I love the broad brief of my role as Startup Commissioner but after two days at the IoT World conference here in Dublin I have to confess to feeling a tad wistful for one with a more defined focus. Dublin has become such an exciting place for IoT in such a short space of time. How cool it must be to focus on accelerating an ecosystem like that!
The ecosystem is what excites me most about IoT in Ireland. Tech cities the world over promote the power of their "ecosystems" but true ecosystems are hard to find since they require not only a density and diversity of players - startups, multinationals, investors, research and policy makers - but also a commitment to a set of common goals.
Listening to Ronan Furlong from DCU Alpha at the conference today, the harmony and collaboration within Ireland's IoT ecosystem was clear. Almost every project involves an agglomeration of key players, and shines with early stage success. From city focused projects like Smart Dublin and Smart Croke Park, to hackathons that produce winning startups like Ayda, to the testbeds at EMC, IBM, Vodafone and Dell, to the national IoT infrastructure from VT Networks, to the IoT focused engineering and data science degrees at our universities, to new arrivals on our shores like Fitbit and PTC, to the Irish diaspora in global IoT roles at Cisco, ADI, Bell Labs, Google and Intel, to their spin outs like Cesanta, to the IoT funded research at INSIGHT and CONNECT, to the great developments ahead of us in 2017 like TechShop and the European Space Agency funded Satcom incubator.
And that's not even the half of it.
There are about 50 IoT focused startups in Ireland right now and the numbers are growing. Three of my many favorites are Davra Networks, Fire1 and Shimmer Labs who yesterday announced a new joint venture to bring remote patient monitoring to rural India.
In September this year Irish company Movidius was bought by Intel for $330M, while the biggest headline still belongs to Ireland’s original IoT company, Fleetmatics, bought by Verizon in August for $2.4Billion in cash.
For a couple of years now, I've heard people describe how Ireland dominates in TravelTech by saying that 1 in every 2 global travel platforms uses Irish technology. The world will have 30 Billion connected devices by 2020, and with the IoT ecosystem we're building maybe 1 in every 2 of them can also have an Irish connection. No pun intended:)