Tech entrepreneur Dowds talks up remaining in Europe
A Co Down-born Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur says he's planning to double his workforce this year, and has also warned of the risks posed if the UK exits the EU.
Mark Dowds is co-founder of Trov, and was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after hundreds of young tech-heads packed into St George's Market in Belfast for the Northern Ireland Science Park's Generation Innovation event.
His company is a modern technology-based insurance business, which allows customers to easily 'turn-on' cover for short periods of time. The Newtownards man joined more than 200 teenagers alongside other top technology entrepreneurs, at this year's event.
His own business now employs 36 people, but Mr Dowds said he's hopeful that can be doubled this year.
"(Trov) enables 18 to 35-year-olds to engage with insurance in a new way," he said.
"If I want to ride my mountain bike for the afternoon, I can turn it on and off again."
Mr Dowds said Northern Ireland has "lots of potential" for a raft of top entrepreneurial talent.
"There's a lot of potential here. I wish that existed when I was here at that age.
"Start-ups need an ecosystem, and there weren't enough people to look folks in the eye and say, you can do this."
Speaking about the impact leaving the EU could have on business and young companies here, he said:
"I think it's a very risky move for us to leave. The pros and cons, trade opportunities can come with departing, but it's a very risky move with a lot of unknowns."
Kieran O'Neill, of Generation Innovation lead sponsor Deloitte Digital, said "creating the right environment, through events like this, is critical to giving teenagers the best possible chance to succeed".
Larne Grammar School pupil Nicola Wolfe said the event allowed her the "chance to hear about all the opportunities that exist right here in Northern Ireland".