December, 2011


31
Dec 11

Seed funding is silver lining of banking crisis

Volodymyr Pigrukh, Dmitry Vysotski and Kanstantsin Chernysh of Profitero, which won the IBM Smartcamp event in London. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.

WHILE THERE was plenty of positive news provided in the tech sector by multinationals in 2011 – Intel investing $500 million in new facilities, Twitter coming to town, Microsoft and Google building new data centres – the start-up scene also defied the wider economic picture.

The State is now literally awash with seed capital (possibly the only positive aspect of the banking crisis), there are thousands of job vacancies unfilled at 600 local software companies, and big multinationals are swooping to acquire Irish firms as a beachhead to Europe or to fill out their own portfolios.

But if one company stood out above the rest it was Openet. Five years ago it was a relatively obscure telecoms software company helping mobile operators bill for pre-paid services. But the explosion in apps and data means it is a company in the right place at the right time and is on course for revenues of about €100 million this year.

Contracts with giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone have won mainstream recognition for Openet, notably in founder Joe Hogan’s and chief executive Niall Norton’s winning the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in October.

A legal case taken by a larger Israeli competitor has put a mooted Nasdaq flotation on hold.

That means Cork-headquartered, but predominantly Asia-based, PCH International is odds-on to beat Openet to flotation. PCH and its founder Liam Casey had another stellar year; beefing up its management team, raising $56 million in venture capital and acquiring Dublin distribution company TNS.

While Openet and PCH continue to grow independently, other notable names cashed in their chips.

The year began with financial software group Norkom accepting a €217 million cash offer for the business. Other notable sales include Curam to IBM for somewhere in the range of €150 million, Newbay’s acquisition by Blackberry maker RIM for $100 million, a British competitor paying $80 million for AEP Networks, Data Electronics Group becoming part of Telecity in a €100 million deal and CarTrawler selling a majority stake to a private equity group for more than €100 million.

While most of those firms were founded or got capital for expansion in the late 90s or early noughties, a new crop of web-based start-ups has come to the fore, fuelled by readily available seed funding.

Companies as diverse as online wedding planner Eventovate, trading platform Zignals, and social media news site Storyful, have benefited from the seed funds established by AIB and Bank of Ireland as part of the payback for State-funded recapitalisation.

Email software provider Datahug and Swrve, a maker of games development tools, proved you don’t have to up sticks and move to Silicon Valley to succeed, with both firms securing investment from California “super angel” investor Ron Conway. This was also the year when Ireland started to attract start-ups from around the world that believe we offer a fertile environment to build firms. Profitero, founded by two Belarussians and a Ukrainian, raised €750,000 and won the IBM Smartcamp event in London, while the two most recent winners of the National Digital Research Centre’s LiftOff competition, Adjuno and B-Smark, have Canadian and Italian founders respectively.

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31
Dec 11

Top New Media videos of 2011

We take a look at the top videos in New Media from 2011, covering the Dublin Web Summit and the latest opportunities in the games industry.

It was a good year for the digital media industry in Ireland, which was most evident in Forfás’ report saying Ireland’s gaming industry could create 2,500 much-needed jobs. Taoiseach Enda Kenny emphasised that the Government wanted to foster this growing industry to take advantage of this opportunity.

Indeed, earlier this year, social gaming company Zynga expanded its operations in Dublin, announcing its intentions to grow its employee base from 55 to beyond 100.

The Dublin Web Summit brought some of the brightest minds in the technology industry from around the world to Ireland, showing them what the country’s tech industry had to offer. Attendees included Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio, Michael Birch, entrepreneur and founder of Bebo, Niklas Zennstrom, angel investor and founder of Skype, and LinkedIn co-founder Eric Ly, to name but a few.

Siliconrepublic.com also attended the IT@Cork conference, with talks from Mark Little, founder of Storyful, Dr Mary Keeling from IBM Institute for Business Value, and Michael Loftus of Cork Institute of Technology.

We also got to talk to Harry Moran, the Mac App Store’s youngest developer, aged 12.

Mark Little of Storyful tells IT@Cork about the opportunities in curating news

Zynga’s COO of games studio operations Marcus Segal opening Zynga European offices in Dublin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the creation of new video game jobs

Michael Birch, founder of Bebo, at the Dublin Web Summit

Harry Moran, the 12-year-old founder of HM Computing with his mum Elaine

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29
Dec 11

Jan on a mission to work 33 jobs in 33 countries in just 33 weeks

Jan Lachner at work in the Brazen Head pub in Dublin last night.

