Enterprise Ireland in SME software deal with Microsoft


31 Jan 2006

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Enterprise Ireland (EI) has become the first development agency in Europe to enter into a formal agreement with Microsoft’s Intellectual Property (IP) Ventures programme to facilitate product and business development for entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Under the programme, Microsoft opens up internally developed technologies to government agencies such as EI, which in turn work with the local start-up and venture capital community to encourage business growth and deliver innovative technology to new markets.

Microsoft senior vice-president Brad Smith was in Lisbon this week to expand Microsoft’s IP Ventures arm into Europe in terms of collaborating with European government and public sector development agencies. “By extending the reach of IP Ventures through government agencies, new businesses will bring more technology to market, faster and they’ll also contribute back to local economies,” Smith explained.

Already usage of internally developed Microsoft technologies has enabled Dublin IT services company Softedge Systems to realise rapid growth and quick time to market with its digital media technology. The company has agreed with Microsoft’s IP Ventures to license Interactive Image Cutout, an easy-to-use method for manipulating and moving objects in pictures and photographs.

Minister for State Tom Parlon TD welcomed the Microsoft/Softedge collaboration. He said: “The announcement today of a licensing agreement between IP Ventures and Softedge Systems is a major achievement for an Irish SME. It is a European-first for EI that will help fast track the growth and internationalisation of Softedge Systems in global markets.

“This level of support is exactly the type of help that SMEs need in order to get a real foothold in the industry,” added Vikas Sahni, CEO of Softedge.

Michele Quinn, director of the Irish Software Association, explained that having access to innovative technologies through Microsoft’s IP Ventures programme will act as a catalyst in the development of a company’s growth. “One of the biggest challenges facing SMEs in the technology sector in Ireland is the costs associated with bringing products to market in a fast time frame,” she explained.

By John Kennedy