Archive for June, 2010

Your Country Your Call Narrows the Field

So, the initial results (semi-finalists) are in for the Your Country Your Call competition, and what an eclectic mix they turned out to be. Education and language have several entries, as does the gaming industry (which is a growing cluster in the Dublin region). There are several around health including an Innovation centre for the HSE. Interesting. Seeing as this is an organisation that presides over a healthcare system that can barely go two weeks without some form of controversy, this is a brave choice to say the least.

Energy gets several look-ins from solar to bio-energy fuels. Another is a district of ‘communications and knowledge’ that would mirror the IFSC, but on the southern side of the river. It would seem that some of these may be asked to merge their ideas, but at least the majority of them fit the profile of the kind of ideas the original group who put together the competition back in early 2009 had for this. The winners will be announced on September the 17th. Then the real work begins.


Gotham Dreams of Gotham Greens

In a sense it is a shame that our thinking of ‘greening the city’ is still stuck mostly back in the 20th century. I walk through the Ballymun regeneration area most days on my way to work and it still seems like a concrete jungle.

The term ‘Gotham’ has been a by-word for New York since the Gotham of Batman was based on the Big Apple. There is a project there called Gotham Greens, which seeks to redress the divide between urban and rural by building hydroponic rooftop farms starting with one in Brooklyn.

This initial farm is a 15,000 square foot rooftop greenhouse facility will annually produce over 30 tons of premium quality, pesticide-free, sustainably grown, vegetables, fruit, and culinary herbs. The farm will combine technically sophisticated Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) techniques with unique energy-saving innovations. The produce grown will be sold under the Gotham Greens brand at grocery stores and farmer’s markets, as well as restaurants across the city. The greenhouse facility will begin crop production in 2011.

The facility will be powered, in part, by on-site solar panels and irrigated by captured rainwater. Another variation on urban or city farms, Gotham Greens is a New York City based company dedicated to growing the freshest and highest quality vegetables and culinary herbs for the local retail and restaurant market. Even the produce will be delivered by bicycle or alternative energy vans, to Whole Foods, farmers markets and restaurants.

Link to Social Enterprise Report

Sorry folks, forgot to put the link to the report which is here.

Irish Social Enterprise Report Launched

June 25, 2010 1 comment

Today sees the launch of the first major report into Social Enterprise in Ireland. I was fortunate to be a member of the taskforce, on behalf of the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, that helped put the report together.

Social Enterprise has the potential to provide 65,000 jobs and contribute to the objective of economic 
recovery, this new Report,  “Adding Value Delivering Change  – The Role of Social Enterprise in National Recovery,” states. In Europe the social enterprise sector accounts for between 4% and 7% of GDP, but in Ireland it represents just 3%, the Report, published by the Social Enterprise Task Force, an initiative of Clann Credo – the Social Investment Fund and the Dublin Employment Pact, says. 
Setting a European average target of 5% of GDP would provide at least 65,000 jobs and contribute to the job creation goals set out by the Innovation Taskforce.
In addition, it is estimated that, for every one person employed through social employment, at least one other person contributes work on a voluntary basis.
The Report proposes that:
  • social enterprise policy should be driven by the government department with responsibility for enterprise;
  • social enterprise should be incorporated into the economic, planning and development strategies of local authorities;
  • a social enterprise remit be established within existing enterprise funding mechanisms;
  • the current support structures for the business sector to be enhanced, so that they are accessible and capable of providing support to social enterprise
  • County & City Enterprise Boards should be the key agency providing support to social enterprise at local level
  • introduce social clauses in public and local authority procurement policy and supporting social enterprises to build consortia and to tender for public contracts;
  • a range of flexible finance options including equity-type instruments be set up.

100624_T_098 MXs by Clann Credo. //  

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD, who attended the launch of the report, said he would carefully study its recommendations.

Slacktivism better than Nothing

In last months addition of Fastcompany magazine, Nancy Lublin of Do Something, a social enterprise based in New York, wrote an interesting article on the text/click level of activism, or so-called ‘slacktivism.’In it she talks about whether it  is a good idea or not. I like Nancy, and indeed cover her and her organisation in the Ryan Academy Social Enterprise Development module.

She talks about this new ‘movement’, the merger of the words ‘slacker’ and ‘activism’ and points to its origin as those annoying wristbands for charities or causes that were popular a few years ago (also known as a form of  ‘consumption philanthropy’ if you want to be semantic about it).  She outlines the recent launch of the ‘massivegood‘ movement, where you can make a contribution to a charity when you pay for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rental etc. She also talks about the freerice game that has actually done measurable goodness, by donating 76 billion grains of rice (her figures) to the UN.

Obviously technology is now being exploited by the social sector either through donations (Haiti comes to mind) or to support particular causes. At least a generation is getting involved albeit in a limited way. I think I share the underlying tone of the article that suggests we want people to get more involved, more than a few clicks of the mouse. But until then I guess the social sector will continue to use this as a marketing and fund-raising tool.

See the whole article here.

ASU Challenges

In Dublin City University, the ‘parent’ of the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, we pride ourselves on being innovative and creative. And being first. First in the University system with an Access programme for students, one of the first with an internship programme with industry, one of the first with a real Civic Engagement strategy and outreach centre in the community.

But we haven’t always been good at telling people about it and showcasing it through different mediums. Our friends, and strategic partners, in Arizona State University (ASU) who are similarly minded to DCU, and who have strong links to the Ryan Academy, do it superbly in this enlightening video (ASU Challenges) which is well worth the look. It really shows the promise of a forward thinking University in the 21st Century.

Update on Desertec Project

Interesting article on the inhabitat website on the Desertec solar project that was mentioned on this blog before. In it, the site speculates that if only 1% of the Saharan Desert were covered in concentrating solar panels that it could serve the world’s energy needs. Now I don’t have back-up to that concept, but one would assume large solar farms on the Northern side of the African continent would indeed serve Europe’s energy needs quite well, as well as domestic African ones.

And to support that idea, the Inhabitat site also states that in recent days the European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger announced that Europe will start importing solar energy from the Sahara within the next five years. Last year the EU announced that they would lay a series of highly efficient cables across the Mediterranean to link in with the series of  these solar panel power plants that are being build in the Sahara.

As we mentioned before the Desertec initiative is being financed by a group of European companies and is supported by the EU government. The plan is to cover 6,500 square miles of the desert in photovoltaic systems and wind parks. The final completion date for the project is planned as 2050 and will cost circa 400 billion Euros. A small price for the project, looking at the damage being done off the coast of the US at the moment.

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