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Tech Startups Lead Dublin Recovery

Posted on the 28 May 2014 by Dfennell @BloggerGo

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It wasn’t banking but technology startups that led the economic recovery in Dublin, Ireland. There was a time when the city was a veritable Wall Street, filled with bankers as well as real estate tycoons who were the driving force behind the economy.

Beginning in 2013, however, the aftermath of the country’s most damaging recession since the 1948s was still evident. That’s when the founders of tech startups decided enough was enough and began to step up their game.

According to one of the founders of Tribal.vc, a venture capital leader that leases spaces to young tech-savvy startups, “It’s very doubtful we would have been able to get this building in this location a few years ago. The drop in rental prices allowed it all to work.”

And it’s working out well for everyone involved. The city has also caught the eye of major U.S. tech companies such as Intel and Google, who are being wooed by the low corporate tax rate in Ireland.

The perfect cocktail

While startups are certainly picking up steam, some of the locals have noted positive and negative results from the arrival of various corporations on their doorstep. Barnaby Voss, the founder of Blikbook, which provides online resources to professors, says, “It will always be a double-edged sword. On one hand, the big international companies add to the buzz around Dublin. On the other hand, it can be difficult to staff.”

When someone is considering a job offer between a startup and Google, Google is more likely to win.

As for the city’s culture itself, the number of people working in technology has increased 75,000 since 2009 and the industry now makes up five percent of all positions. Compare this to Israel, which has been dubbed the “Startup Nation” with 10 percent of all people working in tech, and Dublin’s not doing too shabby.

Of all the workers in Ireland in the high-tech industry, 75 percent work for major companies. But the city is seeking a “Startup Commissioner” who will serve for two years and help level the playing field.

What to expect

According to Patrick King, a spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce, “We need someone to be an ambassador, a champion, to be able to shout about Dublin a bit.”

Already, the government has provided rallying support for local tech startups, particularly in places like the Liberties area which boasts a campus named Digital Hub. The first attempt was a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but that didn’t pan out, so the site was turned into a home for 70 tech startups.

There’s also Wayra, owned by Telefonica SA and is home to 10 startups. It’s close to a neighborhood known as Google Town, for obvious reasons.

The city has plenty of other promising spaces for the next big startup, and investors and entrepreneurs are starting to notice the opportunities. Simon Dempsey, founder of LikeWhere, says that it’s been the case in the past that “Landlords want long leases and that just doesn’t really suit startups.”

But times are changing. Slated to be the next tech startup hub on the planet, Dublin has a lot of promise.


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