The structure of this week's Dublin Web Summit (subtly rebranded to 'The Summit') was familiar. Thousands of visitors, hundreds of speakers and investors worth billions crammed into the RDS for two days of networking, talks and competitions. It is an intersection of big ideas and big money and this year it had a twist: the ringing of the Nasdaq bell.
Not a new thing for Irish companies - DataHug and the Web Summit organisers opened the tech stock market before in New York. Moving the bell-ringing to the RDS' main stage with a cast of 60 CEOs, founders and thought leaders, however, represented a vote of confidence in Ireland and served as an example of technology as an enabler for business.
As optics, having Taoiseach Enda Kenny flanked by Nasdaq head of listings Bruce Aust and Web Summit organiser Paddy Cosgrave served as a powerful signifier of a country battling its way out of recession by embracing the tech sector to grow beyond the bounds of its small domestic market. In the context of an event marketing Dublin as a hive of innovation, An Taoiseach could have laid off making references to the low corporate tax rate but the message that "Ireland is open for business" was forcefully delivered. Aust also took the opportunity to praise Ireland's "innovative entrepreneurial spirit" - words easily spoken that could reap significant financial rewards if the right investors are swayed.
And there were plenty of local companies working in what the Taoiseach called the "new capital of the Digital World". A walk on the show floor revealed Irish businesses working on everything from Web apps to social networks to digital distribution platforms for films side by side with peers from the UK, US, EU, Israel and the Far East.Was ringing the Nasdaq bell from Dublin a big deal? If it leads to any, it will have been worth it. Guest blog by Niall Kitson, editor of TechCentral.ie