Portershed for Startup Companies

In 2015, the Galway startup ecosystem was suffering from the lack of a downtown hub for startup companies to locate in – either indigenous and international. As a frequent participant in IDA, FDI company meetings, Professor Breslin was dismayed when many of the incoming companies chose not to locate in Galway for this reason. Also, it seemed that an opportunity was being lost in not allowing Galway’s innovation-driven enterprises to cluster and thrive together.

With some experienced like-minded volunteers, he co-founded the non-profit Galway City Innovation District (GCID) in July 2015 to address this particular problem. Its purpose was to attract creators, innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to work in close proximity to others in a supportive and connected environment, as well as young technology companies with strong growth potential and, eventually, larger companies and multinationals. With sponsorship secured from AIB, IBM and others, GCID leased and renovated a former Guinness building from CIÉ, beside the Ceannt train station, as its first hub.

John Breslin Case Study

This first hub from the GCID, the PorterShed, opened its doors in April 2016.

  • The PorterShed now has over 100 seats, and is home to 44 startup companies.
  • The average salary is €65,000, and contributes an estimated €15 million per annum to the local economy.
  • It has supported the creation of 720 jobs, including graduating companies, scaleups, soft landing successes, acquisitions, and associated support jobs.
  • 35% of PorterShed’s members are female.
  • 11 of the 44 member companies based in the PorterShed are led by female founders.
  • PorterShed companies have raised over €20 million in funding.
  • 1100 events have been held in the space since it opened with tens of thousands of attendees.
  • Professor Breslin has been interviewed by Forbes and RTÉ Radio 1 about the PorterShed.

Professor Breslin also helped set up Ireland’s first regional accelerator, NDRC at PorterShed, with funding from Enterprise Ireland (announced in 2017). 22 companies have graduated from the accelerator.

The Galway City Innovation District was widely cited in Ireland’s ranking as an “Innovation Leader” country in the International Innovation Scorecard 2018 from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organisation behind the popular CES trade show.

In December 2018, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD announced funding of over €2.5 million for GCID to provide a second building incorporating a coworking space, private office space and event space for scaleup technology and medtech companies. The Building #2 project aims to support over 900 jobs directly and indirectly over its funding lifecycle.

The PorterShed itself is more than just a building: it is a community that collaborates and accelerates technology startups. GCID is also not a government enterprise centre: the Board members are all volunteers like Professor Breslin with full-time jobs and commitments.

This initiative – GCID, PorterShed, and the forthcoming Building #2 – is about creating long-term quality sustainable jobs in Galway, to ensure the future of Galway, and to ensure future generations have a choice to live and work in a city that is vibrant and