Bits and Bobs

It has been a busy few weeks at NCI. Honestly, it has and that is not a lame excuse for the late posting of my weekly blog.

Last weekend we hosted the Newstalk 106-108fm Student Enterprise Competition. The event was a great success and the standard and quality of the teams who entered was exceptional. The judges, all busy entrepreneurs and senior figures from Industry and the media gave so generously of their time. I had the pleasure of being MC and working with the judging team for the finals and it took some deliberation and hair splitting before the team from Tipperary Institute emerged as the competition winners. Their prize is a trip to the Caribbean to work with Digicel and clearly to have oodles of fun! Maybe I should join them…I think that my hard work deserves that but that’s a personal view and I doubt very much if it is shared by many others.

After the competition I did an interview with Conor Brophy for TV 3’s weekend business programme, Business Matters, which is hosted by Ivan Yates. If you are so inclined you can watch me on the show by clicking the following link: . The interview was about entrepreneurship in Ireland and entrepreneurship in recession. I do believe that there are myriad opportunities in the current economic down turn and that there is no shortage of funding for good ideas in recession. It is not all doom and gloom. Yes, maybe the reckless lending and indiscriminate grant culture is gone but the financial scrutiny that we have now will allow genuine entrepreneurial companies to emerge. I also believe that a full review and restructuring of the support for start-up firms is urgently required. Start-ups require more hand-holding and closer mentoring support. In addition, I believe that this country requires a simplification strategy which will streamline the labyrinthine and arcane support structures for entrepreneurial start-ups that currently operate and which only serve to confuse and deter the early-stage entrepreneurial company. One other point that I feel strongly about is that there is insufficient attention paid to the agri-food sector. New initiatives are urgently required that will build off of our national competence in this sector and which more importantly will allow the economy and its recovery to leverage off of a fertile hotbed of entrepreneurial opportunity.

This week I had the immense pleasure and personal privilege to act as Quizmaster for the College’s Early Learning Initiative (ELI) Primary School Table Quiz. The annual table quiz is part of the Stretch to Learn Programme which is core to the ELI. 96 children came to NCI to represent their schools on 16 teams and their parents and families came along to support them. These children hail from the four local parishes which surround the College in Dublin city centre. These are some of the most socially and economically deprived areas in the country and the College works in partnership with the local communities to provide support on a range of valuable educational initiatives from home tutoring, to reading support, to advocacy, to competitions in the College all aimed at improving educational opportunity for all of the children of the area; and indeed or their parents. Personally the ELI is my favourite part of what we do in terms of community support. Our School of Community Studies at NCI is engaged in a variety of programmes that seek to improve local communities but for me the ELI takes some beating.

The children had a ball. We laughed. We sang. We joked. We basically had fun. In truth, nobody had more fun than me. I grew up in a tough neighbourhood myself and money and life’s luxuries were in short supply but like all others I forget sometimes. Events like this serve to remind me of the importance of the provision of educational opportunities to all and to making education and especially third level education accessible to everyone. Education is a road to social mobility. Education does unlock potential. Education does change lives. It is indeed a great thing that the College is an integral part of the Dublin Docklands and that it is so active on many fronts within the local communities.

Have a great weekend!