Closing date for the second call to the WDC Micro-Loan Fund for the Creative Industries is last working day of March 2013.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has launched its 2nd call for funding applicants under its Micro Loan Fund for Creative Industries. Following a very successful first call in June of last year, the fund has already disbursed €120,000 to creative businesses in the Western Region and looks forward to increasing its disbursals over 2013.

The WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries is open to: sole traders, partnerships, businesses, co-operatives and groups operating in the creative industries sector. This is defined as: Occupations and industries centred on creativity, for the production and distribution of original goods and services. The preference is for businesses to be incorporated i.e. a company limited by shares or a company limited by guarantee but non-incorporated businesses will be considered.

The following 12 creative industries make up the creative sector. Businesses from these sectors are eligible to apply:

  • Advertising
  • Architecture
  • Art/Antiques trade
  • Crafts
  • Design
  • Digital media
  • Fashion
  • Internet and software
  • Music, visual and performing arts
  • Publishing
  • Radio and TV broadcasting
  • Video, film and photography

The business must be based in the Western Region (Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Mayo, Galway and Clare) to access the WDC Micro-Loan Fund.

The funding will be used to grow and develop the business in accordance with the promoter’s business plan.

If you feel that this type of funding will help grow your business, and you have the capacity to repay the loan, then you may be interested in applying for a micro-loan.

More information is available, and an Application Form can be downloaded, on


Conceived@NUIM – Design innovation concepts brought to life

Design Innovation End of the Year Show is taking place on 7th June at 7pm in Iontas Foyer, North Campus, NUI Maynooth.

The theme of the show is ‘Design Innovation concepts brought to life’. The centerpiece of the show is the display of students’ individual and group final design projects.

The Department of Design Innovation at NUIM studies design as the driver of modern innovation. It is home to the disciplines of Design and Design-inspired Innovation at NUI Maynooth – teaching and researching design as a strategic and creative user-centred discipline that is at the heart of modern innovation.

The following projects (and many more) will be presented:
Digital Patient Wristband – Gearoid Conway
RJB Golf Bag – Jamie Maguire
Lifestyle Luggage for an Urban Environment – Stephen Martin
Ease Comport Chair – Carl McAteer
Attach: High Chair – Darragh O’Connell
iNteract: Socially Interactive Speaker – Sean O’Connor
Aura: Women’s Personal Safety Accessory – Marion O’Keeffe
Buddy Holly’s Chordboard – Darren Travers

“No pre-contract strategic proposal or visual concept should leave your building without its barcode”

We, on the professional creative side of the fence, know the value of our work. Professional clients know it too and respect the value of our creative input into their success … mutual respect for the creative process safeguards its integrity and value – and our livelihoods.

Most clients are, like most designers, decent professional people. But most creatives have suffered at one time or another from an unscrupulous client who wants us to work without payment. Sometimes they just ask for a free pitch (from 5 or 10 or more designers) and sometimes they simply take an idea as presented and ‘make’ it their own. It’s too late to protect yourself at the point at which the client has walked away with your ideas, concepts, Documents/proposals, Concept visuals, Video, Film, Photographic images Illustrations – but what if you could ‘register’ your work before you submit it?

Creative Barcode is an ‘Open-Protection’ system designed to uphold the value of knowledge & creativity in the innovation process. It is an affordable, safe disclosure and Intellectual Property management system for creative industries and brand owners worldwide. As they say themselves “Just barcode it and share it. No pre-contract strategic proposal or visual concept should leave your building without its barcode”.

Barcodes can be applied to visuals, jpegs, video, film, illustrations and other imagery published on your own or others web sites to denote that permission based usage is required and for security Creative Barcode users can send their files through a secure file tracking service which is built into the App. When the file recipient receives your email they ‘check box’ agree to the Creative Barcode Trust Charter before they download your files. This agreement states that your work may not be commercialised without your permission.

Creative Barcode IP Review Release

A new and innovative way to see (and experience) Dublin

Storymap – an engaging collection of stories and experiences, each about a place in Dublin can be accessed online at

A newly launched project called Storymap which, according to Thomas Rowley (who runs along with a colleague, Andy Flaherty) “is a website that collects interesting stories about Dublin, films them in the relevant location, and then uploads & integrates them into an online map.”

The site has already attracted attention from the national media, with features in The Irish Independent, Newstalk with Tom Dunne, and The Daily Mail.

The Innovate!100 list of outstanding and fast-moving start-up companies

The Innovate!100 list of outstanding and fast-moving start-up companies from around the world has been announced. The list was developed after more than 30 Innovate! Pitch Slam events were held on five continents over the past 10 months as part of the Innovate! 2010 program. Dublin’s Pitch Slam took place March 8.

Getting onto the list was an achievement in itself and ranking was determined by a combination of the company’s G/SCORE assessment which measures a company/product by assessing overall concept, market opportunity, competitive risk, product development, business development, team, and business model, and by measuring the company’s stage and pace of growth, and business potential.

