Whose Country, Whose Call?

This is more a question for the media, who have once again embraced the chance to print a ‘good news’ story.

Just in case someone would like to run against the grain (and aren’t turned down by their editors when they suggest blaspheming against ‘optimism’) here are some questions;

Who is funding the competition?
Padraig McKeon (Managing Director of Drury Communications and their “go-to’ guy for crisis and issue management”) tweeted

Am on YCYC Steering. It is as @darraghdoyle says; one of 13 contributors, in kind and €, all less than 10% fund #ycyc

Darragh Doyle had filled us in on AIB like so:

they’re one of the contributors, afaik, with Diageo, BOI, Cisco and other big names. Approx 130K each I *THINK*

Really? Is it possible that the two main banks- the main causes of our social and economic woes- are funding this competition (with money paid over from the state to keep them in business) with the stated aim to “help change the way we do things, allow businesses to grow, employment to be created and prosperity to flourish.” Can there be that much cynicism in the world?

Painfully, there is a bit of evidence that AIB, at least, are in the centre of the Your Country Your Call family.


Allied Irish Banks plc
Bankcentre, Ballsbridge
Dublin Co. Dublin

Domain name: yourcountryyourcall.com

Created on: 2009-09-28
Expires on: 2011-09-28

Administrative contact:
Bankcentre, Ballsbridge
Dublin Co. Dublin
+353 16600311
+353 16089675

Who owns the Your Country, Your Call ideas?
The Competition’s Terms and Conditions have a section headed Intellectual Property. It is self-contradictory and unclear. Where it isn’t, it would give me pause before pressing the ‘Submit’ button as to what I’m giving away. The Chairman of Arthur Cox Solicitors (who, coincidentally, are advising the government on NAMA) is one of the Directors of Your Country Your Call. I can’t believe that this crucial section has been drafted with anything unintended left in.

Section 7.1
As a Participant, in consideration of entry into the Competition you grant to the Promoter, its representative and agents a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, unemcumbered, royalty-free, fully paid up, non-exclusive license under all of Participant’s Intellectual Property Rights in the Proposal (as defined below) to:

(c) revise, alter, modify, improve or otherwise make derivative works of the Proposal; and

(d) sublicense and authorize the granting of sublicenses by the Promoter of all of the license rights granted to the Promoter in this Section 7.1.

The above licence shall remain in effect for the duration of your participation and involvement in the Competition and shall automatically terminate at the end of your involvement in the Competition.. Notwithstanding the foregoing licence (and other than with respect to the transfer of all Intellectual Property Rights in the winning Proposals by the winning Participants to the Promoter, on the terms described in Clause 7.2 below), you retain ownership of all of your Intellectual Property Rights in your Proposal.

Look, why would you look for a ‘perpetual, irrevocable’ licence and then say it terminated in 63 days?

Section 7.2 is about what happens to the winner. I’ll come back to that in a minute. First, let’s look at Section 7.4, which applies to everyone.

You waive all claims to and shall receive no royalties of any kind, whether now or in the future, from the Promoter, its affiliates, licensees, successors and assignees for use of your Proposal, including, without limitation, intellectual property, public performance, digital sound recording, mechanical, synchronization or master use royalties.

So which is it? You own all your IP? Or you waive all claims to it? Even the steering committee don’t seem to know.

Here’s Padraig McKeown, our ‘go-to guy’ from earlier again via twitter;

Must be read with Sec 7,1 “Retain..all..your..IP” YCYC a charity, not a biz. Can use it for PR etc for no fee; U still own it #ycyc

There’s no sign in the T&Cs that one clause is subordinate to another. So we just have contradictory claims.

And if you win? Then you get the pleasure of Section 7.2

At Promoter’s option, in consideration of entry into the Competition the winning Participants (including, where relevant, all Team members of such Participants) shall irrevocably transfer, convey and assign to the Promoter (or such party that the Promoter may direct) all right, title and interest in and to the winning Proposal and all Intellectual Property Rights therein (excluding moral rights). The winning Participants (including, where relevant, all Team members of such Participants) further agree to waive all moral rights relating thereto and agree to execute all documents and perform all acts deemed necessary by the Promoter to apply for, register, perfect and record such transfer and assignment and/or waivers.

Or, take your €100,000 and drop dead. The About page makes this perfectly clear:

Please note that the prize is for the winning proposers – this is similar to architectural competitions where the winning architect may or may not be involved in the subsequent construction.

