Opportunities and Challenges for the Irish App Economy

On the RTÉ Nine O’Clock News last night, I spoke about app economy growth areas like AR and video in a piece with Will Goodbody on the opportunities and challenges for the Irish app economy. But just how important is the app economy to the overall economy in Ireland, and what do we need to do to continue growing it?

According to a recent report from US think tank PPI, Ireland is punching above its weight in the European table for what is called “app intensity”, or the percentage of jobs in the app economy to all jobs: the number for Ireland is close to 1%. Of the 2-and-a-quarter million jobs in Ireland, that’s about 20,000 people, and that figure of app economy jobs in Ireland increased by 5,000 since just last year. Ireland has performed well in comparison to other countries, and had the third highest growth in Europe in terms of app economy jobs, up 33% from 2017 to 2018.

We can thank the development of strong innovation ecosystems and startup communities in our capital and regional cities over the past five or more years, and the country’s third level institutions and research centres continue to produce talented graduates to work in the core areas of app development, computer engineering and software security, which are further supported by indirect and spillover jobs. However, the Director of Ibec’s Technology Ireland group, Una Fitzpatrick, has cautioned that there is a skills shortage happening, and a serious pinch point is on the way over the next couple of years if this is not addressed.

It is fair to say that apps have radically transformed the way we live and work. The first App Store opened just over 10 years ago in July 2008, and because anybody with decent coding skills could create an app, we had all kinds of creative people imagining what could be done with the combination of internet-connected, location-aware, touchscreen multimedia devices that are almost always within hands reach. All of the tasks that typically took hours or days, from booking holidays and buying presents, to paying bills and arranging meetings can typically be done in minutes, with a greater range of options available. Also, new tasks that were not really possible before can now be performed: preheating your home or car from your phone; getting real-time information on nearby transport options; or live streaming a birthday party to your family and friends.

The novelty of apps may have worn off, but it is becoming harder and harder to imagine life without them. We increasingly expect there to be an app for everything, whether it’s the services we already use or new ones we are still imagining. There’s still lots of room for new innovations, for example, there has been a recent increase in the adoption of digitally enhanced reality or augmented reality apps. Last year, another big growth area for apps was streaming video: this led to an increase of over 85 percent in consumer spend on iOS, and over 70 percent on Google Play. Most people have multiple video apps to access various free and paid services: two thirds of people in the US have two or more video apps.

Globally, mobile app spend is at about €94 billion ($110 billion) this year, up by a factor of five from just five years ago. (In 2013, as part of the Eurapp project I led, we had forecasted a growth from €20 billion to nearly €70 billion in 2018.) Total mobile commerce is apparently 10 times larger, and will continue to grow into the trillions. As regards jobs, PPI gives an overall 2018 figure of 2.1 million app economy jobs in Europe, using a conservative estimate of two indirect or spillover jobs for every app job. In the literature, this multiplier effect can go as high as 5 or even higher, potentially yielding over 4.2 million app economy-related jobs.

However, there are certain risks to the Irish app economy and we need to continue to support this growth sector in Ireland. There are a number of things we can do. The first is to address the skills shortage highlighted by Technology Ireland and others, by making sure we produce sufficient numbers of tech graduates to meet the increase in demand, but also by attracting more technology talent to the country. This aligns to Tech/Life Ireland, a national initiative to brand Ireland as a top destination to pursue a career in technology, and I’ve recently joined its steering group.

Secondly, we need to make sure that technology startups have the requisite mix of engineering, design and business know-how to succeed, as encouraged by programmes like TechInnovate at NUI Galway. For the small app company in Ireland, there are various business challenges: competing with free or lower price apps from larger competitors; the cost of acquiring customers; getting access to capital and finance; and then there are the revenue sharing requirements from the big US platforms and having to compete with higher US salaries for mobile developers and engineers. Many app company founders have strong computing skills, but they often lack the entrepreneurial skills to develop successful enterprises driven by their innovations. In an increasingly competitive (app) marketplace, we need to make sure that our tech savvy founders also become business savvy and can truly understand their target customers’ priorities as well as the technology’s potential.

