NI’s future tech giants to pitch to the returned exiles

23 Dec 2008

In a few days future technology stars to emerge from Northern Ireland will make their pitch before an exacting audience of technology exiles from the region who have excelled overseas as well as Google and BT executives.

Eight Northern Irish companies are vying to hit the ground running in 2009 as they pitch their innovative concepts to top executives and investors at Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP) on 29 December.

From concepts designed to help reduce hospital acquired infections, to establishing ocean energy power stations and creating intelligent spam filters, the eight companies will be “pitching technology with market disrupting potential” to a select group drawn from local companies and market leaders such as Google and BT.

The pitch platform is centrepiece to NISP CONNECT’s inaugural ‘Tech Exiles’ event which is sponsored by the Bank of Ireland and University of Ulster. ‘Tech Exiles’ will be held on December 29 at NISP’s Titanic’s Dock & Pump House.

Top figures from the local business community and representatives of venture capital funds like Tate & Lyle Ventures will also be among the 120 professionals attending.

After an intensive competition, the companies shortlisted were: SCI Labs; Titan IC; SiSaf; Dialogue Design; Pure Marine Gen; Vertical Wind Energy; Media Lightbox; and Sonic Academy. Two companies will pitch in each of four key sectors: hitech; biotech; cleantech; and digital media sectors.

NISP CONNECT Director Steve Orr – who returned from San Diego last year after co-founding Inc 500-listed company Kineticom – said that ‘Tech Exiles’ was designed to involve knowledge networks, inspire the venture capital community and develop pan-sector interactivity.

“There was considerable competition from start-ups in winning the opportunity to pitch to the ‘Tech Exiles’ audience. The standard was incredibly high, and we’re very pleased to be able to put these eight companies in front of top-tier executives and investors,” Orr explained.

Attending the event will be Google’s director of Sales and Operations, Stephen Lusty who said that ‘Tech Exiles’ could be instrumental in tapping into the vast array of talent and goodwill residing outside Northern Ireland’s borders.

“Not only is it crucial for start-ups to gain access to knowledge, skills, access and capital, but it is important that we spread the word about tech excellence in our region,” he said.

“Having developed businesses in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, China and India, I can say that the talent we have here is second to none. But we must bring together knowledge silos and develop joined-up strategies to promote our commercial potential. NISP CONNECT’s ‘Tech Exiles’ have a key role to play in this.

‘Tech Exiles’ aims to expand knowledge-based industries here by bringing together Northern Ireland-born tech professionals overseas with key figures in the local start-up community,” Lusty added.

Sponsors for each of the four categories are: Bank of Ireland (Hi-tech); University of Ulster (Biotech); Invest NI (digital media and software); the Halo angel investor network (Clean-tech). Also sponsoring are: A&L Goodbody; Arthur Cox; Forde Law; FR Kelly; MSL; Murgitroyd and

The ‘Tech Exiles’ event will be held at Titanic’s Dock & Pump House at NISP between 6pm and 9pm on December 29. Science and tech exiles will be welcome to register to attend at up until the day of the 29th itself.

By John Kennedy

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