Irish firms plug in to hi-tech US market

THE next revolution in video rentals is being led by an Irish company that has just signed a multi-million euro deal with one of the world’s leading computer companies, IBM.

The agreement is one of a number just agreed between five Irish and US companies worth an initial €60 million, mostly in software and spirits.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern attended the signings in New York yesterday, where Enterprise Ireland was showcasing Irish investment and partnerships in the New York metropolitan area.

He said: “The United States market needs to be a priority for Irish companies seeking strong global competitive positions.”

PortoMedia of Galway has developed a system to download Hollywood films for home or mobile-phone viewing. Its high-speed flash memory module can download and store a 120-minute, DVD-quality film in just 18 seconds.

The Galway company, set up two years ago, is now working with IBM to develop a way of using this technology to replace DVDs for video rentals. This partnership is predicted to result in multi-million dollar sales for Porto Media in the next three years.

Porto Media’s chief executive Timothy O’Brien said the technology will help overcome two major problems in the digital content distribution - piracy and bandwidth bottlenecks.

The other agreements included Dublin-based Information Mosaic’s €12m deal with America’s oldest and largest partnership bank, Brown Brothers Harriman; First Ireland Spirits from Laois extended their distribution agreement for O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream with Heaven Hill Distilleries of Kentucky; Norkom is to install its software designed to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in Standard Chartered Bank’s branches in more than 50 countries: Dublin-based SteelTrace’s deal with Compuware Corporation involves ensuring quality project definition.

The Taoiseach also announced that US aerospace executive Tom Corcoran will join the board of AMT, the aerospace software company based in Dublin.

Marina Donohoe, Americas Director for Enterprise Ireland, said Irish companies have been steadily increasing their business to the US market and winning deals with household names such as Intel, Pfizer, Compuware and IBM.

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