The digital business week

14 Jun 2010

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

Irish firm in landmark research deal with Taiwanese govt

Irish energy technology company SolarPrint, which develops photo-voltaic (PV) energy technologies, has announced it has entered into a research partnership agreement with the Taiwanese Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), one of the largest research centres of its kind in the world, with a budget of more than US$500m.

The partnership is for the joint development of new PV solutions that can be used in consumer applications.

PV technology involves the conversion of light – not just sunlight – into energy. It is growing in research significance for governments and industry, as the world moves towards environmentally friendly energy production technologies.

Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that has been signed by SolarPrint and the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the company will collaborate with ITRI on the development of PV technologies that can be used in consumer devices, such as mobile phones and laptops.

Tech firm creates 25 new jobs to fuel global expansion

Irish company Celtrino, formerly known as Celerity, is to double its workforce to 50 people as it moves to take at advantage of international demand for more integrated business processes between trading partners.

The new positions will be created across a range of functions, from software development and customer care, to marketing and sales.

Established in 1990 and currently employing 25 people, Celtrino has built a successful business to date, providing a suite of software applications that automate many of the business processes around the entire trading cycle, including pricing, ordering, delivering, accounts payable, accounts receivable and statements/remittances.

Celtrino currently processes in excess of 16 million invoices annually through its Celtrino platform. Among its 600 customers are leading brands such as the Musgrave Group, BWG Foods, Unilever, Campbell Catering, Beaumex, HSE, Pat the Baker, Londis Group and Gala Retail Services.

Skills learned from multinationals can drive growth

Ireland has developed particular technological, manufacturing and managerial capabilities from multinationals in operation here which it can now use to drive economic growth, a new report has suggested.

The Lucerna Project Report on Capability Transformation and Competitiveness, which was launched last week, is based on a new industry database developed over three years at the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) at NUI Galway.

The Lucerna database consists of company and product-related information. It includes details from rapidly growing companies, those in transition and foreign multinational subsidiaries and aims to allow for a deeper understanding of technological change and industrial development in Ireland by identifying key industrial clusters that are creating a competitive position for the country.

The database details firms and the products they make – single or multiple – and the sectors they operate in, as many firms, particularly large ones, operate in more than one sector. According to CISC, companies that straddle industry boundaries are most important in understanding industrial change and renewal as firms transition into new industries and products. 

Staff at CISC hope that the database they have created will allow policy-makers and academics to answer key questions on the genesis and sustainability of Irish indigenous industry. 

Robust rise in profits for Norkom Group

The Irish financial software firm Norkom Group has reported a robust rise in profits for its financial year to the end of March.

The company said it grew its pre-tax profits to €7.45m from the €4.9m pre-tax profits reported during its previous financial year.

Revenues rose 3pc to €49.3m during the year. The company pointed to the continued strong revenue growth of 14pc to €9m recorded in Asia Pacific and a 15pc rise in revenues to €9.3m in its Ireland, UK & Rest of the World (ROW) division during the year. The latter growth came mainly from the Middle East, Norkom said, where it acquired five new clients during 2010.

According to Norkom, revenue growth came from both incremental contracts, with more than 90pc of existing clients re-investing in Norkom’s solutions, and also from new contracts, with 16 new name clients secured in 2010. Norkom said its total client base now numbers 119, which includes seven of the Top 10 global banks.

Business contact centre to create 500 jobs

Business outsourcing firm Firstsource Solutions is to create 500 jobs as a result of opening a new contact centre.

The company, which employs 1,800 people in Northern Ireland, said it planned to expand into a renovated building in Middlesbrough.

“This investment builds on our long-term plans for the UK as we need to service potential clients who require contact centre expertise in the UK,” a company spokesman said.

Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon deemed it great news that Firstsource Solutions recognised Middlesbrough as the ideal location for the latest phase in their expansion.

“The creation of 300 jobs in the first instance, and a further 200 jobs in the future will have a significant impact on the town,” he said.

Online manufacturing giant creates 50 new Drogheda jobs

An online firm that matches buyers with suppliers in the global manufacturing sector is creating 50 new jobs in Drogheda, Co Louth, the Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe TD has said. is the world’s largest online sourcing marketplace for the manufacturing sector.

The 50 positions will be created over the next two years in a new Operations Centre serving Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). connects buyers with suppliers in the global manufacturing sector and allows them to trade online.

Billions of dollars worth of discrete manufacturing services, industrial components and textiles has been sourced on the website since 2000.

Functions such as sales, human resources and customer technical support will be based in the Operations Centre in Drogheda. Recruitment starts immediately.

Irish biotech firm secures €750,000 investment

Kerry-based biotechnology company BioAtlantis has secured a €750,000 investment from the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Fund.

BioAtlantis is involved in the research, development and manufacture of plant biostimulants and animal prebiotics using molecules derived from seaweeds, with scope for future development of human nutraceuticals.

The company’s lead products are biostimulants and GutCare. Biostimulants are used for promoting plant health and growth and BioAtlantis markets its biostimulant range of products in more than 22 countries.

According to BioAtlantis, an EU-wide ban on the use of growth-promoting antibiotics in animal feed has created a market for its GutCare product, which has been developed as an alternative to antibiotics in intensively farmed post-weaned piglets. GutCare trials are also expected to commence later this year in the poultry industry. 

BioAtlantis is based in the Kerry Technology Park in Tralee and has its processing facility in Kanturk, Co Cork.