Littlepal aims to reduce child farm accidents

With over 20 child deaths on farms across Ireland in the last ten years and many more injured, Littlepal hopes to be the solution to such tragedies. Co-founder Eugene Beatty speaks to ThinkBusiness about his startup.
In the beginning
Dymphna (co-founder) and I both work for the same organisation and have crossed paths a number of times. Last year we were having a coffee and were discussing a recent farm fatality involving a child. As parents, we were saddened and could only imagine the pain suffered by the child’s family. During our conversation, we both wondered if there was some sort of device that would alert the driver of a tractor to a child nearby. We discovered that although there had been attempts to develop a warning system, they had been unsuccessful for various reasons.
“The device is attached to the windscreen of a tractor and is plugged into the cigar lighter.”
Engineering a solution
I have been involved in various technological projects in work and had an idea that we could develop an alert system that would work and be viable. We met with experts in the engineering field and with a professor from NUIG. He has been a great help to us and has guided us to a specialist company who would go on to produce our first early stage prototype.
“Our product can prevent death and injury.”
How it works
The device is attached to the windscreen of a tractor and is plugged into the cigar lighter. The child wears a ‘trigger’ which can be a wristband or clasp. Once the wearer comes within range of the receiver, the device flashes and emits a warning sound alerting the driver to the presence of a child or vulnerable person. The device is portable which enables the driver to move it from the tractor to a jeep or digger.

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Call for over 50s to build a business

Are you over 50 and want to build a business? Then this programme is for you. 
A programme to help people age 50+ develop their business ideas has opened for applications. The Ingenuity Build Your Own Business programme gives people the skills required to plan, start and grow a business. 
The programme is led by ISAX and run in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) and supported by Bank of Ireland.
Over 150 people have taken part in the Ingenuity Programme to date. The programme is tailored for people over-50. It is different to many other startup programmes as it gives people a broader range of modules with more time given to implementing the teachings.  
What else is on offer? 
Graduates of the programme will have the support of an Alumni Club and the course also acts as a gateway to the ISAX Smart Ageing Innovation Hub. These are co-working spaces available in both Dublin and Limerick for graduates of the ISAX Ingenuity Programme. 
“It’s a myth that starting a business is only for young people.”
When and where does it start? 
In Dublin, the programme will start on the 10th of April, running for two evenings per week in the Guinness Enterprise Centre until the 31st of May.
This year, the programme will run for the first time in Cork, kicking off on the 18th of April and running until the 6th of June.
An information evening for anyone interested in enrolling in the programme in Cork will take place in the Bank of Ireland Workbench on Patricks Street, Cork, on Monday the 12th of March from 5 pm – 7 pm. 
Startups are not just for millennials
“Ireland’s population is ageing and today it’s a myth that starting a business is only for young people. People age 50+ often have greater industry knowledge and established professional networks to help them start a business,” says Anne Connolly, CEO

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A device that spots the risk of heart attack

After losing a close friend due to a heart attack in 2016, Kaushik Shanmugam set about creating a device that could potentially save others from suffering the same fate, and so, he created Lacidem. 
What is Lacidem?
Lacidem is wearable based healthcare company that aims at predicting abnormalities in cardiac patients, even before the symptoms occur using our pattern recognition algorithm which is integrated with our non-invasive wireless wearable patch, that can monitor all critical signs in real time, with maximum clinical accuracy.
Why did you create it?
A friend of mine passed away two years ago due to a heart attack. But the real reason was due to delayed medical attention. It was found that he suffered a cardiac condition previously but was never diagnosed. With further research, the stats were shocking with 40% of the patients needed rehospitalisation within six months after treatment, out of which 26% died. We understood the major reason is lack of awareness of one’s health status and that’s the reason for creating Lacidem.
“Our device can monitor all critical signs in real time, with maximum clinical accuracy.”
What is your background?
I have a Master’s Degree in entrepreneurship and computer science from University College Cork and I have previously founded a startup that helped architects and designers showcase their portfolio online and helped consumers to find their perfect architect or designer.