HE’S worked as a flamenco teacher in Spain, a fisherman in Malta and a tour operator in Cyprus in less than a month.

And now Jan Lachner can add barman at Ireland‘s oldest pub to his rapidly expanding CV.

The 24-year-old aeronautics engineer from Paris will be pulling pints at the Brazen Head in Dublin this week as part of his mission to work 33 “typical” jobs in 33 European countries in 33 weeks.

The new year will see him brewing beer in the Czech Republic, making chocolate in Belgium, working as a florist in Holland, and tending to zoo animals in Estonia despite having no previous experience.

But unlike the hordes of his Irish contemporaries who have been forced to emigrate to find jobs, Mr Lachner’s goal as a “super backpacker” is to gain as much insight as he can into the lives and culture of our European neighbours. He is also considering writing a book about his adventure.

Meanwhile, he learns valuable skills and earns a little cash on the side.

He speaks fluent French, German, English and some Spanish, and funded the project himself.

Along with setting up a network of employers, he also arranged a number of hosts in the “couchsurfing community” across Europe who will provide a bed for him during his stay as he travels the continent and beyond in a car.

He spent his first day in Dublin helping his host move house. But that didn’t stop him from being keen and ready to learn when he was shown how to pull his first pint of Guinness yesterday.

“He’s doing great. He’s eager and he’s a great learner,” said bar manager Steve Wilson.

Fantastic

“It’s a great idea. The things he’s done already are fantastic.”

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Lachner said he was having a great time here. He approached several pubs but was delighted when the Brazen Head agreed to take him on for a few days.

“I was very eager to work for this one because it’s not just any pub. There are 800 years of history,” he said.

Customers have no idea what he is doing and he surprised a group of French tourists in the pub by taking their orders in their native tongue.

But each day presents a new and exciting challenge even if he doesn’t achieve his goal in his designated time period.

“Even if I only do 20 countries that’s already great,” he said.

His next job in early January will take him to Luxembourg where he will be working as an estate agent, followed by a stint making alpine horns in Switzerland and blowing glass in a glassmaker’s shop in Venice.

“Beyond being a nice project for myself, I want to show there isn’t much difference between someone in Lithuania, Spain or Germany,” he said.

“We all go to supermarkets, we all want to have a bigger car than our neighbour, and we all want to have nice holidays in Phuket. What brings us together is so much more than what makes us apart,” he said.

Anyone interested in keeping up with Mr Lachner’s travels can do so by logging onto his website eurojobsproject.com.

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29
Dec 11

‘Its Happening Here’

Enterprise Ireland

Uploaded by on 23 Dec 2011.

If you’ve been passing through Dublin Airport this week, you’ve probably noticed the Enterprise Ireland stand ‘ItsHappeningHere’ and wondered what it’s all about. Click the video to find out about more than 2000 jobs with more than 600 Irish software companies.
If you’re not able to say hello to Anne, David, Rob, Jim, Alan , Jennifer or any of the other EI people taking their turn on the stand, pass on this link to a friend who is home for the holidays. Click here to find out more…..

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29
Dec 11

Entrepreneurs negotiate changing landscape to realise their potential

The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well with many companies producing quality products with the backing of Enterprise Ireland, finds John Daly

OVER the last year, Enterprise Ireland has supported the establishment of 80 high-potential start-up companies, involving over 150 entrepreneurs.

These innovative young companies will create more than 770 jobs over the next three years. Total sales over the same three-year period are expected to reach €528 million, with exports accounting for more than 80% of this figure.

Over the past decade, the scheme has supported more than 800 high-potential start-ups, which are responsible for employing more than 25,000 people directly and indirectly, and have combined sales of over €1.5 billion, 75% of which is exported.

Exports are at an all time high and recovery in international markets is fuelling increased demand for Irish products and services.

These new companies are widening their market reach, expanding into new international markets, and opening up new business.

“The environment is strong for export-led new business start ups, and the pipeline of ambitious technology start-ups including an increased number from overseas based entrepreneurs is stronger than ever,” says Greg Treston, head of high-potential start-up at Enterprise Ireland.

“These start-ups are perfectly timed to catch the up-turn in our key export markets while also benefiting from Ireland’s improved competitiveness.

“There are significant opportunities for new export-focused business start-ups, particularly in life sciences, bio-tech and medical technology, clean-tech, food, telecoms, internet services and other niche areas.”

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29
Dec 11

New jobs for Galway

Twenty-nine new jobs are to be created in 2012 in Galway City and Claregalway.

Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton has announced that 12 positions will be created at Channel Medical Group Holdings Ltd in Galway City and Animated Language Learning in Claregalway.

The jobs form part of 528 newly announced positions in Irish start-up companies across Ireland, which are receiving support from the Government.

This boost to employment has been welcomed by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who said such progress was vital for the economy’s recovery.

“Home grown jobs, such as those announced… are vital if we are to turn our economy around. As Minister Bruton pointed out, we must create an indigenous engine of growth if we are to rebuild the economy and get jobs growing again.

“Most importantly, these jobs will provide fantastic news to 29 individuals and their families in Galway. The Government has deliberately targeted ambitious start-up companies, with innovative products that are successfully building their presence in export markets. They are exactly the type of companies that we want to see in Galway.”

A spokesperson for Galway Chamber also welcomed the news, saying that it was a particularly strong boost as the jobs were coming from indigenous companies.

“Any day that jobs are announced is a good day for Galway and is particularly pleasing that these are positions in indigenous companies. We need to develop this and create a culture that encourages entrepreneurs and nurtures enterprises. Unfortunately, there is a still a way to go there.

“As Galway Chamber pointed out when we were seeking an decrease in commercial rates, we need a pro-business environment. Business cannot thrive in a culture where business is not listened to. We had the MeetWest conference here recently where we had outstanding entrepreneurs in attendance. We need to encourage our young people to follow in their footsteps and create an environment where that is possible.”

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27
Dec 11

Irish Exports at Record Levels. Great news to finish up 2011!

Exports are at record levels. This is according to the end of year statement by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s agency with responsibility for exports. Great news to finish up 2011!

In the face of tough economic conditions, Irish companies have increased their exports and are confident that they can increase export sales in 2012. This renewed confidence will help significantly in targeting new opportunities in international markets.

Enterprise Ireland estimates that client companies’ export sales grew in 2011 and that the final export figures will exceed the pre-recession record levels of 2008. ‘New export sales’ in excess of €1 billion are expected to be recorded for 2011.

Throughout the year, Irish companies faced severe global economic conditions head on.  They have emerged leaner, stronger and with a greater appetite for international growth than ever before – something that World Trade Centre Dublin is extremely encouraged to see.

Not only are exports up but employment in client companies stabilised this year.  Total employment (full and part time) in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 162,692 in 2011.  Of these, 141,228 are full-time jobs – a similar number to last year while 21,464 are part-time jobs – a slight increase on last year.

The World economy is predicted to grow moderately in 2012 and this is important because it offers opportunities for Irish companies to increase exports which sustain and create employment in Ireland.

During 2011 Enterprise Ireland continued to focus its human and financial resources on driving exports, innovation and improving competitiveness.  A number of new initiatives were introduced in direct response to the demands of entrepreneurs and client companies including;

• Competitive Start Funds for very early stage entrepreneurs – €50k per start-up – 55 start-ups supported

• €10m International Fund for attracting entrepreneurs from overseas

• Graduates 4 International Growth programme saw 120 graduates placed with Irish companies all over the world.

• Leadership training for Chief Financial Officers

• Staff resources in key markets were re-aligned to maximise impact in key ‘first time export’ and High Growth Markets.

• Enterprise Ireland also opened its first office in South Africa

So what will be new in 2012? Enterprise Ireland plans to move rapidly in implementing the Government’s planned Jobs Strategy.  They will continue to focus on lean programmes to increase clients’ competitiveness; they will continue to increase numbers of High Potential Start Ups from within Ireland and from overseas and they have promised they will continue to help companies win business overseas in both established and high growth markets. Looking forward to it!

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27
Dec 11

The top business videos of 2011

A look back at some of the various business videos on Siliconrepublic.com during 2011, including interviews with the ITLG, the IDA and it@cork.

The economic climate dominated 2011′s business landscape in Ireland. Technology and industries like biopharma remain the few bright spots in the Irish economy and the leading areas of job creation, thanks to the efforts of IDA Ireland.

It was also a year that saw entrepreneurs and business leaders emerge, offering hope for the future and ultimately a better way of doing things.

Denis Collins’ inspired leadership of the it@cork industry group shows how the technology industry can positively impact on a region, for example.

In Silicon Valley, Irish business leaders like John Hartnett are mobilising the diaspora and establishing Irish economic outposts in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street, while in Iceland, the emergence of an ideas economy is the key to economic recovery.

