The ‘Innovation Centre’ is the home of Innovation at IT Sligo, hosting many different events throughout the year. Highlights from some of our latest events and other interesting stories from the Centre can be viewed here:
Innovation Centre Companies Showcase Their Business Story Over Breakfast
20th Feb 2017
The diversity and entrepreneurship of start-up companies at IT Sligo’s Innovation Centre were showcased at a special event for staff of the Institute on Thursday morning.
The Innovation Centre Breakfast Briefing invited the college’s academic and support staff to meet and network with 20 of the Innovation Centre’s dynamic start-up businesses.
Each company made a two-minute presentation, telling their story and explaining what they do, to spark interest amongst Institute staff in potential collaborations.
The businesses are in various stages of development – from idea stage to trading.
Trojan Battery – one of the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries and a battery technology pioneer, having built the first golf car battery in 1952
Studybundles – developers of a mobile app for higher education institutions which is designed to drive student engagement, enhance recruitment and boost retention
Storylab – a national PR and content agency, rooted in the culture of quality journalism
And KudosHealth – a software provider for large employers which enables them to engage and reward their employees all year round for being physically active & leading a healthier lifestyle.
“One of the challenges arising from the continuing expansion and growth of IT Sligo in recent years can be in ensuring that the various functions of the Institute are aware of what else is happening on campus,” explains Niall McEvoy, Head of Innovation at IT Sligo. “So, this event, organised by our Innovation Centre staff, provides an ideal opportunity for our start-up companies and staff of the Institute to explore and collaborate across areas of mutual interest.”
The keynote presentation of the breakfast briefing was made by David Kenny, site lead of Overstock Ireland – an online discount retailer based in Salt Lake City, Utah that began its Irish operations at IT Sligo’s Innovation Centre. The company has since expanded and relocated to Sligo town centre, creating 25 software development jobs locally.
“Starting and growing our business in IT Sligo’s Innovation Centre provided all the supports we needed to scale quickly. We worked with the computing department which provided student placements to help us grow. I’m delighted that half of our staff came to us directly from IT Sligo. We are now based in Sligo providing specialist software and services to our Headquarters in the US.”
Dr Brendan McCormack, President of IT Sligo, was among the staff members who attended Thursday’s event. “Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the economy and it is the lifeblood of IT Sligo’s dynamic Innovation Centre,” Dr McCormack said.
“For 28 years, the Centre has been a shining light in the region, a benchmark for excellence, one that is supported and nurtured by the Institute.
“The development, sustainability and success of SMEs are particularly important in regional areas. We have to have the ability to grow and sustain our own companies and to see them scale.”
Part of the Innovation Centre’s strategy is regional development and the creation of good quality, highly-skilled jobs. The number of jobs the companies create – 82 at the latest count – means the Innovation Centre is currently at full capacity.
An application has been made to Enterprise Ireland to double the capacity of the Innovation Centre, using concepts based upon the latest designs for such centres.
Photo caption (top):
L-R: David Kenny – Overstock, Des Forde – Neratek, Martha Kearins – Storylab & Dr Brendan McCormack – President of IT Sligo were among the speakers at the Innovation Centre’s Breakfast Briefing.
Sligo SME Lands UK University Contract For Student App
13th Dec 2016
A small Irish start-up has signed a contract with The University of Manchester to develop a wellbeing mobile application for the institution’s 40,000 students and 10,000 staff members.
StudyBundles, which is headquartered at IT Sligo’s Innovation Centre, also has an office in Manchester, less than a mile from the University’s Oxford Road campus.
The innovative new software will utilise the latest native app technologies, building on the success of StudyBundles’ established CampusConnect product, which is already helping boost student enrolments for a number of leading Irish universities.
The company has also just signed a new contract to provide the CampusConnect app at Limerick IT and recently renewed its deals with the University of Limerick, Maynooth University and Letterkenny IT. StudyBundles is currently in talks with several other UK and Irish institutions on providing them with CampusConnect.
Two of the company founders — Declan Sweeney and John O’Hagan — spent several years living in Manchester and London before returning home to the West of Ireland to set up StudyBundles.
Declan and the third co-founder, Daniel Hinkley, were both lecturers before setting up the business and are “also former students at the University of Manchester. Daniel runs the company’s Manchester office.
The bespoke wellbeing app, developed for the University of Manchester, is an extension of StudyBundles’ CampusConnect app.
With advanced personalisation features, push notifications and geolocation functionality, the app will serve individual users with information tailored to them.
Details of wellbeing events and activities on campus and in and around the local area will be delivered according to user preferences, alongside real-time information about what is happening close by.
The University of Manchester is the largest single-site university in the UK and has the biggest student community of around 40,000 students and has 10,000 staff.
Declan Sweeney, StudyBundles CEO and co-founder said: “The University of Manchester is one of the most prestigious in the UK and this project is something we are really pleased to be involved in. This is major validation for us as a young business and an opportunity to build on the success of our core product, CampusConnect. The fact that Dan (Hinkley) and I are Manchester graduates makes this all the more pleasing and we’re excited to get started.”
StudyBundles, an Enterprise Ireland client, was founded in 2015 by lecturers Declan Sweeney, Daniel Hinkley and motion graphic designer John O’Hagan. The team was working as lecturers in London and Manchester when they came up with the idea for the business.
New Education & Training Resource For Employers
28th Nov 2016
A new online resource, designed to help employers in the North West of Ireland connect more easily with the education and training services available in the region, was launched at Institute of Technology, Sligo last Friday.
The new Employer Services Page is a collaboration with the North West Regional Skills Forum.
The new online portal provides clear and accessible information for employers on a range of services which are being offered by IT Sligo.
These include: bespoke work based learning programmes, student work placements, research collaborations and key information on apprenticeships.
