Sedicii wins The Irish Times/ITLG Innovative Award

Irish technology start-ups praised for punching above their weight in Silicon Valley

John Hartnett, president of ITLG; Dr Craig Barrett, Chairman, ITLG; Rob Leslie, chief executive, Sedicii Innovations and John Stanton, president of Silicon Valley Global Partners. Photograph: Chris Ryan, Views of the World

John Hartnett, president of ITLG; Dr Craig Barrett, Chairman, ITLG; Rob Leslie, chief executive, Sedicii Innovations and John Stanton, president of Silicon Valley Global Partners. Photograph: Chris Ryan, Views of the World

 

Ireland is punching above its weight in Silicon Valley, but it needs to continue to focus on education and fostering entrepreneurship, especially as the ‘Internet of Screens’ gives way to the ‘Internet of Things’.

That was the message from Wednesday’s Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) event honouring 50 of the most influential Irish and Irish-American people in Silicon Valley.

“There’s a very real sense that Ireland is at a tipping point and is punching way above its weight in technology,” said Belkin chief marketing officer Kieran Hannon, who has been in the USA for 29 years.

“The fact that we have companies like Google, Twitter, LinkedIn establishing serious operations in Ireland creates an energy that spins off into other entrepreneurial companies.”

Lorraine Twohill, a senior vice president at Google, who won a distinguished leadership award, believes being Irish is an advantage in Silicon Valley. “The Irish bring something unique to the valley. We have huge respect for education, we’re driven, we’re entrepreneurial and those are the values the valley craves.”

Sixteen of those named in the Silicon Valley 50, now in its seventh year, are female - something ITLG founder John Hartnett says was “not intentional”, but is reflective of the influence Irish women are now having in the global technology sphere. “It’s encouraging, but let’s aim for 25,” said Irish-American Caroline Donahue, senior vice president of sales and marketing of software company Intuit.

Ms Twohill said in her acceptance speech that she was “sick and tired of going to other events where there are too many men in the room and I’m the ‘token chick’.”

Warning notes continued to be sounded about the Irish education system. Former chief executive of Intel and ITLG chairman Craig Barrett said Ireland still had room to “improve in this area. You can’t win unless you choose to compete with your education infrastructure, and to choose to compete you have to look at the competition, you have to look at the international league tables of universities, and grade yourself accordingly.”

Venture capitalist John O’Farrell of Andreessen Horowitz said it was “a criminal waste of talent” for students to be doing degrees in business and commerce, instead of focusing on science and technology, or even doing broad arts degrees in a subject they were passionate about.

The Irish Times/ITLG Innovative Award went to Sedicii, which has developed the technology to verify the identity of individuals. Clare company Altratech, which is developing a 30 minute on-site DNA test for food provenance, won the Emerging Technology award.

Disk manufacturer Seagate, which employs 1,400 people in Derry, was granted the Impact Ireland award, while a special “designed in Ireland” award went to Intel for the Galileo Board, the first Irish designed and developed microchip.

Eircom and the Irish-led venture capitalist firm SVG launched an initiative at the event aimed at helping fledgling tech startups to get established in the US and Europe. Called Lab353, it will offer cash funding, a ten week mentoring programme based in Eircom’s Dublin office and a host of other support services, from office space to legal and technical advice, to ten commercially promising start-ups.

“We’re looking for early-stage companies that have a product that is commercialisable today,”said John Stanton, of SVG Partners.