Silicon Valley execs to converge in southeast for Techovate 2012

8 Feb 2012

(From back) Brendan Ennis, founder of Techovate 2012, with alto Catherine Walsh at the Wexford Opera House. (From front) Fred Karlsson, founder, DoneDeal, and Colin Browne, director of Business Operations, EMEA, Microsoft

Senior executives from some of the world’s leading tech firms will be pooling their resources with some of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs at Techovate 2012, a two-day business event aimed at helping companies in the southeast of Ireland innovate using technology.

The two-day event will be held in Wexford Opera House on 21-22 March.

Organised by Innovation Wexford and The Fuse Initiative, the conference came about after a group of entrepreneurs in the southeast decided to tackle the region’s enterprise drive for themselves. They headed over to Silicon Valley and knocked on doors to forge links with the diaspora in Northern California. Their aim was to network and make connections to help develop growth within the Irish SME sector.

“We saw a unique opportunity to develop growth within the Irish SME sector by forging stronger links with the diaspora in Northern California. We simply got on a plane and flew out to see them and were welcomed with open arms,” explained Brendan Ennis, founder of Techovate and group chief executive at Innovation Wexford.

And the result? Senior executives from some IT giants, including Microsoft, Google, IBM, Facebook and LinkedIn, will be at the Techovate conference to share with local entrepreneurs how to innovate and survive in the challenging economic climate.

Speakers will include Carlow-born Lorraine Twohill, Google’s vice-president of Global Marketing, Colin Brown, director of business operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) with Microsoft; Claire Hayes, managing director, Emerging Company Services, PWC; and Conrad Burke, general manager, Innovalight Dupont.

Notable entrepreneurs to emerge from the southeast include Terry Clune of, David Walsh of Netwatch and Fred Karlsson of DoneDeal. They will also be sharing insights from their own entrepreneurial journeys at Techovate.

Business success

One of the highlights of the conference will be a session focusing on how to execute for business success, including top tips from five of the world’s largest companies.

Techovate 2012 will use dialogue, seminars and workshops to show businesspeople how they can use technology to grow their business in a fast-moving global marketplace. The 48-hour event will also feature Techovate Interact, where people can experience the latest Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft technologies.

And select Irish companies will also be able to pitch their businesses at the Techovate Showcase.

Ennis said Techovate has had “phenomenal support” from vice-presidents and directors of these global companies. He said they had volunteered their time to address the conference in person or via video link and attend forums and panel discussions. Ennis also cited Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland’s support in helping foster relationships between Techovate and the global technology leaders taking part in the conference.

Fred Karlsson, founder of DoneDeal, spoke about how the internet is quickly changing every business. “This creates lots of opportunities for new businesses, but also a lot of challenges for existing businesses,” he said. has its office in Wexford Town.

Innovation Wexford itself is a not-for-profit job creation organisation with a community focused approach to enterprise development. Up to now it has helped in the creation of more than 800 jobs and has supported the establishment and development of more than 100 companies. The FUSE Initiative is a group of 250 entrepreneurs and businesspeople aimed at promoting business growth in the southeast.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic