Good afternoon every-one, I am delighted to be here today.
Congratulations to Paddy Cosgrave and all those involved in organising this event.
I am particularly happy to see this assembled group of distinguished, talented and world class tech entrepreneurs and developers here before me. Finally one of you might be able to get the apps on my iPad working properly!
Seriously though, I would like welcome those of you who have travelled from afar to be with us today.
It is a great privilege to host you all here in Dublin for the second year in a row and we hope to see you back in the coming years again.Vision for the Future
This F.ounders event only comes a few weeks after the sad passing of Steve Jobs. And whether you love or hate Apple he represented the new class of tech innovator that opened up technology to the average consumer and hinted at what could be possible.
The Economist newspaper said on his passing that the revolution he led is only just beginning. Looking around at those present here I have to agree with that view.
Talk of revolution should send politicians running but we, like everyone else, have to adapt to a new future where technology and lifestyle become inseparable.
It’s my job as the head of the Irish Government to lay out the vision we have for the future and how we intend to position ourselves to make the most of it. It is a future where you here today already inhabit.
Everyone here will be familiar with Moore’s Law of computer that dictates computing power should double every two years. If there isn’t already there should be a similar law for tech innovation with new ideas being transformed into applications at an exponential rate.
New applications like Skype or GPS apps are revolutionising the way we interact with each other and with technology. There are even suggestions that the way we interact with modern internet technology is changing the way our brains work.
In the face on such daunting change it could be tempting for some to act like King Canute in thinking they could hold back the approaching tide. I’m here to tell you that Ireland is embracing the digital future.Ireland as the Digital Capital of Europe
Since coming into office 7 months ago I have told nearly all audiences that by 2016 I intend to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business.
An integral part of this vision is to transform Ireland into the Digital Capital of Europe.
We already have a huge number of leading tech companies happily located here - some that you yourselves have founded!
The list is long – from Facebook to Google who have located here in recent years, to companies like Microsoft, HP and Intel who have a longstanding presence.
And of course we were delighted that Twitter recently announced that it is opening an office in Dublin.
Despite the global economic crisis – which has hit Ireland very hard – we continue to attract foreign investment, especially in the ICT sector.
This is because of some enduring strengths such as:
- a young, well-educated, English-speaking workforce;
- the most business-friendly tax regime in Europe or the Americas;
- availability of skilled and productive labour;
But I firmly believe that Ireland has other less tangible strengths that give us an advantage over other locations. A CEO of a silicon valley based company met with me a number of weeks ago on the announcement of new operations in Ireland. She told me we had all the usual advantages but that we also had an X factor that sealed the investment decision: passion.
Passion for work, passion for creativity, and like Paddy Cosgrave here, a passion for technology. We’re not afraid to break the mould, to shake things up and to do things differently.Supporting Start Ups and Entrepreneurs
The challenge for us now is to harness this passion to make Ireland a better place to start a new business or scale up micro businesses.
We are making progress.
- Only yesterday the Government announced a new €10 million fund aimed at encouraging overseas entrepreneurs to locate start-up businesses in Ireland.
- Recently, I opened the Dogpatch Labs Europe where new tech entrepreneurs will be building their businesses.
- Two weeks ago the Government launched an ambitious plan to develop the digital gaming industry.
According to World Bank rankings we are the easiest place in the European Union (EU) to start a business.
We have trebled our investment in research, development and innovation over the past decade. We are continually working to commercialise high-quality research and to develop a range of programmes to link enterprise and researchers.
But I want Ireland to be doing even better. I want to listen to your ideas on how we can make Ireland the natural home for new tech and internet ventures. Only then can we succeed in making Ireland the digital capital of Europe.
Since I came to office earlier this year, I have travelled around the country, seeing for myself the innovation and research which is going on.
I have met developers of video games; learnt how ICT is addressing the challenges of energy sustainability; and seen at first hand how cloud technology has reduced hospital waiting lists.
In conclusion, I hope that these factors will encourage you to consider Ireland when you are making decisions about locating new start-ups or growing existing ventures.
Spread the word among your industry that Ireland is open for business. That we are embracing the digital future.
In return, I’ll fill my iPad with your apps!
The doors of my Ministers and our State Agencies will always be open to you.
Finally, and most importantly, I hope you all enjoy your visit to Dublin and take advantage of our famous hospitality.