VIDEO - President opens global tech conference in Limerick

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has officially opened the largest ever Irish Technology Leadership Group forum, which took place in the University of Limerick today.

More than 700 people gathered at the University Concert Hall in the University of Limerick this Tuesday for the Silicon Valley Global Technology Forum, a conference which saw discussions on all aspects of transatlantic business throughout the day.

Led by Corbally businessman John Hartnett and former Intel executive Craig Barrett, the technology and business forum delivered a series of global leadership panels covering a number of issues, including a discussion on how to grow billion dollar companies, with representatives of Dell, Connect Ireland, and Raheen-based Flextronics taking part.

The stars of the hit RTE show Dragon’s Den were also present to take part in a University Challenge style quiz, while there was a fireside chat with the new chief executive of Enterprise Ireland Julie Sinnamon, and former TD Conor Lenihan, now vice-president of Skolkovo foundation, based in Russia.

At a gala dinner tonight in the Strand Hotel, some of the companies who pitched for major investments to some of the executives present from Dell, Disney and Intel, will find out how they got on.

In introducing President Higgins Mr Hartnett described him as “a poet, a writer, an academic, statesman, a promoter of inclusive statesmanship, and a champion of creativity in arts and science.”

President Higgins said it was “wonderful” to be back on home turf.

“I am delighted this forum is being held in Limerick during the city’s year as our designated National City of Culture, allowing a valuable opportunity to bring together the worlds of arts and science, and to reflect on the links between these domains and the importance of fully utilising our creativity in all its forms,” he said.

With hundreds of top executives in Limerick across two days, the ITLG’s forum in Limerick is the largest ever held in its six years.

Mr Hartnett added: “The interest in the ITLG delegation in Ireland this week shows the spirit of optimism, confidence and innovation that will continue to drive Ireland out of the recession and into a very bright future once again.”

Addressing the audience at UL, UL president Prof Don Barry said: “We are fortunate to be joined by a group of extraordinary people who epitomise the essence of entrepreneurial spirit. The hard lessons they have learned along the way are invaluable to our own entrepreneurs in the region and the nation.”

He gave a rundown of the business centres operating on the Castletroy campus, including the Nexus centre, Nero, and the Brunel Project.

President Higgins said the Irish people abroad - like John Hartnett and Craig Barrett - are crucial to the nation’s recovery, saying: “One of our greatest strengths is of course our people, and their networks, our Diaspora, who continually champion Ireland and the strengths, values and aspirations of the Irish people.”

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