
but has also created the infrastructure to
support the industry; establishing a world
renowned and highly skilled talent base both
in front of and behind the camera.


The Lobster

Little Women

Below: Pictured at Troy Studios, Siún Ní Raghallaigh CEO and Joe Devine Chairman Troy Studios. HOW HA D IS YOU JOB? BY THAT I
Abbott Diagnostics, Longford Troy Studios has outlined its future AND IS THE CO PETITION F O
plans to increase its studio facilities OTHE LOCATIONS FIE CE?
with the addition of a fourth sound I’ve worked in the film and television industry
stage. When complete it will position for over 20 years across a wide variety of
Troy as the largest international projects and now I’m now in the privileged
standard film and TV studio in Ireland position to be promoting my ex-colleagues
with the potential to double Troy with whom I’m worked with for many years.
Studios’ level of inward production and Ireland is home to some of the world’s most
jobs. Following significant private hardworking and talented crew. Ireland as a
investment of some €6.5 million to film and television location is incredibly flexible
date, Troy Studios is currently home to and versatile with excellent infrastructure. I’m
a 350,000 sqft hub for content also promoting our infrastructure and a range
creation. A new fourth stage will add of beautiful and diverse locations that I have
another 33,000 sqft of international worked on for years. So when I’m meeting with
standard sound stage space plus international studios and producers and taking
additional workshops and positions the to them about Ireland, it’s an easy sell.
studios as a critical driver in building a However, the international industry is
successful international quality film, TV extremely competitive in terms of attracting
and content industry in Ireland. international productions and we can never
allow ourselves to get complacent. We are very
lucky to have strong and consistent Government
support for our industry which also helps.

We are delighted that our Government has
extended our tax incentive until 2024 which
provides stability for the Irish film and
television industry. The regional uplift to
Section 481 of 5% (bringing the value of the
tax incentive to 37% in some regional areas
in 2018) will also provide an additional
incentive to increase Irish and international
production activity from Cork to Limerick,
from Galway to Donegal.

41 ISSUE 15


Image: LotusWorks

SourceStraight from the
Every time a company decides to invest in Ireland, the effects become
amplified as it supports further employment. Deanna O’Connor speaks to

Irish companies who have grown their business through FDI clients.



Irish company LotusWorks works with high tech
clients, retooling factories.

Today IDA Ireland has been instrumental medtech and pharmaceuticals. This is no Enterprise Ireland, responsible for
in creating almost 200,000 jobs in accident, and it reflects the knowledge and the development and growth of
foreign industry in Ireland –the highest experience that founders and start-ups gained Irish enterprises in world markets,
number in its history, providing over from working with, or for, the Irish operations promotes the #IrishAdvantage
70% of the country’s exports and almost of a global company.” of sourcing from Ireland to
10% of national employment accounted for international buyers, partners and
directly by IDA client companies, and a much In 2016, multinationals spent €17.9 billion multinationals, looking to enhance
greater indirect impact. in the Irish economy on payroll and on their supply chain, particularly in
Irish-sourced materials and services. the context of Brexit.
Every time a company decides to invest in
Ireland, the effects become amplified as it Here we speak to three companies for whom It was their first major multinational client
supports further employment and helps to FDI clients are a major source of business, in Ireland who changed everything for them,
sustain local businesses and communities. about how this has enabled growth and Fergal reveals. Not only did that contract give
encouraged best practice to global standards. them a calling card to other FDI companies
Speaking at the Invest in Ireland Awards. in Ireland, the original client was so pleased
IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan noted LOTUSWORKS with the project they had worked on here, they
that, “Some of our best performing invited them to repeat the work on an
indigenous companies are in sectors where Between 1990 and 1994, Ireland attracted American site.
FDI activity is strongest including technology, 40% of US electronic investment in Europe,
with companies like Dell, Gateway 2000, “The early nineties was a fairly busy time
Compaq, HP, Xerox, Ericsson, Matsushita, for FDI in Ireland. We were lucky enough to
Philips, Siemens and Hitachi all setting up in get a contract with a major technology
Ireland. By the late 1990s, roughly a third of company that pre-qualified us, or made it
all European PC production happened in easier to speak to some of the other
Ireland. It was also a boon to indigenous multinationals,” Fergal recalls. “Throughout
industry with a significant number of firms the nineties we were quite successful in gaining
emerging to supply these firms. One such firm contracts and building relationships with US
was LotusWorks, founded by Fergal Broder FDI companies.”
in Sligo 29 years ago.
Given the nature of their business–in
Fergal originally set up the company to engineering and technical service–the kind
service the northwest of Ireland but by chance of major industrial facilities they wanted to
ended up supporting some of the world’s largest work on largely came from foreign
manufacturers. LotusWorks entered the US investment. Fergal explains: “The type of
market by accident rather than design, and
after setting up operations in North America,
it now derives the greater part of its business
from clients there.

