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Ireland aims to lead in tech market

18 June, 2008

IT will take “vision and risk taking” for Ireland to achieve leadership in the trillion dollar market for convergent technologies, a two-day conference in Dublin was told yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of the IBEC and Enterprise Ireland Meeting of Minds convergent technologies event, IBEC director general Turlough O’Sullivan said Ireland can become a leader in this lucrative area by 2010, if it goes about its task the right way.

The categories involved include pharmachem and medtech life sciences, ICT and food.

“We are fortunate to have a unique concentration of the world’s most innovative companies in addition to world-class global and home-grown leadership skills,” he said.

With effective backing these companies can deliver solutions to drive fundamental societal change and support Ireland’s wealth and job creation levels, he said.

In a new study IBEC found 40% have already commercialised convergent technology products, while two-thirds envisaged it happening in the next 10 years.

Those sectors employ almost 100,000 people between them and are seen as key drivers in this economy’s long-term success.

They have the potential to address global problems such as the aging of the world’s population.

In that instance use of personalised monitors will enable remote diagnoses and clinical intervention with enormous benefits for those being treated.

Elsewhere, the food category is already exploiting the use of functional foods to improve people’s health as they eat, with cholesterol-lowering dairy-based drinks and spreads being good examples of such developments.

In that context “decisions taken today will have a far-reaching impact on our economy and our society”, O’Sullivan said.

Forecaster and futurist Paul Saffo from Stanford University, who spoke yesterday, believes in the importance of failure.

“The secret of Silicon Valley’s success is the number of consistent failures. Any economy that doesn’t encourage failure is destined to fail,” he said.

Brian Arthur from Santa Fe Institute, who also addressed the conference, says “all technological advances” have come from combining existing technologies.

In that process “culture” is the single greatest driving force of innovation, he said.

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