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Ireland’s second city, capital of the so-called “rebel county” of Cork, has a reputation for both independence and a more laid back attitude than Dublin. The city hopes to take on a growing share of the start-up activity in a country that aims to be a tech hub by 2020 and is holding a national “Startup Gathering” in October.

The case for: University College Cork and the Cork Institute of Technology provide a strong supply of technology-literate talent and ideas.

A central co-ordinating body, Cork Innovates, has been set up to harness the various initiatives, government agencies and funds available to start-ups in the area. It provides a single source of information and the model is sufficiently successful to have been replicated across Ireland.

A number of multinationals have set up manufacturing and services companies in the region, such as Pfizer, Apple, Boston Scientific, EMC and Amazon.

Cork offers a good quality of life, from nearby beaches and green countryside to pubs, restaurants and live music (including an annual international jazz festival).

The case against: Long-haul flights require a transfer. This matters because, as with any relatively small city, your clientele will mostly be elsewhere. The broadband in the surrounding countryside is patchy.

The big companies that bring in business also suck out talent. Start-ups may be unable to match their levels of job security and pay.

Support for start-ups: The leading incubator programmes are Ignite, which is operated by UCC; Rubicon operated by CIT; and the Tyndall National Institute’s incubation centre.

Local funding comes from a mix of venture capital, angel and crowdsourcing, although the VC activity is dwarfed by that of Dublin. Of the 38 Irish tech start-ups that received €120m in total in the first quarter of 2015, only four were from Cork.

Getting there: Dublin is a three-hour drive, while London is one and a half hours by air. There are flights to several European cities, but a transfer is required for many others and for long-haul trips.

Local heroes: One of the breakout success stories of recent years has been PCH International. PCH is headquartered in Cork, with extensive operations in China, and turnover of more than $1bn. It designs custom manufacturing for some of the world’s biggest tech companies as well as start-ups.

Voxpro, which helps companies expand in Europe by providing customer service and technical support in several languages, remains based in Cork although it has offices in Dublin and San Francisco.

Trustev, an anti-fraud platform for ecommerce, has raised a total of $7.8m in backing from investors and customers include Vodafone and Telefónica.

What the locals say: Siobhan Finn, director of Cork Innovates, says: “The community of entrepreneurs here is so strong and [their] willingness to support new start-ups is incredible.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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