2 March 2016
By Tom O’Sullivan
Cork’s rise as an entrepreneurial hub has been further boosted with the opening of Blackstone LaunchPad at UCC, one of only three locations in Ireland to host the entrepreneurship programme.
According to Peter Finnegan, the newly-appointed director of Blackstone LaunchPad at UCC, “this is an important development not just for UCC, but for Cork and the wider region in general.”
“Cork’s reputation as a great place to establish and build an enterprise has been copper-fastened by the fact that Cork has been chosen as the first ever European city to host the Startup Nations Summit in November this year,” Finnegan commented.
Hundreds of startup policy makers, advisers, and public and private sector organisations from across the globe are expected to come to the city from November 18 to 20, set to generate international attention for Ireland’s successful creation of a strong supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship.
Located in the Creative Zone of UCC’s Boole Library, the Blackstone LaunchPad programme is open to UCC students, alumni, staff and faculty, offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support free of charge.
“Blackstone LaunchPad at UCC brings entrepreneurship in to the full view of students from the day they enter the university and will be a resource that they can avail of long after they leave UCC’s environs.”
The Cork entrepreneurial and business community is a mecca for networking activity, and what makes Cork different to other locations is not just its connectivity in terms of people, but also location, Finnegan said.
“Cork acts as a gateway to Europe and given its transport links can be described as a suburb of London.”
There is a great willingness among established companies in Cork is to support the promoters of early stage ventures, whether it be in a mentoring capacity or providing trial sites for the deployment of new solutions, he said.
“Cork’s strengths in ICT, business services, biopharma, energy and agri-business are playing an integral role in Ireland’s economy and helping to drive the growth of Irish exports.”
Blackstone LaunchPad programmes are now being delivered in 17 universities worldwide, with Ireland selected as the first overseas location to deliver the programme, testament to the country’s reputation for providing proactive and impactful support services and resources to early stage ventures.
The launch of the programme is a new departure, Finnegan believes, where “students will see at first hand that entrepreneurial activity can be undertaken in conjunction with their studies and can be considered a viable career path from the day that their student journey commences.”