Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Ireland 'capital of digital world'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will ring the bell to open New York's Nasdaq stock exchange as part of the Dublin Web Summit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared Ireland the new capital of the digital world today during a massive internet summit in Dublin where thousands of visitors struggled to get online.

Innovators, investors and inventors from around the globe were left unable to showcase their businesses during the event at the RDS after the system apparently collapsed under the weight of internet traffic.

Mr Kenny also shrugged off the embarrassment of international entrepreneurs being left without water during their stay in the capital because of a mystery problem with reservoir supplies.

"It's been raining in Ireland for thousands of years," he said.

"We've been well able to deal with shortages of water and surpluses of water.

"I hope this matter can be resolved quickly."

Dubbed 'Davos for Geeks', the Dublin Web Summit has been widely praised for bringing globally-renowned leaders in cutting edge technology to the capital for the annual gathering.

The Government has used the event - which has grown in just a few years to become Europe's largest technology festival - to promote Ireland abroad as a world digital hub.

But many businesses were left frustrated when they could not connect to the internet throughout the day to demonstrate their web-based services.

International and national media were also left with difficulties sending news reports from the event.

Organisers said the RDS was responsible for the wireless internet system at the venue.

"The RDS provides the internet service for the Web Summit and assured the organisers a quality service would be provided," said a spokeswoman for Dublin Web Summit.

It is understood the organisers were barred from bringing in outside internet services and that one of the conditions of hiring out the RDS is that they must use the in-house services.

An RDS spokeswoman insisted its system was designed to cope with high volumes of traffic - and had been proven in other large venues in Europe and the US.

"While 3,800 users have been connected to the network, some users have experienced difficulty connecting, which may reflect the volume and varied nature of devices which the attendees bring to this event," she said.

An estimated 10,000 people are attending the gathering.

The RDS spokeswoman added that work was ongoing to "resolve connectivity issues" at the summit.

During the first day, Mr Kenny rang the opening bell for trading on New York's Nasdaq stock exchange - the first time it has been rung from Ireland.

Beforehand, he declared: "Welcome to Ireland, the new capital of the digital world."

Mr Kenny said ringing the bell was symbolic of the country becoming a hub of digital enterprise and innovation.

Later, the Taoiseach said people were flabbergasted by the scale of what was on offer at the summit.

"The results of it I'm sure will have a serious impact on employment in terms of companies starting up here," he said.

"It's a first for Dublin, a first for Ireland. It sends out a really important signal about how we have moved to become a global player in the digital tech world. We are very proud of that."

Some of the world's top entrepreneurs are among 10,000 people from over 90 countries gathering at the two-day festival of ideas and technology.

Executive vice-president at Nasdaq OMX Bruce Aust described Ireland as a hotbed for creative and multinational talent.

He said the summit was a "tremendous platform" for Ireland to reach the international technology community, and praised the country's "great reputation as an innovative and dynamic location where the technology sector thrives".

Among the innovators and inventors at the event is Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and Space X, who was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

A food summit - showcasing Irish food producers - and a night summit - featuring music and arts - will run alongside the main event.

State investment agency IDA Ireland said it will be using the event to sell the country as a location for international businesses.

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