Our aim is to improve things for all, not for ourselves


OPINION: Simon McGarr raised questions about Your Country, Your Call. This is the organisation’s response

FROM ITS inception, Your Country, Your Call has been developed with the sole intention of bringing a new sense of purpose and the potential for prosperity and employment to Ireland. All those who have been involved in any way (as noted on yourcountryyourcall.com), whether in a personal capacity or on behalf of organisations or companies, have assisted only on a pro bono basis.

The majority have done so by offering their support or their services free, while a smaller number have made financial contributions; the latter have been capped at €150,000, to ensure no single donor could be seen as deserving greater credit than any other or as having a disproportionate influence.

In recognition of the significant public interest involved in promoting economic regeneration and growth, the Government has agreed to contribute €300,000, but again it has no direct role in running the competition or determining the outcome.

The competition’s corporate organisation, An Smaoineamh Mór Ltd, will not, either on its own behalf or through any corporate entity it controls or is associated with, benefit financially from the development of the winning proposals. The intention is, rather, that it will co-ordinate the design, operation, and implementation of these proposals, with the aim of ensuring that in doing so it will open up opportunities for national economic growth.

It will not exploit or commercialise any intellectual property for its own financial benefit, or the benefit of anyone associated with running the competition who is giving their time on a pro bono basis.

The issue of how intellectual property should be handled was discussed in detail when the competition was designed. Because of what the competition seeks to achieve, it is unlikely a proposal involving significant intellectual property that would need to be protected would be among the winners.

The chief objective is to ensure the winning proposals are developed in the national interest, rather than in the commercial interests of specific companies, organisations or individuals. The transfer of intellectual property rights is necessary to ensure the implementation cannot be compromised or stalled by legal disputes about who owns the proposal.

We can envisage the competition will create new business opportunities for companies and individuals who will be able to develop and benefit from their own intellectual property in the process, the framework within which this happens must not be anyone’s exclusive property, but must be owned by the community.

An Smaoineamh Mór will not itself enter into any business or commercial activity, nor will it exploit intellectual property rights for its own financial or other benefit, or the benefit of anyone associated with it or with the running of the competition. All entrants with proposals that do not end up as winners will retain full intellectual property rights to their ideas.

As a country, we are still struggling to overcome the effects of the deepest recession we have experienced for several generations. We must not let pessimism or doubt overwhelm our sense of national purpose.

Your Country, Your Call is an ambitious project to create something better for all of the people. It invites anyone to make a proposal, involving imagination and scale.

The competition closes tomorrow, and there is still time to enter. Anyone doing so has the chance to win, but perhaps just as importantly, all those entering are indicating they want to take part in this common purpose of delivering a better future for those who come after us.