How difficult is it to create a medical product?
In general, there are many regulations to scale a medical product and I think that gives you the upside as there will be less competition and a significant problem to solve. I believe my product will bring a change in someone’s life and that’s what I consider success. We do not fall under a medical device company as we don’t develop implants or any form of device that provides diagnostics or

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Briony Somers – an imaginative scope

Briony Somers is the co-founder and editor in chief of FRANC magazine. Here she discusses her influences, running a business with ethical ambitions and the shades of inequality in the startup scene.
If you ask Briony Somers what she does, she will say: ‘I run a fashion magazine.’ However, FRANC, the first vertical in a growing range of products in the FRANC stable, is not a typical fashion magazine. Somers, herself, explains that FRANC was created because she doesn’t read fashion magazines and felt there was ‘a world full of people’ who probably didn’t read fashion magazines.
Born in England, Somers moved to Ireland at age 10 and grew up in Durrus, West Cork. Her mother Carmel, a chef, established the Good Things Café and cooking school in the town, a background that gave Briony an appreciation for starting and building a business with ‘things and objects that were available at the time’.
Somers doesn’t use the typical language of a founder in their early 20s. Ideas and threads of thought weave around the subjects under discussion. There are no hard answers, no buzzwords or talk about demographic target markets, disruption or innovation. Somers is, however, very sure about the direction she wants to steer her business.
“People who ‘reject you’ are often the people you shouldn’t work with. You could say it’s a filtering process.”
When you pick up a copy of FRANC it feels like an expression, a mood, much as it is a publication. It was started on Somer’s belief that there is a growing tribe of young women who value quality and permanence over the fleeting ‘information snacks’ served up by social media apps.
In a world so defined by two-dimensional ‘insta-images’ slipping fast across tiny screens, FRANC is a stark expression of the senses – it exhales design, craft, writing, photography, and quiet contemplation.
Somers has an ambition, a business model, and

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A diverse culture helps a business thrive

What does a 235-year-old business feel about issues like gender equality, inclusion and diversity? Andrew Keating, the chief financial officer with Bank of Ireland, discusses the historical changes afoot in Ireland’s largest and oldest bank.

Most successful, well-established businesses have a life cycle of fewer than 50 years. Bank of Ireland was established in 1783 by Royal Charter, making it 235-years-old. For a company to survive this long, it must be good at many things, but mainly it must be an expert at adapting to generational social, political and economic changes.

18 months ago a decision was made at a board level to change the bank’s culture and develop a framework to make it a more inclusive, diverse and gender balanced workplace. One of the leading advocates and architects of this framework is Andrew Keating, CFO of the Group.

Why change now is the obvious question?

“There are obviously human and moral reasons,” says Keating. “But there are also very clear and very tangible commercial reasons. We know that our colleagues all have unique strengths and by embracing these, we can be better for our customers. Ireland is now a much more diverse country and we, as a business, must reflect this so we can serve our customers and our communities better.”

In practice, what does it mean?

“To be diverse we must have a culture that values uniqueness,” explains Keating. “To be inclusive means inviting diverse groups in – ensuring that people with different viewpoints, cultures, genders, and races can take part in company life.”

“Inclusion and diversity won’t work unless people feel they belong.”

Is it as easy as that?

“We can’t just say we have an inclusion and diversity agenda and hope it works out,” admits Keating. “Inclusion and diversity won’t work unless people feel they belong. Belonging helps each person be fully known and accepted for who they are. We have a dedicated inclusion and diversity council at the bank and a governance framework and strategy in place to drive this important agenda. We also have goals in place, and the leadership of the Group will be held to account for these goals.”

“A lack of diversity negatively affects the behaviour and culture within firms.”

Why diversity at the top matters

A 2017 report by the Central Bank showed that since 2012, 80% of the almost 18,000 applications for regulatory approval for senior level roles in financial services firms have been for men.

A lack of diversity negatively affects the behaviour and culture within firms, their decision-making and their risk management. In short, it is easier for group-think to emerge and evidence clearly shows that greater diversity at management level reduces a business’ risk of mistakes and failure.

