The SundayBusinessPost November3,2019

Deloitte Fast 50


All grown up at 20 Ireland’s premier tech awards, theDeloitte Fast 50, are 20years old—and the endof adolescence marks the sector’s real importance to the economy,writes Jason Walsh

From a dot on the horizon to the dot-comboom, and fromboom to bust and back again, the Deloitte Fast 50 has tracked the waxing and waning fortunes of the Irish technology sector since 1999.  Richard Howard, partner at Deloitte, can date the explosion in Irish tech. “If you go back 20 years, we had telecoms deregulation in Ireland, so you had com- panies like Esat Digifone,” he said. Esat didn’t just represent the appearance of compe- tition in the Irish telecoms sector, it meant there was a non-incumbent player out there who didn’t do every- thing in-house. It also acted as an incubator inmore di- rect ways.  “You had companies coming out of it, often founded by people who had worked for it, provid- ing software in the mobile Deloitte brought the Fast 50 awards to Ireland just a few years after the company was launched onto the global stage, thus recognising the importance of the technol- ogy sector in the Celtic Tiger economy of the late 1990s — the early days of a better nation. It wasn’t all to be plain sailing, of course, for Ireland or for the information and communications technolo- gy sector.  “There was already a significant tech sector back then, and it was just before the dot-comboom—which was followed by a bust, of course,” said Howard, lead partner for the firm’s technology, media and tele- communications, as well as energy groups. The awards, based on a purely quantitative mea- surement, do more than just promote Irish tech firms. In a sense, they track the importance of the sector to the Irish economy and the growth of the players in it as theymove from start-up to, hopefully, global player. “There are some that span the full-time frame. First Derivatives, for example, has been there for 18 of the 20 years,” said Howard. Typically, though, the nature of the companies has changed as technology and society have evolved. There is little sign today, for instance, of web develop- ment companies. “We did have indig- enous companies pro- viding web development services, but they tended to drop away as the market changed,” said Howard.   Trends come and go, but innovationmarches area,” Howard said.  Charting a course inchoppy waters

Typically, the natureof the companies haschanged as technology andsociety haveevolved

Powerfulpartnership Duncan O’Toole, co-founder, Electricity Exchange; Karen Frawley, partner, Deloitte; and Paddy Finn, co-founder, Electricity Exchange ElectricityExchange, this year’s overall Deloitte Fast 50winner, has seen electrifying growthdue to its novel power grid technology that generates revenue, notwatts,writes JasonWalsh

ever forward, seemingly.  “What was web develop- ment in 2001 is nowmaybe data analytics companies, and the question now is: is that going to be in-house [like web development] or baked into the process?”  So, will the data compa- nies appearing, and suc- ceeding, today be around two decades hence? Or will they be bought out and absorbed in-house? It’s an open question, but in the meantime the Deloitte Fast 50 will continue to crunch the numbers and see where the Irish tech sector is really growing. Howard said Ireland today is represented by tech busi- nesses focusing on the busi- ness-to-business market, business-to-consumer and also infrastructure. In short, it runs the gamut.   “We do have a successful business-to-consumer sec- tor but perhaps people don’t always see it because it’s not like Amazon; typically, it’s commissionaire type things. Hostelword, for example” he said.  Over the two decades, though, the trend has typi- cally been for software and services —and they come in a continuous stream, said Howard. “What you find every year is new companies ap- pearing: ones who were op- erating under the radar. The one area where we [as a na- tion] probably haven’t had a lot of success is hardware because that needs a lot of cap-ex and other things to start up,” he said.

