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Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD has launched a call for applications for a pilot programme to develop and support expert business skills within the design sector. The Design and Innovation New Business Development Programme is a pilot project being delivered by The Ignite Academy as part of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015).

The new programme offers training, mentoring and networking support to 20 high potential design graduates (up to two years graduated) who display highly developed design skills and are interested in significantly building their capacity to start or grow a creative enterprise.

Through participation on the four month long programme, participants will develop a product or service offering that can be brought to market within six months.   The aim of the pilot programme is to create immediate sustainable self-employment for the participating designers with potential additional future employment opportunities in the businesses as they scale.  

Launching the Programme, Minister Nash said: "The aim of ID2015 is to bring visibility to Ireland’s dynamic design businesses, supporting them in trading in competitive foreign markets and ultimately creating jobs at home. The year-long initiative, which is included in the Action Plan for Jobs, has made significant progress in positioning design at the heart of our creative economy and in growing Ireland’s reputation abroad as a source of innovative design products and services. In order to give emerging entrepreneurs in the creative sector the greatest opportunities for success, we need to ensure they have expert business skills. This pilot programme will be instrumental in supporting the development of high potential design businesses with the ambition and capability to grow.”

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Irish Design 2015 said: “We are delighted to be launching this pilot programme as one of a number of legacy initiatives of ID2015 and to be working with The Ignite Academy on providing expert training to high potential graduates. The participants will receive crucial practical advice and mentoring on setting up and sustaining a business in today’s competitive market. We look forward to seeing the emerging companies evolve and grow, creating opportunities for jobs in the creative sector into the future.”

"We have developed The Design and Innovation New Business Development Programme specifically for high potential craft and design graduates. This is training and mentoring programme that will ensure we get sustainable new businesses started in the craft and design sector and is completely in line with our vision at the Academy to increase the quantity and quality of new business in Ireland. I'd encourage all qualifying graduates to apply for the programme and let us help you with the business skills you need to build a business around your existing design skills," said Joanne Hession, Managing Director and Founder The Ignite Academy.

The programme will deliver 16 days of expert training in key business start-up areas with a complete focus on the specific needs of Irish creative businesses. The training programme will be supported by three one-to-one mentoring meetings for each participant from a panel of DCCoI and ID2015 design mentors and Ignite Academy business mentors. Applications are invited from across all design disciplines and it is desirable that a mixed discipline group can be established.

Further details on the Design Innovation and New Business Development Programme and how to apply are available at


For further information, please contact: Deirdre Grant 086 0484 279 or 01 631 2200

Notes to Editors:

About The Ignite Academy

In 2014, driven by the experts at QED Training*, the Ignite Academy doors opened in the heart of Smithfield Dublin. As an entrepreneurship hub, the Academy has trained and supported more than 300 new entrepreneurs in 2015. QED Training has built a solid reputation for delivering quality training and mentoring programmes for start-ups, microenterprises and SMEs, in Ireland since 1998. The company has designed and delivered educational solutions for thousands of entrepreneurs, working extensively with clients of the government agencies as well as designing tailored programmes for multinationals. QED Training was established in 1998 with the sole objective of supporting Irish entrepreneurs to establish in business, through the delivery of Start Your Own Business programmes. Demand-driven, the company now delivers a range of programmes focused on getting people started in business and staying in business. QED trainers and mentors are all experienced entrepreneurs who bring years of practical knowledge and experience to assignments.

Through the Design and Innovation New Business Development Programme, participants will:

  • be able to assess the potential viability of a new business based on proven market demand
  • gain business and personal development skills to enable them to start up and run a micro enterprise
  • be enabled to produce a business plan demonstrating a viable micro enterprise can be established from their design skills base
  • become aware of the start-up costs associated with getting their enterprise off the ground and know where and how to access the funding required to start their business.
  • have access to Microfinance Ireland/Ignite Academy small loans (based on submission of a viable plan)
  • be provided with full insight into the enterprise ecosystem of existing supports available and will begin to engage with relevant agencies
  • establish a strong peer support network to support future collaboration and development
  • assess their core skills and competencies and will identify any collaborative, out sourcing or employment requirements to ensure a successful business model is designed and implemented

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), which is headquartered in Kilkenny, is the main champion of the craft and design industry in Ireland, fostering its growth and commercial strength, communicating its unique identity and stimulating quality design, innovation and competitiveness. DCCoI’s activities are funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has over 70 member organisations and over 3,000 registered clients.

About Irish Design 2015

Through a year-long programme of events and activities exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design both in Ireland and internationally, Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) aims to showcase the very best of Irish design in order to drive job creation, grow exports and increase competitiveness. ID2015 is an island of Ireland initiative engaging the public, the design community and businesses, promoting Irish design in just about every form at home through events and exhibitions while also targeting the export market through trade missions and events in international capitals of design and commerce. ID2015 is being convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), in collaboration with partner organisations, on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise Ireland. ID2015 partners include Founding Partners - MCO Projects; Accommodation Partners - The Doyle Collection; Venue Partners - OPW; Exhibition Partners – DAA; Technology Partners – IBM; Construction Partners – SISK and Transport Partners – Bus Éireann Expressway.