Northern Ireland seeks the return of the tech exiles

24 Oct 2008

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Northern Ireland’s rich tapestry network of technology professionals living overseas are being called on to take part in its very own silicon revolution.

NISP Connect aims to bring Northern Ireland’s top tech exiles together for a major annual networking event that will help to expand knowledge-based industries in the region.

The director of NISP Connect, Steve Orr – who returned from San Diego last year after co-founding Inc 500-listed company Kineticom – said that this December’s inaugural ‘Tech Exiles’ event was designed to involve knowledge networks, inspire the venture capital community and develop interactivity across key sectors.

He said it makes sense to look beyond Northern Ireland’s borders and into international markets where local innovators are well-represented.

“Over the years, Northern Ireland’s education system has continuously produced highly-skilled and innovative individuals. So often talented graduates saw little opportunity at home and left these shores to go overseas.

“Many will have retained a deep affection for Northern Ireland and are now ready to contribute to venture start-ups. So it makes sense to create a forum where well-connected people working overseas can support and contribute to the local tech sector, and play their part in a growing ‘silicon revolution’ in Northern Ireland.”

Tech Exiles will be held on December 29 in the newly refurbished Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House at Northern Ireland Science Park. It is anticipated that leading entrepreneurs, executives, engineers, scientists, corporate finance professionals, lawyers and investors will be among those attending.

In addition to bringing together well-connected, experienced individuals, the event will feature quick pitches from eight promising local ventures across four categories: Hitech, Biotech, CleanTech, and Digital Media.

A team from University of Ulster will also be on hand to showcase its portfolio of science and technology spin-out companies, and offer its support as category sponsor for the event.

Tim Brundle, director of innovation at the University of Ulster, and member of the Advanced Engineering MATRIX Horizon Panel, said: “The recent Matrix panel report called for new industry-led ‘innovation communities’ and a shift in cultural thinking so as to promote the local knowledge-base. This is precisely what Tech Exiles is gearing up to do – it’s a great example of how the private sector is rallying together to support a very clear need. That’s why University of Ulster is very pleased to be associated with this event.”

Other general sponsors for the event include: A&L Goodbody; Arthur Cox; Forde Law; FR Kelly; MSL; Murgitroyd and NiftyNosh.com.

“This is a really exciting time in Northern Ireland,” said Martin McLean, senior business banking manager, of Bank of Ireland.

“We are seeing world-class business propositions emerge from our research base. There is a buzz generating about what’s going on in the local tech sector, and we hope to see Northern Ireland capitalise by broadening knowledge networks and instigating further venture start-ups,” McLean added.

For more information on the event go to: http://www.nisp.co.uk/TECH-EXILES.ASPX.

By John Kennedy

Pictured:  Honorary Consul for Germany, and NISP Chairman, Frank Hewitt (left) joins the high-tech campaign reaching out to Northern Ireland’s top tech talent now resident in Europe and further afield. NISP CONNECT director, Steve Orr, and sponsors Tim Brundle (University of Ulster) and Lisa McCrink (Bank of Ireland) have joined forces to create the forum for local start-up ventures to gain access and advice from NI’s top tech talent living overseas

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com