Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ireland a role model for how to turn around a country

I had the pleasure of meeting this week with two executives from Enterprise Ireland -- Diane Roberts and Maggie Daleo -- out of their Silicon Valley and LA offices. I originally learned about Enterprise Ireland from a fellow Irish-American -- Bill Shaughnessy (an exec at MSN/Microsoft and all-around great guy). He was as impressed as I was about how Ireland has turned what was a poor country 15-20 years ago into one of the highest per capita countries in Europe that has an economy that's growing like gangbusters. A combination of a commitment to lowering corporate taxes, encouraging foreign investment, providing free college education to those that could get into the limited # of spots and a seed investment fund have been instrumental in making Ireland a success by any measure. Enterprise Ireland is both a seed investment vehicle (the largest in Europe) and a great resource for Irish entrepreneurs via worldwide offices, etc..

Diane and Maggie are two examples of resources in their offices in 34 international locations. They provide assistance in areas such as market research/validation and tapping their strong network of useful contacts and experts that entrepreneurs can draw upon. It was clear that their market savvy would be invaluable to an Irish entrepreneur trying to tap the U.S. market. My only disappointment in the meeting was that I couldn't convince them to open up a Sun Valley office :)

An example of the sort of thing they do is they have an upcoming Irish Technology Showcase where it's a forum to bring together influential potential buyers/partners from the U.S. over to Ireland to learn more about what is being worked on by Irish companies as well as sharing their directions so that Irish companies can respond accordingly. The event is going to be held in October.

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