LookWest.ie Launches ‘My Summer’ Photo Competition

 Public invited to enter their favourite West of Ireland summer photos

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has launched the LookWest.ie ‘My Summer’ photo competition as part of its drive to promote the Western Region as a great place to live, work and do business.

The ‘My Summer’ photo competition, running during July and August, invites people to capture their favourite West of Ireland summer moments and be in with a chance to win the top prize worth €1,500. Photos can be of a great memory, the fun and excitement of attending one of the region’s many festivals or just a lazy, relaxing day that captures the appeal of the West of Ireland. Entry is free, and photos can be uploaded through the competition link on www.lookwest.ie or on the LookWest.ie Facebook page.

The WDC hopes that photos which capture the uniqueness and magic of the seven county region, from county Donegal to county Clare will communicate a positive message to a worldwide audience of the many attractions and benefits of the Western Region.

After the photo submission closing date (August 4th) a shortlist of the top 50 photographs will be compiled. Shortlisted photos will be chosen based on a combination of their popularity on social media networks and an expert judging panel. Shortlisted photos will then be displayed online via LookWest.ie and Facebook for members of the public to view and vote for their favourite and thereby select the overall winning photo.

LookWest.ie was launched by the WDC in 2004 as a guide to living, working and doing business in the Western Region. As well as the LookWest.ie website, which receives over 20,000 visitors each month, the initiative works in partnership with relevant state agencies and is developing links with the Irish Diaspora to promote inward investment and job creation in the region – both crucial to address current challenges.

Ian Brannigan Regional Development Manager for the WDC said: “Entry to the competition runs from July 18th to August 4th so people will have plenty of time to capture their favourite summer moments. Because it takes place in the middle of the main holiday, festival and sporting season, we are expecting some stunning photographs. Alternatively, people can look back through their photos from previous summers and submit their favourite”.

“By hosting the competition online, there will be strong visibility for the region as our 2,500 Facebook fans, 1,535 Twitter followers and 600 plus LookWest.ie LinkedIn members can view and share the photos and their positive message with friends in their social networking communities,” he added.

Winners will be announced in late August and the WDC has partnered with the five star Lough Eske Castle Hotel, just outside Donegal town, for the top prize of a luxurious weekend for four people. The prize, worth almost €1,500, also includes a surfing, fishing or golf activity.

Jeroen Quint, General Manager at Lough Eske Castle said: “We are delighted to partner with LookWest.ie on this great social media campaign. As Ireland’s only hotel to claim a World Luxury Hotel Award, Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel and Spa, is delighted this campaign will give us a unique opportunity to highlight the best of what the North West has to offer potential tourists”.

Runner-up prizes include a Source Sligo Gift Hamper from the award-winning Source Restaurant, Wine Bar and a Cookery School in Sligo town, a piece of handmade jewelry from Mayo-based jewelry designer Victoria Foutz and a gift voucher from McCambridge’s, Galway’s family owned deli and fine foods store. Voters will also be rewarded with prizes including t-shirts from county Clare-based, Emerald Surfwear, and tour vouchers from Galway-based Segway Adventures.

Helen Rochford Brennan, chairperson of the WDC concluded by saying: “We are calling on people who live and work here or who have a connection with the West of Ireland to enter – the more photos submitted to LookWest.ie, the more positive promotion of the region we can generate online. Entry to the competition is free with some great prizes in store, so we are expecting that lots of people will engage with the fun of the competition and we’re really looking forward to seeing all the wonderful photographs”.


For further information please contact:
Ian Brannigan, Western Development Commission, 086 604 8012
Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217

Notes to editors on the Western Development Commission (WDC)

LookWest.ie, an initiative of the Western Development Commission, promotes the Western Region as an attractive and economically advantageous location for enterprise. It is the definitive online guide to living, working and doing business in Ireland’s Western Region.

The WDC is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare.

The WDC’s strategic goals are:

1. Contribute to balanced regional development by ensuring that the Western Region maximises its full potential for economic and social development.
2. Promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
3. Support the sustainable economic and social development of the rural economy.
4. Provide risk capital to SMEs and social enterprises.

www.wdc.ie  and www.lookwest.ie

Connect with LookWest.ie to find out more:
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lookwestie
Like our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/LookWest
Join the LookWest.ie group on LinkedIn.com

Integrated Approach to Education, Enterprise and Employment Needed to Create Jobs and Growth in Western Region


The Western Region is facing significant education, enterprise and employment challenges. A more integrated approach to these ‘3Es’ is crucial to reverse high unemployment and emigration, particularly among the region’s young people. Policies and actions which recognise how closely connected the ‘3Es’ are will help enterprises to grow and create badly needed jobs in the region. That’s according to a new Policy Briefing Education, Enterprise & Employment: How can better integration of the 3Es drive growth in the Western Region? published today by the Western Development Commission (WDC).

Pauline White, Policy Analyst at the WDC said: “The Western Region is currently trying to tackle a number of urgent challenges. How can we reduce unemployment, raise education levels, create enterprises in new sectors and limit the loss of our young people?”

“To create employment we need to grow and expand enterprises. To support this, education and training must provide the skills needed by these enterprises, as well as work with them to improve their innovation levels. This is particularly important in sectors where the region has future growth potential such as medical devices, renewable energy, tourism, creative industries and food. Acquiring skills which are needed by enterprises will also make it easier for jobseekers to find employment or set up their own business. Clearly, future job creation and growth depends on how well the ‘3Es’ interact within the region,” she continued.

