Silicon Valley Bank to invest in Irish start-ups

Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:36pm IST

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* Irish state fund to invest $50 million

* Investments to focus on technology, life sciences

DUBLIN, June 19 (Reuters) - SVB Financial Group's banking unit Silicon Valley Bank said it plans to lend $100 million to the Irish innovation sector, in a tie-up that will see the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) invest in the company's funds.

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), which announced last week that it would open its first international branch in London, will invest in Ireland's technology, life science, clean-tech, private-equity and venture capital businesses over the next five years.

Dublin has succeeded in attracting tech giants such Google , and Intel and Facebook thanks to its low corporate tax rate and educated, English-speaking workforce, creating a hub for technology companies, one of the few bright spots in a struggling economy.

The government's growth strategy is focusing on export sectors with high growth potential, such as technology and life sciences, to help to prop up an economy struggling with shrinking domestic demand.

"Accessing effectively venture capital funds for start-ups is very, very important to the present state of the development of our economy," Finance Minister Michael Noonan told journalists

Ireland's pension reserve fund said it will help identify the businesses, and it has made a separate agreement to invest up to $50 million in technology-focused funds managed by SVB Capital, its chairman, Paul Carty told journalists on Tuesday.

Silicon Valley Bank, which has been offering financing solutions in the UK since 2004 through an affiliate, already counts chipmaker Icera, music service Shazam and venture capital firms Index Ventures and Balderton Capital among its clients in the UK.

The bank will target companies that have already secured early stage funding or where their product is getting some traction, said Phil Cox, the head of UK, Israel and India at the bank.

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