So, got an idea for some “truly transformational proposals so big that, when implemented, could secure prosperity and jobs for Ireland. Proposals that could help change the way we do things, allow businesses to grow, employment to be created and prosperity to flourish”?

This is your chance to give them away for €100,000.

Or, if you’re a member of the media, do you think there might be just the slightest issue worth asking questions about here?

That is the current President of Ireland on the front page.


  • This whole thing sounds like a rerun of the Ideas Campaign which had similar issues about IP and which responded with a media blitz accusing everyone and anyone who raised concerns with being a begrudger and a moaner. They then altered their T&Cs without highlighting that it was on foot of those ‘moans’.

    And the ideas when adopted didn’t give much if anything in the way of attribution or focus to those who submitted them.

    It’s like they read only the first half of that phrase that starts “From each according to their ability”

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tupp_Ed: A new Tuppenceworth blog post: : Whose Country, Whose Call? http://www.tuppenceworth.ie/blog/2010/02/28/whose-country-whose-call/

  • Declan Higgins says:

    I believe it’s also worth following up on Mr. McKeowns comment that YCYC is a charity in one of his recent tweets.

    This fact has not been publicised anywhere in any of their official blurb so far. Nor is it mentioned anywhere in the documentation lodged with the Companies Office.

  • eru says:

    Who are the beneficiaries of this “charity”?

  • Simon McGarr says:

    From the Revenue website:

    “There is no legal framework for the registration of charities in Ireland. The Office of
    the Revenue Commissioners, Charities Section maintains a database of organisations
    to which they have granted charitable tax exemption….

    While there is no legislation defining what is legally charitable it is generally
    determined by considering whether a particular purpose comes within one of the four
    broad categories:

    1 Trusts for the Relief of Poverty
    2 Trusts for the Advancement of Education
    3 Trusts for the Advancement of Religion
    4 Trusts for other purposes beneficial to the community “

  • Padraig McKeon says:

    As I said in my last tweet of our exchange on Friday night

    “Conversation will continue – sense need for stronger out front position on this area of questioning #ycyc”

    For the avoidance of doubt, what I mean by that is not that YCYC undertake “a media blitz accusing everyone and anyone who raised concerns with being a begrudger and a moaner” as Daniel suggests has happened before (and I appreciate that he didn’t say we would)

    I mean we have to be better at explaining both the intent and the meaning behind the Ts & Cs clearly and then allow potential entrants to make up their own minds. It is regrettable if anyone does not feel that they can do so at this point but there are also over 1,500 entries on the YCYC site after 11 days which tells its own story.

    More importantly though your post raises a central challenge that we have to overcome in explaining what YCYC is about, why we are doing it in the first place and what precisely YCYC is targeting as a potential winner. I will try to respond.

    YCYC is not looking to find and reward an invention or a specific business idea. There are plenty of other investors, agents, agencies, competitions, networks and fora out there to do that.

    By contrast YCYC is looking to identify an area of identifiable potential to either create something that hasn’t previously existed or to turn something that exists but is not being exploited into something that could create prosperity and jobs at an entirely different level from what currently exists. It is doing so from the perspective of uncovering something that if then exploited could be to the benefit of many at a national level. It isn’t impossible but it is less likely in our view that there will be much IP in such a broad concept.

    Our sense is that such a concept will need the involvement of more than ‘an investor’. It may need any or all of research, specific expert people, collaboration across an industry or industries (most likely beyond Ireland), design, legal support, investment, government planning and possibly legislation. The implementation structure proposed within YCYC to support the winning proposals is envisaged to fulfil that role.

    It is in this context that the architect analogy you highlight from the ‘about’ section of the website is relevant. It is our expectation that the owner (architect) of the winning YCYC proposal is unlikely to themselves have the werewithal to build out their concept. They are being offered the opportunity to submit it to YCYC and if succesful get €100,000 and have the opportunity then to see their thinking being built out. If one has an idea however and feels they can’t share it on the basis of the YCYC terms, that is a choice they are free to make.

    If someone has a potentially winning concept and the ability to build it out themselves or through their own resources, then we in YCYC would be delighted as it will then happen anyway and the YCYC resources can be focussed on proposals that don’t have such opportunity themselves for support but need it. The proposals that won’t happen without some support framework but that can be worked up for the good of the country is where our intent lies.

    A couple of other points raised by your post that I will respond to if I may while I’m here

    – In your opening line you criticise (or should I say I interpret you to criticise) “the media, who have once again embraced the chance to print a ‘good news’ story” I couldn’t help smiling as it is a rare accusation in my experience of late. By contrast most of us despair at the seeminly insatiable appetite of media for ‘bad news’ stories.

