On Thursday last (January 30), we hosted the first Galway Chamber Business After Hours event of 2020.
Here is the welcoming address delivered by our chairman, Frank Greene.
Mark O’Donnell, Priomhoifigeach Macnas; Dave Hickey Uachtarán Cumann Tráchtála na Gaillimhe; agus a cháirde Gael. Tá mé thar a bheith sásta bheith anseo libh ar an tráthona álainn seo, agus, ar dtús báire, ar son Ionad Teicneolaiochta na Gaillimhe fáilte a chuir romhaibh to léir.
Ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests you are all very welcome to Galway Chamber of Commerce 1st Business Hours (BAH) in 2020, and it is only right and fitting that the Mark O’Donnell, Executive Director of Macnas, should be the guest speaker at the start of this momentous year for Galway. I love the Béarla translation for Macnas. It means “joyful abandonment” and they sure have lived up to that with the Macnas public performances noted for being “pioneering, inventive and radical” in style.
Macnas and the 41 companies based here at GTC have one key thing in common – that is a creative mind. The participants in both organisations are brimming with curiosity, empathy, reason, wonder, and a willingness to experiment.
But the deal I have done with Mark is that he talks about Macnas and I’ll talk about GTC.
In 1993/94 Digital Hardware closed in Galway with the loss of 800 direct and 500 indirect jobs, impacting on morale, creating insecurity, emigration and lowering of living standards. The Government set up a Task Force chaired by Seamus Keating (the last City/County Manager, aged 90 years next June). Part of their response was to propose the setting up of a social enterprise with its Mission & Purpose of “encouraging and supporting the development of indigenous technology based industry in the Region”
The Task Force raised the seed capital from the local community including some who had been made redundant, and invited Galway Chamber of Commerce (representing civil society), Galway Innovation Centre (Westbic) and Forbairt (E.I.) to establish a company to fulfil on an ongoing basis the Mission & Purpose as set down by the Task Force.
Over the following 25 years, GTC has been managed by a voluntary board and executive team and with the help of private donations + Enterprise Ireland support/ Galway Technology Centre has gone from strength to strength starting out with a 6k sq. ft. porto-cabin, then growing to 12k, 25k and finally what we have here today, a 50k sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility and home to 41 ambitious IT/ICT companies.
GTC has assisted the growth of over 300 technology companies.
These companies are located in Galway and throughout the West employing over 3k people. These companies have accumulated €1.3BN GVA to the local economy over past 25yrs.
Through the hard work of the voluntary board and executive team, GTC is now about embark on its next phase – Academy West, building a regional centre of expertise for globally scaling technology companies and thereby supporting the creation of 825 high-value direct and indirect jobs in the first five years.
Work will commence later this year and open in 2021 and, in line with GTC sustainability policy, our aim is that the extension will be environmentally neutral.
For bringing GTC to its existing level, and setting out the vision for the future, I want to thank our shareholders, Galway Chamber of Commerce and Westbic, along with with our Executive team, ably lead by Niamh Costello, and, finally, I want to thank our unsung heroes namely the voluntary board over the past 25 years, none more so than the existing board who are guiding the company through this exciting and challenging new development.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.