On 22 June 2007, timed to coincide with the annual Asian Gaelic Games, the Irish Business Association of Singapore, with sponsorship from Enterprise Ireland & the support of the Embassy of Ireland, organised the Inaugural Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum.
The event attracted a range of young Irish professionals doing business in Asia as well as key figures from Irish business & Government officials.
Opened by HE Richard O’ Brien, Ambassador of Ireland to Singapore the keynote speaker was Dick Spring, Executive Chairman, Fexco, and former Tánaiste. Other notable speakers & panellists included HE Mary Whelan, Head of Bilateral Economic Relations, Department of Foreign Affairs who spoke on the role of embassies in the region.
A panel on ‘Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Asia & Ireland’ was chaired by Moira Lynam of Citi & included Paul Timmons, EIRE Systems K.K, Japan & Robert Agnew of the Hong Kong Ireland Chamber of Commerce.
A lunchtime keynote address was delivered by Professor Patrick Gibbons of the Michael Smurfit School of Business.
Alan Hobbs & Michael Garvey spoke about the support which Enterprise Ireland can provide to Irish companies in Asia & entrepreneurs in Ireland.
The day concluded with a presentation on Diageo in Asia by David Moore followed by a wrap-up piece by Barry O’ Brien.
'Tosnú maith leath an obair' : I was very pleased to participate in the Asia Business Forum in Singapore and it is a great networking opportunity,having both public and private sector representatives from all over Asia in the same room.
I am confident that it will go from strength to strength and become a major event for the Irish diaspora in Asia.Dick Spring
Executive Chairman Fexco, Chairman Altobridge
Former Tánaiste & Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Keynote Speaker, APIBF 2007
The inaugural Asia-Pacific Ireland Business Forum in Singapore provided an excellent learning and networking opportunity for Irish entrepreneurs and professionals in Southeast Asia. For me it again demonstrated the wealth of business talent produced by Ireland in recent decades and confirmed their ongoing interest in Ireland. The forum has the potential to be a launch pad for Irish-based entrepreneurs planning to enter Asia-Pacific markets.
Liam & Pauline Ferrie
Founders Irish Emigrant
Asia is a massive and somewhat daunting continent.It is also now home to many Irish people. At the Forum, one gets the opportunity to meet and hear those people who have made Asia manageable in a uniquely Irish way.Allied to the Irish sporting network,it is possible to find an Irish niche in every market....and to make an Irish market out of every niche......BE THERE.Barry O'Brien
Managing Director, Barry O'Brien & Associates
formerly Director, Royal College of Surgeons
Working as a journalist covering the region it can be a strong comfort knowing there is an Irish person at the end of a phone or an email in a country where you have just arrived and are trying to find your bearings.
The business forum helps to both formalise, and expand, that network. Contacts I made during the forum have generated stories for me, and also given me access to people who will fill me in on the lay of the land in unfamiliar environments, all of which is a bonus in my game, and I can see how that would translate well in other arenas.
The forum was an interesting experience. It was the first time so people were obviously a bit nervous, but by the end of the event people had relaxed considerably and the event this year should be able to hit the ground running. A challenge is always going to be how to take the concept forward, as Asia is such a huge geographical expanse, but there was a lot of commonality around and people felt they could connect with other and exchange views on doing business in their respective areas.
I found the event very useful. The Irish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has made great progress in building a network of contacts around the region. I would recommend that any Irish business person with an interest in Asia attends the next forum.Robert Agnew
CEO Matrix Services Ltd
President, Hong Kong Ireland Chamber of Commerce
I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with my peers in the Irish Business Community in Asia. The event itself was well organised and held in a central location which was convenient to all attendees. It was also held in close proximity to the location for the Asian Games opening ceremony which was useful to those participating.
The forum was particularly interesting as it gave a number of start-ups the opportunity to showcase their successes in the region and provide some guidance for those who were in the process of setting up or those who would like to set up their own businesses.
Perhaps a smaller room would have encouraged more interaction between particpants as it was a little spread out, with large tables but all in all I felt the event was a success and look forward to attending in 2008. It would be good if more of the participants at the business forum took a more active part in the Asian Games as both players and supporters. I felt in 2007 there was very little crossover between those who had attended the Irish pavilion at Communic Asia and the Irish business forum attending the games.Ruairi Hatchell
Marketing Manager, Eire Systems
It was a great opportunity to network with Irish business people in the region, key contacts from relevant Irish government organizations and other relevant non-Irish contacts. The event was very well organized with key speakers from Ireland and around the region. I look forward to the Business Forum 2008.Desmond Scully
Ireland has deep reserves of goodwill throughout Asia, established over centuries by Irish religious, teachers and professionals who have lived and worked in the region. This Irish community today has extraordinary depth of experience in every market, and across all industries.
Already, friendships which I established at the inaugural event in Singapore in 2007 have provided tangible benefits to my business and to the Singapore Irish Business Association. I look forward to participating in the success of the Asia Ireland Business Forum in the years to come.Colin MacDonald
President, Irish Business Association
As an entrepreneur, I need to keep my contacts fresh and their number growing. Additionally, I value the goodwill extended by fellow Irish business people that starts with a handshake and ends with a common vision of collaboration.
There is nowhere else in Asia where I can meet Irish business people of this diversity, with this level of openess, with this vision of shared prosperity.
As the saying goes, "Ní neart go cur le chéile". And the APIBF is where our efforts are enabled to work together.
Looking forward to 2008.Micheal Collins
Director, Collins Kumarasinghe Associates
It was a pleasure and of great benefit to me to be involved in the inaugural Asia business forum in Singapore 2007. To have this joined up with the criac of the Asian GAA makes for an ideal opportunity for the Irish Diaspora and their local colleagues and friends to enjoy Irish culture whilst also adding value to their businesses and careers. The gathering is an excellent opportunity for the individual countries Chambers of Commerce, their members and the various Irish support agencies to come together to share and build on their experiences. As the forum’s reputation grows I have no doubt that Irish businesses at home and elsewhere around the globe will see and tap into this network gathering to get an insight into what its really like to do business in Asia as well as providing the solutions to what from afar may be seen as insurmountable barriers. Asia is a much smaller place when you join this forum.
Principal: Tulfarris Golf Resort / ARIA Audit corporation / Azayaka Corporate Finance KK
Some may say with a yawn 'yet another networking event' but in the case of the APIBF such thinking would be a mistake. There is no other event in the Asia Pacific region that not only brings Asia-based Irish business professionals directly together 'under the same roof' but also provides a platform for discussion and exchange that can potentially lead to greater business opportunities and development for those wishing to do business in Asia. In the inaugural forum held last year it became clear for the first time just how advanced and widespread Irish business has developed in Asia but also of course just how much more opportunity is possible. One felt that there is a great need to enhance bonds between Asia-Irish business groups so as to provide a catalyst to realise this opportunity. Coming from a wide variety of backgrounds participants provide a truly interesting mix of personalities and experiences that is both intriguing and appealing making the working discussions and social interactions that much more enjoyable.
The organisers should be applauded not only their vision in creating this forum but also for their work to ensure it continues.Neil Day
Paddy Foley's Japan
Member of the Japan-Ireland Chamber of Commerce