At the 35th annual Irish Software Association's (ISA) awards, Openet, the network transaction management software provider, won the Outstanding Company of the Year Award, while the Person of the Year Award was shared by Bill Liao and James Whelton of youth programming camps CoderDojo.
Other winners included a Partnership of the Year Award for FeedHenry, Technical Innovation of the Year Award for The Now Factory and the Multinational Corporation Initiative of the Year Award for SAP. The Outstanding Academic Achievement of the Year Award went to Barry Smyth, UCD.
The themes addressed at this year's awards were those of "Innovating, Transforming, Scaling" for Irish companies. In his speech, Karl Flannery, chairman, ISA, said that innovation, hard work, leadership and creativity were important contributors to the nation's economic recovery.
"Our future as an industry is all about international scaling, and it is being written in software by the companies represented by ISA," said Flannery. "We represent a community of category-winning scaling companies that want to transform, or even disrupt, the markets in which they operate to create the industries of the future."
Flannery made reference to Central Bank figures that said the amount of lending to Irish technology companies has dropped by 24% in the year to June. This contrasts with data from the latest NCB Services Index showing that companies in the telecoms, media and technology sectors experienced the largest monthly increase in business activity since February 2007.
"In parallel with this, we have had a major surge in the number of start-ups in Ireland. The Irish Venture Capital Association estimates that there is a capital requirement to fund these companies of €1.5 billion or €300 million per annum over the next five years. Depending on your point of view, you may see this a significant investment opportunity. However, unless action is taken, we could see a capital funding cliff as these companies seek further funding in order to maintain their growth trajectory," said Flannery.
In the next year, said Flannery, the ISA will work with all the relevant funding stakeholders, including Enterprise Ireland and the investment and banking community, to promote the development of a coordinated menu of funding options to close that gap.
"The arrival of specialist lenders such as Silicon Valley Bank in Ireland will help to accelerate the growth of our indigenous technology sector," he said.
Initiatives such as Open Ireland's Technology Visa programme, Enterprise Ireland's IT's Happening Here, Career Zoo and Smart Futures are helping to avert a talent shortage in our growing technology sector.
"Developing a distinct identity and brand promise for the indigenous technology sector is critical. We need to see our technology professionals not just move from multinational to another or from one start-up to another but moving between companies of different scale and in different technologies and verticals," said Flannery.
The indigenous software technology sector has over 600 companies, employing more than 10,000 people, with combined sales of €1.4 billion.