A French-owned automotive equipment company with a research facility and plant in Ireland, an Irish clothing chain with six stores in France, and a Franco-Irish pioneer of marine energy will receive etched silver platters on Friday night at gala dinner at the Automobile Club in Paris.
The awards are jointly sponsored by the Dublin-based France Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the Paris-based NetworkIrlande.
France's Ambassador to Dublin, Jean-Pierre Thébault, will present the "Best French Company in Ireland" award to Fergus Moyles, product director of Valeo Vision Systems, which employs 1,200 people in Tuam.
Valeo Vision Systems started as Connaught Electronics and was purchased by the French company Valeo in 2007. The Irish branch is the world leader in automotive multi camera systems.
Cars can be equipped with up to five cameras. A screen connected to reversing cameras show the driver what is behind the car. Another camera shows an aerial, 360 degree view of the area surrounding the car, to help with parking.
“Our cameras are very intelligent,” Mr Moyles said. “They detect other cars, pedestrians and obstacles and alert you with a flashing light or audio signal. This can be linked to a braking system that is much quicker than humans.” The trend, he notes, is towards completely automated driving.
Valeo received incentives from IDA, which promotes industrial development in Ireland. Mr Moyles says the award constitutes “validation of their investment back in 2007… We were a small, privately-owned company that had a strong interest in technology, innovation and supporting customers. Valeo had significantly better manufacturing practices, global reach and a global footprint.”
Ireland’s ambassador to Paris, Geraldine Byrne Nason, will present the “Best Irish Company in France” award to Christine Loizy, Director General of Primark France.
Primark was founded by Arthur Ryan in Dublin in 1969. Its headquarters and buyers are still in Dublin, but the low cost clothing and home furnishings chain is owned by Associated British Foods. Since late 2013, it has opened six large stores in France, employing 4,000 people. It will open two more stores on the Côte d'Azur this year.
Because of Primark’s low cost ethic, Ms Loizy does most of her work with Dublin via video conference. She finds Irish business culture “pragmatic, rapid and direct. If something doesn’t work, we change it.”
The two ambassadors will jointly give a special award for impact on climate change” to OpenHydro, which was founded in Ireland in 2004. Today, it is 59.7 per cent owned by the French naval giant DCNS.
OpenHydro designs, manufactures and installs turbines to capture tidal energy, which CEO James Ives describes as "invisible, silent and with no impact on the environment" .
The company employs 120 people in Dublin and Carlingford. “For the past ten years, OpenHydro focused on proto-typing, research and development, Mr Ives said. “We’ve just started the construction and installation of what could be the first commercial scale tidal array, off the coast of northern Brittany… Our company is transitioning. I think that’s the basis of this award.”