Your Country, Your Money

Five finalists have been announced for the Your Country, Your Call competition which, you may recall from the large advertising campaign earlier this year had the modest ambition of finding “two major proposals that, when implemented, will transform our economy – or significant elements of it – by creating jobs and opportunity.”

Competing ideas include installing solar panels on wind farm sites, creating “an Irish Content Industry Association which would then drive the development of a cultural and creative quarter. A media park would be established to attract global content industries” and, my favourite, “Building a world-beating entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem around digital services aimed at positioning Ireland at the forefront of its associated spin-off industries.”

Two winners will be selected. They will be awarded €100,000 and then be given a development fund of, em, up to €500,000 each to implement the ideas. (Isn’t it great how these transformative ideas are so cheap?)

Obviously, it’s easy to poke fun at this competition. However, there is a serious question. The Times reports

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation said yesterday it had not provided money to fund the competition but a spokeswoman said formal arrangements were being put in place to allow a payment to be made. Earlier this year, Your Country, Your Call asked the department for €300,000 in funding for the initiative.

The question is whether public money should be used to support this idea. Just to be clear, my answer would be no.