Saturday 1 October 2016

What Dublin needs to do to make itself more attractive to tech companies like ours - Roland Tritsch

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Published 03/03/2016 | 02:30

Facebook HQ in Dublin
Facebook HQ in Dublin

Every day we read about more tech hubs springing up all over the world. Nitro chose Dublin for its European headquarters. And we've experienced a city truly emerging as a tech hub to rival cities like London and Berlin.

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Just last week, the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle ranked Dublin third on a list of most successful cities for innovation, liveability and capacity to reinvent, behind London and Silicon Valley. And in 2015 'Forbes' magazine rated Ireland as the fourth best country in the world in which to do business.

But while Ireland has made great strides, Dublin still has some way to go before it can truly compete on the global stage. In particular, we need to make more office space available in locations around the city to allow startups and foreign tech companies move up with ease.

The ecosystem we create here cannot assume that it will only facilitate bigger companies such as Facebook and Google. We need to be looking after the smaller, creative companies who need the opportunity to meet investors and like-minded innovators and mentors.

A growing company like Nitro needs to have access to the best talent in all aspects of the sector including engineering, sales, marketing and customer services. It also needs to be able to establish itself in a culture where people are connected and where networking is of paramount importance and intrinsic to work life.

How does this happen? The supply must meet the demand. For a city to be classed as a tech hub, it needs a strong reputation for highly skilled graduates. A large or specialised university is a great start. We need to see an increase in high-quality computing and engineering graduates in particular.

We need to get good people interested in engineering and ensure they have the right fundamentals to adapt to a changing environment. Programming languages are constantly evolving.

At Nitro we are working with the latest technologies, including Spark and Scala.

Without a strong grounding in both the foundations of computer science and the latest workplace trends and technologies, students risk graduating with obsolete skills.

Ireland is not the only one in the queue. The skills demand for ICT talent is a global one. There is currently a shortage of up to 864,000 ICT professionals across the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) according to the Higher Education Authority's ICT Skills Action Plan.

In fairness, the appetite for tech jobs is beginning to creep up.

Last July's Expert Group on Future Skills Needs showed an increase of more than half in those enrolled on computing programmes, amounting to almost 600 additional learners.

But that is only one of the steps.

Building and fostering the tech community is very important. Promoting and organising get-togethers for like-minded techies to meet up and discuss issues facing the industry are important.

This ecosystem is essential to sustain a healthy pipeline of talent and to promote skills-development as part of the job.

Nitro is doing its part to put our preaching into practice.

With a team of senior engineers in place, including the company's global head of engineering, the Dublin team is responsible for developing our cloud offering which is a key strategic product for the future of Nitro worldwide.

Nitro can't do this alone. To create that ecosystem we need companies large and small to be investing in tangible engineering activities, so that knowledge base and skills pool continues to grow.

Last year we initiated a series of monthly tech meet ups with our engineering team on hot topics in the industry, giving tech employees and graduates the opportunity to share their views and network.

Every one of our events to date has been oversubscribed. The appetite is here to build on.

Roland Tritsch is vice president for Global Engineering at Nitro

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