Clusters are good. A cluster of the same type of companies is good for the companies because a critical mass of talent is developed, increasing the local pool of expertise to draw on. Good for the employees because they can get promoted either within their company or in other companies and don’t have to relocate themselves or their families. Both parties have choice and flexibility. There is safety in numbers for both.

A cluster has to start somewhere, however. It has to start with a cluster of one. One company has to take the plunge.

I live about 20 minutes’ drive from Galway in the west coast of Ireland. It has a small software ecosystem, much smaller than Dublin’s, but this ecosystem is being gradually added to as more software companies either start up or base their European Headquarters in this attractive city.

Recently, there was an enormous news story about the world’s most valuable company – at least at the time of writing it is – announcing plans to build a presence in the little town where I live. The land in question is as big as the entire town. As you can imagine, my town was simply agog with the news: the possibility of jobs, the stimulation of the area, the supply-side economy and property prices were all on people’s lips, not to mention the almost planetary magnetism of a world-renowned company coming to town.

The cluster of one has begun. I see the cluster being swelled by several more companies – providing either competing or supply chain services to the first mover – until perhaps in twenty years there is a corridor of similar companies dotted along the 25 kilometres between our town and Galway.

It’s good to move to a cluster. And when one happens to begin on your desktop, well that’s either great planning, great serendipity or great insider knowledge. Having lived here for a good number of years, I can only claim option 2 :-).

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