Ireland’s National Pension Reserve Fund [NPRF] invests $50 million in Venture Capital through Innovation Fund Ireland
The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) today announces a $50 million investment in Polaris Venture Partners. The investment is being made through Innovation Fund Ireland, a Government initiative to attract leading international venture capital fund managers to Ireland.
Polaris is a leading US venture capital firm. The firm will be increasing its focus on Ireland and Europe, providing a local and active source of venture capital from a leading international investment firm. Polaris will also be working with the IDA, Ireland’s inward investment agency, to identify opportunities within its network to bring fast-growing venture-backed companies to Ireland as a point of entry into Europe.
As part of the announcement, Polaris has confirmed that it has chosen to open the company’s first Dogpatch Labs facility outside of the United States in Dublin in support of Innovation Fund Ireland. Dogpatch Labs typically house 30 to 50 entrepreneurs working on new technology and life science related businesses at early stages of development. Polaris has had significant success with its existing Dogpatch Labs facilities in San Francisco, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and New York, where there is a fresh intake of entrepreneurs and start-ups every six months. Polaris expects to have similar success in attracting high quality entrepreneurs from across Europe to Dogpatch Labs Dublin. For more information go to http://dogpatchlabs.com
Terry McGuire, Managing Partner Polaris, said: “Dogpatch Labs has been highly successful in establishing hubs of entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. We are excited to be taking that model to Ireland, which has already attracted the likes of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, and are hopeful that, in partnership with Innovation Fund Ireland, Dogpatch Dublin will emerge as a key hub for entrepreneurs across Europe.”
Speaking today, Paul Carty, Chairman of the NPRF said: “This investment, which forms part of our commitment to Innovation Fund Ireland, is a strong commercial opportunity for the NPRF and the establishment of a Dogpatch Labs in Dublin creates an important new catalyst for entrepreneurship in Ireland.”
About the NPRF
The National Pensions Reserve Fund was established in 2001 to meet as much as possible of the costs of Ireland’s social welfare and public service pensions from 2025 until at least 2055. The NPRF is controlled by the NPRF Commission, which has a statutory commercial investment mandate, and is currently invested globally across a diversified range of asset classes including quoted equities, bonds, property, private equity and commodities. The NPRF also has investments in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks plc, made at the direction of the Minister for Finance in order to recapitalise these institutions. Recently it was announced that the NPRF will be required to contribute up to €10 billion to the EU-IMF programme of Financial Support for Ireland. Subsequently the NPRF Commission has reaffirmed its commitment of €125 million in total to Innovation Fund Ireland. The NPRF’s value at end September 2010 was €24.5 billion.
About Innovation Fund Ireland
Innovation Fund Ireland is a €500 million Irish Government initiative designed to attract leading international venture capital fund managers to Ireland.
Innovation Fund Ireland funding comprises three elements. The first is Exchequer funding of €125 million, which will be managed by Enterprise Ireland. The second allows the NPRF to invest a similar amount providing its commercial investment criteria are met. The balance will be raised privately by participating venture capital managers. For more information go to http://www.innovationfundireland.com
Polaris Venture Partners is a partnership of experienced investors, operating executives and entrepreneurs. The firm’s mission is to identify, invest in and partner with seed, early stage, and middle-market businesses with exceptional promise and help them grow into market-leading companies. Polaris invests in businesses across a number of markets including technology, digital media, consumer, enertech and life sciences. Polaris-backed successes in life sciences include: Adimab, Adnexus (sold to BMS), Advanced Inhalation Research (sold to Alkermes), Alimera (ALIM), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY), Asthmatx (sold to Boston Scientific) Glycofi (sold to Merck), Momenta Pharmaceuticals (MNTA) and Ironwood (IRWD). Polaris-backed successes in technology and consumer include: Akamai Technologies (AKAM), Allaire, Art.com, Athlete’s Performance, Automattic (WordPress), e-Rewards, LogMeIn (LOGM), LegalZoom, LivingProof, MarkMonitor, Powersoft, Solidworks, TechTarget (TTGT) and Quantcast. For more on the firm, its mission and its portfolio companies: http://polarisventures.com.
