Panel discussion at 2pm "Taking the rough with the smooth – trading through difficult times" featuring the following panel of entrepreneurs:
Kevin Traynor – CEO www.sonicacademy.com
Kevin is the founder of Sonic Academy which he set up in Belfast in 2004 as a training facility for DJs and music technology enthusiasts, which has since become the premier facility of its kind in Ireland. A former drummer with one of Ireland’s most successful bands The Divine Comedy, it wasn’t long before he dumped the drums in favour of decks and began DJ’ing and promoting club nights between London and Belfast. Since then he has notched up appearances in Holland, France, Italy and Australia and played alongside some of the worlds’ best DJs from James Zabiela to Adam Freeland and DJ Dexter to Tiefschwarz.
Kevin was awarded the Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2005 for his work in setting up Sonic Academy. He also sits on the board of Disability Action Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Employers Group of Creative & Cultural Skills (the Sector Skills Council for the Creative and Cultural Industries).
Colm Lyons – CEO RealexPayments.com
Colm Lyon is Founder and Managing Director of Realex Payments. He is highly regarded as one of the foremost innovation leaders in the online payment processing business. His career has spanned almost twenty five years in payment related businesses, starting with fourteen years in the financial service sector.
Colm founded Realex Payments in 2000 and since then the business has grown rapidly to a position of inspired leadership in the online payment processing business. The payment exchange concept, which he conceived has proven to be the market winning approach in that it offers a strategic solution which addresses the core issues. Today Realex Payments process in excess of €6bn for 3,000 businesses.
Colm is a regular industry speaker. In 2005 he was acclaimed and rewarded for his leadership when he was a finalist of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As an industry figure he was Director and Chairman of the Irish Internet Association for over four years – during which time the association significantly enhanced its position. He was invited (2008) by Enterprise Ireland to participate in the Steering Group to devise the strategy for the Irish Software Sector. In 2009 he lead the development of the Internet Growth Alliance (www.alliance.ie) with Ray Nolan and Dylan Collins which is working with Enterprise Ireland to develop a new support structure program for Irish Internet businesses. He is a graduate of University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Management Science Degree.
Jerry Kennelly – Founder & former CEO of Stockbyte and Stockdisc – sold to Getty Images for over €110 Million.
As well as establishing and selling his highly successful stock images business, Jerry has been honoured by the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards and was named the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Jerry has been instrumental in the launch and roll out of the very successful Young Entrepreneur Programme which is aimed at fostering an entrepreneurship culture among second and third level students. He has spearheaded the programme since the concept was first mooted in 2006 with the Institute and Kerry Technology Park. Jerry is also central to the development of the recently launched Endeavour Programme.
Asheesh Dewan – Founder of Jaipur Restaurants and co-founder of Segala
Asheesh Dewan is the founder of Jaipur Indian restaurants, which employ over 100 people. With six restaurants in his group in Ireland, the most recent one being Ananda in Dundrum shopping centre, Asheesh is also the proprietor of Benares in London, one of the first Indian restaurants in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star. In March 2009, Asheesh was awarded the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Award and last year was named Permanent TSB Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year 2008. He is also a co-founder of Segala, an IT company which specialises in web accessibility and mobile web standards compliance certification.
See who’s attending here
See the speakers schedule here
This grassroots campaign is about the positive aspects of economic activity that often receive little media attention, and the need to focus on solutions instead of the problems.
It is about setting a challenge to people to be innovative and creative.
The Irish Internet Association supports the Ideas Campaign in its efforts to identify ways of preserving and growing employment, stimulating new economic activity and creating business ideas.
The campaign wants ideas from business owners/executives, knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and academics. It also wants the ideas and involvement of anybody who is concerned about these important economic issues and their consequences, such as the employment prospects for their children.
All contributions received will be turned into an action plan and presented to government in April.
If you are a member of the IIA please let Roseanne Smith, Membership Manager, know about your contributions to the campaign so she may include your ideas in any future promotions of this great idea.
