With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, what better time to review a recently launched project in Ireland that Cisco is supporting with its collaboration technology. Your Country Your Call is a 70-day competition to pick, “two truly transformational proposals so big that, when implemented, could secure prosperity and jobs for Ireland. Proposals that could help change the way we do things, allow businesses to grow, employment to be created and prosperity to flourish.” Each of two winning ideas will receive €100,000 and a development fund of up to €500,000 is committed for the implementation of each winning proposal.
As in many countries, economic times are hard in Ireland. After two decades of relative prosperity, the country has fallen harder than many, with an economy that shrank in 2009 by 7.5% (compared to the US figure of a near-flat performance of 0.1% increase). For the first time in 15 years, 2009 Irish emigration exceeded immigration, highlighted in a recent Business Week article, “The New Generation Leaving Ireland.”
Cisco’s participation in Your Country Your Call was championed internally by a Cisco account manager, Anne Marie Shaw, who participates on the YCYC steering committee. It dovetails well with other work Cisco does to encourage innovation, including the second I-Prize initiative currently underway. Other Irish and non-Irish global corporations, including HP, are also supporting YCYC.
Cisco’s unique contribution comes in the form of donated collaborative technologies, including Web applications and Cisco WebEx conferencing, to help the initiative gather ideas from around the world electronically, limiting the environmental impact. In the later phases of the competition, when a group of finalists has been chosen, Cisco technologies will be used to ensure that all proposal teams have similar accesses to the judges to present their ideas.
Cisco’s vision to be “Best in the World, Best for the World” may seem a tad over-reaching at times, but in the case of YCYC the vision has translated into support for a constructive project whose goal is not just innovation but a positive focus for the people of Ireland. It appears to be working. In the first two weeks of the competition, almost 2,000 ideas have been submitted.
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