Wednesday 21 February 2018

More than 9,000 answered call but future hinges on two ideas

Colm MacFhlannachadha, left, and his son Cianan Clancy, with joint winner of 'Your Country Your Call', Neil Leyden
Colm MacFhlannachadha, left, and his son Cianan Clancy, with joint winner of 'Your Country Your Call', Neil Leyden

Grainne Cunningham

TWO cutting-edge ideas that would create upwards of 9,000 jobs were named last night as the winners of the 'Your Country Your Call' competition.

A proposal to establish a global media hub and another plan to develop the country as a 'data island' were the winning concepts of the competition, which was set up in February to create prosperity and jobs.

More than 9,000 entries were received over the 10 weeks to the closing date on April 30. These were evaluated and whittled down, first to 150, then to 20 semi-finalists, who were each assigned a coach to polish up their proposals.

Ultimately, just five finalists met the judges on Thursday and the two winners were announced at a ceremony at the Aviva Stadium last night.

The proposers of the two winning ideas -- Neil Leyden, and father and son duo Colm MacFhlannachadha and Cianan Clancy -- received their commemorative trophy and prize pot of €100,000 per proposal.

Work will start on the two ideas in the coming weeks, supported by an advisory group and a development fund of €500,000.

Neil Leyden's proposal to create a global media hub will see Ireland adopting the necessary legislation to become a leading centre for the creation and distribution of digital content.

Mr Leyden, a digital media consultant and screenwriter who has worked with Windmill Lane Studios, has suggested Ireland take advantage of the transition that artists, filmmakers, musicians and writers are making towards the digital format.

"I'm completely over the moon," he said.

"This is the culmination of two years' work and suddenly there's light in terms of having the resources to implement the idea. In a time of cynicism and negativity, this has been a ray of sunshine."

The 'Data Island Strategy' aims to build a world-beating digital services system and to position Ireland at the forefront of its associated spin-off industries. Proposer Cianan Clancy works for a consulting firm and has been involved in the information technology and communications sector from an early age, building his first website at the age of 11.

His father, Colm, has more than 25 years' experience in engineering and technology-related businesses.

"Taking part in the competition has been absolutely fantastic. We see this as only the beginning because implementation is the most important part," said Mr MacFhlannachadha.

'Your Country Your Call' was proposed by the President's husband, Dr Martin McAleese, in early 2009 and attracted proposals at the rate of about 100 per day.

Irish Independent

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