Towards the end of 2004 heading into 2005 Ireland was the fastest growing economy in Europe. Technology was the a huge driving factor in the economic growth of what became known in financial terms as the Celtic Tiger mk II; Google opened offices in Dublin, Dell’s major European manufacturing plant was in Limerick, 25% of European computers were manufacturing on the Emerald Isles.
At the time it was the perfect place to start a technology company, the Irish Government was investing heavily through the newly founded Science Foundation Ireland and everything was looking rosy. Brothers Conor and Fintan MacCormack had been engineering and tinkering from an early age thanks to their father, a metalwork teacher. After using the 3D printers available only to large corporations and universities the brothers decided to produce a printer that was both affordable to buy and maintain as well as being and easy-to-use.
“In the summer of 2005 Fintin and I made the huge decision to give up our jobs and set up a company in Ireland.” Dr Conor MacCormack said at an event to mark Mcor’s tenth anniversary. “Like most companies starting off we took big risks; we remortgaged our houses, we maxed out our credit cards, we took out bank loans and probably the hardest thing to do was to take loans from family.”
Just three years later the global financial collapse hit Ireland as hard as, perhaps harder than, anywhere else, plunging the country into a similar darkness to that which Greece currently finds itself in now. By 2010 Ireland was per capita the most indebted country in the EU. Public spending cuts were heavy, “masochistic” according to the Financial Times, Dell pulled its Irish production facility with the loss of more than 5,000 jobs, things, especially for a fledgling company like Mcor, didn’t look good.
A Seed of Hope
Despite the economic downturn InterTradeIreland a cross-border trade and business development body were still able to offer up hundreds of thousands of euros in prize money for new businesses through its Seedcorn awards. The competition for funding in a recession was fierce and Mcor faced an uphill battle to win top spot.
“In 2008 we won the Seedcorn competition, not only was that a fantastic PR opportunity to win but there was a €100,000 prize fund for first place, but what Margaret Hearty (Of InterTradeIreland) probably doesn't realise is that was our funding plan for that year,” Conor quipped with a wry smile. “There was no plan B and if we didn't win that competition we wouldn't be here today.”
Conor showcases Mcor's technology to Ministers Nash (Left) and Bruton (Centre).
Though we’re sure, knowing how driven Mcor is as a whole, that there was a Plan B that Seedcorn award for Best Emerging International Company was a veritable boon for Mcor. It was awarded for Mcor’s innovative approach to 3D printing - selective deposition lamination - which takes regular reams of A4 office paper and turns it into 3D models and the technology was debuted at none other than TCT Live 2008 in the Ricoh Arena.
A decade of innovation
From that day Mcor has never taken a backwards step, despite the economic downturn in Ireland outlasting many other European countries it is a country on the up again, thanks in no small part to companies like Mcor, who in the last twelve months the company has doubled its workforce. The company’s success has not gone unnoticed by the Irish Government, who sent Richard Bruton T.D., Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and Minister Ged Nash T.D., Minister of State for Business and Employment to mark the anniversary.
Minister Bruton said when unveiling a plaque to celebrate the achievement: “At the heart of our Action Plan for Jobs is supporting more innovative Irish companies to start up and create employment. Mcor is a great example of what we are trying to achieve through our plan – an Irish company, in a regional location, developing cutting edge technology in a fast-growing area, growing a viable business and creating jobs. Conor and his team deserve huge credit for what they have achieved. I am delighted to be here to help them celebrate their 10th anniversary and I wish them every success for the future.”
Minister Nash adding: “As a local TD, I know the value that a company like Mcor brings to Dunleer and the wider county of Louth, with high quality jobs in R & D as well as sales and marketing. Mcor is truly an innovative Irish company at the forefront of affordable 3D technology, which is eco-friendly to boot. I am delighted to mark its 10 year anniversary today with Conor and his team.”
Deidre Conor and Fintan show off their Mcor printed selfies.
All the backslapping and pleasantries in the world will not stop the fiercely ambitious Mcor Technologies continuing to grow, this year saw them not only garner awards like GeekBeat.TV’s Best of CES 2015 and Best-in-Show at Solidworks World 2015 but they also launched their Iris HD technology that makes theirs the only 3D printer to comply with the global-standard ICC colour map.
“We see ourselves as an R&D company at heart,” enthused Conor MacCormack. “This will enable us to realise our long term vision of putting a 3D printer in every office, classroom and eventually every home. We think the DNA in our technology will enable that to happen. We believe that over the next three years we are looking at a very massive growth, within that time we can grow to over 250 employees.”
This is an example of how 3D printing can grow an economy, not only by creating manufacturing jobs in the piecing together of machines but by creating economies to themselves. Each machine could be helping one to one hundred people start their own business through prototyping or even as we’ve seen with Mcor recently creating finished products like jewellery. It is this very reason that has seen government’s sit up and take note of firms like Mcor Technologies and the new business models they create.