Thursday 21 November 2019

Quinn quits education technology funding firm

RESIGNATION: Ruairi Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke
RESIGNATION: Ruairi Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Barely a wet day in the job and the new Education & Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn has already written a letter of resignation -- so he can step down from a firm that funds university research.

Mr Quinn has been chairman of the fund advisory committee of the 4th Level Ventures University Seed Fund for about four years.

This fund supports start-up companies that are set up using research by universities, hospitals and Institutes of Technology.

Mr Quinn wrote a letter of resignation last Thursday so he could step down from his position with the company.

"I have resigned, in writing, from my position as chairman of the fund advisory committee of the 4th Level Ventures University Seed Fund," he said last Friday.

Mr Quinn's decision to step down from 4th Level Ventures is understood to have been taken to alleviate any concerns that may have arisen about a possible conflict of interest had he continued in his role with the company while Education Minister. The state agency Enterprise Ireland is a major investor in 4th Level Ventures.

Mr Quinn did not have a day-to-day role in 4th Level Ventures, according to a company source. The Sunday Independent understands Mr Quinn chaired two to three meetings a year where investment was reviewed.

One of the companies supported by 4th Level Ventures is Nualight, a Cork company chaired by Eamonn Quinn -- son of Superquinn founder Feargal Quinn. Nualight designs LED lighting to make food look more appetising in supermarkets. It also supports the Cork games company Selatra and Limerick chip firm, Powervation.

The internet pioneer Dennis Jennings, and Ray Naughton, a former managing director of Siemens Nixdorf in Ireland, set up 4th Level Ventures. Dolmen Securities' Ronan Reid is managing director of the company.

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