Six more speakers set to take the Inspirefest 2018 stage

16 Apr 2018

Ian Harkin, CEO and co-founder of Lottie Dolls. Image: Lottie Dolls

Lottie Dolls CEO and 11-year-old European Digital Girl of the Year are both among the latest speakers announced for Inspirefest this year.

With Inspirefest 2018 just over two months away, six more incredible speakers have now been revealed.

The latest announcement includes the CEO and co-founder of the inspirational Lottie Dolls, one of this year’s European Digital Girls of the Year and the CEO of Theya Healthcare.

Missed out on the Early Bird ticket price? Don’t worry. For the first time ever, the Inspirefest organisers have introduced a special Spring Bird offer before the regular ticket prices kick in. These tickets will be on sale until 30 April.

Now heading into its fourth year, Inspirefest 2018 will include themes such as the future of work, environmental science, design thinking, medtech, digital transformation and much more.

Inspirefest 2018 is set to impress once again this year at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin from 21 to 22 June 2018, with more than 50 of the brightest minds from around the world in science, tech, innovation, entrepreneurship and the arts.

Ian Harkin


Ian Harkin. Image: Lottie Dolls

Ian Harkin is CEO and co-founder of Lottie Dolls, an empowering range of dolls launched in 2012 based on ideas inspired by real kids.

Since launching, the Lottie Dolls brand has challenged the toy industry in terms of body image, gender stereotypes, diversity and diffability. The company also avidly champions the importance of a cherished childhood.

Through the launch of its STEAM range, Lottie Dolls encourages girls to develop and continue an interest in science, technology, engineering, art and maths.

A partnership with the European Space Agency saw the company send its Stargazer Lottie Doll to the International Space Station for 264 days alongside British astronaut Tim Peake.

Harkin regularly spends time in schools speaking about entrepreneurialism and the empowerment of kids. In his spare time, he is an avid Finn Harps supporter.

Susan McPherson


Susan McPherson. Image: McPherson Strategies

Susan McPherson is a serial connector, cause marketer, angel investor and corporate responsibility expert.

She is the founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focused on the intersection between brands and social impact, providing storytelling, partnership creation and visibility to corporations, NGOs and social enterprises.

McPherson is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business ReviewFast Company and Forbes, and has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, public relations and sustainability communications.

Currently, McPherson invests in and advises women-led technology start-ups, including: Zady,,, News Deeply, Hint Water, Apolitical, Arlo Skye, GoldBean and The Muse.

McPherson is a Vital Voices global corporate ambassador and was named as one of 40 Women to Watch Over 40, Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter, Elle’s Top 25 Women on Twitter and Fast Company’s 25 Smartest Women of Twitter.

Ciara Donlon

Ciara Donlon

Ciara Donlon. Image: Peony White

Already an experienced businesswoman before she branched out on her own, Ciara Donlon’s background is in marketing. She has a BSc in management and marketing, and more than 15 years’ experience in large corporates including RBS, Irish Life & Permanent and Vodafone, as head of the online channel.

In 2010, Donlon set up a lingerie retail business in Ranelagh in Dublin. Many women undergoing treatment for breast cancer came into her shop looking for a comfortable and feminine bra to wear post-surgery. Donlon was stunned when she couldn’t find anything suitable on the market.

She wanted to do something to help these women through their recovery and that was the catalyst for the creation of Theya Healthcare. After conducting a feasibility study, it became clear that there was a big gap in the market.

Since Theya Healthcare started trading in 2015, Donlon has won and been shortlisted for many high-profile awards.

In 2017 alone, she won Laureate for Europe in the Cartier Women’s Initiative awards and was shortlisted for both the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Emerging category) and the Matheson WMB Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Aoibheann Mangan


Aoibheann Mangan. Image: Coolest Projects

Aoibheann Mangan is 11 years old and a longtime advocate of girls in technology. She was named one of this year’s European Digital Girls of the Year in the 11-14 age category.

Mangan is a CoderDojo mentor, and has also been a Youth Zone facilitator. She ran workshops at Mozfest in London in 2016 and 2017, has given workshops at Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam, and coded in the EU Parliament with EUDojo as part of EU Code Week.

Mangan has made four websites to date, winning a People of the Year and Pride of Ireland award for a website created with a friend to promote farm safety for kids. Her other websites are all largely based on STEM and aimed at kids and teachers who want to start learning Scratch and how to use a Raspberry Pi.

Last June, Mangan won an award at Coolest Projects for a set of dolls she created that hook up to a Pi and interact with a Scratch project she coded, to show children going into hospital the types of the things they may encounter, preparing them for tests and operations they may need.

She is currently developing this further with the aim of helping children at her local hospital.

Bharat Krish

Bharat Krish. Image: RefineAI

Bharat Krish is the CEO of RefineAI, which is backed by SAP and Techstars. The company leverages AI to help brands test their videos in real time for audience engagement.

Krish is building his company with the vision of helping video content creators to produce highly engaging content that is also culturally sensitive.

Prior to RefineAI, Krish was the CEO of software consulting firm Takt Digital. He also held executive roles at HBO Latin America and NBCUniversal, building large organisations and projects from the ground up.

While at HBO, he launched online video services such as HBO Go, Max Go, Sony, A&E, Syfy, and Universal Studio and History channels across Latin America, Brazil and the Caribbean.

At NBCUniversal, he was instrumental in launching the Emmy-award-winning for the Beijing Summer Olympics and for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Alexa Gorman

Alexa Gorman. Image: Sap.iO

Alexa is global vice-president of SAP.iO Fund & Foundry in Europe and is responsible for SAP’s early-stage start-up investments as well as acceleration and incubation.

SAP.iO is an initiative of the tech giant to create an ecosystem of products and software by working with entrepreneurs.

In this role, Gorman leads the Berlin and Paris SAP.iO Foundries, which have a strong focus on AI and machine learning.

She is working with SAP’s Innovation Center as well as start-ups on the importance of diversity in AI.

Gorman has more than 18 years of experience in business development and strategy in software.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Get your Spring Bird tickets now to join us in Dublin on 21 and 22 June 2018.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic