Irish clean-tech entrepreneurs tipped for major growth

29 Sep 2009

The Irish clean-tech sector has experienced 200pc growth in exports and this week 12 start-ups in the area are in Silicon Valley, the nerve centre of the burgeoning clean-tech sector, to win business and investment.

The CEOs of 12 Irish clean-tech companies are visiting Silicon Valley this week as part of Enterprise Ireland’s first dedicated clean tech trade mission.

The aim of the visit is to enable the companies to engage with the region’s clean-tech influencers, establish connections with strategic partners and showcase their technologies to local innovators, venture capitalists and potential buyers. 

Enterprise Ireland has 144 client companies in the clean-tech sector operating across established sub-sectors such as waste and water and emerging sub-sectors such as renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. These companies employ almost 3,400 people and achieved export sales of €117m in 2008. 

The 12 companies participating in the mission represent some of the best of Ireland’s clean-tech innovation, including new-generation bio-fuels, inventive solar solutions and a unique technology to harness ocean energy and deliver electricity to the on-shore grid.

There are also software technologies for energy monitoring and control, and a novel approach to manage household and industrial waste. Each of the companies participating on this mission has a proven product or service based on a solid approach to research and development. 

“The Clean Tech sector is rapidly expanding and has seen export growth of over 200pc between 2005 and 2007,” Enterprise Ireland’s Environment and Life Sciences manager Marina Donohoe explained.

“Several indigenous companies have capitalised on the opportunities that have arisen from legislation and have developed novel technological offerings.

“Ireland’s clean-tech sector has traditionally been domestically focused but worldwide demand for such products and services is growing rapidly. Enterprise Ireland is therefore working to help Irish clean-tech companies increase their international reach by building exporting capability within Irish clean-tech companies and introducing clients quickly to international market opportunities in key overseas markets.”

“Silicon Valley is the nerve centre of global clean-tech ingenuity and a primary target market for Ireland’s clean-tech products and services. This mission visit is aimed at helping them to secure key technical, financial and market partnerships in the US,” Donohoe added.

Companies participating in the trade mission include:

AER: Uses advanced enzyme technology to convert algae and other natural resources into next-generation biofuels for the worldwide market. AER’s proprietary approach is faster, more efficient and more cost-effective than prior-generation conversion technologies. AER is also the leading supplier of biofuels to the Irish market.

Automsoft: Provides data-management solutions for the utilities, life sciences, oil and gas, mining, and pulp and paper industries.

BioSpark: A joint venture between Sustainable BioPolymers and Imperative Energy Ltd. The organisation utilises next-generation technology to convert organic materials, such as straw and wood biomass into bio-based products like ethanol, lactic acid, lignin, methane and hydrogen.

Episensor: Develops sensors, routers and monitoring software for energy saving in street-light control systems. Using open-standard ZigBee wireless networking protocols, together with Episensor’s electricity metering technology, savings of 30-70pc in operating costs have been achieved.

Kedco: Instals, operates and maintains power generators on partner sites using the partner’s waste product as feedstock. The waste is converted into energy, via anaerobic digestion or gasification technologies using combined heat and power or CHP units, and transferred into the national energy grid.

Phive: Designs and manufactures plasma sources for incorporation into PECVD equipment for the manufacture of thin-film silicon photovoltaic products.

ResourceKraft: Provides automatic, real-time monitoring and targeting equipment to measure and control electricity, oil and gas usage.

ServusNet: Provides Operations and Maintenance (O&M), and Operational Intelligence (OI) software solutions for wind farms and other distributed energy-generation technologies.

SolarPrint: Developing dye sensitised solar cell (DSSC) technology for cheap solar power aimed at consumer electronics. It’s a third-generation printable flexible solar-cell technology that uses abundant, cheap raw materials and employs a low-cost, fast and easy manufacturing process.

Surface Power: Designs, manufactures and distributes renewable energy equipment.

The City Bin Co: Provides software for waste and recycling services that promotes behaviour-changing characteristics with respect to how people, companies and local government authorities manage waste.

Wavebob: Wavebob is a technology company specialising in ocean wave energy conversion. The company is one of the first in the industry to succeed in producing electricity from the power of ocean swells.

By John Kennedy

Photo: A solar house uses solar-cell technology.

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