Boosting Belfast in Silicon Valley
By the time you read this, I’ll be over Iceland with 20 of our top young entrepreneurs as we set course for Silicon Valley to make the deals and meet the partners who can further boost Belfast as the fastest-growing knowledge economy in these islands.
And they really are pioneering and ambitious digital companies, each ideally poised to seize the day during what will be the first-ever Belfast Tech Mission.
Our whirlwind tour of the west coast will include civic visits with the Mayors of Oakland, San José, Berkeley and Portland as well as a one-on-one with that famed Irish America and extraordinary politician Governor Jerry Brown of California.
I’m proud to be carrying the standard for the best of Belfast, entrepreneurs who are firmly focused on the future. Among our team will be Venuebooker who are set to be the Expedia for event venues, Taggled which is making it possible to buy that special item you spy on your favourite TV show with one click, and SiansPlan an exciting gazelle of a company helping busy people eat healthily.
I’m especially honoured that two of Belfast’s most eminent entrepreneurs Hugh Cormican of Cirdan, co-founder of Andor, and Stevie Morrow, co-founder of Wombat which is now the NYSE 300-strong operation in Belfast and now CEO of investment company Loughshore, are joining the mission as business advocates for Belfast.
How can you help? If you’re in the US and have contacts in the venture capital community or business sector, spread the word about our mission and win these young companies the meetings they need to show they are the very best in the world. You can see the full list of companies here.
And, of course, if you’re in any of the cities we’re visiting, reach out. I love to meet people who want to help continue build the peace in Belfast.
Meanwhile, I spent 24 hours in the Basque Country this week to speak at a gathering of global mayors supportive of the fledgling peace process in that bountiful country.
I was moved by the opening address in Donostia-San Sebastia by Vicente Zargueta Lafitte, a victim of ETA, at the opening ceremony. He said: “Peace in the Basque Country is something I have yearned for almost as an obsession…we must close the wounds of the past as quickly as we can, those wounds caused by the irrational use of violence, of all kinds of violence.” Calling for “a spirit of generosity” to solve the complicated issues in the Basque peace process, including prisoners and victims, he added: “Added to the absence of violence, we in our Basque society must find a way to live together in harmony, always.”
Amen to that, says I. Appropriately, I finished my own comments by reciting the Buddhist Blessing for Belfast which will be read by my Buddhist chaplain Paul Haller in San Francisco on Monday night at a gathering for the Diaspora. I offered it as a Blessing for the Basque Country, that its riches may grow as it experiences peace.
May unceasing love embrace all in our city, In peace and well-being may we bridge our differences with understanding,
May we call forth the nobility of spirit that can inspire and support us to live as one community celebrating our diversity.