About Dogpatch Labs
Dogpatch Labs was created by Polaris Venture Partners to connect entrepreneurs and help founders conceive and launch startups. Dogpatch Labs has three locations in Cambridge, MA, New York, NY and San Francisco, CA and will open its fourth location in Dublin, Ireland in the first quarter of 2011. Dogpatch labs offer desk space, bandwidth, coffee and lunch to aspiring entrepreneurs but are much more than physical spaces. The Labs collectively are a community of like minded entrepreneurs who share a spirit of “open source entrepreneurship,” the idea that, particularly at the very earliest of stages, we all benefit by fostering connection points between and amongst entrepreneurs and startups. Whether it is sharing space, sharing ideas, sharing referrals, networking, or just hanging out, the members all thrive on the flow of ideas, people and relationships. So, in addition to a workspace, they also use the lab frequently as a meeting place — for lunch talks, workshops, conferences, symposia etc. For more information go to http://dogpatchlabs.com
Dublin, 25th June 2009
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD today launched the 100mpbs Post Primary Schools Project, which will deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to second level schools across the country. An investment of some €16 million for the first seventy-eight schools taking part in the Project was announced at the Digital Hub Learning Studio today.
Under the existing Schools Broadband Programme, primary and post-primary schools in Ireland can access a basic level of broadband connectivity. The 100mpbs Post Primary Schools Project marks the next phase in the Government’s ambition to develop our schools as world-class centres of e-learning and to educate the next generation of knowledge workers and digital entrepreneurs.
Launching the new Programme, Minister Ryan said, “Today we are laying one of the foundation stones of Ireland’s new Knowledge Society. Providing our schools with high-speed wireless connectivity opens up a whole new world of learning for our children.
We are taking online learning out of the confines of the computer room. In classrooms and corridors, students and teachers will potentially be able to carry out interactive chemistry experiments and access demonstrations and exhibitions from all over the world.
A class learning French in Dublin could talk in real time with a class in France. A leaving Cert Physics student will be able to take part in Ivy League lectures and experiments. With this level of connectivity, the opportunities for interaction and collaboration are unlimited.”
Schools have been selected against various criteria including geographical location, and an adequate mix of schools to ensure broad social inclusion. The speeds available are similar to those that are being offered to high-end national and multinational companies that operate in Ireland. They allow for the quick upload and download of material, instant connection to websites, and the increased and varied use of online applications.
“We must equip our students with the skills and creativity they need to thrive in the new digital world we are entering”, said Minister Ryan. “There is no surer way of preparing them than by bringing the Internet right into their place of learning and allowing them to experiment and interact online.
Today’s announcement opens a door to them, to take part in Ireland’s digital future”.
This project is the result of cooperation between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Education and Science, the Higher Education Authority, HEAnet and the National Centre for Technology in Education.
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has begun a tender process for broadband service providers. It is expected that numerous service providers will be involved. The tender will be accessible at: www.e-tenders.gov.ie
The Schools which will receive 100mpbs Broadband connections are:
|Carlow Vocational School||Kilkenny Road||Carlow||Carlow|
|St. Leo’s College||Convent Of Mercy||Dublin Road||Carlow|
|Cavan Institute||Main St.,||Cavan||Cavan|
|St Caimin’s Community School||Tullyvarraga||Shannon||Clare|
|St Flannan’s College||Ennis||Co Clare||Clare|
|Cork College Of Commerce||Morrison’s Island||Cork||Cork|
|Coláiste Choilm||Ballincollig||Co. Cork||Cork|
|Christ King Girls’ Secondary School||Half Moon Lane||South Douglas Road||Cork|
|CarrigalineCommunity School||Waterpark Road||Carrigaline||Cork|
|Loreto Convent||Letterkenny||Co Donegal||Donegal|
|St Eunan’s College||Letterkenny||Co Donegal||Donegal|
|St Columbas College||Stranorlar||Co.Donegal||Donegal|
|LoretoCommunity School||Milford||Co Donegal||Donegal|
|Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola||An Fálcarrach||Leitir Ceanainn||Donegal|
|Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada||An Leadhbgarbh||Árainn Mhór||Donegal|
|Coláiste Phobail Cholmcille||Baile Úr||Oileán Thoraí||Donegal|
|Ballyfermot College of Further Education||Ballyfermot Road||Dublin10||Dublin|
|Malahide Community School||Broomfield||Malahide||Dublin|
|LoretoSecondary School||Balbriggan||Co Dublin||Dublin|
|Castleknock Community College||Carpenterstown Road||Castleknock||Dublin|
|Scoil Phobail Chuil Mhin||Cluain Saileach||Baile Atha Cliath 15||Dublin|
|Hartstown Community School||Hartstown||Dublin15||Dublin|
|St Dominics College||Cabra||Dublin7||Dublin|
|Mount Temple Comprehensive School||Malahide Road||Dublin3||Dublin|
|St Josephs College||Lucan||Co Dublin||Dublin|
|Coláiste Bríde||New Road||Clondalkin||Dublin|
|St Mac Dara’s Community College||Wellington Lane||Templeogue||Dublin|
|St Marks Community School||Cookstown Rd||Tallaght||Dublin|
|St Benildus College||Upper Kilmacud Rd||Stillorgan||Dublin|
|St Aidan’s Community School||Brookfield||Tallaght||Dublin|
|Trinity Comprehensive School||Ballymun Rd.,||Dublin9||Dublin|
|Collinstown Park Community College||Neilstown Rd.||Rowlagh||Dublin|
|St Pauls Secondary School||Greenhills||Dublin12||Dublin|
|RosminiCommunity School||Grace Park Road||Drumcondra||Dublin|
|St. Colmcille’s Community School||Scholarstown Rd||Knocklyon||Dublin|
|St Joseph’s College||Nun’s Island||Galway||Galway|
|GortCommunity School||Gort||Co. Galway||Galway|
|Gairmscoil Éinne Oileain Arann||Cill Rónain||Inis Mór||Galway|
|Coláiste Ghobnait||Inis Oírr||Oileáin Arann||Galway|
|Coláiste Naomh Mhuire||Convent Of Mercy||Sallins Rd.||Kildare|
|MaynoothPost Primary School||Moyglare Rd||Maynooth||Kildare|
|St Kieran’s College||Secondary School||College Rd||Kilkenny|
|Colaiste Chiarain||Croom||Co. Limerick||Limerick|
|Presentation Secondary School||Sexton Street||Limerick||Limerick|
|Mercy Secondary School||Ballymahon||Co Longford||Longford|
|St Oliver’s Community College||Drogheda||Co.Louth||Louth|
|Ó Fiaich College||Dublin Road||Dundalk||Louth|
|St Vincent’s Secondary School||Seatown Place||Dundalk||Louth|
|St Mary’s Diocesan School||Beamore Road||Drogheda||Louth|
|St Louis Community School||Kiltimagh||Co Mayo||Mayo|
|St Peter’s College||Dunboyne||Co.Meath||Meath|
|Community College Dunshaughlin||Dunshaughlin||Co Meath||Meath|
|Killina Presentation Secondary School||Rahan||Tullamore||Offaly|
|St Nathy’s College||Ballaghaderreen||Co Roscommon||Roscommon|
|Summerhill College||Sligo||Co. Sligo||Sligo|
|Cashel Community School||Dualla Road||Cashel||Tipperary|
|St Paul’s Community College||Browne’s Road||WaterfordCity||Waterford|
|St Angela’s||Ursuline Convent||Waterford||Waterford|
|St Declan’s Community College||Kilmacthomas||Co Waterford||Waterford|
|Moate Community School||Church Street||Moate||Westmeath|
|Athlone Community College||Retreat Road||Athlone||Westmeath|
|Our Lady’s Bower||Retreat Rd.||Athlone||Westmeath|
|Good Counsel College||New Ross||Co Wexford||Wexford|
|Mary Ward||Railway Road||Gorey||Wexford|
|Vocational College||Enniscorthy||Co Wexford||Wexford|
|Loreto Secondary School||Vevay Rd||Bray||Wicklow|
I know it’s hard to believe but recently I was feeling a little down. All the doom and gloom was getting to me and no matter what I did to try and cheer myself up my natural optimism was flagging. I felt that if I read one more news item online, in a newspaper or heard another radio or tv item or ad that started with the phrase [Insert your least favourite there’s-a-recession-on phrase here] I was going to go nuts!
By last Saturday evening much of that feeling was dispelled thanks to all of those who participated as speakers and attendees at Bizcamp Dublin in the Digital Hub. The mood was upbeat and, dare I say it, indomitable.
Bizcamp Limerick will be taking place on 21st March and I would strongly recommend that anyone involved in business in Ireland get along if only to re-ignite your passion, do some networking and hear some stories from others who know what you are going through.
Throughout the day attendees could choose between three strands taking place in the venue and sometimes it was a very tough choice. Camps being a little less formal do allow for more movement than many events. However the sessions I went to were all so good that I couldn’t bear to leave them to catch the end of others!
I kicked off the day at Aidan Kenny’s presentation on Servitizing your Business which certainly gave me a lot to think about. However I sometimes think we could do with a stern talk about productizing our business 🙂
I also attended a session give by two representatives of our member companies, Paul McKeever of Front, and Andrew Tobin of T2. This session focused on making the most of your web strategy. If you were there and you liked what you heard and you want more, Paul McKeever and Paul May of Front are both presenting IIA events this quarter.