For more information on the Ideas Campaign, go to:
BizCamp is a user generated business conference with open, participatory workshop-events, where content is provided by the participants. It is a new feature on the Irish business events calendar and is based on principles of interaction, engagement and conversation. It’s a free event and therefore sponsors are very welcome 🙂
I had my first experience of a camp-style conference last September which focussed on one of my main interests: social media. At that camp, I learnt lots of interest in that arena. So I didn’t hesitate to sign up for Bizcamp either – I figured if I learnt half as much as I did at Podcamp Ireland and met half as many people who have been a boon to my work with the IIA it would be a day well spent. Bizcamp Dublin is being organised by, among others, Keith Bohanna, who is on the IIA Board, and Alan O’Rourke of Spoiltchild, an IIA member. In the video below Keith explains a bit more about what to expect at Bizcamp. Watch it and then go register!
Last Wednesday over 100 delegates attended the Net Imperative Roadshow in which the IIA were delighted to participate as a partner with Net Imperative. It was a free event chock full of information and many of the presentations with lots of interesting facts and figures can be found on the Net Imperative website (scroll right to the bottom after the list of attendees… also rather interesting reading ;))
Alan O’Rourke from IIA Member company Spoiltchild uploaded his presentation Vimeo which includes audio and is well worth a look.
I also finally had the pleasure of meeting Fred and Facundo from Channelship.ie, one of the IIA’s newest members. Fred said something to me on Wednesday that really resonated with me and I think it’s worth repeating. The recession, of course, came up in conversation, and Fred said something like, “You know, it’s at times like this that a good website can be a real important business resource. A good website is like having an extra sales, marketing or communications executive on the team. The only difference is that they work 24/7 for you!” Fred and Facundo really made the most of their day in the Guinness Storehouse, including this short video with the above mentioned, Alan O’Rourke of Spoiltchild.ie.
€ 1 billion has been earmarked today to help rural areas get online, bring new jobs and help businesses grow. On average, 93 % of Europeans can enjoy a high speed online connection but in some countries broadband covers less than half of the rural population (see the table in the annex). Broadband internet connection is expected to create 1 million jobs and boost the EU’s economy by €850 billion between 2006 and 2015.
How can investment in broadband infrastructures stimulate Europe’s economic recovery?
Investment in broadband has a positive impact on economic development, innovation and territorial cohesion. A recent study shows that, assuming a constant adoption rate up to 2015, broadband development will help create around 1 million jobs in Europe and a broadband-related growth of economic activity of € 850 bn between 2006 and 2015.
In areas with a lack of infrastructure, such as less populated areas or remote and isolated rural areas, increased spending on new telecom infrastructure boosts the productivity and employment potential of the local economy. Development and adoption of advanced broadband services help make businesses and public administration more efficient by enabling organisational innovation and facilitating access to markets. The impact on European industry is clearly positive: apart from civil work for networks which has a direct impact on local employment, sales of network equipment will also benefit global European suppliers (like Siemens, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent), as well as telecoms or satellite operators. And areas with advanced broadband connections will see an increase in demand for products and services.
What is the current state of broadband coverage and speed in Europe?
Broadband access is increasingly widespread in the EU, following substantial EU efforts and a pro-competitive regulatory framework in place since the liberalization of the telecoms sector. In December 2007, broadband connection was available to around 93% of Europeans, mostly in densely populated areas.
However 30% of the EU rural population still has no access to high speed internet.
At the start of 2008, on average, more than half of European users enjoyed advertised internet speeds above 2 Megabits per second, which is considered the minimum to enable advanced services like television over the internet, and about 10% of users had access to more than 10 Megabits per second. This compares favourably with the USA, where 37% of broadband lines offer at least 2.5 Megabits per second and only 4% have speeds equal or above to 10 Megabits per second. These are however "advertised" speeds which overestimate actual speeds. In fact, internet speed worsens when the distance between the exchanges and the location where the user is based is great and/or when several users access the internet simultaneously.