    – On the issue of funding, there are now a great many organisations – about 30 in all – involved, some – 13 by number – contributing money to a fund to cover the prizes and some unavoidable hard costs as might arise (printing, telephony, room hire for events etc), others in kind. All were approached on the basis that this was not an initiative that was to be used by any contributor to promote themselves and all accepted that condition.

    That said it is now clear that there is a need to identify who is behind the project in response to questions and that will be done when all have been advised that their names are to be published. We expect this to happen in the coming weeks

    – AIB’s involvement in the registration of the website was purely adminstrative. The name for the initiative was chosen in late August last. AIB at that time responded to a request for administrative support generally for the project as the registration of a company for YCYC was not completed until December. It was judged however that the web domain should be registered as a priority and this was done in late September by AIB on behalf of the competition organisers. Now that the full company registration process has taken place, the ownership of the web domain is currently being transferred to YCYC. Beyond that AIB has no hold over the website in any shape or form.

    – As to Declan’s question about the company being a charity? I am not precisely familar with the process but I understand it is as outlined in Simon’s latter comment. Once the company was registered in December, an application was made to the Revenue Commissioners seeking charitable tax exemption. That status was confirmed by the Revenue Commissioners in late January (I’m not sure of the precise date, it may have been early Feb)

    The charitable status of the company has been openly referred – it was in the launch press release, was referred in the launch speech and was referred in media coverage around the launch (it was certainly for example in the Irish Times coverage of the launch). I had thought also that it was on the website but having checked it this evening I must acknowledge that I can’t locate a reference. It is a fair point that it should be more openly referred and we will look to rectify that quickly.

    I see also that you’ve pointed to a few paragraphs and subsections of the M&A via Twitter. It is understandable that one would ask about those. There isn’t any big agenda or conspiracy here. In framing the M&A it was considered that the YCYC entity should be given flexibility for any process or transaction that it might concievably have to take to deliver the required support in the implementataion stage of YCYC – better to have the flexibility built in than be limited and possibly constrained at a later date; no more and no less.

    I realise that I may not have answered precisely all of the points raised in your post or gone into the level of technical response to some of the points made on the legal niceties but I think that the dialogue is worthwhile. Ultimately as I said in the middle somewhere, people have a choice and as
    I said at the beginning, it is a fair call for that to be clearer in communication.

    Finally, this project is being conducted entirely in the public eye, with the involvement of a very significant number of people, many of significant public reputation, giving of their time on a pro bono basis – a standing that should offer reassurance to anyone with a question. I respect equally that such a standing has to be honoured and that nobody is above question these days.

    To that end the intention is to get out into the innovation community face to face over the coming weeks and explain as much and as clearly as we can.


  • Evert Bopp says:

    It’s simple really; if you submit an idea you revoke your IP for the duration of the competition. If you win you can wave bye-bye to your IP forever.

  • liam says:

    Its galling to have any of the Banks potentially see an upside to this. However and without reference to the motivations of the organisers, the following occurs to me: Its true that its entirely possible that the core IP or piece of know-how of an idea may be small or even non-existent, but the terms as they stand mean that any IP that is generated, and/or derived from the idea can be hoovered up by the organisers.

    The licence required to be granted is non-exclusive, but, with initial strong backing that YCYC appear to be offering, few other obvious players are likely to feel strongly motivated to enter the market and compete, which potentially devalues additional licencing opportunities.

    Of course people are free to exploit their own IP but its not quite as simple as that. There are considerable costs for an individual associated with registering and protecting their own IP. If the organisers, as is suggested, are unconcerned with IP and in fact expect little, then it would not take much effort to require assignment of the IP to the organisers, on condition of the granting of an exclusive licence, in perpetuity, for exploitation to the inventor, with a clause that would allow the organisers to recover their patenting and licensing costs. Universities do this all the time. The advantages of then being able to strategically manage IP are obvious, and if the organisers then seek to invest in the associated businesses they do so for equity, not for control of IP.

    Additionally, it would not be hard to imagine an option for the IP to pass in to the public domain should this be a more desirable option.

    Perhaps I have not fully understood what is going on here, and again, without questioning the motivations of the organisers, the whole thing seems a bit cack-handed.

    On motivation: As the OP suggests, its hard to believe that these terms did not get thoroughly scrutinised by a patent lawyer prior to publication, but of course this is speculation.

  • Katherine says:

    I really don’t (ever) set out to be negative but it would, frankly, be easy to pick holes in a lot of what you say.

