The Monday Interview: Tech summit mirrors Cork’s growth – Irish Examiner


The popularity of Cork as a place to do business looks set to soar on the back of major investment in the region, voluntary body IT@Cork tells Pádraig Hoare ahead of its annual tech summit next month.

Cork is firmly cementing its position as the fastest-growing information and communications technologyregion in the country, with firms coming to do business “set to soar on the back of major investment”.

That is the confident prediction of not-for-profit independent business organisation IT@Cork, ahead of its eighth Tech Summit in Cork City Hall on May 9, where some of the most innovative minds in the world of IT will assemble at the Irish Examiner-partnered event.

Every year, hundreds of attendees from all over Europe come to Cork to hear world-class speakers and business leaders — and this year will be no different, say organisers.

Speaking at the launch, chair of IT@Cork and partner at Deloitte, Caroline O’Driscoll said: “Theregion is primed for growth. Tech companies are coming here in their droves, and those already here are growing significantly.

“Since the beginning of the year alone, we have seen Clearstream Global Securities Services Limited take up to 70,000 square feet of the first block ofthe €90m Navigation Squaredevelopment, and US cyber security company Forcepoint take up joint occupation of a €30m South Mall office development.

“Given the performance of the IT sector here over the last five years, and the developments that have come on stream since, the next five years look set to be even busier in terms of growing the region as a hub for ICT companies, both indigenous and global.

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“Overseas technology companies in the region currently employ 17,000-plus people, and we believe this could double in the next 10 years.”

To hold the tech summit on anannual basis makes sense because there is such a strong background in the industry, with each year building on the success of the preceding one, Ms O’Driscoll said.

“This year’s tech summit willexplore a myriad of topics, themes, opportunities, and challenges within the tech sector.

“Attendees can use the event to prepare for the tech future in which we will live and work, and can benefit from take-home practical advice that they can apply today in the workplace.”

IT@Cork, which represents over 200 companies in the region, said the event will see more technologies and more delegates than ever travel from all over the country to listen to best-in-class speakers, get up close and personal with new technologies and network with industry peers.

Speakers include Trend Microdirector Robert McArdle, who leads its ‘Forward-Looking Threat’ research team where he is involved in analysing the latest in cybercrime; Workhuman director of global business systems, Andrea C Johnson; managing director of Recruiting Daily and expert on the future of work, Bill Johnson; director of support for Shopify, John Riordan; and chief executive of data cleaning and wiping specialist firm Wisetek, Sean Sheehan.

IT@Cork member and senior director at Flex, Anthony O’Callaghan said: “We are constantly evolvingin terms of our awareness of theimpact that tech has on our dailyexperience and the ways in which it can be used to transform so many spheres of public and private life.

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As we continue to adapt our personal and collective habits and patterns to a greater degree as a result of emergent technologies, there is an onus upon the sector to discuss and question where tech is taking us and what impact it can have, both in its benefits and challenges on our lives.

“We at tech summit want to question and explore where the future of tech lies. Tech Summit 2019 is an event for those wanting to solve the real business challenges of today and prepare for the transformational forces that are coming.”

Themes set to be explored as the event include the burgeoning trillion-dollar cybercrime industry —it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ you or your organisation will come face-to-face with these real threats, according to IT@Cork.

With the economy approaching levels of full employment, the ability of firms to scale, and attract and retain top talent is a major challenge, the organisation said. Coupled with advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence, and the challenges around infrastructure and accommodation, talent retention is becoming a bigger issue.

The event will also argue that embracing diversity is a strategic business imperative, but will caution that real action is needed to yield real rewards, IT@Cork said.

The so-called circular economy, where 50m tonnes of electronic waste is produced each year and just a fifth is disposed of correctly, puts both legal and social obligations on firms, the event will hear.

Ms O’Driscoll said:

We’re opening up the format even further this year, with the introduction of interactive panels from our keynote speakers, as well as ‘deep-dive’ workshop sessions throughout the day, which will tackle areas such as cyber-crime, e-waste and the circular economy, GDPR, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and human-resource challenges.

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