Eight Pitch Slams were held in the US and US companies took 4 of the top ten rankings and 23 out of 100 places. The top five companies/countries were: 1 Anboto Group, Spain; 2 Artesian Solutions, United Kingdom; 3 RedOxygen, Australia; 4 NUMENUS GmbH Germany; 5 ividence, France / United States.

Ireland had three companies in the top 100 – Event Elephant (43), (46) and (at 98 position) getitkeepit.

Punching well above its weight is Estonia (population 1.5 million / occupied by the Soviet Union until 1991) with six outstanding and fast-moving start-up companies in the top 100, including the highly ranked Now!Innovations in thirteenth position.

The full list is available here:

The Innovate!100 list isn’t fully impartial (for example judges are drawn from sponsors companies), it is certainly not definitive (Pitch Slams didn’t take place everywhere in the world) and it is heavily biased towards web/software/ITC companies/products. But it is a useful gauge and a stimulus … can we get an Irish company into the top 20 in 2011?

Meet the World’s Smartest Start-up … in Dublin (it could be you)

IBM’s SmartCamp is an exclusive program bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and experienced mentors who want to build a Smarter Planet. The programme provides access to world-class advisors plus a direct route to seed and venture capital.

SmartCamp is a global program which will be run in the following eight cities in 2010:

Stockholm (20 May); Boston (3 June); Tel Aviv (24 June); London (21 July); Silicon Valley (8 September); Paris (24 September); Copenhagen (7 October); and … Dublin (16 November).

Competition in each city is fierce – but there can only be one winner and the winners from each of the cities will compete in Dublin where one company will be named “The World’s Smartest Start-up”.

The program will be run on a city-by-city basis. In each location there will be four main phases:

  1. Online submission
  2. Applications reviewed and selected
  3. Mini interviews (20 mins) for short-listed groups
  4. Full day mentoring for the five selected companies concluding with a pitch and Q&A to a panel of industry experts and an invited audience.

Each shortlisted company will meet and have informal discussions with groups of experienced entrepreneurs, international VC’s and executives from large corporations. A total of 25 mentors will be split into teams of five, meeting each company separately for a 45 minute roundtable. The competition is more than half way through – with only three results not yet decided – Paris, Copenhagen and Dublin.

At the close of the event, one company will be selected from each city and invited to SmartCamp week in Dublin in November … where one will be named “The World’s Smartest Start-up”.


May / Stockholm: MAKING WATER SAFE
Predect, with their real-time water detection, impressed the jury with their smart solution, fulfilling the criteria of being Instrumented, Interconnected and Intelligent.

5 companies spent the day with 25 mentors. At the end of the process Sproxil impressed the judges the most. Their solution addresses the massive market of counterfeit medicine in the emerging markets.

Panoramic Power is developing a very low-cost solution for precise monitoring of electrical consumption at the individual circuit-level. Their solution allows owners and managers of existing commercial buildings reduce the consumption of electrical energy as well as predict and prevent equipment failure, system overload and electrical closet fires

Worldsensing is based in Barcelona and has developed some very small, robust sensors connected to small radios that can be connected to the Internet. The company estimates that urban motorists can spend up to 15 minutes searching for a place to park, but its technology gives real time information of space availability, so drivers can quickly grab a parking spot.

CareCloud modernizes the workflow in a medical practice to put physicians in touch with each other across multiple points of care, through a cloud computing technology-based solution.

Streetline uses sensors that allow citizens to find inexpensive parking fast while helping cities manage their parking resources more efficiently. Over 30 percent of traffic in cities is caused by drivers looking for parking.

Paris, Copenhagen and Dublin yet to come…

What’s missing at Terminal 2? Could it be ‘voluptuous panic’?

T3 Slide Changi Airport
T3 Slide Changi Airport, Singapore

Having taken a tour of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport recently I have to say it is very impressive – inside and out.

The fit-out is ongoing in advance of its opening later this year. Congratulations and Respect to everyone involved.

I have only one gripe … I saw no evidence that DAA is going to install one of these:

It is The Slide@T3 in Changi Airport (Singapore), the world’s tallest slide in an airport. Standing at a height of 12 metres high (as tall as a four storey building), you can scream your way down the slide while reaching top speeds of up to 6 metres per second!

An innovative way to bring some fun to ‘hanging around in an airport’ and a great way to deal with boredom / jet lag / Air Rage!

At least partly inspired by artist Carsten Höller’s installation in the Tate Modern a few years ago, the Slide @ T3 leaves a lasting impression and a story to tell. Höller had this to say about his installation: “the state of mind when you enter the slide is a ‘voluptuous panic’ and can’t simply disappear without trace afterwards.”

Its purpose is twofold – to encourage visitors to experience the thrill and talk /smile about it afterwards … and to boost sales in duty-free shops as consumers ‘earn’ two slide tokens for every SGD 30 they spend at the airport in a single receipt, proving the truth in the expression ‘The Brand is the Experience and the Experience is the Brand’!!!

I am sure Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has lots of fun ideas ‘in development’ for T2 – anything that makes you smile as you travel is a plus, right?

“Why is Ireland falling behind in Design innovation?”

A recent Irish Times article asked the question – “Why is Ireland falling behind in Design innovation?” The author left the question unanswered – but asked several more.

