From relatively low-key beginnings, computer chip and software manufacturer Intel arrived in Ireland over 25 years ago and began operating out of a warehouse in west Dublin while waiting for its headquarters to be readied. Today it’s one of the country’s most important private-sector businesses, employing almost 5,000 people at its huge base in Leixlip, Co Kildare, and a contributor of about €12.5 billion in capital investment to the Irish activities is a man who grew up in Wexford town, Eamonn Sinnott, who remains a frequent enough visitor to the streets and countryside of his native locality to know that it has as much, if not more, to offer any multi-national or smaller business, as any other area in Europe.
Educated at the CBS primary school and St Peter’s secondary school in Wexford, before going on to graduate from university with maths and physics specialities, Mr Sinnott worked with Digital Equipment Corporation in Galway before joining Intel as a shift manager in 1991, starting off at its base in Alberquerque, New Mexico, where he became familiar with the landscapes and streets made famous on Breaking Bad. He has held a number of positions with Intel since then, before becoming the corporation’s Vice- President for Technology and Manufacturing in 2010, a post he today holds along with that of General Manager for Intel in Ireland. Among his many responsibilities are oversight of Fab 24, Intel’s first 300mm wafer fabrication facility outside of the United States, and home to the latest generation of Moore’s Law – the principle outlined by one of Intel’s founders, Gordon Moore, many years ago which basically predicted that microprocessor chips would double in capacity every two years for the same cost. It remains the key principle driving the semiconductor industry worldwide today.
“What that has done in our lifetime” Eamonn Sinnott explains, “is transform the entire world as we know it. Who could have imagined the sort of scale, expansion and transformation of the tech sector and the exciting things which it has enabled, and Ireland is at the very heart of this. Other important activities in Intel in Ireland include chip design, security software, advanced graphics for games, and development work for the “internet of things”.
Mr Sinnott is passionate about using Intel as an inspiration for smaller businesses to create, innovate, grow and thrive and says Wexford is an ideal location for such development.
I HAVE MET ANUMBER OF PEOPLE FROM WEXFORD IN RECENT TIMES TO TALK ABOUT THINGS THEY ARE DOING AND IT REALLY DID GIVE ME AN ADRENALIN RUSH TO HEAR ABOUT THE KINDS OF THINGS WE’RE CAPABLE OF. IRELAND IS A NIMBLE, INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE PLACE AND WEXFORD HAS THAT SAME LIFEBLOOD.
Intel has enabled the worldwide infrastructure to connect the planet in ways we could only have dreamed about 25 years ago and you could really get excited about the opportunity that presents for expansion and growth for small businesses, including those located in Wexford, who can look to a global market. The Intel general manager points out that there are 200,000 small and medium enterprises in Ireland, accounting for about 70pc of the national workforce. “Just imagine if they were all to employ another one or two people, you’d solve the unemployment register.” Things have been tough for such companies in recent years, he acknowledges, in the area of raising finance for example, “I believe that excellence is something that you can sell on a world stage – if you are the best in what world at what you do, and can capitalise on that then you have a massive opportunity and I think that is something that Wexford could excel at.” Ireland has done well at looking abroad for opportunities over the last few decades, Mr. Sinnott says. “We’re a small country in the grand scheme of things but we definitely adopt easily a world view and Wexford, for me, is a fantastic cradle for business”.
A study by Price Waterhouse Cooper found that Intel is worth almost €900 million to the Irish economy every year, making its way directly and indirectly across the whole country and not just the Leixlip, Kildare and Dublin areas, while internationally its reputation is gold-standard – recently rated by Forbes as one of the 10 most innovative companies in the world. In his capacity as President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, Mr Sinnott recently made the presentations in a new USIreland research innovation awards scheme and says he was hugely impressed by the level of creativity now in existence across the nation.
“We had 15 finalists and I was blown away by the calibre of those 15 finalists. The reason we put that event on was to point out the level of talent that exists here in this country. I have met a number of people from Wexford in recent times to talk about things they are doing and it really did give me an adrenalin rush to hear about the kinds of things we’re capable of. Ireland is a nimble, innovative and creative place and Wexford has that same lifeblood.”
Meanwhile, he is quick to blow the trumpet of his native town as a place to live and work, citing its beauty, heritage, amenities and young, educated population. “I’m a little biased but I do think Wexford is fantastic.”