A growing cryptocurrency ecosystem and availability of tech talent is attracting blockchain leaders, and their companies, to Ireland.
Digital currency exchange Coinbase has most recently helped to expand the crypto economy here, opening an office in Dublin just last month.
At the time, the firm’s UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said that Dublin, with its diverse talent pool and entrepreneurial spirit, was the “clear choice” when the company considered the location of its second European office.
While the move was part of Coinbase’s Brexit contingency plan, the attraction to this island for many firms working with emerging tech is strong, not least with Brooklyn-based start-up ConsenSys.
Lory Kehoe, who has led the Dublin hub of the “blockchain venture studio” since it opened its doors last April, said establishing a presence here shows there is a vibrant cross-industry and cross-sector blockchain ecosystem in the country.
“Companies like us are looking to attract some of the great tech talent that already exists in Ireland, thanks to the many global tech companies that are based here,” he said.
“Based on the first-hand experience of Jeremy Millar [chief of staff at ConsenSys], he saw that other tech firms had their EMEA presence in Ireland; and he needed a city that was close to London that could help deliver on projects the company is already working on.”
Blockchain technologies store blocks of information that are distributed across a network; they have been embraced by a number of business verticals for the traceability and security they bring to transactions online.
Founded by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, ConsenSys was established in October 2014 and currently employs 1,200 people across the globe.
Dublin is ConsenSys’s third hub in Europe and fourth in EMEA, adding to ConsenSys’s network in London, Dubai and Paris.
The multi-functional Irish hub includes a development lab, where engineers build and deliver Ethereum-based blockchain platforms and products stemming from the company’s consulting arm, ConsenSys Solutions.
And this is all run by a team of blockchain experts – which has grown twelvefold over the last eight months.
“The Irish studio started with just myself, quickly followed by two others. We went completely against the grain of a quiet summer with our recruitment drive and now we have 36 employees.”
Prior to ConsenSys, Kehoe was a director with Deloitte where he founded and led Deloitte’s EMEA Blockchain Lab.
He said he was about to take a job in Hong Kong when he got “the opportunity to start a business in my home city about a technology that I’m very passionate about”.
“As managing director, I’m leading such a great team, that I plan on building out to 50 staff by end of the year. We’re currently housed at co-working space Huckletree, while we wait for our new space to be being fitted out.”
Kehoe said that his team will be moving to its new 6,000 sq ft home at Silicon Docks, “minutes from Google”, in January of next year. The space has capacity for 100 people and Lory said that ConsenSys plan to “fill the space that we move into; we’re hiring a person every week”.
In addition to building out the blockchain ecosystem in Ireland and EMEA, Kehoe said that the intention is to grow out his team and continue to focus on team diversity.
Earlier this year, the European Commission appointed ConsenSys as an adviser to the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, a two-year initiative aimed at helping the European Union accelerate blockchain innovation.
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