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Paddy Cosgrave

Paddy Cosgrave

Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

Paddy Cosgrave

Dublin's hotels will be packed to their over-priced rafters with technology types this week as the Dublin Web Summit finally kicks off.

The summit, which has been called Davos for Geeks and is being sponsored by the Irish Independent for the first time, has become an important event on the business calendar thanks in large part to the determination of one man; Paddy Cosgrave.

Just four years ago, the summit attracted around 450 techies. This week, more than 20,000 people from 109 countries are expected to attend, with 86pc coming from overseas to listen to more than 600 speakers.

The human dynamo who made this happen is a young entrepreneur in a hurry. The Trinity College graduate sold his MiCandidate media business in 2009 at the tender age of 26 and used the proceeds to set up the first web summit the same year. Since then, the summit has expanded rapidly into an enormous event that has forced the RDS to invest millions in new technology to keep up as host.

The son of a Wicklow farmer, who still farms himself from time to time, now owns a valuable conference business which employs scores of people but he remains remarkably down-to-earth and unpretentious.

Despite undoubted wealth and often being cast as the spokesman for an entire generation of 20-something entrepreneurs, Cosgrave lives with a gang of friends in a rented house in Dublin 6. With little time for the baubles of the nouveau riche, he does not own a car, preferring bicycles and taxis.

His position on the board of the Higher Education Authority has also not prevented him from saying the obvious when it comes to university degrees; namely that not all degrees are created equal and a 2.1 degree from TCD is equivalent to a first-class honours degree from the other six universities here.

Cosgrave has repeatedly denied reports that he is planning to sell the Dublin Web Summit and claims instead to be plotting to expand the summit to other countries to build on his forays into the US.

The farmer's son is also said to be thinking about ways of exploiting Ireland's dominance in the agri-business sector. Whatever happens next, Cosgrave is clearly a man who can make things happen. Watch this space.

Irish Independent