Having board-sponsored and executive committee sponsored diversity policies and programmes in place show that diversity is a real priority at Bank of Ireland, says Keating.

“We want to give more support to our colleagues who are parents.”

The gender agenda

Regarding gender diversity and equality, what is the bank doing to ensure female colleagues are treated equally?

“Finance and banking don’t have a good historical track record when it comes to gender equality,” admits Keating. “While acknowledging the past we are very focused on the present and changing the future.

“To take a particular example: as anyone who has children knows, having a child is wonderful but can be exceptionally challenging at times. We want to give more support to our colleagues who are parents and make sure that the supports are consistent and codified so managers can also understand the challenges new parents are likely to experience.”

Keating also believes that the bank needs to achieve better gender balance at all levels.

“There is no question that gender balance on boards and at executive level means better leadership and governance,” he says. “It also means better all-around board performance and increased performance for our colleagues, customers and our shareholders.

“We have signed up for The 30% Club because we believe in its mission. 60% of the graduates who come into the bank are female, but at senior level, this percentage drops off dramatically. This needs to change.”

“I think it’s a fitting ‘arc’ for these coins, once a symbol of such blatant discrimination, that they now represent inclusion, diversity and equality.”

Gold Sovereigns

One of the most symbolic initiatives Keating launched involves the famous ‘Gold Sovereigns’.

“The Gold Sovereigns are a tangible symbol, a reminder, of just how far we have come as a company (and as a country),” explains Keating.

“Before Ireland joined the EU in 1973, a professional woman who got married had to give up work and ‘return to the home’. I mean looking at it now it was such a shameful law.

“In Bank of Ireland, pre-1973, a female colleague who got married would be given a Gold Sovereign on her departure from the Group. Can you imagine? What was worse was that if she were marrying a male colleague, she would only get a half-sovereign and he would get the other half-sovereign!

“We have a stock of these sovereigns in our vault, and now we present Gold Sovereigns to colleagues and people who are driving the inclusion and diversity agenda in the bank and in our wider society. I think it’s a fitting ‘arc’ for these coins, once a symbol of such blatant discrimination, that they now represent inclusion, diversity and equality. I think it says a lot about where were have come from and where we are going as an organisation.”

Interview by Stephen Conmy. 

Related Resource

Brid Horan of The 30% Club explains why a lack of diversity damages society. 

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Where are all the female leaders?

Gender imbalance in business leadership and pay inequality do not just hurt the women of Ireland. Brid Horan of the 30% Club explains why. 

‘I’m a firm believer in equality and in fully developing the talents of all, to the benefit of both the individual and of society, like many others, I assumed that progress would come with time, but it has become clear that more is needed,’ says Brid Horan, co-founder of the 30% Club (Ireland), former deputy CEO of the ESB, and a shrewd player who has spent decades in the upper echelons of Ireland’s boardrooms.
The picture of Horan in the company of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Hand Kablawi (EMEA chairman BNY Mellon); Dame Vivian Hunt and her 30% colleagues Carol Andrews and Rachel Hussey demonstrates just how accomplished Horan is at driving progress.
The Donegal born actuarist has spent a considerable part of her enviable career challenging the status-quo, often as the only woman at the helm of major energy (ESB) and consultancy (KPMG) firms. She’s frank about her journey, insightful about how to navigate change and unrelenting about driving diversity and inclusion.
Now, on the eve of International Women’s Day and as Chair of the forthcoming IWDC Conference, Horan reaffirms just how much change is needed, the paradoxes of female leadership and role of the 30% Club in Ireland today.
“Paradoxes abound in female leadership.”
My career goes back to the 1970s, a time when career options and opportunities for women were limited in many ways. This made me conscious of the negative impact of such limitations on the women affected, but also on businesses and society itself. If anything, I’ve become more convinced of this as my career progressed. Any organisation that limits its choice and source of talent is, in my opinion, limiting its potential as well as the potential

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Kim Mackenzie – designing a new dialogue