L imerick-based E l e c t r i c i t y Exchange is a smart-grid technology and servicescompa- nywhichavoids the need to build new power stations and grid infrastruc- ture. Instead it helps to un- lock the existing capabilities of electricity consumers in a processthatcanprovidemore electricity to the grid than many major power stations generate.  “Effectively, we operate like a power station as far as the grid is concerned,” said Dr Paddy Finn, Electricity Exchange co-founder and managing director.  “We aggregate electricity consumers to build ‘virtual power plants’, and we can currently deliver up to 126 megawatts of capacity.”  In contrast, Ardnacrusha power plant in Co Clare was one of the world’s largest civil engineering projects when it was built and has an 86-megawatt generating capacity.  Deloitte said Electricity Exchange achieved a growth rate of 1,442per cent over the last fouryears. ElectricityEx- change’s growth has not just been in revenue terms: the company has grown in ca- pacity too.  “Last year we ourselves were at 86 megawatts, now it’s 126,” saidFinn. “That’s an additional40megawattsbeing delivered to the power grid without the need for any ad- ditional infrastructure. We’re the power station that keeps growing.”  Ratherthanproducepower, ElectricityExchangeprovides demand response technolo- gies todeliverelectricityfrom commercial and industrial electricity consumers to the grid. “We use commercial and industrial customers tomake power available to the grid [so] that electricity is deliv- eredwithout pouringasingle ounceofconcrete,orbuilding a single new pylon,” he said.  Finn said the approach Electricity Exchange took resulted in a newway of ad- dressing demand on the grid.  “If there’s a peak on the

also gives us an international advantageastechnologylead- ers, said Finn.  He is quick to point to Eir- Grid as a forward-thinking organisation, and one that is globally recognised as an exemplar in the use of inno- vative technology to enable world-leading levels of re- newable generation.  “Ireland is a number of years ahead of othermarkets aroundtheworldwiththein- tegration of innovative tech- nologies like this,” Finn said. “The traditional route was to build more power plants, change the nature of the plants,builtnewtransmission networks, and so on. Here, EirGrid has been at the fore ofdoingthingsdifferently,and whenwego toothermarkets, they all, without fail, look at Ireland and EirGrid as exem- plars,” he said.  What is essential tounder- stand, he said, is that Ireland has had to adapt faster than mosttothechallengesofdeal- ing with power demand and renewables. “Asaweakly-interconnect- edislandweareatadisadvan- tage togeographicallydiverse countriesoncontinentalpow- er systems,” Finn said. “TheproblemsIrelandfaces at 40per cent renewables are the kind that other countries won’t face until they are 70 to 80 per cent renewable, so we have to be creative in our strategies,” he said.  The company is now using the expertise it developed at home to move into inter- national markets, including AustraliaandtheMiddleEast. In the end, Finn said, what getspeople’sattention ishow cost-effective Electricity Ex- change’s technology is.  “Famously, Teslahas a bat- teryprojectinSouthAustralia. That project cost in the order of $50million. “With our technology we could deliver the same ser- vice for less than $1 million and deliver the value back to consumers instead of battery manufacturers,” he said. This is all simply because at the core of Electricity Ex- change sits a technology for shuttingoffloads that already exist, thusnonewinfrastruc- ture is required. 

Duncan O’Toole and Paddy Finn, co-founders, Electricity Exchange and David Shanahan, partner, Deloitte

stations to generate, it pays us [for capacity] andwe pass themajorityof that backonto the customer,” Finn said. “Any one of our customers would be individually insig- nificant onthegrid, butwhen we aggregate them, they be- come part of a meaningful quantity — and, in the blink of an eye, we canuse themto helpheal the power system,” he said. Thisfundamentallychanges the relationship the compa- ny’s clients havewith power, said Finn.  “It turns electricity users intoactivepower systempar- ticipants that generate reve- nue in the same way that a power station does,” he said. International expansion  Like almost all companies in the Fast 50, Electricity Ex- changehasaneyeonoverseas markets. Being a weakly intercon- nected islandwithambitious renewableenergytargetspos- es a significant engineering challenge for Ireland, but it

grid,whenpeoplecomehome fromwork, for instance, tra- ditionallyEirGridwould turn on more power stations. In- stead, when EirGrid call for more power from us, we au- tomaticallyreduce thepower our customers are using. The power they were using can then be redirected to other consumers likeyouandme.”  Allofthishappensfromthe company’s 24/7 operations centre in Limerick — and it canhappeninunderasecond.  “Instead of turning on tur- bines,wesendremotesignals to our customers’ equipment to reduce their power con- sumption. The end result is the same as a power station producingmore power,” said Finn.  “We’vedevelopedtechnol- ogies that allow us to be in- crediblyquick:wecandeliver enough electricity to power 35,000homes ina fractionof the time that it takes you to blink your eye,” he said.  An energy company coming out top ina technologyaward is a clear sign of a changing world. Electricity Exchange looks and acts very much like a

