It’s hard to believe it has already been six years since the PorterShed was first established, and the story continues to grow and develop with every passing day. Several months before our Eyre Square building had even been opened, Forbes did a piece with PorterShed Director, co-founder, and serial entrepreneur Professor John Breslin about what the building would represent, how it would fit in with the Galway City Innovation District, and what the plans were for its future. Back then, Professor Breslin told Forbes he wanted to “start with a minimum viable product, and then grow from there”, and that growth has certainly been clear to see.
Today, the PorterShed has two buildings – and by the end of 2022, a campus-style community will be set up, spanning the premises in Bowling Green and the property at the former Connacht Tribune office.
With close to 50 full-time member companies, plenty of hot-deskers, and several corporate members, the PorterShed is a thriving community of people who love to innovate, succeed together, and create. Numerous success stories have come through the PorterShed, whether that has been the many start-ups that have ideated, prospered, scaled, and expanded; the individuals who have turned their ideas into reality; or the FDI companies that have created hundreds of jobs for the city.
The benefits of the PorterShed are clear to see across a number of fronts, not least the amount of jobs it has helped to grow.
A recent KPMG report shows that approximately 835 jobs (95 of which are expected to arrive over the next three years) have been created as a result of the PorterShed’s existence. This shows how important the co-working and innovation hub has been to Galway, the wider western region, and to Ireland more generally.
Another key figure that stands out from the same report is the €35 million in inward investment brought to the region by members – the benefits of having these businesses, which would not have had somewhere to be based 10 or 15 years ago, is thankfully also trickling down to other parts of the economy, aside from the immediate catchment area. Indeed, between 2016 and 2021, spending by the PorterShed and attendees at PorterShed events contributed around €3.86 million to national economic output.
“It’s been an amazing journey, and we’re going to keep helping start-ups create all sorts of magic in the years to come. I can already see us in six years from now looking back at all we have achieved – and all our members have accomplished – in such a short space of time.
“The PorterShed has been about innovation, forward-thinking, and making great change since day one, and I feel so lucky to get to be part of it all as Galway strides into the future. Lots of people have started careers here or joined new ventures, and we’re keen to keep that trend going.” Mary Rodgers, CEO of the PorterShed explains.
The team itself is growing as well. At the start of 2021, the core team consisted of three people – now, there are six team members across two properties, and that is also an indication of how much growth the PorterShed and the GCID is going through.
Plus, the amazing, hard-working voluntary board members are always diligently working to write new amazing chapters in the story.
So, what are Professor Breslin’s thoughts on what the future holds for the PorterShed now that they have far exceeded the MVP and are setting their sights on bigger and better?
“The Galway City Innovation District has grown significantly over the last six years, starting with a much-needed downtown space for start-ups in the PorterShed, and since then becoming the beating heart for Galway City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, through programmes, events, and of course, the spirit and support of the community”, Professor Breslin says.
“Our community is attracting new changemakers and innovation-driven enterprises all the time, and the growth has been phenomenal: from the dusty, unused site of the original building in late 2015, to this year, where in Q4 we will open an even larger building on Market Street. I’m looking forward to the next six years, and I have no doubt there will be much more to celebrate by then!”
By Trevor Murray