“To begin with, the city of Cork itself formed a vital point of departure through its very own specific locatedness, and through its creative activity, by which the larger effects of globalisation could be refracted and re-envisoned.”  Annie Fletcher in Cork Caucus: on art, possibility & democracy, p11

Innovation - Policy

The European Commission’s Country Report Ireland 2015 notes the shortage of SME bank and non-bank finance that will ultimately undermine investment in growth and job creation if not addressed. Government initiatives have been taken to diversify the sources and types of funds available to SMEs, including the recent establishment of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. Other potential emerging financial supports include the Southern and Eastern Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020 and assistance for larger SMEs through Enterprise Ireland.

The recently established Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) within local authorities are becoming central to many of the proposed local micro-enterprise and the small business sector. This is consistent with the government’s vision in Putting People First. A particular challenge for the SME sector in Ireland outlined by the European Commission Country Report Ireland 2015 is the current lack of innovative activities and the insufficient commercialisation of research, with research and development (R&D) spending mainly coming from foreign multinationals.

Innovation 2020 is Ireland’s five year strategy on research and development, science and technology which aims to develop Ireland as a global innovation leader.  Targets include doubling private investment in R&D to 2.5% performed in the public research system and a 60% increase in the number of research personnel in enterprise.  Cork City’s two higher education institutes are central to the continued growth of research and innovation in the city. University College Cork’s National Tyndall Institute is a global leader in integrated ICT research with over 450 researchers, engineers, students and staff and over 200 industry partners globally.  The Cork Institute of Technology is home to several research centres including NIMBUS which focuses on networked embedded electronic systems.   A strong marine cluster is being developed around wider Cork harbour – the world’s second largest natural harbour. 

The Local Enterprise Office, Cork City is central to supporting the development and growth of micro-enterprises in the city.     The financial supports, training and mentoring programmes and services delivered through LEO, Cork City are significantly contributing to strengthening the local start up and small business economy. 

Innovation - Stats and Facts​

Over 35% of Cork City’s labour force in 2011 had a third level education

The quality of Cork City’s labour force is a factor in its success in attracting innovative new companies. Over 35 % of the labour force had a third level education in 2011, an overall growth of 7.5%, from 2006, being higher than the national average for Gateways (4% in 2011). Over 66% of households in Cork City had private broadband access in 2011, a growth of 46% from 2006.  This is above the average for all nine gateways (64%) and just below that for all 27 EU Member States (67%).

Technology companies like to locate in clusters which help in delivering a critical mass of opportunities to attract the best of international talent. The following clusters have recently emerged in Cork: Cyber security, Big Data and General Tech. In addition to an increasing number of ICT and financial services companies, Cork continues to be home to many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical (e.g. Pfizer) and biotech (e.g. Stryker) companies.