New NUI Galway Masters Programme in Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship is Open for Applications

NUI Galway has announced that applications are now open for 20 places on a new Masters in AgInnovation (Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship) course. The one-year distance education entrepreneurship development programme aims to fill the gap in entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship skills for people working in the agricultural technology sector and agricultural ecosystem in Ireland.

The new course is targeted towards employees working in key ecosystem stakeholder companies including micro, small, medium and large agricultural technology and agri-food companies, and farmers. The primary aspects of the programme include agricultural needs finding, design thinking for the agricultural sector and disciplined entrepreneurship skills development.

Particular consideration is given to helping course participants address:

  • Challenges around commercialising innovations (ideas and technologies).
  • Business constraints and guidelines (margins, compound annual growth rate, lifetime value and cost of customer acquisition).
  • Other difficulties related to getting new agricultural products to sizeable markets.

AgTech4The one-year programme is delivered through a distance education model which provides the learner with flexibility in choosing when and where they wish to study, and allowing them to continue to engage in their day-to-day activities within the agricultural domain. For industry employees, 10% of the fees will be paid by their employer.

Dr Paul Flynn, Lecturer and TechInnovate Programme Manager at NUI Galway, says: “The aim of this course is to teach people how to identify areas for innovation specifically within the agricultural domain, and to create innovation-driven enterprises or new business units within an existing company. This Masters in AgInnovation aims to support the emerging agricultural startup innovation pipeline in the years ahead.”

The arrival of US agricultural-focused venture capital firms in Ireland is recognition of the potential for innovation in the agricultural technology domain. Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has committed €20 million to an investment fund managed by Californian venture capital firm Finistere Ventures, targeted at making Ireland the ‘Agtech Island’. Missouri-based venture capital firm The Yield Lab opened one of the first Irish-based agtech accelerators in Galway in 2017, further recognising the requirement for a structured approach to scaling innovation-driven responses to validated agricultural needs.

According to Dr John Breslin, Senior Lecturer and TechInnovate Programme Director at NUI Galway: “This is a timely initiative because there needs to be more agricultural technology innovators in companies and startups who can avail of the early-stage supports, and then scale up to avail of the bigger funds. 2018 is the year to accelerate the agricultural innovation ecosystem in Ireland.”

The AgInnovation course is supported by Springboard+ and funding that was recently announced by John Halligan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills.

To apply, please go to http://springboardcourses.ie/details/6275

Galway Climathon 2017

The NUI Galway Ryan Institute will host the annual Galway Climathon 2017 on Friday 27th October 2017.

Galway Climathon 2017 seeks Climate Innovators who are willing to work for 1 day in multi-disciplinary teams to develop real solutions to Galway city’s climate challenges. Innovators, entrepreneurs, students, professionals and change agents from all sectors and communities across Galway city are encouraged to engage in Galway Climathon 2017.

Register now on the following weblink for your place on a Climate Challenge Team/Table at Galway Climathon 2017: https://climathon.climate-kic.org/galway

What is the annual Climathon?

Climathon is a global 1 day climate change hackathon which takes place simultaneously in major cities around the world on 27 October 2017 each year. This year, 112 cities in 44 countries spanning 6 continents and involving over 2500 participants will be participating in Climathon 2017. In 2016, Climathon created over 2330 ideas for climate innovations and reached 16.8 million people worldwide.

This year, Galway and Cork will be the participating cities in Ireland for Climathon 2017.

https://climathon.climate-kic.org/#map

Each year, Climathon brings together the challenges of the world’s cities with the people who have the passion and ability to solve them. Climathon attracts innovators, entrepreneurs, students and professionals to create innovative solutions to cities climate challenges.

How will you benefit from Climathon?

  1. Help solve your city’s local climate challenge, and make your city more resilient to climate change
  2. Network with local leaders from academia, business and public authorities
  3. Develop your skills in public speaking, innovative thinking, prioritisation, and explore new tools and methodologies
  4. Join forces with other like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators
  5. Become a part of a global community working together to take climate action!

What is the Galway Climathon 2017?

Over 1000 euros available in prize winning supports for follow-on innovation to the winning teams at the Galway Climathon 2017!

Cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. With 90 percent of the world’s urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are at high risk from some of the devastating impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms. Coastal cities such as Galway are on the frontlines of global climate change and are well-positioned to play a leadership role in driving global action to address climate change.

