The Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) is the #1 University Associated Business Incubator in the World.
Here we interview Julianne O’Leary, GEC’s Partnerships Programme Manager, about the centre’s €10 million expansion plans.
SNE: Hi Julianne! Can you tell us what the Guinness Enterprise Centre is?
Julianne: The GEC is Ireland’s Home for Entrepreneurs. We provide a modern working space for hundreds of entrepreneurs, high potential start-ups, seed capital investors & startup support agencies.
Based in Dublin, we are now expanding to become a global entrepreneurial superhub, with a €10 million upgrade that will grow our capacity to:
- 160 startups (now 85)
- 220 co-working companies (now 140)
- 750 employees (now 450)
SNE: Generally speaking, why should Startups join an Enterprise Centre?
Julianne: When people think of enterprise centres, the first thing they think of is cheap and flexible co-working space.
But in truth, it’s much more than that, with enterprise centres like our own providing the following:
- Access to member-only events
- Access to private and public access programmes
- The opportunity to network with other founders, investors and startup advisors
SNE: Is it better to have similar, or diverse, companies in the one place?
Julianne: At the GEC we try to have Startups from as many different sectors as possible.
This is because businesses need access to as many points of view as possible: the solution to a tech entrepreneur’s problem may be in the hands of an accountant or digital marketer, rather than in those of other tech entrepreneurs, with similar backgrounds and skillsets.
It’s also key to have members at every business stage, as there’s no point having 200 Startups starting off at the same level.
A new Startup can learn so much from someone who started off their business with two employees and now has sixty, as they have been through the experiences the new Startup is going through now.
SNE: When it comes to the GEC, what are your biggest success stories so far?
Julianne: The Entrepreneurial Journey can be a very lonely one, so empowering people to reach their full potential, while creating thousands of jobs in the meantime, is a success that we’re really proud of and look forward to achieving every day.
The most successful businesses that have graduated from the GEC include:
- Black Shamrock, a video game development company
- Nasal Medical, a medical devices company
- Green Parrot Pictures, a video technology company bought by YouTube
- SwiftComply, a software company
There are also some companies still in the GEC, which are doing extremely well:
- Loylap, a software company that has just partnered with Facebook to help local businesses amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Statcounter, a major web traffic analysis website
SNE: You recently featured across Irish news, because of your CoConnect Programme. Can you let us know more about it?
Julianne: Sure. CoConnect is one of the most ambitious programmes ever carried out for Startups across Ireland.
To truly become Ireland’s Home for Entrepreneurs, the Guinness Enterprise Centre is investing €200,000 to link itself with enterprise hubs across Ireland and internationally. This means that our Startups can work from our connected hubs both in Ireland and abroad while non-Dublin based Startups can use the GEC in return.
We also have a University Partnership Programme, which connects our Startups with top global universities, including Yale University, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.
This allows MBA and Masters students from across the world to get hands-on entrepreneurial experience through completing strategic business projects and interning in our Startups. These universities are fantastic for collaborating in business and research initiatives too.
Finally, we have another programme called the Prosper Series, which was only developed a year and a half ago. The Prosper Series affords regional-based entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch and share their company goals to a network of C-Suite business diaspora who are eager to give back and invest in their home county.
The global network of business diaspora support regional-based entrepreneurs, by providing advice and mentoring on their key business challenges including growing the business, investing in the company or connecting the regional entrepreneur with potential investors/business.
Prosper Cavan, Kerry and Limerick have already been launched with a few more counties ready to go. It has been a great success in terms of tackling rural regeneration.
By offering the above programmes to startups around the country, the GEC has well positioned itself as Ireland’s Home for Entrepreneurs.
To learn more about the GEC or its various programmes contact Julianne@gec.ie