I also attended a session by Niall Harbison on how he has used social media to grow his business, LookandTaste.com. The funding panel was very well moderated by Patricia O’Sullivan, who ran the M50 incubator program for 6 years and who is currently starting up her own business. The Panel comprised five entrepreneurs who all spoke about their experience of raising funds for their businesses, what helped, and what didn’t, but mostly what helped!
- Caelen King of Reva Health (www.RevaHealth.com) – raised €1.25 million
- Niall Harbison of Look & Taste (formerly iFoods as seen on BBC’s Dragons Den) www.lookandtaste.com – raised €400k
- Campbell Scott of IGOPeople (www.igopeople.com) – raised €750k
- Ciaran Crean of MicksGarage (www.micksgarage.com) – raised €560k
- Keith Bohanna of dbTwang (www.dbtwang.com) – raised €110k
This sesssion also included the perspective of Enterprise Ireland, representatives explaining the different schemes that exist, the benefits and possible obstacles and the future direction of the schemes. Enterprise Ireland were well represented on the day and there was plenty of opportunity to speak with them about business ideas.
For me the most enjoyable session of the day was Robin Blandford’s Battle of the Biz. Basically we were divided into two teams and we have 25 minutes to pull together a credible business and present it to a panel of judges. Our team, Digital Finance, won. It must have been the TV advert that swung it…
At one point during the day I was interviewed for Nuacht RTÉ/ TG4 (Dia Dhuit token Gaeilgeoir!) and the interviewer asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge facing entreprenuers today. I replied that I felt it was not so much the economic situation but the potential of that situation to divert the focus required to start a business in Ireland today. This response is a little facile but it is a danger. I think Bizcamp re-energised people, reminded them of their focus and their reason for starting out on their own.
If you would like to capture this kind of energy, head along to Bizcamp Limerick. I heard, Stephen Kinsella, one of the Limerick organisers speak in Dublin about businesses partnering with third level and if he brings half as much energy to Bizcamp Limerick, you’ll be flying!
€ 1 billion has been earmarked today to help rural areas get online, bring new jobs and help businesses grow. On average, 93 % of Europeans can enjoy a high speed online connection but in some countries broadband covers less than half of the rural population (see the table in the annex). Broadband internet connection is expected to create 1 million jobs and boost the EU’s economy by €850 billion between 2006 and 2015.
How can investment in broadband infrastructures stimulate Europe’s economic recovery?
Investment in broadband has a positive impact on economic development, innovation and territorial cohesion. A recent study shows that, assuming a constant adoption rate up to 2015, broadband development will help create around 1 million jobs in Europe and a broadband-related growth of economic activity of € 850 bn between 2006 and 2015.
In areas with a lack of infrastructure, such as less populated areas or remote and isolated rural areas, increased spending on new telecom infrastructure boosts the productivity and employment potential of the local economy. Development and adoption of advanced broadband services help make businesses and public administration more efficient by enabling organisational innovation and facilitating access to markets. The impact on European industry is clearly positive: apart from civil work for networks which has a direct impact on local employment, sales of network equipment will also benefit global European suppliers (like Siemens, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent), as well as telecoms or satellite operators. And areas with advanced broadband connections will see an increase in demand for products and services.
What is the current state of broadband coverage and speed in Europe?
Broadband access is increasingly widespread in the EU, following substantial EU efforts and a pro-competitive regulatory framework in place since the liberalization of the telecoms sector. In December 2007, broadband connection was available to around 93% of Europeans, mostly in densely populated areas.
However 30% of the EU rural population still has no access to high speed internet.
At the start of 2008, on average, more than half of European users enjoyed advertised internet speeds above 2 Megabits per second, which is considered the minimum to enable advanced services like television over the internet, and about 10% of users had access to more than 10 Megabits per second. This compares favourably with the USA, where 37% of broadband lines offer at least 2.5 Megabits per second and only 4% have speeds equal or above to 10 Megabits per second. These are however "advertised" speeds which overestimate actual speeds. In fact, internet speed worsens when the distance between the exchanges and the location where the user is based is great and/or when several users access the internet simultaneously.
Internet speeds increase with the share of fiber-based high-capacity access technologies. Fiber accounts for 45% of all broadband subscriptions in South Korea and 39% in Japan. These numbers are similar between the EU and the US (1.4% and 1.5% respectively) but much lower than in Asia.
In terms of penetration rate (broadband take up per population), which was 21.7% in EU27 in July 2008, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and Finland lead the rankings in the OECD area penetration rates above 30%. The penetration rate in the US is 25%.
Why is it necessary to spend EU money on broadband investment? Could this not be better done by each Member State?
The EU money will be used in addition to private investments and national funding. It means that rural areas which are not covered by existing plans to roll out or upgrade broadband will be able to participate in the web economy very soon. In particular, this means that areas that are already at an economic disadvantage will be better placed for economic recovery already in 2009.
