Momentum 2020 explores the links between sport, wellbeing and performance

4 Feb 2020

Image: Connor McKenna/

The event at the Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence showcased Kerry’s sci-tech ecosystem through the lens of a sporting mindset.

Last week, KerrySciTech’s Momentum 2020 event took place at the Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence. Setting out to examine how a sporting mindset and a focus on health and wellness can benefit business, the event gathered speakers with experience in this area to share their insights.

Silicon Republic CEO and Future Human founder Ann O’Dea was MC for the event, which hosted a keynote from Carole Ann Clarke, CEO and co-founder of I Am Here.

“I Am Here is a programme that positively disrupts culture around mental health and wellbeing by instilling the belief that it’s OK not to feel OK, and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help,” Clarke explained.

“It’s a programme that empowers individuals to create compassionate conversations with people who need help. It’s about giving them courage, confidence and skills to sit down with a person, see how they’re doing, ask them the right questions, and then get them the help that [they] need.”

Following some audience interaction aimed at helping those gathered at the event to put themselves in the shoes of others and consider their struggles, Clarke was joined by O’Dea for a brief Q&A.

Clarke’s background fit seamlessly with the theme of the event, having served as captain of the Irish women’s rugby team, as well as earning decades of professional experience at global corporations such as Diageo and Coca-Cola.

For her, the sporting mindset gives her the commitment and belief she needs in business, as well as qualities such as risk-taking and following through on a vision. She also cited the teamwork she built up in sport as something that feeds in to how she is now building a tribe working toward a collective vision.

Aoife Ní Mhuirí, a panellist at the event and founder and CEO of Salaso, also cited the teamwork element as a strong advantage to bring from the sporting world to that of sci-tech business.

“You’re working together as a team, you’re winning together as a team, you’re facing problems together. Maybe sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but, whatever, you’re working together as a team, you’re leaning on each other and learning from each other as well. And it’s very much the sum of the parts, and the sum of the collective together, that helps get you across that winning line,” she said.

Ní Mhuirí is a trained physiotherapist and Salaso’s digital health platform offers a video library of more than 1,000 at-home exercises, as well as tools for tracking patient adherence. The company is one of the successes of the Kerry start-up scene and a member of KerrySciTech.

Closing the event was KerrySciTech chair John Gannon, who said: “I think the greatest thing we can learn from sport in business is the whole team ethic and how high-performing teams drive themselves.”

Gannon also emphasised the need for a focus on workplace wellbeing from the point of view of building a sci-tech ecosystem in the west of Ireland that can successfully attract talent.

“At KerrySciTech, we’re looking to promote Kerry as a location for science, technology and engineering talent. So part of what we’re looking at doing is putting together a programme this year, among our member companies, to make wellbeing at the centre of our employees’ workplace.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.