2012 Expansion Plans at the Innovation Centre



At least three of the 22 in-house companies based at IT Sligo’s Innovation Centre will be announcing significant expansions in 2012, resulting in a 20 per cent increase in jobs there, according to Niall McEvoy, IT Sligo’s Head of Innovation.

While acutely aware of the turbulence in the economic climate, as uncertainty about the euro overshadows the approach of the New Year, McEvoy insists that the outlook for regional entrepreneurial activity is healthy.

“I have no doubt that we will continue to see growth in three key areas – ICT (Information and Communications Technology), the sustainable energy sector and in the whole medical devices/pharmaceutical area,” he predicted.

The Innovation Centre Manager’s optimism for 2012 is partly based on his observations about the commitment of entrepreneurs, especially among those who have recently been made redundant and are making new starts.

“The quality of the new business ideas we are seeing is exceptional. These people are hungry to make a go of it and so they have identified gaps or market niches and are making calculated decisions about the products they want to sell”.

IT Sligo has recently secured funding from Enterprise Ireland to maintain its Enterprise Platform Programme CEIM, which it runs in partnership with Letterkenny IT to support and train new entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground. “The continued support of Enterprise Ireland to this key programme will mean 15 new places for entrepreneurs in 2012,” explained Janette Gillen, Innovation Centre Manager.

Over its nine year history this programme has led to the establishment of nearly 60 new start-ups in the region and the quality and range of these new businesses continues to develop and encourage.

Another scheme which has seen phenomenal growth in 2011 is the Innovation Voucher Programme which is funded by Enterprise Ireland and gives entrepreneurs a €5,000 package of specialist support and consultancy service from a Higher Education Institute. “IT Sligo has seen a five -old increase in the take-up of these vouchers in 2011,” explained the Innovation Centre Manager.

The Centre staff is particularly excited about the future of the 22 in-house companies who currently employ 60 people at the Innovation Centre. “We are confidently predicting a 20 per cent increase in employment with Centre based companies by mid-2012,” said McEvoy.

Four companies recently graduated from the centre and moved on a growing base of national and international customers.

“We are not under-estimating the challenges ahead but the numbers of queries we have received in the past month alone from entrepreneurs who already have not just good ideas, but have done the market research and identified their market, is very encouraging”, said McEvoy.