Ms Dowling was speaking at the Cork Chamber of Commerce breakfast, where she told attendees the country was not promoting the achievements of entrepreneurs who have left Ireland.
“Ireland Inc is branded worldwide in a pretty phenomenal way. What it is known for is its manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, which is fantastic. What it is not known for is its intellectual property and its innovation.
“These are the pieces we need to brand. We need to actually plug the Limerick brothers who raised $1bn in their first round of funding. In Silicon Valley alone of the top 250 start-ups for the last two years 50 of them have Irish executive management, Irish executive leadership, and I don’t mean Irish-American, I mean Irish, actually coming out of here and going and living in the US and taking those leadership positions,” she said.
To foster the growth of innovation in Ireland the country needs to arm graduates with the skills to take on the challenges of the future, she said.
Ms Dowling put particular emphasis on the need for more data science graduates.
Ms Dowling said that Cork is already leading the way in cloud computing with VMware and EMC located in the region. She said there is an opportunity for Ireland to become a world leader and take its place as one of the most innovative countries in the world.
“I would like Ireland to be the next Israel. Silicon Valley files the most patents in the world, next is Israel, then the UK. Could Ireland be number four and claim our position in the top five? It would be incredible if we could,” she said.
The mechanisms for Ireland to take its place as a world-leading innovator are now in place, with the rise of venture capital allowing innovative companies to stay here.