Plans have been unveiled for the expansion of Galway Technology Centre, a move which is expected to lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in the West over the coming years.
The office space for start-ups in Galway city was established 25 years ago, and so far has helped over 300 businesses to scale and grow.
The 2,000 square metre expansion, which is being significantly funded by Enterprise Ireland, will see the total floor area of Galway Technology Centre (GTC) extend to almost 7,000 square metres, with the number of floors in the facility growing from two to four.
"For those unfamiliar with our site, that will create a very impressive visage," said Kenny Deery, one of the directors of GTC and CEO of Galway Chamber.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Mr Deery said he expects the expansion will be complete by the end of next year.
"Like many projects, Covid has an impact in adjusting our delivery timeline," he said.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
In addition to the physical expansion of the building, a significant investment is being made in the Academy West support programme, as Mr Deery explained.
"Many companies get to the first round of investment but at that stage the leaders are so busy running the business that it can be difficult to look up and start raising the next round of investment to expand and scale into new markets.
"What Academy West will do is work with those companies along with partners to help align them to funding pots and investors and help build that enabling network that is so important, not just in Galway but on a regional basis," he said.
Mr Kenny said the centre will be recruiting additional staff over the coming month, to help facilitate that growth.
"The jobs at GTC will be in enabling roles - such as a regional outreach and collaboration manager, a client scaling manager and a director of entrepreneurship and innovation," he explained.
He said they have ambitious growth expectations for the companies they will be supporting and working with.
"We know what can be achieved from our past, and have agreed with Enterprise Ireland growth targets that will see cumulative employment be mapped out on a five, ten and fifteen year basis.
"The first benchmark will be an additional 820 jobs after the first five years.
"The cumulative effect of this investment will see an additional 12,500 jobs enabled in the region over 10 or 15 years," he said.
He added that this is not about companies remaining at a static level.
"This would operate like a funnel, we'll work with IDA companies investing in the region until they find their own footprint and we will support scaling domestic companies until they do the same," he added.
The expansion plans are being released today to mark 25 years of the centre.
GTC was the first technology innovation centre in Ireland, as Mr Deery explained.
"It was founded in the mid-90s, following the closure of Digital Equipment Corporation's Galway facility, one of Galway's largest employers at the time, which led to hundreds of highly qualified people being laid off.
"In response to that closure, a special Government Task Force was established which invited Galway Chamber, WestBIC and An Forbairt to realise their vision of an indigenous ICT cluster in the west of Ireland," he said.
This led to the formation of GTC.