‘disruptive’ start-up despite being an established energy company.  Connection to the grid Central to the firm’s work is IoTAS, its in-house-devel- oped platform which is able to help in healing issues on the national grid in less than 150milliseconds. Asmorerenewablesenter the mix, too, a fast response is more essential than ever to ensure that the grid is able to compensate for these less stable sources of power.  IoTAS also ensures that thecompany’s customersare not inconvenienced when it comes toparticipating: it only reducespowerthatcustomers make available to be turned down.  Founded in2013, the com- pany began with an engi- neering-centric approach to business.  “At that stage it was my- self, [co-founder] Duncan [O’Toole] and three employ- ees in a three metre by three metreoffice,” saidFinn. “Our

first 18 months were devel- opment focused; instead of hiring salespeople, we hired engineers and developed our systems.  “The approach paid off, and early clients included the likes of Boston Scientific, PepsiCo and Keelings Salads who sharedour vision for the future of the power system.  “We entered the market with them in 2014 [and] ev- eryyear since thenwe’vehad over100percentgrowth,year after year after year.” Finn said it is not simply a case of thinking like a tech- nology company so much as actually being one.  “As soon as we entered the market, we knew that in or- der to stay relevant we had to innovate.So,inordertostayat thetopofourgameasapower companywehadtobecomea technologycompany,”hesaid.  Unlike many technology companies,though,Electricity Exchange has a concrete im- pact on the physicalworldby reducing theneedtogenerate more electricity from fossil fuels.  “The same way the elec- tricity market pays power

Richard Howard, partner at Deloitte

Focus On: Deloitte Fast 50 25

The SundayBusinessPost November3,2019

Fastforward tothefuture forrevenue growthvictors Three years into leading theDeloitte Fast 50, DavidShanahanhas lost none of his enthusiasmfor the tech sector’smost coveted awards,writes JasonWalsh

Y ear after year, fortwodecades now, Deloitte has put out its call to the Irish tech sector. It never gets stale, though, thanks to the fast-moving landscape of technology.  David Shanahan, a tax partner at Deloitte and Fast 50 programme lead, said the Fast 50 was best known for its credibility: a recognition of the true value of Ireland’s indigenous tech sector.  “People like the awards because they’re objective,” he said.  Indeed, Deloitte’s Fast 50 is centred entirely on revenue growth.  “We look at revenue in one year, [then] the revenue four years later, and rank the company according to their growth percentage. It’s very straightforward and it’s very clear,” he said.  One result is that the awards are open to all com- ers — though they tend to skew toward start-ups, who find revenue growth easier to achieve than longstanding T he construc- tion industry is changing con- stantly”saidEoin Leonard, chief executive, i3PT. “It has traditionally been known as a stagnant sector with slow uptake for inno- vationandnewtechnologies, but for a number of reasons the past few years have seen majoradvancesbothinterms of new technology and new processes”. He is referring to develop- ments such as Building In- formation Modelling (BIM), mobile field applications for site workers and other proj- ect collaboration tools, but also the adoption of modern methods of constructionand newways of working. “The traditional construc- tion methodologies can’t workanymore.Wedon’thave enough trades and we have an ageing workforce. More- over, clients are becoming more sophisticated in what they demand and quality is something that needs to be demonstrated now” he said . In the midst of a major housing crisis in Ireland and Britain,theindustryiswidely accepted to be facing some real challenges in terms of demographics and general quality, much of which is borne out by statistics. Recent estimates suggest that more than 20 per cent of the British construction workforce are now aged 55 or over and the industry has beenlessattractivetoyoung- ergenerations,whichmeans that new solutions will be needed to deliver the hous- ing and infrastructure that is so desperately needed. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) alsorecently disclosed that construction defects in Britain are now costing the industry more on an annual basis than it

and celebrates the success of Irish indigenous entrepre- neurialism,” he said.  Whatwas perhaps a defect in the Irish economy at the foundation of the state — a lowpopulation and little tra- ditional secondary and ter- tiary industry—has arguably contributedtoado-it-yourself ethosthatisverymuchinsync with the modern world.  “It’s part of our nature: we’ve always been dogged, andfighters,” saidShanahan.  “More recently, since the 1990s and 2000s, there has been a tech focus [in Irish business in general], plus a realisation that they can run a business from Ireland that doesn’tneeda local customer base.”  This iskey toalmost all Fast 50 success stories: they may be Irish businesses, but few are selling exclusively to the domestic market.  “The joy of technology is that you can get customers all over theworld,” said Sha- nahan.  Ofcourse,governmentpol- icyandeventhearrivaloffor- eign-direct investment have

