Prepping for our first new client project of 2021 has given us the chance to reflect on 2020. A year packed with challenges, rescheduled events and of course the never-ending zoom calls!
We were lucky to work with well-known digital clients such as IRP Commerce and Catalyst that kept us busy online launching successful entrepreneurial programmes and highlighting significant achievements in the e-commerce sphere. We continued working with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, which went virtual in 2020, but still allowed us to connect with the fabulous farm families and lush countryside across Northern Ireland! Sadly many events and conferences such as Big Motive’s Design Thinkers Academy training programme and Ecomm Live didn’t go ahead in its physical form, but they gave us the opportunity to showcase these companies to a wider business audience online. We also found that communication came into its own as keeping in touch with contacts, clients and colleagues came more important than ever.
On a personal note we also celebrated our 10th year in business in 2020 and although it was a very low key affair, we marked the milestone by taking the front cover spread for Ulster Business magazine. Being featured in the ‘Leaders in Business’ edition put us in very good company.
We are heading into 2021 with renewed optimism and look forward to working with existing and of course new clients! Here are some of our most memorable projects of 2020.
Catalyst, Invent 2020 Programme Launch: Catalyst launched its annual Invent competition and hoped to attract more than 100 innovators and entrepreneurs from across Northern Ireland. Pictured with Kerry from Catalyst and Gavin from Bank of Irelandis Invent success story CropSafe – an app that utilises artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to photograph crops from over 100 satellites orbiting the earth.
Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, Goat Yoga: Mum and daughter Wendy and Lucy Gallagher gave goat yoga a try in preparation for the virtual event. Who knew all Clyde the pygmy goat needed was a few custard creams to strike a pose!
IRP Commerce: Ecomm Live Panel. We returned as compere for a panel discussion of retailers and e-commerce experts during Ecomm Live’s virtual event. We hopefully look forward to participating in a physical event in 2021!
Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, Co-Presenting with Rory Best: Probably best known for his rugby career, Rory Best also has another passion – his herd of pedigree Holstein cows. He showed off his farming experience co-hosting one of the live events at the Virtual Farm Weekend. It was great to work with such a pro and all round good sport!
NI Rural Women’s Network:SELFIE Programme Launch:In this instance SELFIE was an acronym (self-esteem, leadership, friendship, influence and empowerment), but also came from a statistic that most women will take just over 40 selfie photos before finding one they are happy to post on their social media. This clearly spoke to us of a lack of confidence women feel in their daily lives and the pressure they are under to conform.
Big Motive, Design Thinkers Academy Training Launch: One of the world’s leading design driven innovation companies, The Design Thinkers Academy, who counts Nike, Google, Philips and Shell as clients partnered with Big Motive in Belfast. The event, due to take place in The Mac, would have given participants fundamental skills to develop and deliver change, generate innovative ideas and build the mindset required to tackle big challenges within their organisations.
IRP Commerce, Success for the 8th time in Deloitte Fast 50 Awards: Having previously won seven Deloitte Fast 50 awards (in Ireland, the UK and EMEA), IRP Commerce was shortlisted for the eighth time in 2020. This win confirmed IRP Commerce as the tech company to watch in 2021.
Pulse PR, Celebrating 10 Years in Business: When this edition of Ulster Business magazine hit offices across Northern Ireland, little did we know that the following month would see the beginning of a global pandemic impacting our professional and personal lives. Thankfully 2021 looks more promising with a vaccine and return to ‘normal’ life as we know it. 2020 ended a challenging 10 years that’s seen us work with more than 70 businesses across the island of Ireland. We are grateful for the support we’ve had and look forward to another 10 years!
Having previously won seven Deloitte Fast 50 awards (in Ireland, the UK and EMEA), IRP Commerce is celebrating after being shortlisted for the eighth time this year.
The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 is one of Ireland’s foremost technology award programmes. It celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship and ranks the country’s 50 fastest-growing technology companies based on revenue growth over the last four years.
Recognised as a huge achievement for IRP Commerce and something Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Macartney feels is the icing on the cake at the end of a very successful year.
“We are proud to be back in the shortlist again and to have the opportunity to showcase our technology – which focuses on intelligence, returns and long-term profitability – to a national audience.” Philip said.
“The fact that the Fast 50 award measures revenue growth is particularly special as this really aligns to the core strength of our technology. In a year of significant e-commerce growth, IRP shone through – many of our customers such as Best Menswear and Ann’s Cottage have outperformed their competitors online quite significantly in terms of growth rate. Our team have delivered in very challenging circumstances and our e-commerce technology proved yet again that it is the best performing platform in Ireland by some margin.
“We are confident ending the year with this win under our belt that IRP Commerce is definitely the tech company to watch in 2021.” He added.