The Briefing says that, currently, policies and advice for each of the ‘3Es’ are generally developed and published separately. Although efforts are under way to deal with them in a more joined-up manner, the WDC makes five specific proposals which, it says, will achieve greater integration among the ‘3Es’ and also maximise the impact of existing resources.

1. Identify and respond to short and long term regional skills needs: by establishing regional workforce development fora to determine skills needs and how they can be met regionally.

2. Broker relations between higher education and enterprise: a single point of contact to help businesses make contact and work with higher educational institutions.

3. Address the specific issues of jobseekers in smaller centres and rural areas: by supporting access to education and work placements, re-skilling young men who have lost jobs in construction and supporting local ‘learning mentors’ to advise and support jobseekers who are returning to education.

4. Make access to enterprise support easier: through a regional cross-referral system among enterprise support agencies to ensure entrepreneurs are ‘always at the right door’.

5. Encourage job creation: by actively developing the region’s growth sectors, supporting locally trading businesses, improving access to finance, investing in critical infrastructure and supporting sales and marketing activities.

“In the current period of limited resources, a joined-up approach to the ‘3Es’ is not only desirable but necessary. If we better understand how policies for one ‘E’, for example education provision, impacts on the other ‘Es’, such as jobseeker’s employability, and we then actively try to strengthen these relationships we can get the greatest benefit from public spending,” concluded Ms. White.

The Policy Briefing is the fourth in a series of briefings from the WDC which highlight and provide discussion and analysis of key regional policy issues. It is available for download on www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/reports-2011/


For further information please contact:
Pauline White, Policy Analyst, Western Development Commission, 086 832 8055
Bernadette Mullarkey, Bane Mullarkey, 086 806 2540

Growing what we have – A doubling of the workforce: The potential for the Creative Sector in the West of Ireland

Innovative research commissioned by the Western Development Commission and carried out by researchers at NUI, Galway has highlighted the potential for a doubling of the workforce employed in the Creative Sector over the next 10 years. Additionally this could lead to up to €150 M in additional exports per annum from the sector – a key area of growth identified. The report is a follow up to the WDC’s much heralded Creative West report published in February 2009, which in itself established the creative economy in the western region as being internationally significant with 4,775 businesses employing 11,000 people directly.

Today’s follow up analysis entitled–“Creative Sector in The Western Region – Future Growth Trajectories “, was published this week by the WDC. Complied by a research team led by Dr Patrick Collins of NUI Galway’s Centre for Innovation and Structural Change the report maps out the future growth scenarios for an industrial sector that has been bucking international trends in terms of growth.

“Internationally this sector has been outpacing others in terms of growth and this is a pattern that we see emerging in Ireland” according to Dr Collins at CISC. “It is clear to us that a small number of policies, correctly implemented have the potential to make a massive difference for the sector and the region” he continued. Commenting on the research, Dr. James Cunningham, the Director of CISC maintained that “this work shows an area of potential for the whole of the west of Ireland, and in the current climate, all potential needs to be realised”.

Ian Brannigan regional development manager for the WDC commented: “The WDC are delighted to welcome this analysis of how we create opportunities and employment from this indigenous and significant part of our economy. We have long realized the creative economy is a natural resource and we are now working with the sector to both highlight this and move ahead to grow the employment and export opportunities.”

In particular the report focuses on the promotion of exports and increased collaboration between members of the sector as key steps in attaining this growth. The increasing international demand for the authentic and unique products characterized by this sector points to the growth potential for exporting, while the sharing of knowledge and innovation through collaboration also highlights the growth dynamic of this relatively new sector. The issues highlighted by the research are exceptionally relevant in light of the current economic climate and recent figures showing a rise in the numbers unemployed in the region.

Ian also stated that.” Of particular interest to us is the fact that in addition to the employment and revenue opportunities identified by the businesses themselves, the analysis shows us wider benefits in terms of option, educational and prestige values, which simply means that almost everyone benefits directly from the sector growth in some way or another”

Gillian Buckley Acting CEO for the WDC stated “Once again we are seeing that there is a real return on supporting our indigenous SME sector and that they form a key part in supporting the wider knowledge economy growth in the region and beyond. The WDC is happy to play a key role in helping make this happen in our communities”

This industry involved analysis underpins an ongoing series of initiatives the WDC and partners are undertaking to tangibly support the growth in market, revenue and employment opportunities within the burgeoning creative economy in the western region (The Creative West).


For further information contact: Western Development Commission Ian Brannigan, Regional Development Manager, Western Development Commission

Tel: 00353 (0)94 9861893
Mobile: 00353 (0)86 6048012
Fax: 00353 (0)94 9861443
e-mail: ianbrannigan@wdc.ie

website www.wdc.ie
website www.lookwest.ie

For further information contact: Dr Patrick Collins, Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, NUI Galway 091 493326 email: p.collins@nuigalway.ie Full findings of the research and the published article are available at: http://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/reports-2011/

About CISC

The Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) is an inter-disciplinary research institute, based at J.E. Cairnes Business School of Business & Economic at National University of Ireland Galway, focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research and education on innovation processes and policies that are fundamental to the development of a knowledge-based economy. CISC is one of the four major research institutes within NUI Galway and it is aligned to the Applied Social Science and Public Policy thematic research priority.

About Western Development Commission

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body that was set up to promote both social and economic development in the Western Region (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare) by:

Ensuring that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the region.

Developing projects in tourism, industry, marine, renewable energy, technology and organic Agri-food, etc..

Operating the €32 million Western Investment Fund (WIF) to provide loans and equity to business and local communities in the West.