INSPIRE Rathdowney Initiative A Huge Success


Institute of Technology Carlow recently joined collaborative partners Laois County Council, Laois Local Enterprise Office and Laois Partnership to celebrate the completion of the INSPIRE Rathdowney programme to help business development and job creation in the south Laois town.

INSPIRE Rathdowney, which was funded under the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) Pilot Initiative, provided targeted intervention to assist innovators, entrepreneurs, SMEs and people with experiential learning to develop their skills and abilities, with a view to boosting the region’s growth and competitiveness.

A special event was organised last week to recognise the efforts of the 32 businesses that took part in the initiative and those who facilitated the project. Certificates were awarded by Institute of Technology Carlow to 17 participants at the closing event.  

Declan Doyle, Vice President for Development at Institute of Technology Carlow, acknowledged the success of the project that saw 40 individuals from 32 businesses take part. "INSPIRE Rathdowney has shown what can be achieved when support is made available through the partnership approach of the four agencies working together," he commented.  

Brian Ogilvie, Research and Commercialisation Manager at Institute of Technology Carlow  presented special awards to six participants of the programme, in recognition of individual achievements. They were:
Best New Product - Seven Acres to Rachel Hardiman and Susan Maxwell
Best New Service -  Experiencing Laois to Trudy Earls
Best Business Development - Nicola Smeaton, Make-Up Artist
Best Community Engagement - Connell Breslin, Supervalu Rathdowney
Best Network Engagement -   OSE O’Shea Engineering to T.J. O’Shea
Best Technology Proposal - WEBO Ltd to Eamon Bowe
Anne Goodwin, Laois Partnership said the involvement of the Institute was hugely beneficial.
"Access to experts from IT Carlow at local level in Rathdowney was critical to the success of this project," she said.  

Peadar Casey, Enterprise Development Officer at IT Carlow and mentor for the project commented, “For entrepreneurship to work it needs a good combination of focus, discipline and freedom and I believe INSPIRE Rathdowney offered that culture”.

In addition to mentoring and training, participants developed their own websites, Facebook pages, pull-ups for promotional purposes and videos as part of INSPIRE Rathdowney.
A number of participants have successfully obtained Enterprise Ireland Innovation vouchers and are currently working with the Institute’s enterprise and design experts to develop their businesses further.

Members of INSPIRE Rathdowney plan to form a networking group while linking into Laois County Council’s Business Support Unit and Laois Partnership.