In truth Ireland is not simply falling behind in design innovation, it is falling FURTHER behind and not just in innovation or design innovation but right across the a range of areas generally referred to as the Creative Industries. Opportunities are being missed every day.

The Irish Times writer points to Scandinavian design and says: “So why haven’t we got what the Scandinavians have got?” It isn’t accurate to refer to Scandinavian design as if design is the same throughout Scandinavia, design in the Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – is not homogeneous.

Finland provides a better model for comparison in addressing the question:

  • Finland’s population is 5.4 million and around 1 million Finns live in Helsinki
  • Finland established its National College of Art and Design in 1871, the Irish College of Art added ‘design’ to its name one hundred years later
  • Finland established its Design Forum in 1875– we have yet to follow suit
  • Recently the Finnish University of Art and Design became closely associated with the Finnish Innovation networks. The Finns know that design and innovation are inseparable so they amalgamated three Universities – University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and the Aalto University of Art and Design – in 2010. Our design innovation education system is not world leading and does not produce world leaders in the field
  • Helsinki has a vibrant, extensive, successful design quarter (called Design District Helsinki) – a creative hub and retail zone
  • The Finns value their place on the international stage and (among many initiatives aimed at reinforcing its importance as a world player in the design innovation field) are participating in this year’s Tokyo Design Week
  • The Finns successfully bid for World Design Capital 2012 and preparations are well under way – they stated in their bid document that ‘design is in the Finnish DNA’
  • The Finns passed a law in 2009 (it came into effect this month) making access to broadband a legal right for Finnish citizens – guaranteeing every home in Finland a one-megabit broadband connection.

Similar points could also be made about South Korean, about Singapore, about the Dutch and many other countries … the countries we are ‘falling’ behind … and about cities like Shanghai, Dubai, Seoul, Melbourne, Berlin, Cape Town, San Paolo, Lisbon, Chicago and many others.

The question posed in the Irish Times requires a response. “Why is Ireland falling behind in Design innovation?” … because while other countries put in place the environment and infrastructure needed to support and develop their creative people and their creative industries, we do not.

We certainly have the talent, we have a community of creatives that are hungry for success and for the respect of their international peers, we speak English (it’s far more widely spoken than Finnish for example), we are well located geographically. Companies operating in the creative sector are typically small – often sole traders or partnerships and seldom do they develop the scale (serving the small Irish market) to make the breakthrough into international markets. We need to build support infrastructure that will allow them to do so … we have so much potential …

Innovation – Where Does it Begin?

There are attempts being made to turn Ireland into an Innovation Economy. Not everyone understands what an Innovation Economy is but that’s ok, we don’t all need to share the same understanding, all the time, about every issue. It is sometimes a little demoralizing though, when we hear people who should know what Innovation is, talking about Innovation but clearly not really ‘getting it’. These are often public figures, political leaders and the like. They often use ‘the Innovation Economy’ when they mean ‘The Smart Economy’, or they night ‘drop’ the phrase ‘Knowledge Economy’ into a conversation although they do so without any deep knowledge of the subject. If we want to be an Innovation Island (or even THE Innovation Island) we should get our thoughts clear on the subject.

Innovation often begins with the questioning of accepted beliefs. You have something, it works well and before you know it you are thinking “if it ain’t broke, why fix it”.  If you want to be an innovator you definitely need to drop that expression and replace it with “if it can be improved on then its broke, so I’ve got to fix it!”.  The moment you open the possibilities by saying “If it can be improved on” you have let the innovation genie out of the bottle an he/she is about to become your best friend (and give you at least one good wish).

What naturally follows from the phrase “If it can be improved on” is the question How?

Where does all this happen? It clearly has to happen before we get to Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) … and it does.

Here is an ‘accepted belief’ that we should question… Innovation means ‘Science Technology Engineering & Maths’. It doesn’t but many people believe the terms are interchangeable. Others sometimes confuse “Research & Development” with “Innovation”.

There is a component missing from that (STEM) quartet. Anyone who uses the terms Innovation when they mean STEM or vice-versa doesn’t ‘get it’. Where does innovation begin? Here is a hint …

[———————] Science Technology Engineering & Maths

Innovation begins in the space above, on the left, before Science.

It begins with creativity, design thinking, imagination, ingenuity, and inspiration – if you really want to improve the commercialization of an idea – you have to begin by knowing how to have a good idea. When you have one, you can develop it! Sometimes, before you get into actual science and real experiments – you need a gedankenexperiment!

My Iphone is packed with Science Technology Engineering and Maths. I didn’t buy it for this reason. I bought it because I like interacting with it and it interacts well with me! I like the Iphone because of the exceptional work of Product Designers, Usability Experts, Interface designers (creatives). In the product development arena, once the ‘creative work’ is developed (its never finished) the job of making sure that the product functions properly and can be made and sold at the ‘right’ price etc., requires the input of Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians – who are, of course, creatives of another kind!.

You can call that area to the left of Science etc., Creativity. So STEM actually becomes C-STEM.

Try it. You will find that what you thought wasn’t broke, was … and you released the Innovation Genie from its bottle. Happy Days ….