A free programme of workshops, targeted primarily at rural women in the Mid Ulster District Council area, is starting later this month.
Hosted by the Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN), the bespoke #SELFIE programme begins on Tuesday 22 September in Magherafelt and Thursday 24 September in Cookstown, with the aim of helping participants feel more confident, find it easier to develop relationships at individual and group level and ultimately voice their own concerns.
The sessions will include a range of workshops on building confidence, exploration of good relations, inspirational guest speakers, feminism and leadership skills. All social distancing guidance and government advice will be facilitated and adhered to for the duration of the nine-week programme.
NIRWN Director Louise Coyle said, “In this instance SELFIE is an anacronym (self-esteem, leadership, friendship, influence and empowerment), but also came from a statistic that most women will take just over 40 selfie photos before finding one they are happy to post on their social media. This clearly spoke to us of a lack of confidence women feel in their daily lives and the pressure they are under to conform.
“By the end of the nine-week programme participants should feel more confident in their abilities, feel more supported in their role in society and work towards being effective agents of change and civic leaders in their communities.”
This is a project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and match-funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland and The Executive Office in Northern Ireland.
Places are limited and primarily open to women in the Mid-Ulster District Council area. Register at www.NIRWN.org/SELFIE
This year’s Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, which was originally postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions will now become Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend and be held virtually from Friday 31 July – Sunday 2 August.
Although visitors cannot physically attend farms, the online activities shown throughout the weekend on Open Farm Weekend’s social media channels and website will still give the public the chance to connect with up to 18 farms from across the province.
Online viewers will get the chance to discover the wonderful range of fresh farm produce from Northern Ireland and celebrate our food heroes by interacting online with farmers who have been providing vital food and drink supplies over the last number of months.
Throughout this year’s event there will be a chance to see specific farm activities such as robotic milking, grain harvesting, sheep shearing, virtual farm tours, wildlife watching and potato harvesting, as well as a special programme of live activities.
Led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the free Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend initiative, now in its ninth year, has highlighted working farms particularly to those from a non-farming background, showing the story behind our food and helping to cultivate an understanding of quality farming practices.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU deputy president David Brown added; “Although Covid-19 has changed the format of this year’s Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, we believe the virtual activities will still capture its spirt and ethos and ultimately showcase our farming industry and the wonderful work our farmers do. Having the ‘live’ element is an exciting twist to help farms engage directly with the public and show them what it’s really like to live and work on a busy farm.
“We’re delighted to be able to continue with this new format as it lets us achieve our aim of putting Northern Ireland food and its producers at the forefront of the minds of the consumer. We encourage everyone to get behind Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend 2020 and show farms and farm families how much we value the outstanding contribution they make to the whole community.”
Sponsors for Virtual Farm Weekend 2020 include:
Bank of Ireland UK | Asda | NFU Mutual | Livestock and Meat Commission NI (LMC) | Moy Park
the world’s leading design driven innovation companies, The Design
Thinkers Academy, who counts Nike, Google, Philips and Shell as clients,
is partnering with Big Motive in Belfast to create Design Thinkers
Academy Ireland, with tickets for its first event now live.
Hosted in The Mac, the two-day event on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 April will give participants fundamental skills to develop and deliver change, generate innovative ideas and build the mindset required to tackle big challenges within their organisations.
Founded in Amsterdam, The Design Thinkers Academy is represented in 18 countries worldwide and has involved more than 25,000 design thinkers in its global events. Its aim is to help ambitious teams make the transition from being strictly product orientated and sales driven, towards being service orientated and human centred.
thinking is being adopted into the Northern Irish business terminology
aided by the work carried out by Big Motive over the last 10 years.
Although brands such as Coca-Cola, Allstate, Seagate, Failte Ireland and
Catalyst all work with Big Motive’s customer experience consultancy,
the pace of change in Northern Ireland remains slow, something Damian
Cranney, managing partner of Big Motive is keen to address.
He says, “Indigenous
Northern Irish businesses have been slower to adopt design at a
leadership level despite the fact it can radically help nurture
innovation, create business sustainability, and foster opportunities for
growth. However, design thinking is showing up in Ivy league schools as
a fundamental element of business education and is also a huge aspect
of how the world’s leading tech companies are creating more
customer-centred products and services. Thankfully this mindset is
reaching Northern Ireland through the FDI community as well as pricking
the interest of the business and engineering facilities in Queens and
organisation whether public sector, private sector or start-up should
realise the importance of design thinking to de-risk innovation and
adapt an experimental approach to creating service experience built
around their customers. The course we are delivering will provide
practical tools to help
build this mindset so that participants can implement what they’ve
learned, lead change and inspire growth within their companies. The
fact that we are partnering with global leaders on the subject is a
real coup and something we are proud and very excited about.”
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.