This week


Business diary, compiled by PAMELA NEWENHAM

Young entrepreneurs compete to pitch to the Dragons

Entrepreneurship and the young generation are said to be key to getting out of the recession, and if the latest business ideas advanced by hundreds of Irish secondary -school students are anything to go by, things are looking up.

The Republic’s youngest entrepreneurs will battle it out this week to prove the worth of their ideas, to win cash investment and the opportunity to pitch to the entrepreneurs who sit in RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den.

A shortlist of more than 190 ideas put forward by 12- to 18-year-olds will be assessed in 11 locations across the country as part of Bank of Ireland’s biannual National Enterprise Week which begins today and runs until Friday.

The regional winners will appear in the national final of RTÉ’s Junior Dragons’ Den in Dublin on December 8th – the broadcaster is featuring two Junior Dragons’ Den shows in 2013.

Among the companies shortlisted are Criospaí (organic crisps cooked in coconut oil), Warm Woolies (waterproof socks), Spot Your Dog (illuminated collars to keep dogs visible at night), and Glass Act (bowls and platters made from recycled glass bottles).

“These students are the next generation of business people in Ireland and we want to play a role in fostering their talents,” said Deirdre Roche, Bank of Ireland’s head of branches in Dublin north.

Judges for Junior Dragons’ Den include 11890 founder Nicola Byrne, Stylefish founder Julie Cobbe and CityJet founder and Rainmaker executive chairman Pat Byrne.

EU presidency centre stage

Ireland’s seventh EU presidency, and arguably its most important as it comes at a critical moment for the future of the EU, will start on January 1st, and preparations are already under way.

A conference examining the policy priorities of the Irish presidency and the major debates likely to take place during that period will take place in Dublin this Friday.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will speak on key issues relating to European economic governance, and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte will discuss the energy/ICT interface as a driver for growth and jobs at the conference hosted by the Institute for International and European Affairs.

Cyprus will pass the rotating six-month presidency to Ireland at the end of the year and the Government is hoping the overall EU budget for 2014-2020 will be agreed before then.

Ryanair last week said it had made proposals to the Government to lower the cost of presidency-related air travel by as much as €3.5 million through a combination of fixed-price tickets between Dublin and Brussels Charleroi, an extended credit facility and free flight changes.

The airline said if it flew just 1,000 officials over the six months of the Irish presidency, the Government would save over €3.5 million. All told there will be more than 15,000 official flights taken between Ireland and Brussels between now and the end of June.

The recession and costs are huge factors this time round, as the EU presidency will cost the State €60 million, almost half the cost of the last Irish presidency in 2004.