WHEN LOOKING AT THE dark cloud of unemployment descending on Limerick--a cloud that will push unemployment over 10% in the biggest city closest to my front door--I wonder if anyone in the government employment agency actually steps back and tries to approach things in a way that will dig out Ireland by building a stronger base for the future.
Stop Romancing Manufacturers. Everyone recognises Ireland is a high-cost economy that will not permit the inexpensive manufacture of commodity items. When will the Irish government stop giving grants to manufacturers? Even the Polish government knows within 10 years, its Lodz manufacturing plant will be more expensive than places further east. Irish taxpayers should not be expected to fund manufacturing jobs in Ireland since the process is a well-documented race to the bottom.
Expand Entrepreneurial Vouchers. Everyone who passes an accredited third level module in "Entrepreneurship in Ireland" should qualify for a EUR 10,000 Start-up Voucher from their local County Enterprise Board. Enterprise Ireland should continue the process of Innovation Vouchers, extending them into supervised third-level modules that would permit third or fourth year college students to draw down EUR 5000 when working on supervised technology projects that have a clear potential for commercial usage.
Pay Start-ups With Discoverable, Socially Networked Products and Services. In addition to being paid to produce a business plan and feasibility study, Irish start-ups should be paid EUR 5000 if a Google search places their product or service in the top five results for text, image and video searches. At least one of the search results should be discoverable as a social network citation of the company name, product name or service term.
Fund Serviced Offices. Don't Manage Office Clusters. The Irish semi-state agencies that build incubators should revise their property interests by offering card-carrying members of the start-up culture access to city centre serviced office space. Anyone trading in Bantry or Claremorris normally discovers they must pursue business face-to-face in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London, NYC, Berlin or Silicon Valley. By simply changing a few job descriptions, Enterprise Ireland staff could be office custodians in these pleasant, serviced meeting spaces. The spaces should foster a coffee culture.
Invoke a Desktop Conferencing Meet-up Routine. With little more than a webcam and a netbook, people can hook up virtually in sheduled whip-around sessions involving mentors, start-ups, angel investors and third level facilitators. These virtual meetups extend the successful shakeycam Cork OpenCoffee demo sessions to a regularly scheduled event. With a little co-ordination, these events can be digitally archived and syndicated through iTunes.
We have talked about each of these ideas during Think Tank (illustrated by the painting, above left) sessions at Limerick OpenCoffee. As a technology enthusiast, I think these are viable strategies that would help dig out Irelan dfrom its economic morass.
Sent mail2blog using O2-EDGE Typepad service in Claregalway, Ireland.
Evert Bopp -- "All about ideas coming to fruition" 29 January 2009.
Adrian Weckler -- "Former Dell workers offered start-up advice" in Computers in Business, 1 February 2009.
Bonus Link: Bernie Goldbach's Limerick photos.