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Sligo to become Europe’s next Blockchain and Tech Hub? You Bet!

Posted on 4/06/2019 by Heather McGowan

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On Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd annual “Tech Life Balance” conference hosted by IDA Ireland in Sligo. The event was held as part of “Blockchain Ireland Week” with the intention of upselling the North West as an amazing place to come and work and to set up a company as well as informing people about Blockchain Technology. The event kicked off with some networking, delicious craft beer and mouth-watering local cuisine.

The evening was hosted by Allan Mulrooney and John Nugent from IDA Ireland. They are currently doing amazing work at attracting FDI in the North West and showing international companies why it is in their better interest to set up here rather than in the bigger Irish cities such as Dublin, Belfast, and Cork. Sligo has gigantic potential in hosting and nurturing large multinationals. It has a proven track record of providing the best talent and environment needed for those already set up here such as Abbott and Abbvie. 

As highlighted during the panel discussion on the night, over the past two decades Sligo has been particularly focused on the production industry, but that is about to change. We were joined by guest speakers from five different technology Start-ups that have set up in the last few years (LiveTiles, E3 Retail, Overstock, Medici Land Governance and Steemhunt) who have thrived in the amazing town of Sligo. With the IT Sligo literally on their doorstep, there is certainly no lack of ambitious and world-class talent to assist these companies in becoming highly successful.

Elaine Murphy from LiveTiles gave a great insight into how she believes Sligo is an “Ecosystem” full of life and ambition. She expressed that within a few years, Sligo will have established its own tech culture and become highly attractive to large tech companies from around the globe. LiveTiles are planning to hire 50 people over the next few years in roles such as Customer service, Business Development and Software Development.

Young-Hwi Cho (Co-founder of Steemhunt) gave a breakdown for “normal people” on what Blockchain is all about and how his company are taking the Blockchain industry by storm. Steemhunt is a small company of 5 developers from South Korea and is making their first International move here to Sligo and Young-Hwi is convinced that Sligo has the potential to become the next European hub for Blockchain Technology. At present, Estonia is dominating the European market for Blockchain. However, Young-Hwi believes that with English as our first language, Sligo has a tremendous advantage and should seize the opportunity to take the reins whilst these types of companies are still developing and attract them into our tech “Ecosystem”.

The highlight of the evening for me was the talk given by the President of ASG, Anthony Tepedino. ASG provides engineering and construction services to the telecommunications industry and they are setting up in Sligo and Waterford with the intention of creating 200 jobs over the next 3 years. Anthony’s positive attitude was really uplifting and it was great to see how much aspiration and ambition he has about expanded his company to Ireland. He believes setting up in the west of Ireland is what is going to give him the edge over his competitors in the US.

I took a lot away from the conference on Thursday night, but the one thing that resonates with me is that you don’t have to be a big city in order to attract talent, nor to find amazing career opportunities. A quote to take away from the evening was “Talent not compromising on their careers, and companies not compromising on their talent” which is very appropriate and relevant considering the bright future that undoubtedly lies ahead for Sligo and its tech scene. IDA Ireland is doing tremendous work to continue to attract more businesses authentically into the North West but it also our responsibility as workers in the North West to upsell the most beautiful part of our country and captivate the world’s best companies and talent to come and join us! Agree?

Heather McGowan

Recruitment Specialist @ ICE Group, Sligo.