Obama administration selects ITLG to spearhead global engagement with diaspora

26 Jul 2012

ITLG president and founder John Hartnett with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Belfast recently

The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) has been selected by US President Barack Obama’s administration to spearhead US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Global Diaspora Forum which aims to engage with not only the Irish diaspora but the diaspora from India, China, Israel and other nations.

In Washington yesterday, John Hartnett, president and founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, announced the launch of a Silicon Valley base for the International diaspora Engagement Alliance at the U.S. Secretary of State’s Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum.

Speaking on a panel following Clinton, Hartnett discussed the prospects for global diaspora engagement in Silicon Valley.

“The global diaspora is a critical part of the secretary’s strategy for development and diplomacy, and I am honoured to lead outreach with Silicon Valley Global Diaspora,” said Hartnett at the forum.

“Silicon Valley continues to be the No 1 destination for global entrepreneurs from around the world and it is an integral part of the US strategy to unite the global diaspora,” Hartnett added.

Hartnett established the ITLG several years ago because he realised that unlike other diaspora groups in the US, such as Israel, the Irish diaspora had failed to mobilise to help tech firms from Ireland to achieve success in the US.

The movement grew rapidly to engage with hundreds of senior Irish executives in Fortune 500 companies, venture capital firms and leading tech start-ups. Former Intel CEO and chairman Craig Barrett came on board as chairman, the ITLG established a headquarters in downtown San Jose, California, and created its own venture capital firm, Irish Technology Capital.

It has grown to include outposts not only in Silicon Valley but also Wall Street and Hollywood, and has grown global dimensions, uniting technology executives of Irish descent in other geographies across the world, including Europe and Asia.

The group’s most recent annual summit in Silicon Valley was one of the best attended ,with more than 1,000 executives, including senior executives from Facebook, Google, Andreessen Horowitz, Elevation Partners, Intel, HP, Cisco and many more attending. A forthcoming ITLG summit in Hollywood will endeavour to unite diaspora along the themes of digital media, content and creativity in the 21st century.

In many ways, the ITLG has become the template for rapid and effective engagement with the global diaspora and therefore a model for success.

Uniting all diaspora

“We are delighted that John Hartnett has agreed to lead the Silicon Valley Global Diaspora,” said Kris Balderston, special representative for global partnerships at Clinton’s Global Partnership Initiative.

“John brings decades of experience and understanding of how the diaspora can be focused and organised to provide a powerful market gateway and supporting business network to their nation of origin.”

The news was welcomed by fellow members of the ITLG. “There are many powerful diaspora networks in Silicon Valley – India , China, Israel – but the Obama administration and secretary Clinton have selected ITLG to lead this initiative in Silicon valley,” pointed out Cisco senior vice-president Barry O’Sullivan. “Nothing short of amazing.”

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