Cork has a proud reputation as a creative, innovative and vibrant region. As Ireland’s second city, it is an international gateway to Europe and lies at the centre of the global economies of Asia and the Americas. Cork has a strong track record in attracting investment. There is a positive can-do attitude that inspires confidence in international investors and makes visitors feel instantly welcome.

As a university city with 35,000+ students, Cork boasts a ready supply of skills across many sectors which are all supported by world-class research groups and centres of excellence including:

  • University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) provide highly-skilled, industry-ready graduates
  • Tyndall Institute – Ireland’s largest ICT Research Centre
  • APC Microbiome Ireland – Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre
  • ASSERT Centre – design, develop, deploy and trial innovative and disruptive healthcare solutions, in a simulated healthcare environment
  • Nimbus – Ireland’s leading research centre in cyber-physical systems and Internet of Things (IoT)

Let’s take a look at 3 of the top clusters:

ICT – Cork has a proven track record as an international location for investment with strong clusters of investment particularly in ICT. Cork is already home to over 60 International Technology Companies covering IC Design, manufacturing, software development, and cybersecurity. It is also home to ‘Coder Dojo’ and ‘I Wish’ (Inspiring Women in STEM).

Agri-food – Cork is a leader in the fields of agriculture and food research in Ireland, undertaking innovative research in:

  • Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation
  • Crops, Environment and Land Use
  • Food
  • Rural Economy and Development
  • APC Microbiome gastrointestinal bacteria research

Financial Services – Cork is Ireland’s second-largest financial services hub and has the second highest number of IFS companies outside Dublin. Cork has over 14 IFS companies employing over 1,300 people with 1000+ more employed in financial roles in shared services and related audit and financial firms. Nearly 500 jobs in the FS sector created in the last 18 months including expansions of existing firms.

If you are a member of an international association and would like to know more about the free of charge supports available through Cork Convention Bureau and Failte Ireland to help you win your organisation’s conference for Cork, please don’t hesitate to contact me

It’s great to be able to update on some good news for the region of Cork in the midst of all this uncertainty. At Visit Cork, under the Cork Convention Bureau brand, our focus is on winning conferences that we have an opportunity to bid for, by working with local members of international associations. This ‘conference ambassador’ programme has proved our most successful model for winning business.

ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association, has been tracking internationally rotating association conferences since its inception. The annual ICCA country and city rankings are one of the most eagerly anticipated reports in the global meetings industry. The report is based on the number of qualified association meetings held in each city and country.

Based on the number of qualifying association conferences held in 2019, Cork moved up 25 places on the worldwide rankings (from 272nd place to 247th) and moved up 9 places on the European rankings, (from 132nd to 123rd). This strong ranking improvement is a validation of Cork as an attractive destination for international conferences and meetings. For the full 2019 ICCA Statistics Report please click here:  ICCA_Statistics_Report_Europe_2010-2019.2

Also, if you are a member of an international association and would like to know more about the free of charge supports available through Cork Convention Bureau and Failte Ireland to help you win your organisation’s conference for Cork, please don’t hesitate to contact me

Unprecedented times…the definition is ‘never having happened or existed in the past’. We have heard this term used so frequently over the last month. The next 4 to 6 months of corporate meetings and conferences have been wiped out in Cork. In some cases wiped out up to the end of the year as the uncertainty is too huge to ignore.

Our valued hotel members are suffering indescribable losses while our jobs at Cork Convention Bureau (CCB) have changed from generating new conference business, to maintaining existing business. We are delighted to report that 8 of our 10 large international, association conferences have agreed to postpone to 2021/22. While this is a loss of business to the local economy in 2020 of almost €5m, we now at least have the guarantee that it is not a permanent loss to the local economy!

#Postponedontcancel has been our newly adopted mantra at CCB and searching for new dates and updating systems has become our new normal.

In 2016 in conjunction with Failte Ireland’s business tourism unit, we secured the Aquaculture Europe Conference for Cork through the strong influence of our local conference ambassador, Prof Gavin Burnell UCC, along with equally strong local support in the form of our City and County Council and local trade. The appeal of Cork as a city and county destination won through, despite not meeting all the requirements of the international organisers. 1,500 delegates were on their way to Pure Cork in September 2020 and we were absolutely thrilled.

Fast forward to today, and while the conference is still scheduled to happen, we had to work quickly to secure a ‘Plan B’ set of dates and again this is where the collaboration of our local stakeholders came into its own. Venues were made available and assurances regarding Failte Ireland funding were given, which means this €2m piece of business will now still happen in 2020.

Life is different for now in our Visit Cork organisation. We’ve gone from being a closely connected small team of 4, to now only seeing each other on our team video calls – sometimes even scarily without makeup. We’ve gone from the excitement of organising promotional events with our hotel members and associate members, to our new desk jobs in our own homes. We have built up a strong reputation in Cork for driving business and developing great relationships with our members. We can do this because of our great stakeholder financial and practical support. We will undoubtedly be back winning business again soon and we look forward to being part of the whole regeneration process.

Fan socair agus lean ar aghaidh…

Evelyn O’Sullivan
Cork Convention Bureau
Visit Cork

‘Visit Cork is the official tourism body for the Cork region incorporating both leisure and business tourism in a single voice’