The survival rate of WestBIC supported start-ups stands at over 80 per cent across 25 years and they have attracted over €7million of private equity (Angel Capital) spread across 25 innovative young companies in the last six years alone.
WestBIC is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as the Quality Accredited, Official EU Business and Innovation Centre (EU BIC) for Ireland’s Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Region.
In his opening remarks to a large gathering of entrepreneurs, SMEs, supporters and sponsors at a 25th anniversary celebratory lunch at the WestBIC Galway office on Friday, Dr Chris Coughlan, WestBIC Chair, commented, “We are proud of the performance of our client companies and entrepreneurs over this last 25 years and we were never more committed to the important task of helping them survive, grow and create jobs.”
Guest of honour Taoiseach Enda Kenny paid tribute to WestBIC supported start-ups and the valuable jobs they have created over the last 25 years. He was particularly impressed at their ability to attract capital and to survive and grow despite the disparity of conditions, critical mass, distance to market and other negative, innovation enabling indices in the BMW Region.
An Taoiseach applauded the WestBIC strategy of integration and partnership with agencies and other economic development support organisations and the private sector in the greater BMW Region to help create jobs.
“WestBIC has played a significant role in forging effective partnerships across the BMW Region over the last 25 years. Hundreds of innovative start-ups have benefitted from the support and resources of WestBIC thereby helping to drive job creation. Some of the more mature BIC client companies are now major employers and exporters and we are now seeing the next generation of high value employers coming up through the BIC process, “ said An Taoiseach.
He mentioned some of the more mature WestBIC client companies, some over 20 years old and several of whom were present, including CPS Tuam, EireComposites Teo., An Spidéal, Shoreline Engineering, Mayo, Aquafact International Services, Galway and Donegal based Oileán Glas Teo.
An Taoiseach also met with many current start-ups and heard a selection of their technology and innovative value propositions. These included fledgling young entrepreneurs with business proposals founded on international technology transfer partnerships, interactive learning platforms and med tech and e-commerce solutions.
He also paid tribute to the pioneering approach of the Irish BICs and to WestBIC in particular. He referred to their role over the 25 years in the development of the proven, key innovation enabling supports to the start-up market such as seed capital funds, the private equity or Angel Capital movement, incubation infrastructure and systems and the vital project validation, coaching and investor grade business planning service.
“I commend WestBIC for its many achievements over 25 years and wish it continuing success in its work which is very much in line with the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs policies on driving entrepreneurship and start-up companies,” An Taoiseach concluded.
Dr Coughlan thanked An Taoiseach for his support and urged him to intensify the level of Government investment in job creation in the BMW Region which he said now needs a positive discrimination approach if the ever widening gap with the Dublin and greater eastern seaboard region in income levels and job opportunities is to be bridged.
“We will intensify our strategy of growing more knowledge based start-ups to attract more capital and grow sustainable jobs. We, and our private sector partners are ready, willing and able to partner further with Government to do even more in the next twenty five years as the Quality Accredited EU BIC for the BMW Region,” added Dr Coughlan.