IDA praised as US tech firms announce 350 new jobs


IDA Ireland was yesterday praised by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin for targeting technology companies, as he announced investments that will see two US companies create 350 jobs over the next five years.

Medical technology group Kinetic Concepts (KCI) announced yesterday it plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Athlone that will create up to 250 new jobs over the next five years.

KCI has already recruited seven staff, including senior managers and expects to create the first 50 jobs by the end of 2007 with the remainder of the 200 positions at the plant linked to future growth requirements.

The company, whose headquarters are in San Antonio, Texas, designs, manufactures, markets and services a wide range of advanced wound care and therapeutic surface products to improve clinical outcomes in patients.Mr Martin said the decision was excellent news for the town. "Ireland faced strong competition for the investment and the factors which influenced the decision in favour of Athlone included the availability of a workforce with experience in the medical technology industry and the Midlands' record of success with companies in the industry."

KCI employs 6,300 people worldwide and last year, had net profits of $195.5 million (€140 million) on revenues of $1.37 billion.

Mr Martin also announced an investment in Cork by US software company Blizzard Entertainment, which will create 100 jobs.

Blizzard, which develops and publishes entertainment software, is to set up an European customer support centre in the city creating 50 jobs initially, a figure that will rise to 100 over three years.

"Interactive entertainment is one of the fastest-growing and most popular recreational sectors globally and this demand is creating new opportunities for Ireland as a platform for this highly innovative industry," said Mr Martin. "It is a strategic target for IDA Ireland and we are fast becoming a location of choice for many of the world's most advanced internet and digital content companies, as Blizzard has shown today," he added.

Mr Martin said Blizzard was a leader in the field and the decision to locate in Cork was further evidence of how Ireland is viewed "as a leading location for cutting-edge investment in the exciting world of digital content."

Blizzard, whose headquarters are in Irvine, California, produces some of the world's most popular online role-playing digital titles such as World of Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft.

Blizzard's president, Mike Morhaime, expressed confidence the Cork office would strengthen its support offerings in Europe.