companies that already have large turnovers.   Still,allsizesarerecognised, said Shanahan.  “There’s some huge com- panies in the room, but there are also small ones,” he said.  “For those that are quite small or at the early stage of theirevolution,it’sagreatway for us to provide them with the opportunity to network.”  A secondary result of all of this—perhaps less important, butarguablyoneofthekeysto the success of the awards— is suspense.  “Thetensionbuildsthought the night, and there’s really a great atmosphere,” he said.  Local heroes  Although the Fast 50 is an in- ternationalawardwithdiffer- ent ceremonies in different countries, it is perhaps par- ticularly suited to Ireland — a country of scrappy entrepre- neurs, said Shanahan.  “The fact is that in Ireland we’vealwaysbeenreallysuc- cessful in making our own businesses, andso theFast 50 is nice because it recognises

David Shanahan, a tax partner at Deloitte and Fast 50 programme lead

also played roles, and with the technology sector there is something of a symbiotic relationship between the in- digenous start-up scene and the 800-pound gorillas.  “The multinationals could well becustomersof thewin- ners, but they’re there [at the awardsceremony]todemon- strate their support, and also to network and [to] build re- lationships.”  The awards as awhole rec- ognisetheimportanceoftech- nology to the Irish economy, but some awards, such as the Spotlight on Cybersecurity, zoom in on particular sectors that Deloitte has identified as key areas for growth.Won by Belfast’s Titan IC, a fabless chipdesigner,SpotlightonCy-

berisverymucharecognition that in 2019 cybersecurity is anareathatno-onecanafford to ignore.  The Spotlight on Fintech award, meanwhile, is spon- sored by Silicon Valley Bank, a leading lender in the tech sector; the winner, Transfer- Mate, will be brought to the US toexplore investment op- portunities.   Changing times  Although the nature of the awards is consistent — mea- suringrevenuegrowth—some years throw up surprises, and 2019 was certainly one of those. 

Infact, it threwuptwovery different surprises: a bevy of new faces, and the return of one very well known to at- tendees.   “Whatwas particularly in- teresting [this year] was that in the top ten, we had eight first-time entrants,” he said.  This represents a change from recent history, where continued growth has seen the same faces pop up more than once.  “In recent years there had been a lot of the same com- panies,” he said.  Some have returned again, of course, but it becomes harder for companies to fea- ture in the Fast 50with every passing year as the required growth figures require ever

move revenue.  “WehadxSellcoandeShop- Worldworldwinning several times, and they [both] made it back in. The presence of the newones, though, shows we’veastreamofnewcompa- nies that are starting to break through,” said Shanahan.  One new entrant, overall winner Electricity Exchange, is an interesting case in point because what it does — using digital technology to reduce theneedforelectricitygener- ation— is verymuch au cou- rant when it comes to 2019’s political debates.   Ontheotherhand,theother surprisewasthereturnofFirst Derivatives,whosecontinued appearance in the awards speaks to phenomenal, uni-

corn-like levels of ongoing growth.  “We look at [revenue] the base year, so in this case of 2015and,themostrecentyear, here 2018,” said Shanahan. “What you typically see is that companies shoot on to thescene, andthendropback downas theysettle intobusi- ness,butthisyearwehadFirst Derivativeswhowerethefirst [ever] winner, 20 years ago.”  ForShanahan,suchsuccess shouldberecognisedasnoth- ing short of staggering.  “Think about the commit- ment required to come back after20years—eventobestill around, frankly, but, as is the casewithFirst Derivatives, to havemadethelist17yearsout of 20,” he said.

