Ireland could become Silicon Valley of Europe, says Ryan


IRELAND COULD become the Silicon Valley of Europe and be at the forefront of the “green technology” revolution, Minister for Communications and Energy Eamon Ryan has said in San Francisco.

Mr Ryan is allotting most of his four-day St Patrick’s Day visit to California to visits to “green tech” facilities and companies in Silicon Valley, which is synonymous with the information technology industry. He said there was nothing preventing Ireland from following California’s lead in giving priority to the development of green technology as a principal economic policy.

There has been a massive upsurge in investment in green-tech ventures in California in the past year: in projects ranging from solar power to smart low-energy communications networks to electric car companies.

In 2008, venture capitalists invested $1.79 billion in California, some 45 per cent of the total invested in North America.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said this month the development of green technology would be the main priority of his administration as it struggled to address the recession.

Mr Ryan said he hoped during his visit to send a message to American high-tech companies based in California to use Ireland as its “test base” in Europe for research and development, saying the people and facilities were ideally adapted for it.

“There is a huge similarity between the economy here and the economy at home. Both are suffering in relation to the property boom coming to an end. Also there is a similar kind of economic policy being pursed here in the development of a high-tech and a green-tech economy.

“A lot of the big American companies who have invested in Ireland are also based here in Silicon Valley.

“We are looking to establish Ireland as their Silicon Valley for Europe. If you look at what is happening in Silicon Valley, the main growth area is no longer traditional ICT but there is a huge increase in investments in clean technology.

Mr Ryan yesterday visited a California-based Irish company, Innovalight, which is employing silicon-based technology to develop a new generation of energy-producing solar panels. He also met representatives of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, an independent organisation of Irish or Irish-American people who are involved in new technology.

During his visit, Mr Ryan will visit the campus of the giant technology company, Cisco. He will also visit the Tesla Motor facility, one of the world’s leading electric car manufacturers.