THE closing date for innovators living in rural Donegal to apply for a chance to get assistance with their ideas and possibly win a prize valued at €15,000 has been extended by a week.
But hurry as the closing date for the Dairymaster Rural Innovation Awards 2015 is now March 19. The three categories of entries are Farm Innovations, Rural Business Innovations and for the first time, Community Focused Innovations.
The awards recognise that developing and fostering the rural society will be an important economic driver for the future.
Rural innovations in communities will have a specific impact to improve the lives of many people.
The Farm Innovations category is open to all innovations that can make a real difference on farms which have commercial application.
Rural Business Innovations
This category is open to innovations in any rural business. Rural business is a key economic driver for farm families right across Ireland.
Community Focused Innovations
This category is open to all innovations that make society a better place, ensuring a vibrant forward looking community.
In 2014, Donegal was well represented in the awards which at that point were known as the JFC Innovation awards, now relaunched as the Dairymaster Innovation Awards.
There were a number of entries and finalists from the county including Blissberry Social Farm from Mountcharles which won a category prize and Living Green from Inishowen came in as a finalist.
Carrigart native Ricky Conneely who is a Walsh Fellow at NUI Galway and is working on the CEDRA Plus Project under the Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme encouraged as many of his fellow countymen and women to apply.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week Mr Conneely said these awards are aimed at providing a space for innovation in rural areas to be recognised nationally.
“With the all-Ireland aspect of the awards they are an excellent example of collaboration between agencies in ROI and NI to come together to recognise and support innovation in rural areas. With the recent pressures and discussions of the challenges within rural Ireland, these awards provide an arena for positivity – last year we had more than 60 entrants from around the country enter, at all stages of business development – start-up to established.
“This year we have introduced a community innovation category and we are hoping to see innovative community projects and ideas which are improving rural communities and aiding the development of vibrant rural areas. We expect a number of entries from Donegal and around the country this year and would encourage anyone interested to make contact and enter at: www.ruralinnovation.ie,” Mr Conneely said.
He added that the competiton process is aimed at being pro-active for the development of the businesses with feedback from the competition mentors from Teagasc, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland, The Irish Farmers Journal and Dairymaster in Kerry and the opportunity to network with other emerging and established innovative rural business people.