Silicon Valley veteran to receive Spirit of Ireland Award

25 Nov 2010

A founding father of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) John Hartnett is to be presented with the Spirit of Ireland Award for his work in fostering a strong relationship between Silicon Valley’s home city San Jose and Dublin.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the San José – Dublin Sister City Program, making the SOI award very special indeed.

In previous years, the award has been presented to individuals, companies and organisations whose accomplishments have exemplified the strong relationship between San José and Dublin, as well as Silicon Valley and Ireland.

A native of Limerick, Hartnett is president and founder of the ITLG, which was established in October 2007.

The group is committed to helping Ireland address the challenges of embracing new technology opportunities.

Leadership team

The ITLG’s core leadership team is comprised of a number of high-level leaders in Silicon Valley who are Irish or Irish-American, including Rory McInerney, vice-president, Intel Corporation; John Gilmore, senior vice-president and general manager, Sling Media, Inc.; Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice-president, Cisco; and Conrad Burke, president and CEO, Innovalight, Inc.

Hartnett is also the founder of Irish Technology Capital (ITC) and the Irish Innovation Centre (IIC).

Located in the heart of downtown San José, the IIC is the Silicon Valley launching pad for Irish technology companies, providing entrepreneurs access to venture capital firms, customers, suppliers and employees to enable their companies to grow and thrive.

The centre provides flexible office space, reception, administrative, legal, financial, human resource and IT support to resident companies.

Hartnett annually leads the Silicon Valley Comes to Ireland tour, which was kicked off 16 November at the University of Limerick and included a stop at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Keynote speakers include Dr Craig Barrett, ITLG chairman and former CEO of Intel, and Batt O’Keeffe, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

Hartnett is also spearheading a major initiative to establish a direct flight from the Bay Area to Ireland to foster more efficient business connections between Silicon Valley and Ireland.

“John’s exemplary leadership in establishing a powerful business network between Silicon Valley and Ireland and his bold initiative to provide an incubation centre to give Irish entrepreneurs access to the vibrant business breeding ground that is Silicon Valley are outstanding examples our Sister City Program seeks to recognise and reward,” said Conor O’Mahony, president of the San José – Dublin Sister City Program.

Sister cities

Established in 1986, the mission of the all-volunteer San José – Dublin Sister City Program is to develop business, civic, cultural, artistic and sporting ties between San José and Dublin, as well as between Silicon Valley and Ireland.

For the past 24 years, the San José – Dublin Sister City Program, together with the City of San José Office of Economic Development, has organised Irish Week, during which the Lord Mayor of Dublin and a delegation of civic and business leaders are welcomed to San José.

Irish Week includes a traditional welcome breakfast, flag-raising ceremony at San José City Hall by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the mayor of San José, business meetings, cultural events and other activities. The highlight of the week is the Spirit of Ireland Award Banquet.

Net proceeds from Irish Week will help provide essential support for ongoing programs with substantial benefit to both San José and Dublin.

These programs include a scholarship fund for students participating in the San José State University/University College Dublin exchange program, advocacy for non-stop flights between Silicon Valley and Dublin, enhanced business communications, and a variety of cultural exchanges between museums, libraries and artistic organisations in both cities.

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