MCCP was delighted to attend the recent Inspirefest event which brought together some of the brightest minds and acclaimed thinkers in the world of Science and Technology. Some 3,000 leaders, entrepreneurs, technology professionals, researchers and academics gathered for the fourth annual event at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in the heart of Dublin’s Silicon Docks. It has grown to become more than just another tech conference, Inspirefest is a showcase of what is best about Ireland and the wider world at a time when we could all do with a bit of renewed faith in humanity.
Inspirefest has a strong culture and lifestyle theme where attendees can enjoy a showcase of art, live music, comedy, a DJ and, most importantly, a delicious food show in a setting that’s ideal for networking and making great business connections with like-minded people.
MCCP was especially happy to attend to support our clients from Dublin Airport as they launched their exciting new innovation and business development function – The Future Factory.
MCCP have worked closely with Dublin Airport on the development of The Future Factory - Its purpose is to stimulate growth and spearhead the creation of new value for Dublin Airport. Driven by a core team of big thinkers, movers and shakers that pave the way for the next wave of innovation for our national airport. The Future Factory adopts a test and learn approach to new products; services, solutions and initiatives under a common belief that the best laid plans for the future start today.
Recently appointed “futurist” Gráinne Morrison gave an inspired speech and overview of the kind of innovations the Future Factory are working on to build cutting edge future travel experiences. To do so, Future Factory focuses on consumer and passenger trends it sees as integral to the airport’s future:
1. Seamless Connection: Putting the passenger in control with seamless experiences and invisible transactions to create a simple, smooth flow
2. Effortless Convenience: Immediate access to products and services, replacing friction full with frictionless.
3. Emotionally Relevant: Offering products and services that speak to the beliefs and behaviors of passengers – an enriched experience that encourages personal story sharing.
4. Hyper-Personalisation: A passenger centric approach that delivers customized personal experiences which are contextualized, offering guaranteed user satisfaction.
Grainne outlined an exciting new food innovation at the airport called “Honest Eats”. Collaborating with the airports Food and Beverage partner “Marqette” - It offers passengers an “Amazon style” seamless shopping experience free of check-outs, allowing them pick up, scan, pay and go via a cashless self-checkout software solution. This is all carried out without the supervision of any airport or retail staff, and relies solely on the honesty of passengers
The honest technology enables customers to scan their items and pay using their card or mobile payment application. The solution is already widely used within the airports retail environment and is familiar to the many of the passengers who travel frequently through the airport.
As well as highlighting some of the interesting innovations of today, MCCP was most impressed by the presentations made by the future innovators of tomorrow. A section of the show on Thursday morning was dedicated to gifted kids in the field of science and tech. One could not but be impressed and inspired by the achievements of those of such a tender age whose maturity and dedication to their passion captured the essence of the event more than anything else.
We were introduced to Taylor Denise Richardson, AKA Astronaut StarBright, described in the event programme as an ADVOCATE, ACTIVIST, SPEAKER AND PHILANTHROPIST, not bad for a 14 year old! Taylor attends The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida and has strong future ambitions of becoming a scientist, engineer and an astronaut. She is actively pursuing her dream having already attended four NASA space centers, including the US Space & Rocket Center (aka Space Camp) in Huntsville, Alabama, at the age of nine!.
Other strings to her bow include member of The Mars Generation as a student space ambassador; a Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida member; a Nelson Mandela ambassador with Jacksonville Sister Cities Association; and a member of Empowerment Resources Journey into Womanhood, and Generation Wow, both of which are empowerment clubs for girls. In her downtime Taylor also finds time to be a member of her school soccer and track team!
Not to be outdone, we were also given a fantastic presentation from our own Aoibheann Mangan who at just 11 years old, was the youngest presenter at Inpirefest. Aoibheann enlightened us with a heartwarming tale that in spite of her coding gifts she has the disadvantage of living in a rural broadband black spot in county Mayo. At times when she needed the Internet to research and complete school projects the only solution was a family outing to the local Tesco where she could tap into the free Wifi available in the car park!. Aside from the levity of this story it does make us question the effectiveness of our governments rural broadband initiative. In an era when our economy depends on digital technology it is a national shame that there remains many parts of rural Ireland that are unconnected from the online world. The disadvantage that kids such as Aoibheann endure puts them at a disadvantage from others and limits their options of entering a tech/engineering field of study when they go to college.
Undeterred by such trivialities as rural connectivity, Aoibheann turned this obstacle into a strength by becoming a longtime supporter of girls in technology as well as a strong vocal advocate of broadband equality in Ireland.
Similar to Taylor, Aoibheann has a role of honour and achievements that would put many adults to shame. This year, she was named one of the European Digital Girls of the Year in the 11-14-age category. She is a CoderDojo mentor, and has previously run workshops at Mozfest in London in 2016 and 2017. She has also run EU Code Week events in Mayo for adults and children alike. She has presented at TeachMeets, and gave an interactive presentation at the Computers in Education Society conference In Dublin City University this year.
To date Aoibheann has built four websites, bagging a People of the Year and Pride of Ireland award for a website created with a friend to promote farm safety for kids. Other websites are all based on STEM and aimed at encouraging kids and teachers who want to learn the basics of Scratch and how to use a Raspberry Pi.
What was inspiring about Taylor and Aoibheann was the unwavering dedication with which they pursue their passion. The honesty and sincerity with which they follow their dreams, the humility with which they speak of their achievements and the unspoiled innocence which they told their stories was something to warm the hearts of every Inspirefest attendee. If adults were to chase their dreams, which such truth, honesty and passion then the world would surely be, a better place.