At theleadingedgeofconstructionpractices

Technology is a major enabler for

culture change in the construction industry

generates in profits. “These statistics are not surprising, but we can’t be apathetic about it either.The industryhasembraceddigital construction somewhat and we see it as a huge area for growth. We are also seeing a huge culture change around building safety and quality, which begins with the sub- contractor on the ground and extends right back to the funders. “Ati3PT,wearecommitted to alleviating some of these challengesandweareleading the way with our own pro- cesses and technology,” said Leonard. A new addition to i3PT’s leadership teamis

At i3PT,weare leading thewaywithour ownprocessesand technology

From left: at the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards were Eoin Leonard chief executive officer, i3PT, Caroline O’Driscoll, partner, Deloitte, RonanMurray, partner, Deloitte; Will Stuchbury, M&E inspector, i3PT and DavidWallace, chief commercial officer, i3PT

directing the shift in culture. “Weworkwithsomeofthe largestgovernmentagencies, multinational corporations and developers in theworld. They trust us to protect their peopleandtheirassets,which is a huge responsibility and one we take very seriously” saidWallace. The firm is currently ap- pointed on projects with a combined capital value in excess of £9 billion, with projects ranging from €500 million data centres to En- glish Premiership football stadiums and high density residential schemes. Leonard points to the two keyelementsinthesuccessof i3PT, peopleand technology. “Our team is so exception- ally diverse and competent,

we have professionals from multiple disciplines and the breadth of experience in our company is unique. “Our service is driven by this excellent team of peo- ple and it is enhanced by our technology, CertCentral.” CertCentral In a typically entrepreneur- ial twist, theCertCentral SaaS platform was originally de- veloped by i3PT to solve its own problems, which were centredaroundassuringqual- ity in construction. However, the digital evo- lution of the construction industry led to increased investment in innovation as new features were being re- questedbyclients.Overtime,

CertCentral was developed to become a full project col- laborationsoftwareplatform, complete with iOS and An- droid field applications. Leonard notes that i3PT hadn’treallyconsideredsoft- ware as a business opportu- nity at the beginning. “We have always said that our purpose was to deliver better buildings and im- proved culture on projects. Originally, we focused all of oureffortsonourprofessional services,whichare primari- ly focused on design review, quality assurance and site inspection. “ThesuccessofCertCentral was almost a surprise to us. We had been so focused on quality, that we built a sys- tem with real rigour, trans-

parencyandevidence-based workflows. Every issue is logged, tracked, closed out and reviewed both digitally and on site. People liked the simplicity of the interface and theywanted toapply the same rigour to other parts of the project life cycle, such as design development and document control. “Our own profession- al team actually design the softwareinterfaceandwork- flows, sowehave thebenefit ofcharteredengineers,archi- tects, surveyors and trades- people when we are trying to design software tools.This means thatwhatwe create is instantlyintuitivetotheuser.” Thecompanyisgrowingits teamconstantlyanditsBritish business is also going from

strength to strength, despite the uncertainty that comes with Brexit. Leonard said: “i3PT’s ser- vices and software divisions arebothgrowingreallywellin Britain,despiterecentevents. Wehavedevelopedsome in- crediblepartnershipsandwe are working in some excel- lentprojects,fromlarge-scale healthcare facilities to sports stadiums,whichhasbecome a real niche for us. “Also, a large number of clients in Ireland and Britain are opting for offsite con- struction, which is another area thatwehave had a great deal of experience in. All in all, the future is really bright and we plan to add another international office in theUS next year.”

profession- al. I witnessed first-hand the kind of

improvements that could be achieved using technology andnewwaysofworking.At Munster,thenewculturethat emerged fromthiswas liter- ally transformative,”hesaid. The company has grown exponentially over the past seven years, opening offices inDublin,Cork,Limerickand London. Changes in legislation and recent failures in building safety have led to a shifting operational landscape and i3PThas beenakeyplayer in

former rugby international David Wallace, who joined as chief commercial officer in 2019. “What really struck me about i3PT was the focus on high-performance in con- struction and the belief that technologycouldbedesigned to improve culture and be- haviours on projects,” said Wallace. “Inmyplayingdays,Ilived throughtheperiodwherethe game went from amateur to

26 Focus On: Deloitte Fast 50 COMMERCIAL CONTENT

The SundayBusinessPost November3,2019

Disruptive Technology Award in association with Facebook: Electricity Exchange. David Shanahan, partner at Deloitte, Majella Mungovan of Facebook, Duncan O’Toole and Paddy Finn co-founders of Electricity Exchange and Louise Kelly, partner at Deloitte