    My main problem with ycyc is that I really, even after reading the site and many articles about it, have no real idea what it’s actually about. It’s incredibly vague and unfocused.

    One comment on the above specifically though, while I accept that people are giving time pro bono and I do respect that, the flurry of fairly self-serving press releases that the launch unleashed from several of the companies involved suggests that they may not quite have taken on board the point about not using it for self-promotion.

  • Katherine says:

    I really don’t (ever) set out to be negative but it would, frankly, be easy to pick holes in a lot of what you say.

    My main problem with ycyc is that I really, in spite of the fact that I don’t believe I am stupid and even after reading the site and many articles about it, have no clear idea what it’s actually about. It’s incredibly vague and unfocused. It seems not so much like a broad concept as a rather woolly and unformed one to me.

    Talking about the ‘intent’ behind the terms and conditions is meaningless. It’s the letter of them that will count.

    Also, while I accept that people are giving time pro bono and I do respect that, the flurry of fairly self-serving press releases that the launch unleashed from several of the companies involved suggests that they may not quite have taken on board the point about not using it for self-promotion.

  • liam says:

    An implicit NDA would be nice too, but that appears to be explicitly ruled out in 7.5 (no secrecy). Nobody with an idea of any commercial value would/should sign this thing. Again: naivety or malice of forethought?

  • Aren’t registered companies and charities required by law to place their CRO registration number on (for example) their websites?

    And why does the T&Cs document fail to identify even the name of the entity with which I’m supposedly entering into an agreement?

  • Padraig,

    If someone out there really has a worked out idea on how to make an impact at a national level (say, by creating millions of euros of exports or hundreds of jobs) with a tiny amount of capital (EUR 500k), why would they enter it in Your Country, Your Call? What possible benefit would there be for them?



  • Padraig McKeon says:

    Again I will try to respond. to be absolutely clear and to acknowledge Evert and Liam’s summations, if there is IP involved in the winning proposal, ownership of that IP transfers to YCYC in return for €100,000.

    Liam, I see the point that you are making re “few other obvious players… strongly motivated to enter the market” but in reality and respectfully, all bar the winners will be out of the competition by mid September and if they have an idea that is that good, it is unlikely to become unattractive to other ‘players’ that quickly?

    The suggestion, as an incentive, to strategically manage IP flowing into the competition (I hope I have understood you properly) is interesting. I can see the attraction and we will certainly discuss the point but I have to say at present that we don’t have either the administrative or technical capacity on an ongoing basis to do so.

    Katherine, I’m sorry that you don’t get the concept – maybe that is down to poor communication and certainly there are points that we still need to get across . It is not by any means an easy come, easy go concept. You refer also to press releases issued by some of the contributors. There were some press releases issued, specifically into the international media which were used deliberately to take advantage of substantial international media presence and reach of those companies and to get the word of the competition out further.

    Antoin, you are correct – if somebody has an idea worked up, they don’t need us (other than to get their hands on €100,000) – YCYC is for those that don’t have the idea worked out, or don’t know how to work it.

    Finally, John you are correct to point out the obligation on all companies to publish the registration number on their website. That is an omission that will be corrected – thanks for pointing it out.

  • liam says:

    Padraig, than you for you considered reply, I will attempt to summarise my ramblings similarly.

    Why would anybody with a commercially interesting idea submit it to YCYC? I think I am not sure who the target audience is for this. An idea that is barely thought out, yet “could help change the way we do things, allow businesses to grow, employment to be created and prosperity to flourish” is so massively wide-ranging that it might include IP and know-how that the inventor/creator brings to the table. It seems unfair that this must effectively be given up, without even an NDA to protect it during the competition phase. No investor/VC would ever require an inventor to do that.

  • Katherine says:

    Thank you for clarifying Padraig, on the IP situation in particular.

    Whatever the reason was for going the route that has been taken on IP, it seems to me that doing so automatically guarantees that the project will not succeed in getting the sort of game changing idea it has set out to look for.

    I find it very hard to imagine someone who really has an idea so stunningly brilliant that it ‘could create prosperity and jobs at an entirely different level from what currently exists‘ handing over any IP involved for €100,000.

    It assumes, perhaps, that some kind of altruism is expected – for the greater good of the nation etc? I suppose there could be someone, somewhere, smart enough to think up such an amazing idea but be completely uninterested in personally profiting from it. I just doubt it.

    That may sound cynical, but I think its realistic.

