A delegation of top executives, led by Craig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel will touch down in Ireland this week aimed at strengthening “developmental ties” between Ireland and Silicon Valley.

Twelve Irish start-up businesses have been chosen to meet Silicon Valley capital executives later this week. A mentoring program which will offer one-year's experience at a US technology corporation or venture capital firm will be unveiled during the three-day visit.

The event is hosted by Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG),  and partnered with NUI Galway (NUIG), University of Limerick (UL) and Shannon Development.

Dr Barrett, who is the chairman ITLG, has urged Ireland to focus on enlarging its indigenous high-tech sector as a means of fueling the economic recovery.

“There is significant opportunity for growth driven by these firms,” he said. “Ireland and the US are in similar circumstances – if we don’t take advantage of our skilled workforces and entrepreneurial spirit we will lose out to emerging economies.

“We are in Ireland this week to support Irish tech companies who have the ambition to grow and succeed, and the mentorship programme is one way of doing this.”

The purpose of the mentoring programme, is to enable participants to “return to Ireland with the skills and experience necessary to start businesses and to foster the growth and development of tomorrow’s executives in their native communities”.

Speaking about the event, NUIG president Dr Browne reiterated the importance of Ireland's competitiveness: “Our economic future depends on Ireland’s ability to compete in the global smart economy,” Dr Browne said.

University of Limerick president Prof Don Barry said the college welcomed “this opportunity to uncover the emerging technological opportunities we have in Ireland and to nurture those that have true potential and support them in achieving success”.