Networking specialist Cisco has pledged to make an Irish innovation competition more sustainable through the use of video-conferencing
Networking giant Cisco is donating technology to a project which aims to help the struggling Irish economy recover from the impact of the financial crisis.
The “Your Country, Your Call” project will benefit from a variety of Cisco collaborative technologies, including web application and Cisco WebEx conferencing systems. The competition will award a prize of €200,000 (£174,000) to two “transformational projects” that will help the Irish economy to grow and encourage employment. The project also has the backing of Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland.
The Cisco technology will allow entrants from around the world to take part in the competition and use video-conferencing to interact with the competition’s judges, Cisco said. “Your Country, Your Call is a collaborative initiative designed to involve the Irish population and citizens around the world in Ireland’s future economic success,” said Kim Majerus, managing director of Cisco Ireland. “Working with many diverse organisations and individuals, Cisco is helping enable Ireland to tap into ideas, expertise and people all over the world.”
Majerus added that the aim was to make the competition as sustainable as possible by cutting down on paper and using online collaboration to cut down on the need for air-travel. “We are working to make Your Country, Your Call as environmentally efficient as possible by eliminating the need for paper-based entry and allowing face-to-face interaction among the initiative finalists, without the need for carbon-intensive travel,” she said.
Despite Cisco’s promise of advanced online tools to help the Irish economy, the country may benefit from more basic improvements to its Internet infrastructure. According to a recent EU study, despite the economic boom that Ireland went through over the last decade, the country has the lowest levels of Internet usage for young people in Western Europe, with only 58 percent of 16 to 24 year olds reporting to use the Internet every day compared to 83 percent in the UK.
While Cisco seems keen to support the Irish economy, PC-maker Dell was attacked over its decision to close its manufacturing plant in Limerick last year. Irish members of the European Parliament reacted angrily to chaos and misinformation surrounding the closure of Dell’s manufacturing facility, with the loss of around 2,800 jobs.
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre De Bruin reportedly said that Dell had been encouraged to move its production to a cheaper plant in Poland with the help of €54.5 million (£49.6m)-worth of Polish government subsidies approved by the European Commission.
Launched on 17 February 2010, the competition is open to anyone with an idea for Irish development. Details are available at www.yourcountryyourcall.com.