43 ISSUE 15

LotusWorks directors, Gerard Sproule, Emer Conroy, Fergal Broder and Mark Butler. successful. “While price is always important,
quality, safety and service delivery are as
LotusWorks important [to them] as price,” he concludes.


William O’Connell of Wilec Life, Safety &
Security Systems set up his business in
Rathnew, County Wicklow in 2002. He had
returned to Ireland after many years working
abroad on a number of high-profile and high-
security projects, and saw the need for a security
company dedicated to the complex, high-end
security market. Wilec caters to a range of
clientele including local government bodies,
facilities management and pharmaceutical
companies and other blue chip organisations.

William says, “The majority of our business
comes from multinational organisations,
primarily US based–I would estimate that
approximately 20 per cent is home grown with
80 per cent coming from foreign companies
with a base here.”

Of the FDI businesses they work with, the
sectors represented are API Pharma,
Bio-Pharma, Industrial and Commercial
Banking. Working with European and

“While European
engineers may be
familiar with EU
Standards they will
not be familiar with
Irish Standards or
the application of


client we have is a fairly large process industry William O’Connell, founder of Wilec Life American companies has been formative in
that ideally manufactures a product that is Safety & Security. the way they run their business, particularly
regulated and has a reasonably short life in terms of benchmarking against international
cycle so that they have to retool and rebuild standards. William says, “The expectation for
and refit out a factory.” quality service is higher, non-performance is
not an option, particularly in Pharma.”
“We took a strategic decision to target the
multinationals,” he continues. It was a decision He continues, “It is a highly skilled industry
that paid off and LotusWorks flourished at and the requirement for on-going training–
home and abroad. Fergal noted other specific to the organisation and plant in
advantages to the company, saying, “Working question is paramount. Typically performance
with multinationals raised our standard, we is measured by KPIs or similar.” While some
were able to see what best practices were, and companies they work with run motivating
adopt them. We learned from the best.” ‘contractor of the month schemes’, when it
comes to being the best, William says, “In the
Fergal also found multinationals to be good main best practice is the minimum expected
customers, who realised their suppliers need and delivered.” Working with multinationals
to make a profit, and are happy to see them be in Ireland prepares indigenous companies to


Gary McSharry, Partner, McCann FitzGerald significant amount of work for McCann
FitzGerald with global leaders in sectors
“Ireland has established itself as the place such as technology, pharma, fintech,
where companies want to do business, e-commerce, financial services, biotech,
particularly with the US with which energy and manufacturing.”
it has a unique connection and strong
commercial ties.” When it comes to growing McCann
FitzGerald’s business in Ireland, Gary
operate at world class standards. Group has advised a number of multinationals notes that many global companies are
It is also vital to the FDI ecosystem that on areas such as regulation, compliance, looking at Ireland as they assess their
government incentives and grants, as options for maintaining their links to
indigenous companies here are prepared to well as M&A and joint ventures. This the EU in a post-Brexit environment.
work with those who set up here. In William’s multinational work has also led the firm “This is where Ireland has a distinct
line of work, for example, he points out that to establish a network of onsite offices in advantage as it will be the only English
not only would it be cost-prohibitive to import London, Brussels and New York, to better speaking common law jurisdiction in the
staff to do the same work, there are stringent support its international client base. EU following the UK’s departure.” He
standards in place, both European and Irish, continues, “Already we have seen how
governing how that work is done: “While Gary McSharry, Partner and Head of this can result in benefits for business in
European engineers may be familiar with EU McCann FitzGerald’s New York office, Ireland with the recent announcement by
Standards they will not be familiar with Irish says, “Providing on the ground same- the International Swaps and Derivatives
Standards or the application of same. This time-zone support to clients was a key Association (ISDA) to introduce an
could have serious implications particularly in driver behind our decision to establish an Irish law version of its industry standard
the life safety and security systems industry.” office in New York. This decision allows Master Agreement, allowing for users
William concludes, “An overseas company us to directly support Irish-US business to choose Irish law to govern their
would not be able to provide the level of service activity. We have recently acted on some derivatives contracts and the Irish courts
that we provide i.e. 24/7/365 cover, maximum major US-Ireland transactions and we to determine related disputes. This was a
attendance to site times of four hours, spare look forward to continuing to work with major vote of confidence in Ireland and
holdings, sourcing local expertise if and when US clients and helping them scale into in Irish law.”
required.” It’s clear that the advantage of EU Markets through establishment and
working together works both ways. acquisitions in Ireland. For businesses setting up outposts
in Ireland, the benefit of having a law
MCCANN FITZGERALD “Ireland has established itself as the place firm on the ground here is clear. Gary
where companies want to do business,” states, “Working with a local law firm
Irish law firm McCann FitzGerald’s FDI says Gary. “This, of course, has led to a means that clients can avail of our deeper
understanding of the local environment,
know that we are better connected with
key influencers and policy makers and
have experience dealing with many of the
issues that companies are likely to face.”

