Monday 20 January 2020

Silicon Valley Bank lends over $50m to Irish tech start-ups

John Collison from Stripe at the Dublin Web Summit
John Collison from Stripe at the Dublin Web Summit

Colm Kelpie

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) - the Californian tech-to-life-sciences lender - has lent well over $50m to Irish tech start-ups in recent years and has now placed a permanent representative in Ireland for the first time.

Gerald Brady, head of UK relationship banking with SVB, told the Irish Independent that the lender is well over halfway towards its target to lend $100m into Irish firms, but declined to give a specific figure.

The bank has 14 companies that it is lending to in Ireland across the technology and life sciences sectors. He said SVB, as of January, has a permanent representative in Ireland such is the level of demand, and the level of opportunity.

"We're well over $50m. We're a little faster than the pace that we thought we'd be, which is a good thing, and it's driven by the opportunities that we've seen," Mr Brady told the Irish Independent on the margins of the All-Ireland-US Sister Cities Mayors' Summit in Croke Park.

Mr Brady said he believes SVB will hit the $100m target ahead of time and may go beyond it.

"We've got clients and we see the opportunity here and we've got relationships that are requiring time," he said.

Mr Brady heaped particular praise on Collison brothers, John and Patrick, who founded online payments company Stripe. They launched Stripe Atlas earlier this year, which lets budding entrepreneurs in developing countries begin trading online through a connection to a US bank account, online payment system (Stripe) and US incorporated company registration.

To further this, Stripe has teamed up with a number of financial, legal and professional services firms, including SVB, which will provide banking services for Stripe Atlas Start-ups.

"The Collison brothers are one of the best examples of Irish entrepreneurs in the world," Mr Brady said.

"What they've done with Stripe is incredible. Stripe's become probably one of the most important payment companies in the world."

Asked if SVB would consider expanding further its presence in Ireland, Mr Brady said the lender does not have a banking licence.

But he added: "The intent is to grow. What we are in Ireland is we're regulated as a lender. We can't take deposits, because we don't have a banking licence as such ... but the intent over time would be to continue to build, add people and again, as I say, in terms of opportunity, that's the really limiting factor.

"From our perspective, you've seen great quality opportunities, so I'm very convinced that we'll continue to see great entrepreneurs coming out of Ireland."

Irish Independent

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