Ten Irish designers blaze a trail in New York

Ten Irish designers blazed a creative and successful trail through New York in May, wowing the Big Apple’s fashion influencers and buyers.
In May 2018, WearingIrish NYC 2018, supported by Bank of Ireland, brought ten of Ireland’s best fashion and accessories designers to New York for a showcase with influential buyers.
WearingIrish NYC is the brainchild of Margaret Molloy, a native of Offaly, and a graduate of the Harvard Business School who is now the New York-based global chief marketing officer at Siegel+Gale.
Meetings and sales
The idea was to showcase the talents of Ireland’s top designers over a three-day event in the ‘Big Apple’. The event was built around nine salons and industry panel discussions and resulted in strong networking, sales, client commissions and invitations to meetings with top retailers.
The ten designers who took part include Aine Alison Conneely; Blaithin Ennis De Bruir; Inner Island; Jennifer Rothwell; Natalie B Coleman; Sands and Hall; The Tweed Project and Triona Design.
“Mentoring up-and-coming businesses and helping our customers grow is really important to us.”
Into America
Bank of Ireland’s teams in Ireland and the U.S. will now help the designers to enhance the connections made in New York and help them develop, grow and scale their businesses. The designers can also avail of desk and meeting spaces in the bank’s Workbench facilities in New York, Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny, Galway and Cork.
“The talent and creativity among Irish designers are world class and we are thrilled to bring these designers to a U.S. audience. Mentoring up-and-coming businesses and helping our customers grow is really important to us,” says Francesca McDonagh, Group CEO at Bank of Ireland.
“All of the designers enjoyed a significant amount of sales through the week – much more than they expected.”
Partners supporting the event included the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through Ireland’s Consulate

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/wearingirish-nyc-2018-bank-of-ireland/ on

A dairy farm invention with a difference

How can dairy farmers ensure their cattle receive the right volume of supplemental trace minerals on a daily basis? Two Irish brothers invented a solution. 
For the last decade, brothers Padraig and Tom Hennessey of Terra Services in Moone, Co. Kildare have innovated, laying down systems of water pipe networks, linking the parlour to the paddock for dairy farmers across the country.
More recently their sister company, Terra Liquid Minerals, has pioneered the integration of a smart delivery solution for their liquid mineral range into a farm’s water-pipe infrastructure. It is a remotely monitored solution and helps ensure that the dairy herd receives the correct volume of supplemental trace minerals on a daily basis.
The system also adjusts to the variability of Irish grass growth, local soil type and prevailing weather conditions, to help optimise herd health and performance. Padraig recounts how it all began and shares their intriguing plans for the future.
“Farmers might read about your company in the farming press, but they generally prefer to do business face-to-face.”
Starting out
In 2005 after completing an agribusiness degree in the UK, Tom returned home to Ireland to set up Terra Services, an irrigation company, initially aimed at the golf industry. Soon he was approached by some local farmers, to lay down water pipe networks on their farms. This was unique, as the only option available to farmers at the time was a do-it-yourself model. Word of Tom’s new service soon spread to the national farming press, and he decided to book a stand at the 2008 Ploughing to determine the actual level of interest among dairy farmers for his service.

At the time, I was working in Dublin launching a digital payments product. Tom asked if I could take a week’s holiday, to help him out on the Terra stand, at the following week’s National Ploughing in Co.

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Ireland’s weird and wonderful summer festivals

With the summer upon us, so too is the festival season. Here we look at a few that showcase our nation’s fun side along with a quick guide on how to start a festival in your town or village.
The Durrow Scarecrow Festival, Durrow, Co Laois
This quirky festival is back for its ninth year from July 29- August 6. Voted Ireland’s best festival two years running, with an annual attendance of 27,000 people, it is definitely one of the summer’s most humorous festivals. Previous prize winning scarecrows included Miley Silage, complete with ball and chain, straw versions of One Direction and even president Michael D. With the much-coveted title of ‘All-Ireland Scarecrow Champion’ up for grabs, this is one everyone can get their teeth into.
Cowboys and Heroes Festival, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim
You would be forgiven for thinking you had just walked into a bar in Nashville or Memphis, Tennessee, with this bill of American and Irish country and western music, with names like Robert Mizzell, Patrick Feeney, Derek Ryan, and Mike Denver performing over the bank holiday weekend in June. So, dust off your Stetson and polish your dancing shoes for a weekend of ‘country’.
Minevention is the unofficial convention for Minecrafters with events taking place over the course of the year. There are build battles, tournaments, challenges, costume competitions and workshops, as well as the chance to meet world famous Minecrafters in the flesh. So, embrace your inner geek and dive in.
Match-making Festival, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare
Put on your cowboy boots and your best smile and head to this festival, which not only promises performances from the top names in traditional country music but speed-dating, dancing and daily match-making by the legendary cupid Willie Daly. Since he started out as a matchmaker 45 years ago, following in the footsteps of his father and

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The historical enterprise towns of Ireland

