Schwarzenegger to award innovative Irish tech firms

12 Mar 2010

California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger is to be the keynote speaker at the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) Awards at Stanford University on Monday night, has learned.

The awards on Monday 15 March will recognise a number of promising young Irish technology companies that have the potential to grow to US$100m-plus players.

Schwarzenegger will deliver his keynote alongside former CEO and chairman of Intel Craig Barrett.

Cisco senior vice-president Barry O’Sullivan told that the awards will recognise a number of companies, including the best new company and the most innovative company.

Last year, Limerick chip firm Powervation received the innovation award for the company’s research successes, management team, product strategy and growth potential. Also recognised last year was OpenHydro, which won the Renewable Energy Award for innovation in the design and manufacture of marine turbines for generating renewable energy from tidal streams.

At least six firms are coming over for the night and O’Sullivan said the plan is to introduce them to top players in Silicon Valley.

O’Sullivan said that the time is right for Irish technology companies looking at achieving fast growth because many eyes are on the country right now. “It’s the right time, the stars are aligning.”

He said that if Ireland executes on all of the recommendations published yesterday by the Innovation Taskforce, the country will have many large and successful smart economy companies, particularly the recommendations around venture capital.

He said that in particular the challenge is to get a large number of start-ups up and running and key to this is activity at the front end.”

He said the recommendation to create bonus points for maths was vital. “What is vital is maths and science and we need more technically literate people coming out of universities and the point about honours maths is particularly pertinent. We’ve got a very straightforward and transparent way of selecting people around the CAO system but unfortunately the kids have become experts in optimising their efforts for the maximum number of points. It’s easier to get an A in home economics than maths.

“We need more people doing better at maths and choosing careers like engineering. It’s about supply.

“I’m really positive about the recommendations and if we execute now on these we will really get into a world leadership position.

“The world is watching and will be watching to see if we are serious. There are a lot of recommendations in the Innovation Taskforce report and the world will judge in 2010 if we are serious or not.

“This is an opportunity for Ireland to regrow and sustain that growth.”

O’Sullivan said that there is some debate over what will be the jobs of the future in Ireland and people have complained that some of the new jobs being created in R&D operations, for example, aren’t ordinary jobs.

O’Sullivan says people are missing the point. “In 2020, there will be no ordinary jobs in Ireland. We need to come up with extraordinary jobs.”

“The ordinary jobs will be in low-cost locations where all the manufacturing will be done. We need to move beyond ordinary jobs and create extraordinary jobs.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger

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