Tuam man helps drive social change with the help of the Ideas Academy

A social entrepreneur from Tuam who is trying to reduce medical waste is one of a new generation of social entrepreneurs emerge to drive social change across Ireland.

Upcycling unused hospital equipment, connecting coastal communities to marine heritage, cultural awareness training for social care workers and supporting financially disadvantaged learner drivers to gain their driver’s license are among the projects led by the social entrepreneurs graduating from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s (SEI ) Ideas Academy this September.

Valuable faulty equipment (easily repaired ) within HSE hospitals is being sent to waste disposal services as there is a lack of a system that deals with repairing or repurposing. Up to 16 tonnes per year is wasted from Sligo General Hospital.

Through HERA, Tuam’s Darragh Joyce is aiming to employ various social enterprises to collect, store & rework the discarded bulk waste from HSE hospitals to create a more circular journey for this waste.

Darragh has just completed the Ideas Academy programme, providing social entrepreneurs like David with the support and direction they need to help them kick-start their idea and take the initial steps to tackle the problem at hand.

Over three months this summer, participants received tailored training on topics such as; organisational structures, governance, storytelling and piloting, as well as opportunities for peer learning and networking.

HERA was just one 45 projects supported on the Ideas Programme this year. Some graduates of the Ideas Academy include Refill Ireland (2017 ), The Together Academy (2019 ), Spéire Nua (2021 ) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD ) Ireland (2022 ).

In February of this year, over 170 people responded to SEI’s National Call for applications wanting a spot on this year’s Idea’s Academy, which provides training and support to those with early-stage solutions to social problems. Of the applicants, 45 social-entrepreneur-led projects were selected to take part in SEI’s three-month programme, supporting each participant to move their initiative from idea to action. The Ideas Academy participants graduate today (29.09.22 ) in Huckletree, Dublin 2, the first cohort to meet in person since 2019.

Since the creation of the programme in 2017, the Ideas Academy has supported over 180 early-stage social entrepreneurs to create change across Ireland. Graduates of the Ideas Academy include Refill Ireland (2017 ), The Together Academy (2019 ), Spéire Nua (2021 ) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD ) Ireland (2022 ). The Ideas Academy is supported by Bank of America (Lead Corporate Sponsor ), and Lifes2good Foundation (Sponsor of the Ideas Academy West ).

Commenting, Tim Griffiths, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland said “We at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland are always impressed by the courage and commitment of the Ideas Academy participants. Our unique programme directly supports people who have the potential to make a huge difference in communities across Ireland, at a critical early juncture in their journey, and we look forward to seeing their progress over the coming months.”

This year’s graduating social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch for seed funding from a total pot of €40,000 to pilot their idea. They will pitch to a panel of judges comprising of sector experts, leading entrepreneurs and SEI staff for up to €5,000.

Bank of America has generously supported the Ideas Academy since 2018 having seen how Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Alumni are taking action to solve Ireland’s social and environmental problems and are creating a future we can all be proud of. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is delighted to have the bank’s continued support for the programme in 2023 and to see the social and environmental impact of the Ideas Academy graduates in the times ahead. In addition, the engagement of the Bank of America team has been invaluable as it leverages the skillset of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland team.

Maurice McQuillan, CEO of Lifes2good Foundation, sponsor of the Ideas Academy West, said: ‘’Lifes2good Foundation has supported the Ideas Academy West for five years, and has seen how, with the support of SEI, social entrepreneurs can make a serious impact on communities in the west of Ireland. We are always impressed by the ingenuity and determination of the Ideas Academy West participants and congratulate them on finishing this year’s programme’.”

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland will launch its next call for applications in Spring 2023. For more information, visit socialentrepreneurs.ie


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