Silicon Valley leaders remind start-ups of US$50m war chest

17 Oct 2008

American venture capitalists will next month arrive in Dublin with a US$50m war chest, ready to invest specifically in Irish technology start-ups. A spokesman for the Silicon Valley delegation promises it will be a Dragon’s Den-like experience.

The Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG), consisting of senior management from major Silicon Valley companies such as Cisco, Intel and Palm, will be leading a delegation of dignitaries and venture capitalists from the beating heart of the world’s technology industry to Dublin next month.

Keynote speakers for the event will include two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent civic and industry leaders, Carl Guardino, president of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Tom McEnery, former Mayor of San Jose. A number of leading US-based financial intuitions, entrepreneurs and private equity firms will also attend the two-day proceedings.

Cisco Systems and Microsoft Ireland will be the title sponsors of the two-day event, where early-stage and mature Irish technology companies with ambitions of accessing the US markets will meet with business leaders, policy-makers and key industry organisations from Silicon Valley.

An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, will address attendees at a special reception during the event, which will conclude with a gala dinner attended on behalf of the Government by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD.

Ireland’s best prospect for its future economic success is to innovate its way out of the current global downturn,” commented John Hartnett, chairman of the ITLG.

“This past spring, at Stanford University, the ITLG honoured a number of Irish technology companies for their achievements and potential to expand into the US market.

“Now, in partnership with technology sector leaders Microsoft and Cisco we are meeting at another great institution, Trinity College Dublin, to encourage more innovative Irish firms to engage with Silicon Valley and seek to avail of the resources available to companies there,” Hartnett said.

Commenting about its decision to sponsor this important event, Microsoft Ireland managing director, Paul Rellis, said that driving, promoting and harnessing innovation is critical if Ireland is to return to the level of economic growth that we have experienced in recent times.

“Indigenous Irish companies that have their own IP and that are focused on expansion during these difficult times have the potential to play a key role in Ireland’s economic recovery. The upcoming ITLG event will provide an ideal platform for these companies to explore opportunities for expansion into the US, and potentially gives them access to investment capital. We are delighted to sponsor this initiative, and would love to see some successful partnerships coming out of the two-day event.”

On both Tuesday, 18 November and Wednesday, 19 November, Irish companies will engage in ‘closed door’ review sessions, where a number of firms will have the opportunity to engage directly with members of the Silicon Valley delegation.

Wednesday’s activities also includes a CEO panel discussion sponsored by Matheson Ormsby Prentice, and a cocktail reception and gala dinner hosted by Intel Capital. Additional event sponsors include Aer Lingus, The Westbury Hotel and Trinity College Dublin.

“Both product and service innovation will be key elements of any future economic growth in both Ireland and the US,” explained Kim Majerus, country director, Cisco Ireland.

“We need to leverage the strong relationships between innovative technology companies, particularly those with a presence in both Ireland and Silicon Valley, to support this. With Cisco operations based in Dublin and an R&D centre in Galway running in tandem with our US operations, Cisco will help drive such business efforts.”

Established in October 2007, the ITLG is a group of high-level technology leaders in Silicon Valley who are Irish or Irish-American. The ITLG includes senior executives from some of the Valley’s leading corporations, each of whom are committed to helping Ireland face up to the issues and challenges of embracing new technology opportunities.

The ITLG leadership team includes John Hartnett, senior vice-president of Palm, Conrad Burke, president and CEO of Innovalight, John Gilmore, chief operating officer of Sling Media, Rory McInerney, vice-president at Intel Corporation, and Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice-president at Cisco.

By John Kennedy

Pictured at the announcement that Cisco Systems and Microsoft Ireland have been confirmed as title sponsors of a major Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) event to link high-potential local companies with Silicon Valley leaders at Trinity College Dublin were (l-r), Paul Rellis, MD Microsoft Ireland, Kim Majerus, country director, CiscIreland and John Hartnett, chairman of the ITLG

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