The Galway Climathon 2017 will build from the energy and dynamism of multiple innovators, groups and individuals to develop and scale innovations towards a zero-carbon footprint horizon-point for Galway city districts, sectors and inhabitants.

There will be 10 Climate Challenge Tables at the Galway Climathon 2017, where inter-disciplinary teams will identify and prioritise innovations, business plans and strategies that can be scaled to address the challenge in Galway city and in other cities worldwide.

The 10 Climate Challenges (Tables) for the Galway Climathon 2017 will be:

  1. Sustainable Energy
  2. Fuel Poverty & Older People
  3. Energy Efficient Buildings
  4. Transport, Health & Climate
  5. Measuring Galway’s Carbon Footprint
  6. Low Carbon Diets
  7. Water Quality & Air Pollution
  8. Galway’s Circular Economy (e.g. food waste, recycling)
  9. Climate action begins at home? (facilitating a low environmental footprint lifestyle)
  10. Post-Plastic Galway & Marine Pollution

If you consider that you are highly motivated and can contribute to developing innovations in any of these areas you can sign up to join a Challenge Table as a team member. You can join a Challenge Table at any stage in the period up to 27th October by simply registering on the Galway Climathon 2017 site: https://climathon.climate-kic.org/galway

Each Challenge Table will develop their own innovation and will be facilitated to develop their idea by the NUI Galway TechInnovate team, and will present their innovation in a pitch competition at the end of the day to a judging panel who will identify the top three winning teams who will be recipients of the over €1000 in funding supports for follow-on innovation activities that will be facilitated by the TechInnovate program.

A key challenge for Galway city relates to how quickly its innovators, change agents and stakeholders can develop, deploy and scale innovations that can decarbonise the city towards carbon-neutrality for its districts, sectors and communities and thereby become a global leader amongst sister cities internationally that are also pursuing decarbonisation pathways to mitigate climate change.

Where and when?

The Galway Climathon 2017 will be hosted by the Ryan Institute on the campus of the National University of Ireland Galway from 0900-1600 on Friday 27th October.

Venue: The Cube, Aras na Mac Leinn, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway).

Follow Galway Climathon 2017 on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/galwayclimathon

Hashtag: #Climathon

BioExel Medtech Accelerator at NUI Galway is now recruiting its inaugural cohort of participants

Recently launched by An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, BioExel is the first investor-ready, seed-funded, international medtech accelerator in Ireland. BioExel is now open for applications from entrepreneurs in the medical technology sector via its website www.bioexel.ie.

BioExel differentiates itself from other programmes in that successful applicants will receive €95,000 (cash and in-kind services) to help significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer during an intensive six-month period. It will be a mentor-centric programme based at NUI Galway, with both a seasoned entrepreneur-in-residence (Bob Rosenberg) and investor-in-residence (Gillian Buckley), as well as an experienced management team.

The BioExel Medtech Accelerator aims to further enhance the medical technology sector startup ecosystem within Ireland and to attract global talent to the Galway region. The programme is open to applications from potential teams or individuals both in Ireland or overseas, working in the medical technology sector. There are up to 14 slots available within the BioExel Accelerator over two cohorts, with the first cohort to commence later this year.

Successful applicants to the BioExel Medtech Accelerator will receive membership and a place within NUI Galway for a period of six months, where teams will be able to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks and mentors. The patient-focused vision of BioExel is to create innovative medical technologies which are affordable and transformative for patients with both acute and chronic conditions.

“Ireland is recognised as a key hub for medical technology and innovation, and the launch of this new accelerator is an opportunity to further build on our strong international reputation for excellence and innovation in healthcare and medtech,” said An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, at a recent launch of the BioExel Medtech Accelerator.

“The accelerator programme located at NUI Galway and supported by my department through Enterprise Ireland will further enhance the high potential startup ecosystem, and develop startup capability, infrastructure and capital investment within the Galway region. We are delighted to support the initiative, which will go towards sustaining Ireland’s status as a global leader in medical technology innovation.”