Innovative new technology Award in association with Google: Titan IC. David Shanahan, Deloitte, Koushik Chandrashekar of Google, Gareth Douglas, software manager, Titan IC, Louise Kelly, Deloitte

Fintechisgrowing fastfromsmallseeds Irelandhas long positioned itself as a global centre for innovative ICT, but not all sectors are equallywell represented. Financial technology, or fintech, is one that is growing rapidly,writes JasonWalsh Export Award in association with Intel: SilverCloud Health. David Shanahan, Deloitte, Neil Philip, Intel, Angel Enrique, Postdoctoral Clinical Researcher, SilverCloudHealth, Louise Kelly, Deloitte

Impact Award in association with PayPal: TEKenable. David Shanahan, Deloitte, Nick Connors, managing director of TEKenable, Louise Kelly, Deloitte

F intech has been grabbing the head- lines for some time, but for Silicon Val- ley Bank, sponsors of Deloitte Fast 50 Fintech Award, the concept is not necessarily new.  “To me, fintech has always beenpresent,”saidCliveLen- nox, directorof Irishbusiness developmentforSiliconValley Bank. “Over the last three to four years, it has become a partic- ular sectorof techthat people are focused on, but it has al- waysexisted;it’sjustnowthat people are recognising it.”  Founded in 1982, Silicon Valley Bank is not only based in the home of the IT revolu- tion, it is focused almost en- tirely on it. 

“We have about 45,000 customers,”saidLennox.“We lookatthingsalittlebitdiffer- ently from traditional banks, and we bring in people from industry,likelifesciencepeo- plewhohaveworkedinlabs.”  ThismeansthatSiliconVal- leyBankhasaninsideknowl- edgeof thesectors intowhich it lends and helps to organise investment.  Lennox said fintech allows financialinstitutionstodevel- op and deploy products and services which they might otherwise struggle with. “I think it’s driven by the envi- ronment,” he said.   Today, many banks have calculated that they can’t just work in-house to build the besttechnology.Thequestions for such businesses then are:

what arewe today, intermsof what are we offering? What canweoffer in the futureand where do we want to go? “You have to look at what’s in market and what’s better than what you have,” he said.  Heavily regulated areas have been a par- ticular focus for fintech growth.  “We’ve seen the rise of ‘regtech’,” said Len- nox. “Really, anything driven by compliance, it’s huge, where there’s no two ways about it: you have to do it or you’re fined.  Rightnow,Irelandisnotthe centre of the fintech world but,saidLennox,thereisroom for thecountrytogrow, based on its strengths intechandfi-

Women in Technology Advocate Award in association with Vodafone: Catherine Harrison, First Derivatives. David Shanahan, Deloitte, Regina Moran, enterprise director, Vodafone, Catherine Harrison, VP HR, First Derivatives and Louise Kelly, Deloitte

Payments primed 

It will grow. I am tracking particular companies, with an eye toward wo r k i n g with them,” he said. “The great

panies that were featured in theFast 50. It’sverygood [as] youbasicallyneed50percent annual growth, so over four yearsyou’vegottoshow[con- sistently] good numbers.”  It’sa fairpoint: theFast 50’s focusonnumbersoffersareal counterpointtosomebusiness awards where paying for a table results in being handed a gong.  One recently announced customer of Titan IC’s is Mellanox, which is using its designs in its new SmartNIC device, a data centre-grade network adapter.  Titan IC designs both ASIC (application-specificintegrat- ed circuit) and FPGA (field programmable gate array) chips for different products.  “Because the number of new threats is growing day after day, teams and teams of people[aroundtheworld]are writingalgorithmsthatrunon our designs,” he said.  McKenna expects growth tocontinue: a fairassumption given what is at stake.  “If you think of all the cloud-based computers that Amazon, [Microsoft] Azure, Googlehas,everyoneofthose needs a NIC,” he said.  “We have a few more de- signs in the pipeline that we willannounceearlynextyear. We’re just getting busier and busier.” attractedmajorstrategicinvest- mentsfromleadingbankssuch as ING Group and AIB, which havecumulativelyinvested€51 million in the company.  “We are delighted to be named one of fastest grow- ing technology companies in Ireland once again, and we are particularly honoured to receive thefintechaward this year,” said Clune.  “Our increase in the rank- ingsby20spots fromlastyear isa testament our team’shard work building best-in-class technology and partnering with leading banks and soft- ware providers.”

