Summit Bridge Capital, a new $100 million joint-venture investment fund between Ireland and China, co-funded by the National Pension Reserve Fund and the China Investment Corporation (CIC), expects to take minority stakes in up to 15 established Irish technology companies over the next three-to-five years.

Speaking on the Down to Business programme on Newstalk Radio, Hugh Kelly, Vice President of the Irish Exporters Association and Chairman of the Asia Trade Forum stated "the CIC is one of the world's largest sovereign growth funds. It only makes strategic investments that are good for China and, for this reason, this can only be interpreted as a huge of vote of confidence in Ireland."

China's population now exceeds 1.3 billion and its economy is set to overtake the US's by 2017 in PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) terms. It is an increasingly important market for Irish exporters and, by 2030, is forecast to become Ireland's 4th largest export market.

Following the signing of joint government sponsored NTMA / CIC Memorandum of Understanding back in early 2012, an initiative involving CIC was always going to bear fruition. The questions to be answered were when and what?

"The NPRF is to be congratulated; they have clearly worked hard to develop the trust and establish the framework for this deal since signing the MOU with the CIC in March 2012. China is now set to accelerate as a major market for Irish companies in terms of joint collaboration and market access. Equally importantly", Kelly added, "this pushes Ireland way up the table in terms of attracting Chinese outbound investment into Europe."

Coming hot on the heels of the announcement of the establishment of an a new Irish-domiciled exchange-traded fund (ETF) offering European investors direct access to China's blue-chip stocks for the first time, the approaching Year of the Horse looks set to be an auspicious one in Ireland-China relations.