#IIF13 Panel 3 – Sowing the seeds of creativity and innovation (videos)

14 Oct 2013

(From left) Silicon Republic CEO Ann O'Dea, Soundwave's Brendan O'Driscoll, NDRC's Ben Hurley, IIA's Joan Mulvihill and Dublin City Council's Peter Finnegan. Photo by Robbie Reynolds

More highlights from Friday’s Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin, where leaders from Soundwave, the Irish Internet Association, the NDRC and Dublin City Council discussed how to best foster indigenous innovation and develop the so-called “creative class.”

At Friday’s Forum, the development of an innovative ecosystem that supports indigenous innovation and start-ups and involves citizens was discussed.

Joan Mulvihill from the Irish Internet Association, Brendan O’Driscoll from music app start-up Soundwave, Ben Hurley from the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) and Peter Finnegan from Dublin City Council discussed the present environment and some of the barriers that need to be removed for start-ups and innovation to flourish.

O’Driscoll, who revealed that there have now been some 650,000 downloads of Soundwave’s music discovery app all over the world, said that largely the structures are in place for anyone with an idea and a business plan to “give it a go.” But he added: “Ultimately it’s down to the team and the structure in place to go forward.”

He added that some of the barriers in place include the legalities involved in securing funding, which he described as overly arduous and time-consuming.

NDRC’s Ben Hurley agreed and said that many of the frictions experienced by start-ups and innovators transitioning from research to business need to be removed.

“Innovation is about making things happen. We think of it as making ventures happen. We need to remove many of the artificial barriers, including tax and IP rules, and enable the right kind of interactions and space to bring ideas through with the right support and structure around them.”

The Irish Internet Association’s Joan Mulivhill pointed out that many of the organisations she works with aren’t just start-ups and many companies are second and third generation family businesses, who see the internet revolution as core to their business.

She painted a metaphor of the innovation ecosystem as a garden where government bodies should provide the soil for growth, organisations like the IIA act as “bees” cross-pollinating and linking up ideas with investment and start-ups like Soundwave and traditional firms who have discovered innovation through digital should flourish and bloom.

“My role is to link from one flower to another, your job is to make the environment right,” she said to Peter Finnegan from Dublin City Council.

Finnegan, who is director of International Relations and Research at Dublin City Council, agreed and said that globally Dublin is on the innovation map.

“Our Digital Masterplan showed us that there are a lot of things that Dublin could be doing better. At the end of the day, we don’t believe in building tech cities as final products. Our job is to ensure that there is the infrastructure going into homes and premises to drive things forward.

“International collaboration is important. We are an island. We have colleagues from Boston here this week and next week we’ll have a delegation from San Jose.

“It’s also about linking into the value chain of multinationals,” he added.

He also made the point that what is needed is a big project area where Ireland can excel. Instead of using defence, which is typically the trigger for innovation in places like Silicon Valley, as a trigger for innovation, “the big project” Ireland can foster innovation around could be clean energy.

“As an island nation we are highly dependent on energy and we are in a world running out of fossil fuels,” he said, pointing out that necessity is indeed the mother of all invention.

Watch highlights of the third panel discussion here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years