Which regions in Europe are in a particular need of broadband investment?
European rural areas suffer from much lower coverage rates than urban or suburban areas and this is where the European help should focus. In some countries, even traditional telephone networks are not available in rural areas (in Bulgaria or Romania for example). In others, lack of investment and difficult geographic conditions has limited broadband coverage to less than 50% of the rural population (Greece, Poland, Slovakia). Even countries with a more developed infrastructure still have rural coverage rates below 80%. This is the case of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania. Finally, even in the most developed countries (Germany, France, Italy, Austria), there are still areas that, due to their geographical location or mountainous landscapes, do not enjoy the same conditions as the rest of the country.
Finally, these figures relate to the coverage of DSL, which is the most widespread access platform in Europe. But they do not take into consideration people who live too far away from telephone exchanges to have access to DSL. This is around 3% of the population in the EU15 and much more in the new Member States. Thus, there is considerable scope for investment to ensure all Europeans have the right to broadband.
The attached table provides detailed figures on the level of coverage according to the type of area.
Table1: Broadband coverageof population by urbanity, December 2007 (EU27, NO, IS)
|MT||99%||Not relevant||Not relevant||99%|
Data source: IDATE Study “Broadband Coverage in Europe 2008”
Data for urban, suburban areas and for the national average in Bulgaria and Romania are not available. Rural coverage in these countries is 0 and this allows the calculation of rural coverage for EU27 + 2.
How will the €1 bn of EU money reach rural areas with a particular need for broadband investments?
The money will be injected into the existing Rural Development Programmes, which have been drafted and approved on the basis of the rules established for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. This means that no new instrument needs to be created and that they will be managed by the national rural development managing authorities. This will necessitate a modification of the Rural Development Programmes and Member States are called upon to do it by 30 June 2009 to allow projects to be identified and expenditure to be made already in 2009.
The European Council in December asked the Commission to specify concrete projects for investing the €5 bn for infrastructure? Is there such a central list for broadband projects?
It is the responsibility of Member States and regions to select the projects that can best serve their areas following the established eligibility and selection rules within their rural development programmes. Projects are not imposed centrally by Brussels, but selected by the Member States and they should reflect the needs identified at national, regional and local level in the context of the National Strategy Plans for rural development.
What is the next step? Can the money now be paid out or do Parliament and Council first have to give their agreement? How long will it take until the first payments are made?
The legal proposals that the Commission has tabled today will make possible the spending of the €1bn under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will increase its overall budget by the same amount. The proposal requires the approval by Council. The Commission calls on the Council to adopt these proposals as soon as possible so that money can already be committed in 2009.
How will each Member State apply for this extra funding?
By June 2009 Member States and regions will have to propose a modification of their Rural Development Programme, which have to incorporate the option for investments in broadband infrastructure. Member States and regions can authorise projects from the date of submission of the modification request.
What will be the distribution of funding among the Member States?
The amount of €1bn for broadband to be spent under rural development would be distributed among all Member States on the basis of the current distribution key for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The distribution process will cover also another €0.5bn that are to be spent under rural development for "new challenges" as identified under the Health-check of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Which is the co-financing rate of a broadband project within Rural Development?
Projects can benefit from higher co-financing rates in 2009:
- 90% in Convergence regions
- 75% in non-Convergence regions
If agreed by the Council, additional co-financing of 10% would also be temporarily possible in 2009 to promote the economic recovery in Member States and ease investments.
What are the types of measures related to broadband that can be supported through Rural Development?
The types of operations that can be supported are:
- Creation of new broadband infrastructure including backhaul facilities (e.g. fixed, terrestrial wireless, satellite-based or combination of technologies);
- Upgrade of existing broadband infrastructure;
- Laying down passive broadband infrastructure (e.g.: civil engineering works such as ducts, and other network elements such as dark fibre, etc.) also in synergy with other infrastructures (energy, transport, water, sewerage networks etc.).
Where can I find the contact details of Rural Development Authorities for my Member State?
Further information on the European Commission’s broadband initiatives at "Bridinging the Broadband Gap" initiative:
European broadband portal:
Micus study, "The impact of broadband on growth and productivity", available at
 “Broadband Coverage” refers to the coverage of DSL networks, the most widespread form of broadband access in Europe, and in particular to the percentage of population depending on a Local Exchange equipped with a DSLAM. Thus, coverage also includes those people (Households or Businesses Units) that reside too far from these switches to be able to purchase a DSL connection even if they wanted to do so. Hence, coverage figures overestimate actual availability.