“Understanding the different types of providers, courses and services available across the further and higher education and training sectors can be challenging for employers,” says Oran Doherty, who is the North West Regional Skills Forum manager.
“This online platform aims to make it easier for employers to connect with the Education and Training services available to them.”
The North West Regional Skills Forum was established in 2015 as part of the Government’s National Skills Strategy. It provides an opportunity for employers and the education and training system to work together to meet the emerging skills needs of their regions
It aims to be a single contact point for the region’s employers, to help them connect with the range of services and supports available across the education and training system.
The Forum also provides a structure for employers to become more involved in promoting employment roles and opportunities for career progression in their sectors
Welcoming the new online initiative, Dr Brendan McCormack, President of IT Sligo said: “It is my strong belief that this education/industry collaboration provides some of the key enabling mechanisms to unlocking the true potential of the North West Region.
“We have an opportunity to build a vibrant economy here – and we must take advantage of that opportunity. Ensuring that the region’s employers have all the education and training tools at their disposal is one of the steps towards achieving that goal.”
Pictured at last Friday’s launch of the new Employers Services portal at IT Sligo: (L-R) Niall McEvoy (Head of Innovation at IT Sligo), Niall O’Donnellan (Chair of IT Sligo Governing Body), Dr Brendan McCormack (President of IT Sligo), Paul Keating (Department of Education & Skills), Oran Doherty (North West Regional Skills Forum Manager).
New Regional Skills Forum Resource For Employers
15th Nov 2016
IT Sligo in association with the North West Regional Skills Forum will launch the new Employer Services webpage in Hume Hall, IT Sligo on Friday November 25th, from 10am to 11:30am.
Employers should find this event beneficial, as it will provide key information on engaging in initiatives such as:
- Bespoke Work Based Learning programmes for their existing staff & available funding
- Secure IT Sligo students for placement periods at no / little cost
- Suggest work based project titles (to be completed by final year learners in IT Sligo) & benefit from the outcomes at no/little expense.
- Conferences & Events upcoming events relevant to employers
- The Apprentice Programmes
- Funding Support for Training
- Guest lecture opportunities in IT Sligo.
Many of the regional and national employers will be in attendance and it will provide an excellent opportunity to network. This event is free to all employers. Reserved parking will also be available on the campus.
The keynote speaker is Conor Moss (Head of Employer Engagement at Sheffield Hallam University). Conor is widely regarded as the leading UK expert on enterprise and academic engagement. Conor will share some of the UK’s innovative employer engagements.
What’s the Secret Sauce in Business? Find out at The Exchange
8th Nov 2016
What is it?
You’ve seen Dragon’s Den, Entrepreneur of The Year and all those other mentoring, networking and business shows – The Exchange has the best of everything to give ambitious business leaders a competitive edge.
When is it on?
The Exchange takes place on December 1st and 2nd 2016 in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Ballincar, Rosses Point, Sligo.
What’s the setup?
This isn’t another ‘startup’ get together: it’s for people who are already running good businesses, probably doing a lot right but probably some things not so well. In a nutshell, The Exchange allows businesses and entrepreneurs from across Ireland get to sit down with a group of successful business leaders and executives, pick their brains and ask them during exclusive one-on-one sessions for top tips, help in setting goals and advice on overcoming challenges.
There’s craic to be had too.
After the chats, everyone sits down together for a great dinner and a chance to meet and exchange business knowledge and insights with all involved. A special guest will give an after-dinner speech, guaranteed to energise everyone in the room.
What does The Exchange feature?
Just some of the country’s brightest and best business figures and leaders exchanging advice, tips, shortcuts, do’s and don’ts as well as suggestions for business success.
Who are they?
Well, for starters there’s the Programme Director of the phenomenally successful EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Sean Duffy, co-founder and CEO of Netwatch, David Walsh, CEO of LotusWorks Fergal Broder, serial entrepreneur and Ticketmaster founder Tommy Higgins, Gillian Buckley, investment manager of the WDC Investment Fund, Cindy Barnes of Futurecurve, businessman and RTE board member Padraig O Ceidigh and David Kiely of consulting engineers Jennings O’Donovan & Partners.
Here are the full details
It sounds like a business could learn – and gain – a lot by attending.
Yes – this unique event has the single aim of sharing information and stories of success with participating businesses, so they leave the Exchange better equipped to tackle the various issues facing them.
LotusWorks CEO Fergal Broder says those attending can reap real benefits:
“What we are trying to do is share some of our experiences which of course include our successes but also to share those valuable insights and experiences about what we did wrong and to see how we might have done things a little different.”
And what kind of business should attend?
All kinds, says David Kiely of Jennings O’Donovan & Partners:
“In terms of sector and size, ideally with a few years under their belt since starting-up and who have the ambition to scale and grow.”
So, the event can really help indigenous businesses to expand and thrive?
“Without doubt,” says Ian Brannigan, head of the Western Development Commission.
“For several years now ‘The Exchange’ has brought businesses into direct contact with business leaders who are passionate about making a difference to growing enterprises. The WDC is delighted to see how these meaningful engagements have created a culture of success leading to improved capability, products and in many cases jobs.”
The event details once more…
The Exchange takes place on December 1st and 2nd 2016 in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Ballincar, Rosses Point, Sligo.
Register: this is how businesses can sign up: http://www.theentrepreneurexchange.ie/
For more information:
Contact Ciaran Byrne at StoryLab on 0861739523 or Mary Harty at Sligo Chamber on 071 916 1274.
L-R: Des Faul (President Sligo Chamber of Commerce), Niall McEvoy (Head of Innovation, IT Sligo), Janette Gillen (IT Sligo Innovation Centre Manager), Ian Brannigan (Head of Western Development Commission), Mary Harty (Sligo Chamber).