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'SOUTH-EAST HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME THE SILICON VALLEY OF IRELAND' - SHERLOCK

Leading business and technology companies gather at Wexford Opera House for Techovate 2012

21st March 2012

The South East has the potential to become the Silicon Valley of Ireland, and is an ideal location for technology companies to establish and provide employment, Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, said today.

Speaking at the opening of Techovate 2012, an inspiring two-day business which will be attended by senior executives from the world’s biggest technology companies in the stunning surroundings of the Wexford Opera House, Minister Sherlock said bringing fresh ideas from the research environment needs to be encouraged and will create much needed employment and generate increased exports, both of which are critical to our economic recovery.

Techovate 2012 - which will be attended by up to 400 Irish businesses of all sizes and stages of development - will bring Silicon Valley to the South-East giving business owners the opportunity to interact with and learn from senior executives of the worlds most successful companies including Microsoft, Cisco, Google, IBM, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Techovate 2012 will also feature Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs telling how they made it happen including Terry Clune of Taxback, David Walsh of Netwatch and Fred Karlsson of DoneDeal. One of the highlights of the conference will be a session focusing on how to execute for business success, including top tips from 5 of the world’s largest companies.

Minister Sherlock congratulated Innovation Wexford and The Fuse Initiative, for organising Techovate 2012, which will use dialogue, seminars and workshops to show business people how they can use technology to grow their business in a fast-moving global marketplace. Attendees will have exclusive access to feature keynote presentations, intimate discussion forums and interactive networking events all against the backdrop of one of Ireland's most inspirational venues, Wexford Opera House.

Minister Sherlock last month launched ‘New Frontiers', Ireland's largest entrepreneur development programme which will be delivered locally by 13 Irish Institutes of Technology. The focus of the New Frontiers programme is developing people into entrepreneurs and laying the foundations and imparting the entrepreneurship skills needed to move from business concept to reality.

“By giving the individuals the skills they need to successfully set up and run a company, they will be capable of replicating that success with other ideas in the future. The New Frontiers Programme forms part of one of the action points set out in the Government's recently announced ‘Action Plan for Jobs' and will have the potential to deliver up to 100 new companies per annum. “ he said.

The Minister said events such as Techovate 2012 will offer inspiration and ideas to entrepreneurs with business ideas. “Huge credit must go to Innovation Wexford and The Fuse Initiative and all the partners for having the vision to organise this conference and to attract speakers of such a high calibre from Silicon Valley to come here and share their stories of success. Ireland has been through a difficult period but all the signs are that there are people out there with lots of ideas and we will to pick up the pieces and get Ireland back on track. It is our young people with innovative ideas who are our future.”

Wexford is set for a mini economic boom as up to 400 delegates converge on the town for the inaugural Techovate 2012.

“Wexford Opera House is well used to hosting the performing arts with an eclectic mix of local, national and international performances. It is home to Wexford Festival Opera, recognised as one of the top three opera festivals in the world. But Techovate will be the largest, non-artistic event every hosted in this venue and you couldn’t ask for a better setting,” according to Techovate organiser and Group Chief Executive at Innovation Wexford, Brendan Ennis.

Wexford Opera House has been the recipient of numerous international design awards since it opened in 2008 including the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland ‘Best Cultural Building’ in 2008, the Royal Institute of British Architects ‘European Award’ in 2009, and the American Institute of Architects ‘Excellence in Design Award -Townscape Category’ in 2010.

“We are delighted to be hosting Techovate 2012 in Wexford Opera House. While we are primarily a receiving venue for the performing arts, the venue has also welcomed lectures and conferences and it was the venue for the Theatre Forum national conference two years running.” according to David McLoughlin, Chief Executive of Wexford Festival Trust, which manages both Wexford Opera House and the Internationally acclaimed Wexford Festival Opera.

He added: “Wexford Opera House is an excellent venue partner as it represents in its design and construction the best international technology and innovation and given that the broader meaning of ‘Opera’ is an event on a grand scale, just like this innovative convention.”

Wexford Festival Opera, now in its 61st year is famous for launching the careers of many of the World’s top opera singers, and for bringing lost or neglected opera repertoire into the mainstream opera world. Audiences traditionally come to Wexford Festival Opera and Wexford Opera House to see the ‘Next Big Thing’. “Who knows maybe the Opera House will be the setting for the launch of some great new business ideas following Techovate 2012!” added Mr. McLoughlin.

Not just a talking shop, the 48-hour event features: Techovate Talk, engaging personal presentations and dialog; Techovate Interact, where attendees can experience the latest Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft technologies and Techovate Showcase, where select Irish companies can pitch their businesses.

The two-day gathering will be split into four main themes:

  1. The art of working together to produce better results.
  2. Social media and online communications – harnessing the power of communities to support business growth.
  3. Software and services – how future technology can give your business the edge.
  4. Making it happen! Tales from the frontline on accelerating growth.

Speakers will include technical evangelists from Microsoft Cliff Reeves, IBM’s Head of Smarter Computing, and Facebook Director of Global Brand Partnerships and Bill Liao co-founder of the business social network service XING.

The conference came about after a group of south-east entrepreneurs hopped on a plane to Silicon Valley and knocked on doors to forge links with the diaspora in Northern California to help develop growth within the Irish SME sector.

Innovation Wexford is a not-for-profit job creation organisation with a community focused approach to enterprise development. To date it has assisted in the creation of over 800 jobs and has supported the establishment and development of over 100 companies. The FUSE Initiative is a group of 250 entrepreneurs and business people aimed at promoting business growth in the south-east.

Founder of Techovate and Group Chief Executive at Innovation Wexford, Brendan Ennis, said they saw a unique opportunity to develop growth within the Irish SME sector by forging stronger links with the diaspora in Northern California. “We have had phenomenal support from Vice-Presidents and Directors of these global companies, all of whom have volunteered their time to address the conference in person or via video link and attend forums and panel discussions that will deliver insights into how to accelerate business growth in a fast-moving global marketplace.”

Mr Ennis also acknowledged the support from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in helping foster relationships between Techovate and the global technology leaders taking part in the conference.

Colin Browne, Director of Business Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) with Microsoft who will be speaking at Techovate 2012, said: “Microsoft has a long history of helping new and start-up businesses. Over the two days at TechOvate we will share insights on our partner ecosystem, cloud computing, enabling successful start-ups and demonstrate some of Microsoft’s latest and upcoming technologies.

“In the current climate one of the key focuses for business is keeping costs down. Investing in technology is a significant way to reduce such costs and creates new opportunities for both start ups and existing businesses. We hope by sharing our experiences in innovation and new technologies to inspire those who participate in this event.”

Fred Karlsson, founder of DoneDeal, said at the Techovate 2012 launch that the Internet is quickly changing every business.

“This creates lots of opportunities for new businesses, but also a lot of challenges for existing businesses. I am delighted that Techovate is held in Wexford, as the South East has a number of strong national and international businesses. For example, DoneDeal grew into one of Ireland's biggest web sites in just a few years, and our office remains in Wexford town.” www.techovate.com

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ENDS

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