Businessman Denis O’Brien said Ireland needed to change its strategy for Asia and decide how it wants to position itself.
“It is the US of the future in terms of foreign direct investment,” he said, adding that Ireland needed to increase its efforts tenfold when it came to Asia.
On Ireland, Mr O’Brien said that Ireland was “very hard” on itself. He said that the country needs to redouble its efforts in how it markets itself.
Mr O’Brien is investing in the Farmleigh Fellowship, an initiative that stemmed from the 2009 forum. It is a major graduate programme which, over the next five years, aims to facilitate 1,000 Irish people who wish to study in Asia.
Working in partnership with Irish companies, UCC and the Government, it started its first programme in January.
The MBS Asian Business Programme involved 23 Irish graduates and 19 Irish companies. Participants spent three months in Ireland and nine months in Asia.
The programme costs about €600,000 to fund, €200,000 of which comes from the Government.
Fred Combe, chairman of the fellowship, said: “This is a master’s programme awarded by UCC in co-operation with Nanyang Business School in Singapore and is specifically developed to support the Farmleigh fellowship concept.
“Equipping our third- level graduates with the necessary business knowledge to enter foreign markets will help drive Ireland’s economy.
“We have identified growth opportunities for the Farmleigh Fellowship and, by 2016, we estimate over 1,000 graduates will have passed through the various programmes on offer.”
To qualify for the programme, graduates must have at least a 2.2 honours degree or equivalent.
Other schemes to be introduced before 2016 will be Asian work placements, undergraduate exchanges between Irish and Asian universities and Government agency placements within Asia.