Internet speeds increase with the share of fiber-based high-capacity access technologies. Fiber accounts for 45% of all broadband subscriptions in South Korea and 39% in Japan. These numbers are similar between the EU and the US (1.4% and 1.5% respectively) but much lower than in Asia.
In terms of penetration rate (broadband take up per population), which was 21.7% in EU27 in July 2008, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and Finland lead the rankings in the OECD area penetration rates above 30%. The penetration rate in the US is 25%.
Why is it necessary to spend EU money on broadband investment? Could this not be better done by each Member State?
The EU money will be used in addition to private investments and national funding. It means that rural areas which are not covered by existing plans to roll out or upgrade broadband will be able to participate in the web economy very soon. In particular, this means that areas that are already at an economic disadvantage will be better placed for economic recovery already in 2009.
Which regions in Europe are in a particular need of broadband investment?
European rural areas suffer from much lower coverage rates than urban or suburban areas and this is where the European help should focus. In some countries, even traditional telephone networks are not available in rural areas (in Bulgaria or Romania for example). In others, lack of investment and difficult geographic conditions has limited broadband coverage to less than 50% of the rural population (Greece, Poland, Slovakia). Even countries with a more developed infrastructure still have rural coverage rates below 80%. This is the case of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania. Finally, even in the most developed countries (Germany, France, Italy, Austria), there are still areas that, due to their geographical location or mountainous landscapes, do not enjoy the same conditions as the rest of the country.
Finally, these figures relate to the coverage of DSL, which is the most widespread access platform in Europe. But they do not take into consideration people who live too far away from telephone exchanges to have access to DSL. This is around 3% of the population in the EU15 and much more in the new Member States. Thus, there is considerable scope for investment to ensure all Europeans have the right to broadband.
The attached table provides detailed figures on the level of coverage according to the type of area.
Table1: Broadband coverageof population by urbanity, December 2007 (EU27, NO, IS)
|MT||99%||Not relevant||Not relevant||99%|
Data source: IDATE Study “Broadband Coverage in Europe 2008”
Data for urban, suburban areas and for the national average in Bulgaria and Romania are not available. Rural coverage in these countries is 0 and this allows the calculation of rural coverage for EU27 + 2.
How will the €1 bn of EU money reach rural areas with a particular need for broadband investments?
The money will be injected into the existing Rural Development Programmes, which have been drafted and approved on the basis of the rules established for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. This means that no new instrument needs to be created and that they will be managed by the national rural development managing authorities. This will necessitate a modification of the Rural Development Programmes and Member States are called upon to do it by 30 June 2009 to allow projects to be identified and expenditure to be made already in 2009.
The European Council in December asked the Commission to specify concrete projects for investing the €5 bn for infrastructure? Is there such a central list for broadband projects?
It is the responsibility of Member States and regions to select the projects that can best serve their areas following the established eligibility and selection rules within their rural development programmes. Projects are not imposed centrally by Brussels, but selected by the Member States and they should reflect the needs identified at national, regional and local level in the context of the National Strategy Plans for rural development.
What is the next step? Can the money now be paid out or do Parliament and Council first have to give their agreement? How long will it take until the first payments are made?
The legal proposals that the Commission has tabled today will make possible the spending of the €1bn under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will increase its overall budget by the same amount. The proposal requires the approval by Council. The Commission calls on the Council to adopt these proposals as soon as possible so that money can already be committed in 2009.
How will each Member State apply for this extra funding?
By June 2009 Member States and regions will have to propose a modification of their Rural Development Programme, which have to incorporate the option for investments in broadband infrastructure. Member States and regions can authorise projects from the date of submission of the modification request.
What will be the distribution of funding among the Member States?
The amount of €1bn for broadband to be spent under rural development would be distributed among all Member States on the basis of the current distribution key for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The distribution process will cover also another €0.5bn that are to be spent under rural development for "new challenges" as identified under the Health-check of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Which is the co-financing rate of a broadband project within Rural Development?
