On 31st July 2016 the call for applications closed for THINKTECH, this date also marked the beginning of the selection process – the most exciting time of year for us at Social Innovation Fund Ireland. During this process, we get our first introduction to many projects and gain insights into the great work being done around Ireland to address social issues. From the applications, we learn who is doing what, where they are doing it and in many cases the motivation behind their desire to enact change.
Below are four of the most interesting trends that emerged from our THINKTECH Applicants.
1. Is Ireland becoming a Hub for Social Enterprise?
One of our core beliefs at Social Innovation Fund Irelands is that ‘Just as entrepreneurship is critical to innovating in an economy, those who lead the best social enterprises or charities, are critical to innovating in our society’.
In comparison to other European Countries, Ireland has been rather slow to adopt the Social Enterprise business model. Yet in recent years the sector has been gaining some momentum and the number of THINKTECH Applicants identifying as a Social Enterprise (53% of all applications) is an encouraging statistic for the growth of the movement.
2. Where are the applicants from?
Dublin accounted for two-thirds of all THINKTECH Applicants, which given the specific technology requirement of the application, and Dublin dominance as Ireland’s technology centre, is not unexpected. What is encouraging is the increase in applicants from Galway, Limerick and Wicklow when compared to our open call for Animate in September 2015. As well as this, there is an emergence of idea owners and social innovators from Kilkenny, Wexford, Sligo and Roscommon.
3. What issues are they addressing?
A wide variety of social issues are being addressed by THINKTECH’s applicants with many addressing more than one issue either through design or effect. Issues affecting Children and Young People emerged as the dominant social issue (18.8%) followed by promoters of social inclusion (16%).
4. Is the sector male dominated?
From our Applications, it seems both Men and Women are as likely to play a leading role in the social innovation sector.
Echoing the words of Dublin start-ups Commissioner, Niamh Bushnell, in 2015, on the role of women in tech ‘Change is coming……more women entrepreneurs (will be) taking big risks, more women talking bigger’, 54% of THINKTECH’s lead applicants are female compared to male applicants who accounted for 46%.
As we move on to the next stage of our selection process, we are excited to uncover further insights and get to know our applicants better.
By Aisling Redmond, Communications and Programmes.