stemming from their own frustrations with making in- ternational payments.  TransferMate’s presence in the awards is no big surprise: thecompanyhasalwayshada focusongrowthandhasmade the list in previous years.  Aspartofitsgrowthstrategy, TransferMate has announced key partnerships and strategic investments over the past two years. In May, the company launched a strategic relation- shipwithWells Fargo Bank in the US, offering an interna- tional receivables product for the bank’sAmericanbusiness clients. TransferMate has also

Our increase inthe rankingsby20spots fromlastyear isa testament our team’s hardwork

This year’s fintech winner at the Fast 50 is TransferMate.  Founded in2010, theglobal payments firm has grown to become the global choice for businesses worldwide that send and receive foreigncur- rencypayments, and is today a disruptive force across the global fintech sector. Its founders, chairmanTer- ry Clune and chief executive Sinead Fitzmaurice, built TransferMate out of parent company Taxback Group,

thing about Ireland is that we’ve traditionally hadstrongfinancial companies, so you have a blend of established compa- nies that are continuing to grow and then new compa- nies coming in.”


“ P r e - dominately it’s software and medical devices [that Irish companies focus on].


Withcybersecurity arguably the singlemost important issue inbusiness IT today, it’s no surprise that the Fast 50 recognises the area, writes JasonWalsh

ganisationor[even]acountry vulnerable, is transactions. I believe, personally, there is a risk around Brexit because peoplewillbebusy,evenpre- occupied:CFOsandCEOswill be busy in terms of strategic planning and so people will be vulnerable to phishing, particularly spear phishing,” said McDonnell.  “And now, because Ire- land is at the forefront of the news cycle, we are getting recognised by the actors and so theywill have a good sniff around.”  High-tech, lowlevel   Cybersecurity, like the rest of the IT sector, is known for relentless development, and withthe threat landscape ina stateofconstantflux,itmakes sense that the defensive technologies are developing fast.  “AI androboticsareno lon- ger cutting edge but it’s not quite mainstream yet,” said McDonnell.  “The thing is, the[criminal] actorsareusingthesetechnol- ogies,investingmulti-millions

F or the second year running,theDeloitte Fast 50 awards have given special recog- nition to the area of cybersecurity.   Colm McDonnell, head of risk advisory at Deloitte, said Irelandhasagrowingreputa- tion in this vital sector.  “We’ve had loads of really good entries,” he said.   Deloitte’s research into global ‘centres of excellence’ for cybersecurity has shown that Ireland is an important focal point for the sector.  “Outside of the EU, there’s Israel, then there’s Ireland,” he said.  Theriseinthreatshasbeena continuingmenace, but there are sometimes surprising catalysts. Brexit, for one. And Ireland’s growing role in cy- bersecurity, for another.  “The threat landscape is heightenedbecauseofBrexit. Much of what makes an or-

Experts in driving digital evolution

ColmMcDonnell, head of risk advisory at Deloitte: cybersecurity award had ‘loads of good entries’

in it [because] it’s an ideal technology to cyber-attack: 24/7,365daysayear,”hesaid.  This year’s Fast 50 Cyber- security award winner, Titan IC, based in Belfast, is an ex- cellentexampleofahigh-tech responsetothegrowingcyber threat:insteadofrelyingsolely onsoftware,TitanICdevelops hardwaredesignedtobeatthe hackers.  TitanICiseffectivelya‘fab- less’semiconductorcompany, producing silicon designs. 

then licensed to other semi- conductorcompaniestoman- ufacture — a model familiar fromARM, the British-based company that designs the chips found in almost every mobile phone.  For McKenna, the Fast 50 representsrecognitionofreal- world progress.   “Weappliedforitbecauseit is objective. It’s good to show progress over the years,” he said.  “I had previous tech com-

“What our products do, in layman’s terms, is we have a very high-speed search en- gine that looks for patterns among network traffic, so it candetectthreatsinrealtime; itdoesn’tslowdownyournet- work,” said chief executive Noel McKenna.  Spun out from Queen’s University,whichhas itsown centre for cybersecurity re- search, the Centre for Secure InformationTechnologies,Ti- tanICdesignschipswhichare

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