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Office of News & Public Affairs

BC’s Irish Institute Connects Irish and Northern Irish Leaders with Entrepreneur Experts

Chestnut Hill, MA (December 2011)— Officials from Ireland and Northern Ireland have met with Boston area experts and executives during a weeklong Boston College Irish Institute program focused on developing young entrepreneurs to boost workforce and economic development in both countries.

Once a roaring beast of Europe’s economic resurgence, the so-called Celtic Tiger has been among those national economies most affected by the financial crisis of the past three years. Unemployment in Ireland is approximately 14 percent, while in Northern Ireland 9 percent are unemployed, a majority under the age of 25.

Boston College professors and Boston-area businesses spent a week strategizing with economic development officials from Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of an executive education exchange organized by BC’s Irish Institute and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau.

“A crucial element in the bid to revive the economies of Ireland and Northern Ireland is the cultivation and support of a generation of young entrepreneurs,” said Irish Institute Director Robert Mauro, who organized the program as part of a yearlong series of executive education exchanges funded by the State Department. “Economic recovery bears an extra burden in an era of reconciliation and political cooperation that has seen both Ireland and Northern Ireland set bold new courses toward the future.”

During a five-day stay in Boston, workforce specialists from Ireland and Northern Ireland met with Boston-area experts and executives to strategize efforts to build a dynamic business climate for young people. The visiting officials then traveled to San Diego to look at efforts in that region to foster young entrepreneurs.

Meetings focused on business incubation and “spin-outs” from university research, technology transfer and intellectual property, education policy, and venture capital.

Participants included senior staff and officials from the Irish Department of Education and Skills, University College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland- Galway, Invest NI, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Young Enterprise Northern Ireland.

“This exchange gives Massachusetts a chance to contribute, once again, to the Northern Irish peace-process and to enhance Massachusetts entrepreneurial activities through international collaboration, which is foundational to the regional economy,” said Mauro.

In Massachusetts, participants attended a series of seminars and meetings at Boston College, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment, Boston World Partnerships, and Massachusetts High-Tech Council.

In California, the participants met with San Diego State University, University of San Diego, EvoNexus—a non-profit high-tech business incubator, and Start-up Circle—a collaborative network of 1,500 entrepreneurs, among others.

The Irish Institute is part of the Center for Irish Programs at Boston College. The mission of the Institute is to promote the peace and normalization process on the island of Ireland and to contribute to social, political, and economic stability through cross-border and cross-community cooperation.

Professional development programming by the Institute introduces Irish and Northern Irish participants to successful models of best practices in the U.S., as well as offering an opportunity for cultural exchange that promotes mutual understanding among the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Since its founding in 1997, more than 1,000 decision-makers from all sectors, including government, policing, media, and nonprofits, have participated in more than 100 Irish Institute programs.

-- Ed Hayward, an associate director in the Office of News & Public Affairs, can be reached at