A major agreement between leading cleantech organisations in Dublin and Silicon Valley was signed in San Jose this week. The agreement between Ronan Furlong is the Director of Operations at The Green Way. He explains what a cleantech organisation is, how the agreement came about and what it means for Ireland. Can you tell me what a cleantech organisation is and how did The Green Way come about? The Green Way – Dublin’s cleantech cluster, is a collective that has been formed in order to drive Ireland and Dublin’s productivity and innovation using the cluster’s ’triple helix’ of competencies in the areas of Industry capability, Academic RD&I and Government engagement to develop, promote and attract businesses in the cleantech sector and to stimulate job creation. The green economic revolution is not evenly dispersed. The companies that are revolutionising how we consume resources, manufacture products, drive, produce electricity, and construct buildings in a sustainable and cost effective fashion, often stick together in specific locations, and thereby form cleantech clusters. The Green Way is one such cleantech cluster seeking to coordinate and accelerate the various cleantech initiatives and capabilities that exist in the Dublin region. As old industries struggle, cities are building up their emerging cleantech clusters as new centres of economic growth. Dublin is one of the cities vying for a position in the global cleantech marketplace with government bodies, businesses, and academic institutions all helping to make it happen. Dublin has world class academic institutes and energy research centres, and strong biotech and hi-tech business communities. It has a unique asset in the IBM ‘Smart Cities Technology Centre’, a world class institution that educates and drives innovation in the area of low carbon cities. Dublin also has local authorities, chambers of commerce and an international airport that sees cleantech as an important opportunity for future economic growth. The Green Way initiative consists of six Dublin-based founding members that can jointly and uniquely combine the strengths of the academic, government and enterprise sectors to create a strong global competency in the cleantech area. The initiative was founded in 2010 when a number of key regional stakeholders decided to collaborate in order to encourage green economic growth through the stimulation of the Cleantech sector in Dublin. The founding members of The Green Way are the Dublin Airport Authority, Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, North Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. What is your background and why did you become involved in The Green Way? I am the Director of Operations and Communications at The Green Way and also Senior Development Manager at Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). I have 15 years experience in technology start ups, commercial business development, real estate development and Green Economic Development with Sisk Group, Avestus Capital Partners, DAA and The Green Way. I am currently undertaking a post grad in Sustainable Energy Finance in Dublin City University, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from University College Dublin, a post grad diploma in Project Management and a Masters in Business Administration from Trinity College. I was responsible for conceiving and pursuing a green economic development proposal at Dublin Airport called the ‘International Cleantech Services Centre’ aimed at attracting the next generation of Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland. This proposal had major overlaps with the green economic plans of Dublin City, Fingal, DCU, DIT and Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL), and BRL recognised the complementary plans of all the actors and successfully convinced all parties to work in unison for the benefit of the overall region…… a classic example of the “whole being greater than the sum of the parts”. Who are the Environmental Business Cluster in San Jose, California? The Environmental Business Cluster (EBC) is an award-winning cleantech incubator located in the heart of the Silicon Valley that provides commercialisation support and facilities for emerging clean energy and environmental technology companies. Named one of the top incubators in the U.S. by CNN, the EBC suite of services includes expert coaching and strategic counsel, focused educational and networking programs, targeted access to investors, strategic partners and industry networks, attractive furnished office space, equipment, conference rooms and training facilities. Quick Facts about the Environmental Business Cluster Founded in 1994 by the City of San Jose and the San Jose State University Research Foundation, the EBC has assisted over 150 companies. The EBC is the largest environmental and cleantech incubator in the U.S. In 2006, the EBC was rated the #1 clean energy incubator in the world based on the number of technologies that it has successfully brought to market. Recent graduate GreenVolts, raised $30 Million and was named as a 2008 Company of The Year by BusinessWeek. The agreement between The Green Way and the Environmental Business Cluster is a major collaboration – how did this come about? Dublin City has a longstanding (26 yr old) ‘sister city’ relationship with San Jose which has been critically important in attracting Silicon Valley high tech companies to Dublin down through the years. As part of their visit to Dublin in October of last year, the Green Way gave a presentation to San Jose city officials outlining the synergy between the cities specifically in the area of cleantech. San Jose has a strong ‘Green Vision’ strategy led by their Mayor Chuck Reed and the City backed EBC is an essential component of their strategy. Similarly the Dublin region now has a strong Green Economic focus with initiatives such as the Green Way and the Green IFSC, and it was agreed that a collaborative agreement be constructed that would lead to cleantech trade opportunities for the companies from each city. That agreement was signed on Monday with the purpose of facilitating Irish cleantech companies looking for a Silicon Valley customers, investors and partners, as well as facilitating Valley cleantech companies looking to access to EU markets by offering test bedding and commercialisation opportunities within the Green Way. What does the agreement mean for Irish businesses and employment in the green tech sector? Irish cleantech companies have to be ambitious and look to develop scalable solutions for global markets. Being able to access the pre-eminent cleantech ecosystem in the world in Silicon Valley will provide Irish companies with access to major clean technology partners as well as major cleantech VC funds as they seek grow aggressively. These companies if successful will be servicing a global marketplace but will hopefully doing so from a Dublin base – following in the footsteps of Irish cleantech success stories such as Mainstream Renewable Power and Glen Dimplex. What is next for The Green Way? The signing of the MoU is just the beginning. The hard work now starts in terms of facilitating the indigenous Dublin cleantech companies as they seek to expand into the US market as well as attracting the next generation of Silicon Valley cleantech companies to Dublin. Many thanks to Ronan Furlong for giving me his time to highlight this important collaboration.