National Digital Week presentations connected by Donald Trump theme

National Digital Week, in many ways, is about making the global local, and vice versa, so it’s no surprise that one hugely significant event was in the thoughts of attendees yesterday.

Jayne Ronayne, co-founder of Konnect Again; Pat Lucey, co-founder and CEO of ASPIRA; and Gráinne Dwyer, CEO of the Ludgate Hub.

Sarita Johnson, manager of female entrepreneurship in Enterprise Ireland, even displayed US president-elect Donald Trump’s picture during her presentation in Skibbereen on funding options for start-up firms.

As she pointed out how there was still much scope for greater roles for women in decision-making in business, she wondered how Hillary Clinton had failed to break through the glass ceiling of American politics.

National Digital Week has received strong backing, as has the town’s Ludgate Digital Hub, from Google, one of the companies being eyed by the US president-elect for repatriation.

Another speaker at the event, co-founder of Konnect Again Jayne Ronayne, recalled in her presentation how one instructive period in developing her company was time spent in America on a J1 visa. Trump has long signalled that he intends to scrap these visas.

It wasn’t the last mention of the seismic events of this week. Another contributor to the event, Vconnecta founder Brendan Finucane admitted that a large number of Republicans contesting elections this week utilised his product, which makes it easier for canvassers to input and utilise data on voters.

Brendan Finucane, founder of Vconnecta, speaks at National Digital Week in Skibbereen yesterday. Pictures: Emma Jervis

Mr Finucane stressed his company was non-partisan and has worked with PBP-AAA here and the UK Green Party, among others.

Its Civis Connect and encanvasser applications have been used in 526 cities, mostly in the US but also in Kenya and India.

“We have carved out a bit of a niche with the Republicans in the US,” he told those at the event, adding that of those election teams who used the products in this week’s election, 75% of those Republican representatives got elected “and a lot of them would have been pro-Trump”.

He said he had the idea in 2011 while canvassing for Micheál Martin in Cork.

Day two of National Digital Week included presentations from a number of speakers who have established successful start-ups.

They included Jayne Ronayne, co-founder of Konnect Again, which provides software to allow for easier university alumni relations online, and Aoibheann O’Brien, the co-founder of Food Cloud.

Aoibheann O’Brien, co-founder of Food Cloud, addresses the audience at National Digital Week.

It links retailers who discard unsold food products with nearby charities seeking donations. It operates in 14 countries through Tesco stores, including 900 in the UK and 1,000 in Ireland, leading to the redistribution of 5m meals to charities here.

Ms O’Brien said targets for next year included a relationship with 6,000 retail outlets and 10,000 charities across all the countries in which it has a presence, as well as 30m meals for people in need and the redistribution of 14,000 tonnes of surplus food.

It also emerged yesterday that the Ludgate Digital Hub had awarded the first portion of seed funding to online education startup Digedu, which will mean the company relocating from its base in Dublin to West Cork.

Digedu is an online provider of courses aimed at teaching skills for the digital age to a global audience, and will receive €45,000 in seed funding, 10% of the total amount of seed funding being made available through Ludgate for start-up companies.

National Digital Week will conclude later today, following contributions from speakers such as Ronan Harris, head of Google Ireland; Mark McGann, a senior board adviser at Uber, and Aisling Hassell, head of customer experience at AirBnB.



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