Limerick tech chief says area can become 'regional silicon valley'
The Limerick-born chief executive of one of the world's fastest growing internet traffic management companies says that Limerick can become a "regional silicon valley".
Ray Downes said that Kemp Technologies, which announced 50 new technology jobs at its Limerick facility on Tuesday, has seen its growth "rocket" since it opened its Limerick office three years ago.
"Since we established our base here, we've seen revenues rise several fold. Our European base now accounts for half the company's revenue," he said.
"Part of that is down to the incredible people we have managed to hire here in Limerick, partly due to our collaboration with Limerick Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick."
Kemp Technologies is one of the world's leading internet 'load balancer' companies. Its technology makes it easier for large organisations to run IT applications smoothly and without disruption.
Part of the company's expansion in Limerick includes more research and development functions, an area usually restricted to US firms' American bases.
The added high-end roles sometimes form part of agreements with the IDA as part of a grant-aid process.
"This is a really significant move for us and a serious vote of confidence in Limerick and in Ireland," said Downes. "We have a long-term plan for Ireland now, partly based on the quality of our workforce here."
Downes said that Kemp has worked with Limerick's Institute of Technology to develop course curriculums that synchronise with Kemp's development roadmap.
"The partnership with both colleges here, but particularly with LIT, has been phenomenal," said Downes.
"We're finding that we're hiring many of the students who come to work with us. This kind of partnership is brilliant for us and for the students."
Mr Downes said that the company still has to recruit abroad for some roles, due to their skillset.
"Some categories of engineers, such as some types of Linux engineers, are very hard to get," he said. "But they're also difficult to get in New York, where the company is originally based."
Mr Downes said that Kemp will also recruit in Spain and Portugal for some of its new Limerick positions.
The jobs, which include software development, marketing and operational positions, will bring the workforce of the Limerick city plant to 80.
Mr Downes said that since its establishment here, the Limerick facility of Kemp has expanded operations into 37 countries and is exporting into emerging markets such as Japan, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
"There's no doubt that this is an upskilling exercise," said Mr Downes. "It was an easy decision to build on the talent and leadership pool we already have based in Limerick."
Kemp's jobs announcement comes after the IDA said it expects to attract 80 "new investments" from multinational firms already here.
The outgoing head of the agency, Barry O'Leary, said it is also targeting 80 new multinationals to Ireland in a bid to yield at least 6,000 jobs.
The agency's incoming chief will face heightened expectations of targeting areas outside Dublin and Cork for new investment from multinational firms such as Kemp Technologies.