Craig Barrett: ‘Irish tech sector will drive economic recovery’

15 Nov 2010

Ireland needs to focus on enlarging its indigenous high-tech sector to drive economic recovery, the former chairman of Intel and now chairman of the Irish Technology Leaders Group Craig Barrett said this afternoon.

“There is significant opportunity for growth driven by these firms,” Barrett said.

“Ireland and the US are in similar circumstances. If we don’t take advantage of our skilled workforces and entrepreneurial spirit we will lose out to emerging economies. We are in Ireland this week to support Irish tech companies who have the ambition to grow and succeed.”

The Irish Technology Leadership Group, with partners NUI Galway, University of Limerick and Shannon Development, this week brought a high-profile delegation of senior Silicon Valley executives to Ireland, including former chairman of Intel Barrett, for a three-day event designed to strengthen the developmental ties between Silicon Valley and Ireland.

The three-day tour includes the ‘Innovation in Education’ conference in NUI Galway on Tuesday, 16 November, and the ‘Innovation Island and the Global Irish’ conference in University of Limerick on Wednesday, 17 November.

John Hartnett, president and founder of the ITLG, said, “This is our third delegation to visit Ireland and we are delighted that our chairman Craig Barrett has taken the time to lead this year’s delegation. We have created great links between Irish and Silicon Valley companies and we aim to build on that again during this year’s event,” Hartnett said.

Twelve Irish start-ups have been chosen to meet with the ventures capitalists over the two-day period, including Amartus, Equiendo, ImeeGolf, InishTech, InteleSENS, MCOR Technologies, Movidius, RedZinc, ResourceKraft, Suntico and Weedle.

The first event to take place is the ‘Education for Innovation’ conference where Barrett will provide the keynote address.

Welcoming ITLG to NUI Galway, university president Dr Jim Browne, said: “NUI Galway is delighted to work with its alliance partner, University of Limerick, and with Shannon Development to support the ITLG’s Silicon Valley Comes to Ireland Event 2010.

“This event casts a spotlight on innovation and entrepreneurship activity in the west and mid-west regions, and offers support to indigenous and start-up companies who wish to develop and internationalise their business.

“At his forthcoming keynote address at NUI Galway, Craig Barrett will share his views on education for innovation, and the panel discussion will centre on how the knowledge generated by Irish universities can marry with the ‘know-how’ of industry to yield tangible benefits for the smart economy. This is important – our economic future depends on Ireland’s ability to compete in the global smart economy.”

Innovation island and the global Irish

The Silicon Valley delegation will travel to Limerick for the ‘Innovation Island and the Global Irish’ full-day conference, including a panel discussion on the Future of Mobile Technology.

“The University of Limerick is continuing to strengthen its links with industry leaders as it hosts the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) Silicon Valley Comes To Ireland event in conjunction with Alliance Partners, NUI Galway and Shannon Development,” said UL president, Prof Don Barry.

“We welcome this opportunity to uncover the emerging technological opportunities we have in Ireland and to nurture those that have true potential and support them in achieving success. We look forward to welcoming to UL a group of people who epitomise the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit and who continue through collaboration and innovation to advance the prosperity of our region and our country.”

Highlighting the importance of the ITLG events in Limerick and Galway, Dr Vincent Cunnane, chief executive, Shannon Development, said: “Over the next three days, Ireland will have the undivided attention of some of the world’s leading technology companies.

“Shannon Development plans to make the most of that opportunity by showcasing the Shannon Region. Entrepreneurship is alive and well in the region. As a regional development agency focused on driving economic development across the Shannon region, we warmly welcome the new Silicon Valley mentorship programme which will provide an excellent training ground for upcoming Irish entrepreneurs.”

The events will conclude with a Gala Dinner hosted by ITLG and its partners at Dromoland Castle on Wednesday evening where attendees will hear keynote addresses from Barrett, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD, and CEO of Shannon Development Vincent Cunnane.

University Innovation Awards

The University Innovation Awards, sponsored by Eircom, will also be presented on the night.

The three University Innovation Challenge Award finalists are LearnOpt from the University of Limerick, a software services company, Miravex from Trinity College Dublin, a medical device company for skin diagnostics and ThinkSmart from University College Cork, a software solutions company focused on the renewable energy sector.

The winning company will be will be presented an award by O’Keeffe, and will also receive an invitation to travel to Silicon Valley for the annual 2011 Irish Technology Leaders Silicon Valley Awards in March next year.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years