More than 200 jobs have been created by client companies of the Innovation in Business Centres (IiBC ) in GMIT Castlebar and Galway with some 90 being created in Mayo since the Innovation in Business Centre (IiBC ) at GMIT Castlebar opened its doors six years ago (2006 ). The IiBC at GMIT offers desk space, office space, and virtual space to new start-up companies and also runs enterprise programmes funded by various enterprise agencies.
The New Frontiers Programme was rolled out nationally in 2012 with GMIT’s Innovation in Business Centres in Castlebar and Galway rolling it out in the western region. Fourteen knowledge intensive business ventures are currently undertaking the programme since May 2012 with projects in gaming, software, ICT, and business services. Other projects include: Element software, TransSolve, CGA software, and Cloudlink.
The Innovation in Business Centres will also run the 2013 programme with all successful applicants receiving grant assistance.
The Innovation in Business Centre at GMIT Castlebar is also running the Enterprise Acceleration Programme (EAP ) in conjunction with South West Mayo Development Company. This was rolled out in September 2012. There are 11 start-ups currently participating on this programme in Mayo. Some 30 jobs have been created since the programme was established in 2010. GMIT is also running a Lean Start Up Programme for graduates with new business ideas as well as its annual GMIT Student Innovation Awards.
The GMIT Innovation Centre's flagship event The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Evening was nominated as one of the Irish nominees for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2012 which was held in Cyprus towards the end of 2012. Some 300 people attended the event sponsored by Lionbridge Technologies.
Two leading entrepreneur businessmen, Terry Clune, founder of Taxback.com, and Michael Dwyer, founder of Pigsback.com, spoke of their start-up experiences while client companies in the GMIT Innovation Centres also pitched their business ideas to a panel of Dragon's Den experts. The winner of the Dragon's Den pitch was Alan Dowling from VBC where he won €1,500 sponsored by AIB. It was a highly engaging evening and was also featured on RTE Nationwide in November as part of GMIT’s 40th anniversary celebrations this academic year.
Enterprise Ireland innovation vouchers are a great way for start ups and IiBC client companies to engage with the college. A small limited company with a company registration number that has a business opportunity or problem that requires exploring can apply for a €5,000 voucher. The objective is to build links between Ireland's third level institutes, GMIT being one, and small businesses and create a cultural shift in the small business community's approach to innovation.
Maria Staunton, manager of the IiBC at GMIT Castlebar, commented: “We are delighted with the progress of companies in 2012. The centre is currently at over 90 per cent occupancy and 10 companies have successfully transitioned out of the centre since it was opened in 2006. Start-up companies are so important in today’s economy and it’s encouraging to see lots of people setting up their companies in Mayo in 2012.
“While we appreciate that many new high technology start-up companies fail in the first few years, statistics demonstrate that those that go through a process of incubation within innovation centres have a much greater chance of growing into sustainable businesses than start-ups that do not.”