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Think Ireland Inc: Ireland is to participate in
the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week for first time, in the week November
Finfacts reported on May 12 on the announcement
of this year's Global
Entrepreneurship Week by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the leading
US entrepreneurship think-tank, which will have the goal of spurring new ideas,
ingenuity and firm creation through local, national and global activities.
We said students, educators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, employees,
non-profit leaders, government officials and others will participate in
wide-ranging activities that include virtual and face-to-face events,
large-scale competitions and intimate networking gatherings.
We also noted that 103 countries would
participate but Ireland was not included.
Last week the FTWealth magazine that was
distributed with the Financial Times newspaper, had a 16-page promotional insert
from a new group
Think Ireland Inc, which is termed a 'movement of creative and
The group appears to be the inspiration of the
Michael Smurfit Business School but provides no transparency on who is running
it or on its funding.
The patron is Dr Michael WJ Smurfit.
The FTWealth insert has contributions from
"influential Irish and international business leaders, entrepreneurs and
academics, about opportunities in Ireland and connecting to the world in helping
to rebuild Ireland’s economy, with a message that Ireland is ‘Open for Business’
and how entrepreneurship can be a key driver of Ireland’s economic success."
Of the 11 contributors on entrepreneurship, there are 2 from entrepreneurs -
- Paul Kerley, founder of Norkom, which was acquired by BAE Systems, the
UK defence giant, last January; John Drew, founder and President of The Drew
Company, a Boston-based real estate management and development company.
There are 7 from academics: Prof Frank Roche of
the Michael Smurfit Business School, UCD; Prof Richard Harrison, Director,
Queen's University Management School, Belfast; Dr Frank Devitt Head, Dept of
Design & Innovation, School of Business, NUI Maynooth; Prof Willie Golden Dean,
College of Business, Public Policy & Law, NUI, Galway; Prof Donal Dineen Dean,
Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick; Prof Brian Norton President,
Dublin Institute of Technology; Prof Brian MacCraith President, Dublin City
Among others are John Mullins, CEO of state
company Bord Gáis; Mike McKerr, head of Ernst & Young Ireland, a unit of the Big
4 accounting firm; Paul Donovan CEO of Eircom; Chris Martin CEO of the Musgrave
Group, Tom Arnold CEO of relief agency, Concern Worldwide; Alastair
Hamilton, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland and John Travers, Director General
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the State agency responsible for funding
Travers retired on a pension from the public
service in 2002 after a full-work career there and returned to take charge of
the SFI last year. He is on the board of Ireland's National
Competitiveness Council and the Michael Smurfit Business School.
The FT insert refers to 'Ireland's new mindset'
but do we have one?
While academics can have a lot of worthy things
to say, it's rare to find one with a direct experience of typical real world
entrepreneurship i.e. without a safety net.
Most of the contributors in the FT insert were of
the faces of the comfortable from the old Ireland of the Celtic Tiger and for
example, as experienced as John Travers maybe, why has the main State science
agency to call an individual back from retirement, to run it?
As for a new 'mindset,' why not start with
transparency on Think Ireland Inc? What companies are funding it?
As an entrepreneur, I endorse hope but let's see
more space for the hope and change that will have to come from the young people of