Irish tech executive and Silicon Valley investor, John Hartnett, has been appointed non-executive director of Aer Lingus.
The new executive will work with seasoned business executives Nigel Northridge, a non-executive director at Paddy Power, and Nicolas Villen, former CEO of Ferrovial Aeropeurtos, which runs Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Southampton and Naples airports.
Hartnett founded the ITLG (Irish Technology Leadership Group) several years ago because he realised that unlike other diaspora groups in the US, the Irish diaspora had failed to mobilise to help tech firms from Ireland achieve success in the U.S.
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The movement grew rapidly to engage with hundreds of senior Irish executives in Fortune 500 companies, venture capital firms and leading tech start-ups. Former Intel CEO and chairman Craig Barrett came on board as chairman, the ITLG established a headquarters in downtown San Jose, California, and created its own venture capital firm, Irish Technology Capital.
Silicon Valley is responsible for 40% of direct inward investment in Ireland according to the Industrial Development Industry. Until Aer Lingus' recent announcement, there was no direct flight linking Ireland to any of the cities in or near Silicon Valley.
"The relationship between Ireland and the west coast of the United states is critically important for investment, jobs and tourism. The introduction of the new Aer Lingus route to San Francisco is a major boost to the technology sectors in both Silicon Valley and Ireland and I would encourage technology leaders to support this valuable connection." Mr Harnett told the Irish Times.
Harnett will take up his new post on January 1 2014, following the retirements of Danuta Gray and Thomas Moran from the Aer Lingus board.