Interview with Barry O’Leary, chief executive, IDA Ireland.

Denis J Collins, chairman, it@cork, on spearheading Ireland’s return to growth.

Iceland’s Minister for Ideas on moving a country in a new direction.

Interview with John Hartnett, Irish Technology Leadership Group.

‘Sins of the CEO’ – Cybersource’s William McKiernan and venture capitalist Rich Moran.

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27
Dec 11

286 new jobs for Dublin in Govt supported start-up companies – Donohoe

Central Deputy, Paschal Donohoe, said the news this morning (Wednesday) that 286 new jobs will be created in Dublin by high potential start-up companies that have been supported by Government through Enterprise Ireland is great news for the capital and a positive sign of our future growth potential.

“While Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will continue to play a vital role in our economic future, the Government recognises that unless we begin to grow indigenous industry, our potential for future growth and expansion will be hindered. In short, we need to get our people back to work so they have money in their pockets to spend in the local economy, supporting local businesses.

“That nearly 300 jobs are to be created in Dublin over the next three years by companies that have been supported by Government, through Enterprise Ireland, in the third quarter of 2011 is great news for the city. These jobs are part of 528 jobs of this nature to be created nationally. Furthermore, this news comes on the back of the announcement at the end of the first half of the year of a further 755 jobs by Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Ups programme. This exponential growth is a real sign that we are capitalising on our home-grown indigenous industries and investing in the areas that will lead us to economic recovery.

“Among the jobs to be created are 29 positions with communications software company, Vigill, in Capel St in the city centre, 17 positions with multi-media company, Mindconnex Learning Ltd, in Clarendon St also in the city and 34 positions in the Industrial and Lifesciences sector with Rapt Holding Ltd in Dublin 3. Ireland has always demonstrated an ability to punch above its weight in the financial, technological and IT sectors; a trend that is continuing, judging by this news.

“Budget 2012 identified the financial, export-led and technological sectors as having the capacity to help us grow our way out of our current difficulties. The Minister was successful in not only maintaining funding for high potential start-up programmes but in securing an increase for them. The support that the Government, through Enterprise Ireland, offers entrepreneurs in these key areas will ensure the continued growth of our indigenous and dynamic start-up businesses and will help us to get to where we want, and need, to be.

“Next month will see the introduction of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and the introduction of the Micro-Finance Fund, the Innovation Fund, the Temporary Partial Guarantee Scheme and an International Start-Up Fund to encourage home-grown enterprises. The key to getting our country back on track is getting our people back to work. This Government is committed to doing just that.”

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22
Dec 11

Nick and Sam social media campaign wins three DMA awards

Tourism Ireland has won three direct marketing awards in London for its social media campaign called ‘Nick and Sam’s Ireland Road Trip’.

It won Gold in the travel and holidays category, Bronze for best use of social media and Bronze for best integrated campaign at the 2011 DMA Awards.

Over 50,000 people around Britain visited the campaign webpage and 11,500 used social media, resulting in a 1,000pc increase in engagement on Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page in Britain.

The campaign set out to showcase the richness of a holiday here among online audiences around Britain, allowing them to experience the island of Ireland online and prompting them to then come on over and experience it for themselves.

The campaign saw Nick and Sam Brown, a couple from Bath, embarking on a week-long road-trip with a twist – they weren’t in charge of their own itinerary.

Instead, Facebook and Twitter communities across Britain were in control and were given the chance to decide where the couple should go and what they should do.

Starting at the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim, every detail of the couple’s journey was an interactive event, as they shared maps and video blogs, and uploaded photos to a live photo feed, so that potential visitors around Britain could see their suggestions being carried out throughout the week-long trip.

Nick and Sam uploaded more than 20 films during their time here, which were viewed 23,300 times. And almost 20,000 people entered the competition to win a road-trip of their own.

At the end of the seven days, Tourism Ireland held a prize draw to send a group of four to Ireland, rewarding them for their engagement with the campaign.

Our aim was to engage with online communities around Britain and bring potential holidaymakers along for Nick and Sam’s journey, in order to inspire them to begin planning their very own road-trip,” said Vanessa Markey, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Great Britain.

“We also wanted to capture the attention of those who prefer to use their car on holidays, as these visitors tend to stay longer, spend more and are likely to visit more than one region.”

Mike Colling, who was on the judging panel for the awards, described the Tourism Ireland campaign as “a truly interactive and evolving campaign”.

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