Powerful, positive, fantastic: Inspirefest’s off-stage impact (video)

25 Jun 2015

Interviewing CoderDojo Foundation CEO Mary Moloney at Inspirefest 2015. Photo by Robbie Reynolds/Conor McCabe Photography

Some sci-tech leaders were onstage at Inspirefest and some were in the audience, but all of them were learning from one another in what was credited as an encouraging and supportive environment.

Running over two days in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, the Inspirefest conference brought together a mix of science, technology and business leaders to share their expertise and experience.

Inspiring Ireland’s next generation of innovators

On the first day of the event, I sat down with three young women shining bright on the horizon of the Irish sci-tech scene to find out who or what had impacted them the most from the morning’s sessions.

For biotech student Edel Browne, it was exciting to see female role models in STEM given a platform. A former BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) individual prize winner, Browne has since turned her Free Feet project into a med-tech company to treat gait freezing in Parkinson’s patients.

Blogger Elle Loughran is also a BTYSTE award winner whose project researched the use of graphene for cancer diagnosis. Loughran was excited to see her peer Émer Hickey take to the stage to announce Germinaid Innovations – another business formed from a winning BTYSTE project.

Loughran, Browne and Catrina Carrigan – a CoderDojo participant-turned-mentor – will all be participating in the Outbox Incubator hosted by Stemettes in London this summer, which may well produce a solid cohort of young female entrepreneurs. However, they were given plenty of food for thought on how unintentional bias can impact business and innovation from the Inspirefest talks.

Making an impression on business leaders

Even business people with years of experience had something to learn from Inspirefest, as CoderDojo Foundation CEO Mary Moloney explained how she immediately put into practice some of the lessons she learned.

The mix of science and technology was refreshing and enlightening for some as Anne Ravanona, CEO and founder of Global Invest Her, described excitedly calling up her kids to tell them she had heard from the woman who discovered pulsars and the woman whose company built Philae’s communications technology.

In a chat with straight-talking Astia CEO Sharon Vosmek, she let us know what she loves about Irish female entrepreneurs and the kinds of companies she likes to invest in, which was embodied by the number of entrepreneurs onstage presenting ideas that were addressing social needs.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

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.