Projects can benefit from higher co-financing rates in 2009:
- 90% in Convergence regions
- 75% in non-Convergence regions
If agreed by the Council, additional co-financing of 10% would also be temporarily possible in 2009 to promote the economic recovery in Member States and ease investments.
What are the types of measures related to broadband that can be supported through Rural Development?
The types of operations that can be supported are:
- Creation of new broadband infrastructure including backhaul facilities (e.g. fixed, terrestrial wireless, satellite-based or combination of technologies);
- Upgrade of existing broadband infrastructure;
- Laying down passive broadband infrastructure (e.g.: civil engineering works such as ducts, and other network elements such as dark fibre, etc.) also in synergy with other infrastructures (energy, transport, water, sewerage networks etc.).
Where can I find the contact details of Rural Development Authorities for my Member State?
Further information on the European Commission’s broadband initiatives at "Bridinging the Broadband Gap" initiative:
European broadband portal:
Micus study, "The impact of broadband on growth and productivity", available at
 “Broadband Coverage” refers to the coverage of DSL networks, the most widespread form of broadband access in Europe, and in particular to the percentage of population depending on a Local Exchange equipped with a DSLAM. Thus, coverage also includes those people (Households or Businesses Units) that reside too far from these switches to be able to purchase a DSL connection even if they wanted to do so. Hence, coverage figures overestimate actual availability.
The following guest post is written by Leon Quinn of Reverb Studios Multimedia & Web Design. Reverb Studios recently rejoined the IIA which I was really glad to see. Leon Quinn, the company owner, had been on my radar through twitter and had made some valuable input to the Social Media Working Group’s recent blogging workshop through the live twittering (You’ll hear me passing on his inputs in the podcast where I mistakenly say that he is based in Co. Clare when he’s actually in lovely Leitrim – my bad!)
I ask all new members what prompted them to join the IIA. Leon told me that “Good key worded anchor links from a site like the IIA’s with a Google page rank of 6/10 and Alexa rank of 135,562 should help promote my web site so I guess you could say I’m mainly using the IIA site for link backs but in return you should get some useful content via my 2 blogs through your excellent RSS feature.”
Over to Leon:
The dominant mood in the current economic climate amongst the general public and businesses especially is to cut costs, save money and look for deals. Bearing this in mind, and if you run a business looking to increase your sales leads, now might be a good time to look at your marketing methods and spend.
‘Old fashioned’ marketing methods such as Print, Radio, TV, Brochures, etc.. remain effective at least in a local context but they also remain very expensive. If you are a business manager who has managed to avoid going down the online route to find leads until now then you should realise that according to recent statistics more and more people are using the internet to find services and purchase products online and you may not be able to afford to ignore this fact for much longer.
Web Design companies, if they have morals! will realise that companies may turn to the net in the current crisis to service their sales needs and therefore will hopefully lower their prices in the face of greater competition so hiring a web development company should no longer break the bank like it used to.
So what are the benefits of having a web presence over traditional marketing means?
- The web has a much greater reach, anyone with a PC and internet connection, anywhere in the world can find your site and potentially do business with you.
- The web never sleeps. Your website will not keep normal business hours but will continue to sell your services 24/7.
- It’s easier and quicker to find a product or service on the web thanks to excellent search engines such as Google therefore people will use this method to find companies much more.
- You can say more and sell yourself better on a web site than any other media. Consider the cost of an ad in something like the yellow pages and what you get for that price as opposed to a web site on which you can have text, photos, audio, video, news and as many pages as you like!
- The ongoing cost of a web site is quite small compared to other media. If you are managing the site yourself then the only repetitive costs will be your domain name and hosting and these should be reasonable.
- Spending money on something like Google Adwords to get people to your site is a much more efficient way of spending your marketing budget and you can monitor the effects of a campaign much more closely.
- You can use Google Analytics on your web site for free and gain very useful information about the type of people visiting your site and what they looked at most while there. This information can allow you to optimise your site to maximise the amount of people who actually contact you and give you a valuable sales lead.
Article by Leon Quinn
Reverb Studios Multimedia Design, Leitrim