Business Plus

Global Ambitions

As well as being at the centre of Galway’s startup scene, Platform94 hopes its new extension will attract internatio­nal players to the West, writes Fionn Thompson


Aname is just a name, some may argue, but for Platform94, formerly the Galway Technology Centre (GTC), it is much more than that. For Platform94’s CEO Oliver Daniels and his team, the rebrand represents the burgeoning Galway startup scene and the centre’s attempt to lure in not just Irish but internatio­nal ventures.

The new name for the GTC stems from the year the facility was establishe­d and of how the organisati­on aims to ‘platform’ companies for global success. It ties in with an extension to the GTC building currently being constructe­d at Mervue Business Park on the outskirts of Galway City. The project will see an additional 15,500 sq. ft added to the centre, bringing the total area to 65,500 sq. ft, and the developmen­t expanded from two to four floors.

Galway Technology Centre DAC, owned by Galway Chamber and WestBIC, was the first technology incubation centre in Ireland when it opened in 1994, following the closure of Digital Equipment Corporatio­n’s facility. Digital was the city’s largest employer, and government establishe­d a task force to identify how to fill the gap. GTC’s purpose was to foster an indigenous ICT cluster in the city, and the facility says that in the past three decades it has housed c.300 companies that have created in excess of 3,000 jobs.

Currently there are 41 companies in GTC, with 320 people employed directly on site and hundreds more in remote working roles in Ireland and abroad. The centre’s operating company doesn’t disclose turnover or cashflow in its accounts filings. The reported net profit for 2021 was €105,000 and bank loans due to Bank of Ireland reduced to €860,000 from €950,000. Total liabilitie­s expanded to €1.7m from €1.1m as €470,000 was spent on the ‘Academy West’ project.

The new extension will include more space for hot desks, private offices and meeting rooms, as well as AV facilities. And it’s not just Platform94 that is presenting Galway’s case. Startup incubator Portershed has expanded recently to a second location, and works in tandem with Platform94.

Platform94 is headed by Oliver Daniels, whose CV mentions leadership roles at Avaya, the Insight Research Centre for Data Analytics, and Nortel. A Galway native and graduate of NUIG, Daniels was appointed to the CEO role in 2022, and has stated his desire to benefit not just Galway but the entire region.

Noreen Conway, who spent 27 years with AIB, is responsibl­e for regional collaborat­ion and outreach. She cites a recent delegation trip to Manchester and Liverpool as an example of Plaform94’s attempt to integrate itself with foreign peers.

The client scaling manager for firms within Platform94 is Brian Muldoon, an affable Dubliner who transplant­ed to Galway nearly 20 years ago. Similarly to Conway, Muldoon also worked in senior management positions within AIB, with a particular focus on client relationsh­ips.

The focus on overseas growth is demonstrat­ed by Platform94’s tagline — Global Ambition, Local Support — and concerted courting of US-based companies looking to launch their European ambitions from Galway. Platform94’s pitch is that Galway can offer many things that Dublin cannot, such as better housing options for employees, quality hot-desk and conferenci­ng facilities, and a focus on tailored help and support.

For some companies, the space to grow away from the density and competitio­n of Dublin’s startup scene is an attraction. Others are companies that formed out of the West and still use Mervue Park centre as a regional base. They include PlanNet21 Communicat­ions, which started in the GTC and is now based in Dublin, with a presence too in Cork, Belfast, Paris, Edinburgh and California. Another tenant is South African animation company Triggerfis­h, which has produced movies for Netflix and Disney.

Platform94 offers multiple membership options, from virtual offices to co-working space and private serviced offices. Daniels is confident that they can fill the additional space, and talk of some 500 direct and 320 indirect jobs being created in the five years after the extension comes on stream.

 ?? ?? Oliver Daniels wants to elevate Platform94’s profile
Oliver Daniels wants to elevate Platform94’s profile

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