As the search for Ireland’s best enterprise towns of 2018 continues, we take a look back at 26 of Ireland’s historical enterprise towns and the businesses they were famous for.
Ireland has a rich history of enterprise and innovation. As the search for Ireland’s Enterprise Towns of 2018 gathers pace, we compiled this list of towns in Ireland that are famous for different enterprises.
To read more about the National Enterprise Town Awards 2018 go here.
Killybegs is one of the fishing capitals of Ireland. People have eaten fish in Donegal since prehistoric times, and the evidence for sea-going boats is also ancient. By the Early Christian period, fishing was a vital occupation. Commercial fishing was well established in Donegal by the 1400s, a lot of it controlled by the Lords of Tirconaill, the O’Donnells. Today the Irish fishing fleet is made up of about 1,900 large boats.
Clones is famous for its Lace. Clones Lace is an Irish Crochet Lace and has been around since 1847. Cassandra Hand, the wife of the local Church of Ireland minister, introduced the lace, inspired by Venetian point lace, as a famine relief project to the drumlin region of west Monaghan and south east Fermanagh. Thousands of women and children, through their creative lace-making, saved their families from the clutches of death and disease during the Great Famine.
Dundalk is now a high tech hub. However, it was once famous for shoe making. Arthur Halliday opened factories in the town and during their zenith in the 1970s, he employed over 1,250 people making shoes. Halliday was born in Bramley in Yorkshire where his family had a long tradition in shoe manufacturing. He died in 1984 aged 80.
Tubercurry is famous for tool making. The Gallagher family set up the Tool and Gauge tool-making factory which exported specialist tools across

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Design Thinking is the heart of innovation

Denis Hayes is the MD of IRDG (Industry Research & Development Group). Ahead of the Design Thinking Ireland annual conference, he describes why Design Thinking is used by all of the world’s top firms to drive innovation.
What is the IRDG? 
The IRDG acts as the voice of industry RD&I in Ireland, it supports members to avail of relevant funding opportunities for innovation, brings companies together to share learning and experiences, promotes collaboration between industry partners and the third level sector and facilitates best practice learning and innovation capability in organisations. This is where the likes of Lean Product Development and Design Thinking fit in.
“It made me realise that design thinking could be used as a strategic means to stimulate innovation.”
Design Thinking has been a fundamental part of your agenda for many years, why are you ‘believers’?
My own awareness of Design Thinking really grew about five years ago when in Sydney attending the annual conference of the Hargraves Institute. Design Thinking was a dominant theme at that conference among manufacturers, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, all speaking about how they have integrated design thinking into their innovative approach. In particular, I met Darrell Mann who had been bringing this Design Thinking approach to many leading international companies. That experience made me realise that design thinking could be used as a strategic means to stimulate innovation. It was about using the approach and mindset of designers in the innovation process and how it could deliver powerful results.
Over 300 executives have been trained on the IRDG Design Thinking Programme / Masterclass which has been run twice per annum in partnership with Design Innovation Maynooth.
A special interest group (SIG) has been running for companies who are practising Design Thinking with visits to appropriate venues such as Airbnb, Dog Patch Labs, SAP, Fidelity Investments and later

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Revenues of Irish tech firms to grow to €3.5bn

Lending to the Irish tech sector to increase as Bank of Ireland bolsters its technology sector team.
The Irish technology sector is one of the most dynamic areas of the economy. At a recent event hosted by Bank of Ireland and supported by Technology Ireland and Gartner, Adrian Mullett, head of the technology sector at Bank of Ireland said lending to the sector in 2017 grew by 150% supporting the growth of software and services companies, including Roomex.com, Propylon, vStream and Storm Technology.
“Projected revenues of indigenous tech firms are set to grow by 20% in 2018 to €3.5bn,” says Mullett.
A dedicated technology team
“Given this growth, we are expanding our dedicated technology team, with two key appointments, so we can continue to provide the right guidance to our customers,” says Mullett. “A larger technology team will help us to serve technology companies better and capitalise on the growth in lending we have delivered.”
The technology sector team in Bank of Ireland has a strong relationship with Gartner to glean deep regional and global insights into every significant business function of the market.
At the event, the keynote speaker Sandra Notardonato, research vice president with Gartner, gave a global market overview that included the paths for Irish firms that want to break into other markets.
“For the first time in nearly a decade we see worldwide end-user IT spending in the technology sector increasing,” says Notardonato.
“Our annual CIO survey shows an increase in IT budgets in 2018, of which 25% is dedicated to digital initiatives.”
The spend on IT services is showing healthy growth, especially in Europe with Ireland, Switzerland and Germany leading the way, followed by southern Europe where countries are playing catch up after years of underinvestment.
“Automation is the most meaningful change to the IT services business model since off-shoring,” explains Notardonato.
IT outsourcing is also showing

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Voinext helps online firms talk to customers

