Today, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary, marked the official launch of the Midlands ICT Cluster Action Plan at the Building Better Business event held at the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise.
In launching the Action Plan, Minister Calleary said “I am delighted today to be publishing the Action Plan for the Midlands ICT Cluster. A key objective of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan is capitalising on the strengths of the region through Smart Specialisation and Digitalisation, with the development of industry clusters widely recognised as a key driver of growth and resilience for regions in terms of employment generation. It is fitting to be launching this Action Plan today at our Building Better Business event here in Portlaoise as the Midlands ICT Cluster will play a strong role in supporting businesses across the region with the opportunities and challenges presented by digital transformation.
The Action Plan has been developed by the Midlands ICT Cluster, who worked with SecondEdge Solutions Ltd to develop a plan which features a suite of actions under four enabling themes:
- R&D and Ecosystem Development,
- Skills and Talent
- Cluster Development
Vibrant ICT Ecosystem
The Midlands has for many years proven to be an attractive destination for ICT businesses, with multinationals such as Ericsson who have been present in Athlone for over 40 years. More recently, fast-growing tech companies such as Sidero, Zinkworks, N’Ware, Nostra and Skout have been joined by many innovative start-ups to create a region which now has the highest concentration of ICT professionals outside of Dublin.
Ms. Sinéad Pillion, Head of Operations, Ericsson and Industry Chair of the Midlands ICT Cluster Steering Committee, said “The Midlands region is already home to over 400 thriving ICT businesses, employing thousands of people, and we aim to bring enterprise together with government agencies and academia for a triple-helix approach to supporting our ICT ecosystem. Our goal is to make the Midlands internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in Smart Connected Technologies, while highlighting the region as the ideal place to live, work and invest.”
Dr. Anne Cusack, Chair of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Committee, commented that “the ICT sector has been designated as a key growth sector in our regional enterprise plan, and the development of the ICT Cluster leverages the collective regional competencies in this area, serving to position the Midlands as a destination of choice for sectoral investors.”
Paul Madden, CEO, Zinkworks stated that “Zinkworks is proud to be a founding member of the Midlands ICT Cluster and see many great benefits from enhanced collaboration with Industry and University partners to jointly build on the vibrant ICT ecosystem in our region.”
A region of technology excellence
Dr. Enda Fallon, Head of Department – Computer & Software Engineering, TUS noted that “The Midlands has the fundamental capabilities and values required to become a European region of technology excellence. As a Technological University in the heart of the region, TUS is delighted to partner with the Midlands ICT Cluster in order to realise this vast potential.”
Paying tribute to the her colleagues on the Steering Group, Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise, LEO Offaly, representing regional LEOs, “the development of this cluster marks a commitment between industry, Technological University of the Shannon – Midlands Midwest, enterprise agencies (EI, IDA) and the LEOs to work together, to learn from each other, and to grow the smart technologies base of the Midland Region, delivering on the ambition of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan”.
Sarah Morgan, Programme Manager, Midlands Regional Enterprise Development Office, expressed her “appreciation to all members of the Steering Committee and Working Groups, and to the ICT companies from across the region that contributed to the establishment of the cluster and action plan.”
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary, with members of the Midlands ICT Cluster Steering Committee and Working Groups, as well as students from Scoil Eoin Phoil Naofa, Ballyroan who demonstrated the VEX Robotics programme as part of the launch