BioExel_NoTag-1The BioExel Medtech Accelerator was originated at NUI Galway by the BioExel management team of Dr Sandra Ganly (co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland) and Fiona Neary (Business Development Manager at the Technology Transfer Office). It will be delivered on the NUI Galway campus, which is also home to the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, as well as entrepreneurial initiatives such as the successful BioInnovate Ireland fellowship programme, Blackstone LaunchPad, and TechInnovate/AgInnovate.

BioExel is a partnership co-funded by Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Accelerator Development Scheme, the Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission, and the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund.

Through direct collaboration and coordination with medical technology and healthcare sector stakeholders on opportunities within the marketplace, the BioExel Medtech Accelerator will assist new and emerging enterprises with the commercialisation and internationalisation of their innovative medical technologies, products and services.

Interested entrepreneurs can visit the website www.bioexel.ie to submit an expression of interest and to receive an application form for the accelerator. The current call is open until the closing date of 30th October 2017.

Galway City Innovation District Signs Friendship Agreement with Holyrood, Newfoundland

GCID Holyrood.jpg

L-R: Gary Corbett, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Holyrood; Dr John Breslin, NUI Galway and GCID; Conor O’Dowd, KPMG and GCID; Dr Rick Officer, GMIT

The Galway City Innovation District, the non-profit company behind the successful PorterShed technology innovation hub in downtown Galway, has signed a friendship agreement with the Town of Holyrood in Newfoundland, Canada. The aim of the agreement is to support further growth in the marine and technology sectors within their areas.

The Galway City Innovation District’s goal is to create an innovation ecosystem, one that creates a synergistic relationship between people, companies, and place, that facilitates idea generation, open learning, collaboration and accelerates commercialisation. The first step towards this goal was the PorterShed, opened in 2016.

In a similar vein, the Town of Holyrood provides a hub for research and development at the BeachHead, enabling technology innovation and incubation, and has also established the Oceans Holyrood Initiative. Holyrood is the location of the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Labrador, the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology (CTEC), and the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) at the Holyrood Marine Base (HMB).

Galway has a strategic advantage in relation to marine and ocean technology through the Irish Marine Institute, SmartBay Ireland, NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, SEMRU, Carna Research Station (CRS), AirSea Laboratory, Coastal Observatory Radar System (CODAR), and MAREI, GMIT’s Marine & Freshwater Research Centre (MFRC), and Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART), with combined facilities which offer a range of marine services to all users and a cluster of marine-related companies and institutions.

Maurice O’Gorman, Chairman of the Galway City Innovation District, said: “We look forward to future harbour-side development which will reiterate Galway’s differentiation as Ireland’s research and innovation port, integrating with Galway’s future harbour development, and take inspiration from the phenomenal marine development achieved by the Town of Holyrood over the past short number of years.”

Mayor Gary Goobie stated, “It is an exciting time for Holyrood and we could not be more pleased with the signing of this agreement with GCID. Our residents can be assured that Holyrood is ready to take its place provincially, nationally and internationally in the ocean sector industry as an energetic, progressive and sustainable community.”

Gary Corbett, Chief Administrative Officer at the Town of Holyrood, said: “Holyrood is proud to become an official member of the Galway collaboration network. We recognize the great accomplishments at PorterShed and we anticipate shared successes in marine research and innovation as we facilitate economic growth and development in both our regions through the marine sector. There is a lot of room to grow, and together through meaningful collaboration and exchange of ideas, we can realize phenomenal potential.”

Dr John Breslin, NUI Galway, said: “We have had a great relationship with the Holyrood team since they first visited the PorterShed – which at that stage, was still a shell – in 2015. When we met, both parties expressed an interest in determining future collaborative opportunities and potential, and our agreement is to pursue continued engagement and collaboration toward this objective.”

10 Digital Startups Join Inaugural NDRC at PorterShed Programme

The new digital accelerator and investment programme NDRC at PorterShed is kicking off this week with 10 new digital startups moving into the Eyre Square base as part of the programme over the next three months.

ndrc galway4.JPG

10 digital startups join inaugural NDRC at PorterShed programme

Selected after an open and competitive application process, the 10 companies were chosen on the basis that they demonstrated the best potential for rapid growth and expansion. The startups, which include a strong international presence with teams joining from Estonia, Spain, Ukraine and the UK, cover a broad base of sectors including agri tech, auto and construction.

