launches its annual Invent competition and is hoping to attract more than 100 innovators
and entrepreneurs from across Northern Ireland.
by Bank of Ireland UK, Invent, now in its 11th year shows no signs of losing
momentum. Created to discover
products with strong innovation and global commercial potential, more than 1,200 applicants have
already been through the process since its inception in 2009.
partner for the competition, Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking,
Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK commented “We are very
excited to continue our partnership on Invent 2020, as we embark into a new
decade of discovery for the next wave of innovative commercial ideas in
Northern Ireland. For us, this is about contributing to and being an
integral part of a community designed to enable growth in knowledge, confidence
and opportunities for Northern Ireland’s innovative and entrepreneurial talent.
Innovation, creative thinking and agility are fast becoming a necessity for all
businesses and each year’s applicants continue to inspire the local business
community as we strive for a vibrant sustainable economy in Northern Ireland.”
One Invent success story is
CropSafe, an AI- and satellite-based
farming solution invented by John McElhone (19) and Micheál McLaughlin (19).
Since winning the Agri-Science category in Invent 2019, these two school friends
have seen their product go from strength to strength and are launching it
internationally later this month.
is a mobile app that utilises artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to
photograph crops from over 100 satellites orbiting the earth. The CropSafe app
provides farmers with detailed reports on their crop health, giving them tools
to accurately detect diseases and predict yields weeks in advance.
next 12 months, the duo will be working extensively with farmers globally to
tailor CropSafe as a solution to fit into the average farmers’ everyday lives.
Many rural farms are without an internet connection and CropSafe is utilising a
special fleet of satellites and cellular networks to bring modern crop
surveying to the most remote farms on earth.
Initially believing they were too small and early stage to enter
Invent, John and Micheál continued with the
application and were delighted with the outcome.
John McElhone said, “No
matter how new your idea, business or product, Invent is the competition for
you. Throughout the process, Catalyst guided us through workshops and mentor
meetings to refine our idea into a real-life working product. The partners that
worked with us provided amazing legal and financial advice from Bank of Ireland
UK to shortcut some steep learning curves. The key to making Invent work is
have a vision for the next 12 months, and then think bigger.”
Micheál McLaughlin added, “Also the moral
support from the Catalyst team and the start-ups together provides a buzz that
is hard to recreate outside other programmes. You will meet new friends and
being so close with them on their start-ups journey makes for an amazing
Invent competition offers the applicants from a range of sectors including
Engineering, Agri-Science, Life & Health, Enterprise software, Electronics
and Creative media the opportunity to get support, gain valuable exposure to a
network of business experts and influencers and potentially scoop part of the
£33,000 prize fund.
is open to anyone who is a resident of Northern Ireland and offers an
opportunity for enthusiastic and passionate innovators and entrepreneurs to be
part of a unique competition.
Open Farm Weekend, which
takes place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June is delighted to announce that
Bank of Ireland is continuing its title sponsorship of the province-wide
the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the initiative, now in its 9th year,
seeks to reconnect the public with where their local food comes from and offers
an opportunity to meet the farmers and processors who produce it.
Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and
Rural Affairs said: ‘It is vital that we as an
industry help to educate and make consumers aware of the work of the agri-food
industry and share how our high quality, nutritious and award winning food is
produced. My Department’s continued support in the delivery of Open farm
Weekend helps meet that task.
the Bank of Ireland for their continued commitment to this important
initiative, to the Ulster Farmers’ Union in leading delivery along with all the
other supporting partners. To the farms that are participating, I know that it
can be daunting opening up your farms to the general public but I commend the
hard work and passion that the host farms put into making the weekend so
over 100,000 people, including children via the schools programme, have visited
working farms in Northern Ireland to hear the story behind our food and gain an
understanding of our world-renowned, quality farming practices. Visitors
also gain insights into how the countryside is being shaped and cared for and
the current strength of Northern Ireland’s ‘food tourism’ potential.
Richard Primrose, Bank of Ireland UK Agri-Business
Manager, said; “Bank of
Ireland is committed to supporting all agri-food related businesses through a
range of products and services. We understand how vital this industry is to the
rural communities within NI. The growth and prosperity of the wider NI economy
also relies heavily on a thriving agri-food industry. Now more than ever,
consumers are keen to learn about where their local produce originates from and
we believe that Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend provides the perfect
opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local
food is produced. It also provides a fantastic opportunity for farmers who are
keen to showcase their business and build relationships with people from their
“Our support demonstrates our commitment to the local
agriculture industry. We know the hard work that farmers put into running their
businesses and initiatives like Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend help to
engage with the public and encourages more support towards local produce, which
in turn benefits the farmers.”
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU
deputy president David Brown added; “We are delighted that Bank of Ireland
recognises the importance of this initiative and we are indebted to them for
their continued support. To have their backing helps us to plan ahead, build on
our brand awareness and attract new audiences to want to visit our
participating farms. Their support has allowed this fantastic event to grow and
we are thrilled to see new host farms continuing to come on-board for 2020.
“Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend was
established in 2012 to showcase our farming industry and the wonderful work our
farmers do. Its focus is to help the public, particularly those from a
non-farming background to better understand how our food is produced and to
raise awareness of how supply chains work, through our local food
industry. The passion and enthusiasm, shown by farm participants over the
years, not only for farming but also for the whole experience of opening up
their farms for Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend has been truly inspirational.”
Pulse PR started 2020 off to a great start with a cover story spread in leading business magazine, Ulster Business.
Celebrating its 10th year in business in 2020, Managing Director, Grainne McGarvey shared her journey since establishing the business, her evolving client portfolio and what the future holds. Over the last decade Pulse PR has worked with some of Ireland’s leading brands including O’Brien’s, Argento, Applegreen and Belleek and has also had success with start-up companies in the digital and tech sectors. The future is bright as Pulse PR continues to provide excellent results for businesses across Northern Ireland and is looking forward to another successful decade in the industry.
Grainne McGarvey says, “People told me that I was crazy going out on my own in the midst of a financial downturn but ten years on and I’m delighted to say I have weathered the storm. There have been twists and turns along the way but overall the journey has been a positive one. Communications change with every new year but that’s what keeps it interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what challenges and opportunities the next ten years will bring.”
Check out the full interview here.
Ormeau Credit Union has joined forces with businesses in South Belfast to produce a recipe book to raise money for the Welcome Organisation.
Including recipes from well-known eateries like Greens Pizza, Bia Rebel, General Merchants and Kaffe-O, the book aims to raise much needed funds for the homeless charity that provides potentially life-saving services to more than 1,400 people in Belfast every year.
One such user of the service is Erin who ended up homeless after a difficult childhood. She said, “I ended up sleeping on the streets which was terrifying. The town is a very different place at night. I am still on my journey, working through all the stuff that has troubled me since I was a child. But now I’ve got a friend on my journey and that’s the Welcome Organisation. I felt like I belonged somewhere and I wasn’t alone anymore.”
Established in Belfast city centre in 1997, the Welcome Organisation adopts a non-judgemental approach to addressing homelessness issues. All its services are based on the principles of harm reduction delivered through low-threshold services. It accepts people for ‘where they are at’ as opposed to where others think they should be.
It was particularly through its outreach work in South Belfast that prompted the Ormeau Credit Union to support the charity.
Ormeau Credit Union Operations Manager, Marie George said, “Credit Unions are known for serving the needs of the community where they are based, and this mirrored the work carried out by the Welcome Organisation in our community.
“We are delighted to donate the proceeds of the recipe book to the charity to support the excellent work it does in our catchment area. We would encourage all our members, as well as foodies and residents in South Belfast to purchase the recipe books because every penny raised will go towards the Welcome Organisation.”
The recipe book has a suggested price of £5 and can be purchased directly from Ormeau Credit Union. Proceeds will do directly towards The Welcome Organisation’s range of services for people affected by homelessness in Belfast, including their Drop-in Centre, Street Outreach services, Crisis Accommodation for Women, Floating Support service and Welcome Home furniture project. Welcome’s Street Outreach service serves the streets of South Belfast and beyond 17 hours a day – from 7am-2am. It provides on the ground support for people who are homeless. If you see someone who is homeless and in need of help you can contact the Street Outreach service on 07894931047.
Participating restaurants are:
- Bia Rebel Ramen
- First Floor Bistro
- General Merchants
- The Pavillion
- Soul Food
- 387 Ormeau Road
18 farms across Northern Ireland that opened their gates to the public enjoyed a busy weekend with more than 16,000 people attending the recent Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend event.
With activities such as sheep shearing, pony rides, animal displays, games, local produce markets, entertainment, and cookery demonstrations from the Livestock and Meat Commission, this free event provided the perfect chance for members of the public to find out more about their local farm, reconnect with the countryside, meet the farmer and glean a better understanding of where their food comes from.
This was the inaugural year for many farms such as Ranelly Farm in Omagh, CAFRE Equine Centre in Enniskillen, D&D Holland in Articlave and The Orble in Dervock, with the latter welcoming 2,100 visitors who helped raise £18,000 through an auction for the Causeway Down’s Syndrome Support Group.
David Brown, Deputy President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union said, “We are delighted to learn that more than half of the visitors that attended this year had never attended Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend before, reinforcing our belief that members of the public still have an avid interest in learning more about the local agri-sector.
“The farms and sponsors put in a lot of effort to make sure the Open Farm Weekend runs smoothly and I want to take this opportunity to thank them and of course every person that attended one of the farms. Although the weekend only runs over three days, giving the public access to farms to learn more about where their food comes from will be beneficial for the sector in the long-term.”
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend has been running since 2012 and has attracted in excess of 100,000 visitors. The event is also sponsored by Asda, Cranswick, the Livestock and Meat Commission, NFU Mutual and Irish Farmers Journal and supported by Food NI, CAFRE, DAERA and the YFCU.
Wendy Gallagher, FarmLiaisonfor Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend said, “The feedback from both farms and visitors was excellent. Children from non-rural areas loved feeding the animals that they would never usually get a chance to hold and see while their parents created some long-lasting family memories. We are already planning for the 2020 event and would encourage farms to get in touch if they are interested in participating next year.”