Brendan Farrell, the chairman of the board at Voinext, discusses the changing face on online customer service, growing a global business from Gorey and the importance of starting lean. 
My background
I come from a design and innovation background but have been involved in building new businesses for the last 35 years.
The idea and the service
Voinext CEO Jim Tracey came up with the original concept for Voinext. A simple way for online customers to connect to a ‘real salesperson’ who could make sure you got the right advice, the right product, the right deal and then close the sale.
So the rules for Jim were simple. Firstly contacting your online supplier should be for free. When you go to their store, they should be able to tell if you are a new or existing customer and serve you better. It all about the customer experience. Unlike the impersonal world of internet shopping that exists today. Jim wanted his online business to be customer-centric.
“The service allows your online customers call you for free, directly from your website to your phone.”
The value proposition 
We seem to have hit on a service that fits with just about any business with an online presence. Hotels, car hire, software, manufacturing, plant hire, property and finance companies, the list is endless and growing fast.
I suppose that it proves that, globally businesses still need to talk with their customers, and even in an online world voice is still the best for customer experiences for closing a sale.
“Who would have imagined that a Gorey based SaaS Company with its software team based in Minsk would be supplying free call service to a premier restaurant in Bali?”
The toughest part of starting a business
You need a ‘launch’ product. Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that the most important thing is to prove that your

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How young farmers can grow their farms

We are entering an era where real farm expansion can be secured without the need to buy land. This is good news for young farmers. 

The upcoming review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will, almost certainly, bring changes to the supports available to farmers across the European Union. More support will be given to farmers who are actively producing food.
This will give Irish farmers real business development opportunities. Adding to this, are the recent tax changes to facilitate the development of long-term, land leasing opportunities in Ireland.
“Young farmers may be particularly drawn to the possibility of forging a joint venture agreement with an older landowner.”
As a result, we are now entering an era where real expansion can be secured at individual farm level without the need to actually buy land.
The business options to make this happen are extremely diverse. Young farmers, for example, may be particularly drawn to the possibility of forging a joint venture agreement with an older landowner.
Proper planning is everything and the potential for new and flexible farm development programmes will be encouraged. 
A good farm adviser can work with a farmer to help them come up with the development opportunities that best suit their individual needs.
Having a viable business idea is one thing – actually putting into operation is something else entirely. So if you are committed to growing your own farm business, why not contact your local Bank of Ireland branch and let them help convert your plan into a profitable reality?

Related Resource

Need to expand, invest in new equipment or simply need development funding for your farm? 

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Stori Creative – authentic brand storytelling

The foundations for Stori Creative were laid back in 2016, when Grainne Dwyer, former CEO of Skibbereen’s ‘Ludgate Hub’, saw a niche in the market for a creative production company with a focus on brand storytelling. Grainne’s cousin and co-founder, Fiona Dwyer takes up the story.

My background is in account management and marketing, and after spending two years working in New York, I returned home seeking a new challenge. I was barely off the plane when my cousin Grainne asked me to help out at National Digital Week – the aim of which is to develop entrepreneurship, by making digital tools accessible for all. Starting a business was never something I would have considered up until that point. It was my first time being exposed to the entrepreneurial community that co-existed along-side the Ludgate Hub. At the time it helped open my eyes to the supports, networks and opportunities that exist within the community here in West Cork.
The next week we both sat down together to discuss what was the beginnings of Stori Creative. Our initial interest in video production stemmed from making short videos with our friends when we were growing up. I suppose our passion for creativity was always there – we just never had imagined it could provide a living for us. So we said, ‘why not us’?
Our service 
We focus on authentic brand storytelling. There has been a huge shift in the way consumers purchase these days. People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it – and so we seek to extract those authentic, engaging stories from each brand we work with, to engage their audience. We not only produce compelling brand stories, we then deliver these stories on all of the brand’s social media platforms. This is to ensure that their

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/fiona-dwyer-storu-creative-skibbereens/ on

Enter the National Enterprise Town Awards 2018

The National Enterprise Town Awards is open for entries. There is a total prize fund of €157,000. Your town can enter here.
Do you live and work in Ireland’s most enterprising town? Are you helping your community to thrive? The search is on for the most enterprising towns in Ireland. 
The Bank of Ireland National Enterprise Town Awards is designed to recognise and reward towns where small businesses and community groups come together to showcase the spirit of enterprise in their local area. For full details of the prize money and award categories, please read this. The total prize fund is €157,000. The overall winner will receive a cash prize totalling €33,000. 
It’s easy to take part. Entries must be online, and your town, village or urban area can enter here.
Can city areas also enter?
Yes. City areas and villages can also participate. Every city has urban areas and villages that operate as a town in their own right and have distinct identities. The definition of a town for these awards includes city villages and urban areas.
The ‘Rising Star’ award
For 2018 there is a new Rising Star category with one prize of €20,000 awarded to the winner. This award is for towns or urban areas with unemployment and social exclusion issues. For example, the towns may have visible derelict or empty buildings or spaces where there are plans to create a place for social, artistic, creative, technological or entrepreneurial activity. This award has a separate judging panel from the main competition. A shortlist of five areas (one from each region and one from the cities) will be drawn up based on the submissions and these five will be visited by judges. Please read the FAQs for more details on the Rising Star award. 
When will judging start?
The judging panel will visit your town and judging starts

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