A partnership between NDRC and the Galway City Innovation District and co-funded by Enterprise Ireland, NDRC at PorterShed is a key part of Enterprise Ireland’s overall strategy for increasing the number and quality of start-ups that have the potential to employ more than 10 people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.

Established by the Government in 2007, NDRC builds and invests in digital startups that have the potential to grow internationally. The NDRC team will work closely with the PorterShed based entrepreneurs over the course of the programme helping them move beyond a good idea, into building a team and a business that can attract investment and grow. NDRC portfolio companies include companies like Nuritas, Plynk, Boxever and NewsWhip.

Speaking about the new programme in Galway, Ben Hurley, CEO of NDRC said:

“This is an exciting week for the teams, they will be working intensively over the next few months to take their businesses to the next level. We were delighted with the quaility and depth of the applications we received and believe we have a strong group of startup companies to invest in and build. We look forward to helping them progress in this over the next 12 weeks”.

Dr John Breslin, NUI Galway lecturer and a founding director of the Galway City Innovation District said:

“This is a key milestone towards increasing Galway’s entrepreneurship capacity and growing our innovation ecosystem in the West of Ireland. Enterprise Ireland have recognised the need for regional jobs growth through this co-funded regional accelerator programme for startups, and we look forward to working with our experienced accelerator programme partners at the NDRC as these 10 exciting digital startups are mentored and trained through the NDRC at PorterShed accelerator programme.”

Free Places from NUI Galway on its Entrepreneurship Development Course

New course teaches homemakers, the unemployed and the formerly self-employed how to create innovation-driven enterprises

NUI Galway, in collaboration with 14 company partners, is offering places on its new entrepreneurial skills development programme, the Postgraduate Diploma in TechInnovation (Entrepreneurship Development). This programme was recently established by serial entrepreneur and NUI Galway academic Dr John Breslin.

NUI Galway has designed this one-year part-time programme in conjunction with leading employers and local startups, to enable graduates to develop the necessary skills for company creation.

Student fees for the course are funded by the Higher Education Authority’s Springboard+ initiative, given the strategic importance of developing skills in the area of enterprise/entrepreneurship. Successful applicants will therefore, pay no fees.

The overall goal of this postgraduate programme is to strategically increase the level of disciplined entrepreneurship skills in both small and large companies. It will provide graduates with the process know-how on how to create a company or how to create a new business unit within an existing company, with a particular focus on innovation-driven enterprises that can scale up. A short experiential placement will also be facilitated with partner companies.

Dr John Breslin, Course Director, said: “This is a free course leading to a qualification in an area of significant importance to the Irish economy: enterprise and entrepreneurship. The aim of this programme is to teach homemakers, the unemployed or formerly self-employed how to create innovation-driven enterprises. The programme is suited to those who may want to use their entrepreneurial skills in larger organisations, where the same processes can be applied with some minor modifications in what is called `intrapreneurship’.”

Dr Breslin added: “The course includes working through issues of market analysis, technology viability assessment, competitive positioning, team building, product lifecycle planning, marketing strategy, sales channel analysis, and with a strong emphasis on the entrepreneur/intrapreneur as a salesperson. Business plans will be developed to include an executive summary, vision and values, market analysis/segmentation and competition, a product and manufacturing plan, a sales plan, a financial plan, and a marketing plan.”

Dr Breslin was selected for MIT’s prestigious Entrepreneurship Development Program in early 2017, an intensive executive education program designed for CEOs, academics and government leaders who want to develop entrepreneurial skills within their organisations or regions. The successful “Disciplined Entrepreneurship” 24-step process from MIT was therefore chosen as the basis for this Springboard+ programme.

Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree, 1st or 2nd class honours in any discipline, along with three years of relevant industrial experience; or an Ordinary or 3rd class honours undergraduate degree, along with five years of relevant industrial experience; or a recognised professional qualification and five years of relevant industrial experience. Candidates who do not meet the minimum entry criteria may be interviewed to ascertain their suitability for the programme. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) can be considered for entry purposes.

NUI Galway is now processing applications and those interested can make their application through https://springboardcourses.ie/details/5225. The deadline for final applications is Monday, 7th August.

For further information contact the Programme Director, Dr John Breslin, at info@techinnovate.org