The digital business week

19 Jul 2010

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

IDA secures 63 investments – pipeline for FDI is strong

In just the first six months of 2010, IDA Ireland has secured 63 strategic investments – 20 of them Greenfield investments and 21 of them in major R&D investments – and the well-performing State agency said the pipeline to win more investments is strong.

Ireland is now one of the world’s most attractive locations for foreign direct investment (FDI), hosting operations from eight out of the top 10 ICT companies, eight out of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 15 of the top 20 medical device companies.

The State agency said a number of key trends are driving the current success in FDI in Ireland, including the growth in the US technology sector, growing trends in clean tech, an improvement in Ireland’s competitiveness, currency movements and an overall global recovery in FDI.

The first six months of 2010 are indicative of a country that may be down, but is not out by any means.

The country is attracting major names in the worlds of ICT, with both LinkedIn and Zynga announcing European operations in Dublin, Global Stream Services which is creating 400 jobs, and EA Games creating 200 jobs in Galway.

“A number of factors have contributed to a positive first half of 2010 for FDI,” said IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’Leary. “Ireland’s increased competitiveness and leanings towards an upturn in the world economy combined with Ireland’s excellent corporate tax regime, talent, track record and technology capability have lead to investments in the Services Sector from Zurich, EA, Hertz, Dun and Bradstreet and Stream Global Services.

“Investments in research, development and innovation (RD&I) have come from IBM, United Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent while manufacturing announcements highlight a strong regional aspect with investments from MCi (Leitrim), Merit Medical (Galway), Warner Chilcott (Dundalk) and Valeo (Tuam) in addition to investments in Dublin announced by Lufthansa Technik and Biotrin.

“IDA’s pipeline for FDI remains positive and while we face strong competition, our focus on achieving transformation by working with client companies to promote company-wide competitiveness initiatives, technology uplift, skills uplift, research and development, process development and energy efficiency means IDA is confident of its ability to continue to secure the best in FDI for Ireland.”

Hundreds of consumers hit by collapse

Hundreds of Irish consumers are understood to have been hit by the collapse of the online travel reservation company The company announced on Tuesday night that it is involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is advising any customers who made bookings on the site to ask a licensed travel agent to help them confirm/rebook their accommodation.

“Thanks to the totally outdated travel licensing regime in this country, 1800Hotels did not have to provide a bond to protect consumers,” said ITAA chief executive Simon Nugent.

“We recommend that customers who need to rebook accommodation ask a licensed and bonded ITAA travel agent for help.  ITAA members have a better chance of rebooking customers’ rooms at, or close to, the rate originally quoted.  And of course, if people book through a licensed agent, their money is protected by our bonding scheme.

Buy4Now inks €0.5m international contract

Irish technology firm Buy4Now has signed a contract worth half a million with US supermarket chain Roches Bros to provide a new e-grocery shopping site.

Buy4Now Technology Group will build and deploy Irish software services to the grocers, which will serve as an online shopping site for its customers from the 18 supermarkets across the greater Boston area.

With this €500,000 software contract, the Buy4Now-created e-commerce site for Roches Bros will include hosting of the software suite, order fulfilment and helpdesk software.

The contract follows Buy4Now’s earlier announcement of an export drive with an emphasis on R&D through 20 new jobs that will be created over the next two years.

“Having a robust offer with a strong track record in the e-grocery space proved significant in winning this international contract for our software services and proves that we as an Irish company have the products and services to compete in the international market,” said Michael Veale, CEO, Buy4Now Technology Group.

Intel reports a US$10.8bn quarter – best in 42-year history

Chip giant Intel reported a second-quarter revenue figure of US$10.8bn, up 34pc on last year. The performance was driven by strong demand for advanced microprocessors.

The company reported operating income of US$4.0bn, net income of US$2.9bn and EPS of 51 cents.

“Strong demand from corporate customers for our most advanced microprocessors helped Intel achieve the best quarter in the company’s 42-year history,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO.

“Our process technology lead plus compelling architectural designs increasingly differentiate Intel-based products in the marketplace. The PC and server segments are healthy and the demand for leading-edge technology will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.”

Google revenues up 24pc, growth across all areas

Search and online advertising giant Google reported a 24pc increase in revenues for the second quarter reaching US$6.8bn – driven by strong growth in the company’s emerging businesses.

“Google had a strong second quarter,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. “Solid growth in our core business and very strong growth in our emerging businesses drove 24pc revenue growth year over year.

“We saw strength in every major product area, as more and more traditional brand advertisers embraced search advertising and as large advertisers increasingly ran integrated campaigns across search, display and mobile.

“We feel confident about our future, and plan to continue to invest aggressively in our core areas of strategic focus,” Schmidt said.

Google employs 1,500 people in Dublin and is rumoured to be expanding with a further 500 jobs and new European headquarter buildings.

Microsoft co-founder pledges fortune to philanthropy

The co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen has pledged the majority of his estimated US$13.5bn fortune to philanthropy following his death.

Allen set up his own charitable foundation, the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, 20 years ago.

Over the past 20 years, Allen’s contributions to the foundation have resulted in more than 3,000 grants totalling more than US$400m. In addition to contributions to his family foundation, he has provided US$600m directly to non-profits he has founded for a total of more than US$1bn in personal giving.

“I want to announce that my philanthropic efforts will continue after my lifetime,” Allen said in a statement. “I’ve planned for many years now that the majority of my estate will be left to philanthropy to continue the work of the foundation and to fund non-profit scientific research.”

Allen (57) founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975 but retired from the company in 1983. He is the 37th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

Irish companies strike $5m in US deals

Irish technology firms dominate the announcement of new US deals totalling US$5m, all of which were struck during the course of the Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s three-day economic visit to the US last week.

Among those firms announcing new US contracts was Ireland-based Accuris Networks. The company, which specialises in roaming interworking and device management technology, inked a deal worth a combined value of US$2.7m with three leading US wireless services providers. 

Meanwhile, Bord na Mona’s US subsidiary, Bord na Mona Environmental Products US, which provides water reuse, wastewater and odour-control treatment technologies, announced a partnership agreement with All Tech Environmental (All Tech).

Ireland-based Airtel ATN, which is a supplier of aeronautical telecommunications network (ATN) software to the global aerospace industry, also struck a deal to provide key data link software, avionics test equipment and development services to several US-based companies and research organisations involved in the design and implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen Air Transportation System (ATS) program.