Ireland: The New Home Of Data Startups

The emerald isle is seeing significant numbers of startups basing themselves there


Countries around the world are looking to emulate the successes of Silicon Valley with tech hubs of their own. From Israel to the UK, young enthusiastic, entrepreneurs are trying to come up with the next billion dollar idea, and many of these are now focusing on the lucrative data science sector.

Nowhere can this be seen more than Ireland, where a number of young Irish-based, Irish-founded and Irish-led companies are beginning to make waves with their approach to data analytics.

Sligo-based Orreco, for example, recently raised US$1m in a funding round. The firm, which was founded in 2009, analyzes athletes’ blood in order to help improve performances. They have already secured deals with a number of English Premier League Soccer clubs and Major League Baseball teams, and last week announced that they were collaborating with IBM Watson to create a new app called Coach Watson, which helps sports teams make decisions as to the training and treatment of their athletes.

The sports the system has been used for include golf, Formula One motor racing, football, ice hockey, sailing, baseball, rowing and track & field events.

Founder, Dr Brian Moore, was studying PE and sports science at St Mary’s University in London when he discovered that the blood of a non-athlete was different to that of an athlete, and in effect created a ‘blood-specific sport profile’ from which to draw insights that athletes could leverage in training.

Their decision to remain based in Ireland mirrors that of many other companies who have made the same decision, eschewing the bright lights and expensive offices of Sillicon Valley. Limerick-headquartered Asystec has facilities across Ireland, including Cork, Dublin and Belfast, delivering data management solutions to national and international clients. Last year, the company - which was founded in 2011 - set out plans to double its Irish workforce, as a result of growth in markets such as security, data analytics and IT transformation.

Many Irish start-ups are trying to get the best of both worlds by also maintaining a presence in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, keeping their engineering and R&D in Ireland, while basing sales and marketing in the US.

Specialist graduate recruiter, for example, will launch its ‘Gateway to the US’ initiative next year, which aims to specifically match Irish engineers with US companies.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other companies are having huge success, including Datahug - which was founded by Corkman Connor Murphy in 2010, and was named a ‘future giant’ by the European Business Awards back in 2013. The success of such firms will lay the groundwork for many to come, and should also attract those from abroad who are already enticed by the country’s welcoming business environment. 

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