With increasing competitiveness across
all industries from globalisation, the legal
profession has not escaped, and Gary says,
“This in turn has led to a serious pace of
change with law becoming much more
than legal expertise. To stay relevant,
we must evolve and one way that we are
doing that is through our drive to develop
cutting edge legal services solutions.”

In order to deliver the best possible service
to sophisticated and demanding international
clients, the firm has been innovative in the
delivery of its service. Gary describes their
modus operandi as, ‘Progressive Delivery’.
“Our aim is to bring together our deep legal,
business and regulatory knowledge with
digital and AI technologies so that we can
deliver a suite of agile and clever solutions
that are tailored to the specific needs of our
clients who are increasingly looking for
greater flexibility and cost-efficiency in their
legal services.”

45 ISSUE 15





What do employees really want from their leaders?
Deanna O’Connor reflects on recent events and new research.

S acha Romanovitch, CEO of executive and her leadership was put out to how it’s going to be carried out, you got a
Grant Thornton in the UK, made the partners to vote on, she said that in the problem. I think that’s true on a military
waves with her leadership style at event of partners voting against her she mission, I think it’s true in politics, in life
the accountancy firm, and then wouldn’t “cling on... you can’t run a business and business.”
she made the headlines, when if you’re held hostage to a few people who
disgruntled colleagues forwarded are unhappy”. It was announced in late Communicating the mission effectively is
her performance review to the October that Ms Romanovitch, who
newspapers. The expression ‘It’s tough at the became the first female chief executive of a “The message for
top’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Her crime, major British accounting firm in 2015, the leader of today?
according to her detractors, was focusing on would stand down as CEO before January.
a “higher social purpose” to the detriment of Be charismatic,
profit-focus. She had restructured the firm so Perhaps ousting Ms Romanovitch will be but humble; have
that profits were shared with all staff, not just a move that backfires in terms of profit- a clear vision, and
partners, and attempted to move towards a focus; as the only woman at her level in a communicate it
“profits with purpose” rather than profit-at- major accountancy firm in the UK, she p u r p os e f u l ly...”
all-costs model. brought with her a proven competitive
advantage. McKinsey studies have shown one of the greatest challenges as any leader,
“When it comes to that companies which have gender-diverse whether it is of a huge organisation, or a
the crunch, is it a leadership deliver better financial results small team. People don’t always listen. This
case of business is than those that do not. is why many great leaders are also great
business and the orators. They have the skill to draw people
bottom line is all However, while she was clear in her vision in and to make them listen.
and goals, Ms Romanovitch was missing
that matters?” the backing of her troops. As former US The trend of the digital age is distributed
Secretary of State John Kerry told the leadership and as workplaces become less
While leaders are expected to talk the Harvard Business Review recently, “If people formal and more flexible, it appears that the
talk about CSR and employee experience don’t respect you, if they don’t think you doggedness, grit and determination which
and all the nice, fluffy stuff, this sorry tale know what you’re doing… if they have a got leaders to the top are not necessarily the
begs the question, is that just paying lip sense of doubt about what the mission is or characteristics that will help them to be seen
service? When it comes to the crunch, is it a as effective leaders. Research by Hogan
case of business is business and the bottom “If people don’t Assessments found that while their charisma
line is all that matters? respect you, if they may have won them the role, it was more
don’t think you know important to the people working under a
In the aftermath of the debacle what you’re doing… leader to see evidence of humility, modesty
Ms Romanovitch spoke out, saying, “When if they have a sense and reliability in their dealings with them.
you’re going through change, having that of doubt about what
resistance is completely normal… In fact, if The message for the leader of today? Be
you’re trying to run a business with total the mission is or charismatic, but humble; have a clear
consensus on every decision, you’re how it’s going to be vision, and communicate it purposefully,
probably running a business that will fail.” carried out, you got mindful that teams may feel unsupported if
they sense that you are more focused on
As she went to seek a second term as chief a problem.” your own concerns and ideas than them.
And as always, like Caesar, watch your
back. Et tu, Brute?

47 ISSUE 15



C Y BERIntroducing
Ireland’s new
national cluster
Ireland organisationfor

Click to View FlipBook Version