Ideas competition logs 9,000 entries

 

SOME 9,000 proposals have been received in the Your Country, Your Call competition, which closed for entries at midnight on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the competition said the number of entries had far exceeded the organisers’ expectations.

She said there had been a major increase in entries in the final days of the competition, possibly because serious contenders did not want rival entrants to see their idea until the last possible moment.

On Friday alone, some 1,800 entries were lodged. Your Country Your Call was launched by President Mary McAleese in February and offers two prizes of €100,000 to the winning ideas.

A development fund of €1 million is also available to implement the two proposals, along with the services of a professional advisory group, all offering their help for free.

Apart from a “miscellaneous” category, the most popular category for proposals has been energy and environment (1,362 entries) followed by tourism and hospitality (1,165). The two categories that attracted the lowest number of entries were health/sport and food/agriculture.

The two winning proposals will be announced on September 17th.

In the coming months, the judging panel will whittle down the entries to 20 semi-finalists and then select five finalists before the winners are announced.

The judging panel, chaired by chancellor of Dublin City University David Byrne, said it would be looking for ideas that had the potential to transform the economy by creating jobs and opportunity.

The winning ideas might involve new models for doing business or delivering services, they may identify a completely new business, a new way of developing or of expanding an existing industry, business or service.

Winning proposals may require legislative, administrative or procedural change before they can be implemented.

The competition, which is the brainchild of President McAleese’s husband Dr Martin McAleese, has attracted criticism for the fact that the two winning entries must give up the intellectual property rights associated with their ideas.

DCU president Ferdinand Von Prondzynski, a member of the competition’s steering committee, said it was necessary to transfer intellectual property rights so that implementation of an idea could not be stalled by legal disputes about who owned the proposal.

He said it was unlikely that a proposal involving significant intellectual property that needed protection would be among the winners, given the nature of the competition.

Prof Von Prondzynski said the competition’s corporate organisation An Smaoineamh Mór Ltd was a not-for-profit body and would not exploit intellectual property for its own financial benefit.

An Smaoineamh Mór is chaired by former Bank of Ireland governor Dr Laurence Crowley and directors include Martin Murphy, managing director of Hewlett- Packard Ireland and Eugene McCague, chairman of Arthur Cox solicitors.

All 9,000 entries can be viewed on www.yourcountryyourcall.com.

They include ideas such as putting prisoners to work, offering tax incentives to create a computer games industry here and building the world’s largest hydro electrical power station.

The website also asked people to submit their favourite “Ireland moment”. The most cited moments included the Special Olympics, Riverdance, Italia ’90, the rugby Grand Slam, Gaelic games, the workplace smoking ban and the plastic bag tax.