Five ideas selected for final of Your Country, Your Call


FIVE IDEAS have been chosen for the final of the Your Country, Your Call competition, including a project by O’Brien Sandwich Bars founder Brody Sweeney.

The competition, which sought innovative proposals to generate prosperity and jobs, was initiated by Dr Martin McAleese, husband of President Mary McAleese.

It was launched in February and ends later this month when it awards two winners €100,000 each, as well as a development fund of up to €500,000 each to implement the ideas.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation said yesterday it had not provided money to fund the competition but a spokeswoman said formal arrangements were being put in place to allow a payment to be made. Earlier this year, Your Country, Your Call asked the department for €300,000 in funding for the initiative.

The winner will be chosen after two days of presentations and challenges before the judging panel, led by former EU commissioner David Byrne, on September 16th and 17th.

Mr Byrne said the standard of presentations by the 20 semi-finalists was very impressive.

“We are delighted that the selection process has unearthed such a diverse range of possibilities,” he said.

The final selection will be held in the Aviva Stadium, with the winners announced at a ceremony on September 17th. The competition’s patron, President Mary McAleese, will present the awards. An implementation structure will then be put in place with targets and timelines specific and relevant to each winner.

Congratulating the finalists, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Éamon Ryan said he planned to meet them to discuss implementing their proposals.

“This country needs a new direction and new ideas,” he remarked. “We need to brand our country internationally as progressive and moving away from the legacy of boom and bust.”

The finalists were chosen due to their ability to convince the judges of the viability and job creation possibilities of their projects. In the final selection phase, they will be asked to show how the projects can be implemented and potential obstacles overcome.

Mr McAleese said it was critically important that the positive momentum generated was sustained.

“Moving further into the implementation phase will present exciting opportunities and I look forward to the two winning proposals being actively supported and encouraged by all those who are working to secure economic prosperity for our citizens.”

The other judges are: Damini Kumar, programme director of product design, NUI Maynooth; Paul Kerley, chief executive officer, Norkom Technologies; Pádraig Ó Ceidigh, founder of Aer Arann; Amanda Pratt, creative director, Avoca; John Bell, head of cabinet, EU Commission for Research Innovation; and Mary Davis, managing director, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia.

Five finalist

1 The creation of a “Superbrand” to market Irish tourism and food.

The proposal is to create a new “Superbrand” to market Irish tourism and food, North and South, under the one banner.The proposer, Brody Sweeney, is from Sandymount in Dublin. He has been involved in a number of retail chains as well as business charity Connect Ethiopia.

2 An opportunity for Ireland to become a global media hub.

The proposal sets out to create an Irish Content Industry Association which would then drive the development of a cultural and creative quarter. A media park would be established to attract global content industries. The proposer, Neil Leyden, is a screen writer and digital media consultant.

3 Establishing an intellectual property-based financial securities market.

The proposal deals with positioning Ireland centrally in the knowledge economy by setting up an intellectual property services centre anchored around an IP-based exchange.

The proposer, Gordan Hyland, is originally from Belfast.

4 The installation of Solar PV Electricity Generation on existing wind farms.

The proposal is to install large- scale solar photovoltaic panels on existing wind farm sites, utilising the existing land, electrical infrastructure and grid connections. The project has been proposed by electrical engineer Peter Enda Kavanagh.

5 The Data Island Strategy.

The Data Island Strategy sets out to build a world-beating entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem around digital services aimed at positioning Ireland at the forefront of its associated spin-off industries.

The proposers, Cianán Clancy and Colm Mac Fhlannachadha, are both from Skerries, Co Dublin.