IDI President Kim Mackenzie talks about the current gender imbalance in the design industry and why design matters. Interview by Lesley Tully.
The design industry prides itself on embracing uncertainty, challenging orthodoxies and using creativity to carve out a better world and yet recent research conducted by the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) surfaces an alarming imbalance in gender diversity with a 25% female to 75% male divide across the Irish design industry.
IDI President Kim Mackenzie-Doyle talks about the purpose behind this movement and how redressing this balance can positively impact society, the economy and the education system.
“I was advised against joining the tech drawing class by teachers as I would have been a distraction being the only girl.”
Tell us a bit about your background and journey to become a designer?
From a young age, you could say that I was creative, the first spark of interest in product design happened when I was six. I took apart the family remote control (one of the first released, it put me out of a job being the youngest of the family, I got to change the channels), I did not trust that this object could control the TV without wires, so I had to find out more – reverse engineering at its finest.
In school I was advised against joining the tech drawing class by teachers as I would have been a distraction being the only girl, so was directed into art. I loved art and over 25 years later my school drawings are still on the wall in the school where I studied. At leaving cert stage, discussing my future with my parents my father stated ‘there is no money in design’ and recommended I take up a career in the sciences. Respecting his advice I started off my college journey studying

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‘Confidence is critical, and you need advocates’

Áine McCleary is the newly appointed director of distribution channels at Bank of Ireland and the incoming President of the Institute of Banking. Here she discusses the realities and myths of ‘balancing it all’, and why enabling customers, colleagues and communities to thrive is the priority in her workplace.
I’ll start with a bit about myself. I am from Dublin; married to Alan, we have four children aged between six and thirteen. In my spare time, I enjoy family time, walking, travelling and GAA.
Following on from my Bachelor of Commerce in UCD I undertook an MBS in International Business through the Michael Smurfit Business School. Since joining Bank of Ireland, I have completed the QFA diploma, and I have obtained the Certified Bank Director designation through the Institute of Banking.
My career to date has been across a variety of roles. I started in Ulster Bank as a foreign exchange dealer before moving to Bank of Ireland Global Markets in 2000. Over the following twelve years, I led sales and service teams engaging with retail, corporate and institutional customers.
After my last maternity leave in 2012, I decided it was time for a change, and I moved to the retail banking division of Bank of Ireland. Since then I have held a number of roles including strategy and planning, head of mortgages and director of direct channels. Earlier this year, I was delighted to be appointed the director of distribution channels.
As you can see, I have moved role many times, and my ethos is to take all opportunities.
“Women can tend to be quite hard on themselves and can suffer self-doubt.”
The stats show that Irish women are more likely to hold a third level qualification than men, yet women fall below the EU average for employment. Why do you think that is?
I believe there

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How Ireland’s biggest maternity magazine started

Mums and Tots magazine was started seven years ago and was the first magazine of its type. It is now a leader in its field. Here we speak with founder Roberta Von Meding. 
Why did you start Mums and Tots magazine?
Mums and Tots started when my first daughter was one year old. Throughout pregnancy and the first year as a mum, I bought different magazines for information and guidance and found everything lacking. My pregnancy was not glamorous like the models I saw on the magazine covers. I felt like there was a gap in the market for something a little more real and community orientated that the reader could feel akin to. So we spent about six months in total on the business plan before the magazine launched.
How many people do you employ now?
Not many. We are a family business. We employ a designer and have regular paid contributing writers. 
“I felt like there was a gap in the market for something a little more real and community orientated that the reader could feel akin to.”
What tips would you give someone wanting to launch a magazine in Ireland today?
Know your audience. Make sure the market is not over saturated with similar offerings and lastly, make sure you do your research. 
What content works best in the magazine?
A mix of things; real mum stories on whatever topic we are covering whether it is water births or someone who has twins or triplets. We make sure to have plenty of light-hearted articles, trend pages for kids, expectant mums, beauty products we love. A little bit of everything really.
“My pregnancy was not glamorous like the models I saw on the magazine covers.”
With the shift towards online media, how do you keep Mums and Tots magazine relevant in today’s market? 
They said print was dead over 10 years ago, with the advent of the E-Book and smartphones with Wi-Fi access. But in

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