‘Your call’ competition down to five finalists

THE competition to find a new idea which will help boost the nation’s economy has been whittled down to five finalists, it emerged yesterday.

The Your Country, Your Call challenge, the brainchild of Dr Martin McAleese, has reduced an initial 9,000 submissions to the final five shortlist, with the winner to be announced later this month.

The five finalists include turning Ireland into a global media hub, the setting up of an intellectual property based financial securities market here, and installing Solar panels on existing windfarm sites to increase the generation of renewable energy.

Former Fine Gael general election candidate and founder of the O’Brien’s sandwich bar chain, Brody Sweeney, has proposed a new ‘superbrand’ that would market food and tourism under one banner, while the fifth proposal is for the creation of a Data Island Strategy based around digital services.

Two winners will be selected after they meet the judging panel on September 16, with the winning entries to be announced at the Aviva Stadium the following day.

The people or groups behind the two winning ideas will receive €100,000 each, while the ideas will be backed with a fund of €500,000 so they can be implemented, with the help of pro-bono services pledged by various corporations and businesses.

The process of distilling the best ideas has taken some time.

The campaign was launched on February 17, and having received over 9,000 entries, 150 were selected for further consideration before the number was reduced to 40.

The next stage saw that number reduced to 21 semi-finalists, with two of the ideas being so closely linked it was suggested they join each other, which they did.

Yesterday the head of the competition’s judging panel, former EU Commissioner David Byrne, said other ideas which did not make the final five should not be considered for the scrap heap.

“Within the 20 semi-finalists there are some really outstanding proposals,” he said. “We could only choose five, but there were others that clearly identified opportunities of real merit. We will be encouraging all of our 20 semi-finalists to progress their proposals further.”

Dr McAleese said: “As we enter the final selection phase, it is critically important that the positive momentum that has been generated by this democratic and inclusive initiative is sustained.”

The competition has a number of contributors, including the Irish Examiner.

- www.yourcountryyourcall.com

HOTTEST IDEAS: From a ‘superbrand’ to solar power

THE top five ideas in the competition are:

- Creation of a “Superbrand” to market Irish Tourism and Food under one banner with a focus on building job opportunities in both sectors.

The proposer is businessman Brody Sweeney from Sandymount in Dublin.

- An opportunity for Ireland to become a Global Media Hub: Beginning with the creation of an Irish Content Industry Association which would then drive the development of a cultural and creative quarter, a Media Park to attract global content industries, and creating the legislative and regulatory environment to make Ireland a leading global centre for the creation and distribution of digital content.

The proposer, Neil Leyden, is a screen writer and a digital media consultant whose Digital Media Forum has a network of over 600 digital media companies.

- Establishing an intellectual property (IP) based financial securities market in Ireland: Placing Ireland centrally in the evolution of the Knowledge Economy by setting up an IP Services Centre anchored around an IP-based exchange with potential to create employment opportunities.

The proposer, Gordan Hyland, from Belfast, is qualified in technology, finance, law and management.

- Installation of Solar PV Electricity Generation on windfarms: Installation of large scale solar photovoltaic panels on windfarm sites, utilising the existing land, electrical infrastructure and grid connections.

The proposer, Peter Enda Kavanagh, is from Gorey, Co Wexford and is an electrical engineer who specialises in the grid connection and preconstruction of large-scale windfarm projects.

- The Data Island Strategy: Through the development of a Green Mega Data Centre Freezone and an International Innovation Area – The Data Island Strategy sets out to build a world-beating entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem around Digital Services and to position Ireland at the forefront of its spin-off industries.

The proposers are Cianan Clancy and Colm MacFhlannachadha, from Skerries, Co Dublin. Cianan works for a Fortune 500 Consulting Firm while Colm has 25 years experience in energy, electronics, medical devices and food manufacturing sectors.


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