  • Simon McGarr says:

    If you wanted to give the IP to your nation-changing idea away for altruistic reasons (which would be an excellent impulse) YCYC would be the wrong way of doing it.
    Control of your IP passes to a private company called An Smaoineamh Mor. They haven’t said what they intend to do with it.
    They certainly haven’t told us they intend to give it away.
    Indeed the memo and articles of the company specifically give it the power to set up subsidiary companies, for the purposes of generating a profit.

  • steve white says:

    the very type people behind this will be people who were involved stoking and bluffing the boom well past it sell by date and refuse to acknowledge mistakes or accept responsibly, spin, marketing, PR, hacknied PR at that, talking heads celebs, vapourPR. Again this doesn’t seem to be for Irish people but an international PR campaign, VonP made this clear by referring to US and UK again today. only show the good front room, sweep everything up under the carpet and forget about it. others wise those that always had the influence and power will blame you for the problems. They’re good at that kind of thing.

    some people are saying ah well if it doesn’t produce anything at least we tried, well the ‘tried’ is a PR campaign, so some nice busywork for you while its slow, useless to everyone else. We don’t need more magical PR campaigns.

  • I am after reading Ferdinand von Prondzynski’s piece about this and now I am more puzzled than ever, especially when I combine it with what you have written. You refer to various press releases by various people and I have not had the benefit of reading these. What you have said above about making research and other resources available is something completely new, not somethng which is covered on the website.

    The more I read so far, the less I understand, and the more I feel like Katherine. Can you bring together all of the various documentation in one place?

    If you are evaluating ideas, and not people, then why hang anything on interviews of the proposers at the end? I have never heard of an architectural competition where there were interviews.

    There is a complete lack of clarity about the amount of resources available. A fund of ‘up to 500,000 euros’ is said to be available and I had assumed this was the resource available as seed capital and that the idea should be designed to fit within this to meet the ‘realism’ criterion. To fit within this framework and be sustainable to the point of generating jobs and change, it will need to be entrepreneurial in nature.

    I thought the development fund was one of the big strengths of this contest compared to the ideascampaign – that it had parameters and someone willing to put up what is undoubtedly a substantial amount of money.

    However, there are hints that there are other resources available or that can be procured. This would mean that the project would not necessarily need to be internally sustained. This throws the whole thing open again and removes the only criteria that made the competition unique or better.

    It also makes what you told me not so true – i.e., access to these resources, which is not available to me in my day to day life as an entrepreneur could be opened up to the winning project. If this is the case, then there are certainly projects which would not be possible for me to pursue normally, but that would be possible in this instance.

    I notice that there seems to be a whole section of the project documentation missing. The ‘Guidelines’ referred to in the terms and conditions seem to be nowhere to be found.

    I think that there is a lot of wooly thinking going on. For a start, the website does not describe the concept succinctly.

    IPR of inventors is respected in one clause, but in another, it is not. There is a development fund of EUR 500k but at the same time, there could be a much bigger or smaller pool available. This is about the idea, not the person and their ability to implement it, but at the same time you have to go and be coached and prepared for a big interview. The rules and parameters of the competition are supposed to be written down in one place, but at the same time, they aren’t really, you have to guess what they are and scout around the Internet looking for them. The whole thing is supposed to be open, yet the sponsors apparently didn’t expect that anybody would want to know who was putting up the money.

    I have to say that I am very supportive of this effort and of the sponsors who have obviously devoted time and money to this. However, it all seems like everything was done on a ‘good-enough’ basis instead of sorting out all the criteria and getting everything really right.

    (In comparison, I have to hand it to the people behind the ideascampaign that even though their concept was limited, they created something that they could fully execute upon. For sure, there are doubts about the value of what came out of it. But it was a boots-and-braces operation. There wasn’t what appears to be an expensive media campaign. )

    If we are trying to get out of the undoubtedly negative Irish character flaw of cynicism and pessimism, I am concerned that we will fall into the other great Irish character flaw, of talking a big talk and then failing to deliver.

    I hope that the people steering YCYC can accept that there are problems with what they propose and make changes to remedy them, if only so they get maximum value out of the 2m+ euros they are investing. They will have my full support in doing this, if there is anything I can do.

  • steve white says:

    Its seems the backers of this thing are all applying the traits of cynicism, sarcasm, pessimism, big talk and failing peculiarly to the Irish as a nation, that’s hardly a good impression to give with this. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/education/2010/0302/1224265424509.html Doesn’t seem like the backers of this thing like the Irish in particular.

    if we don’t back this we will bring “national decline and poverty”

    its your fault not AIBs.

    so the “anti begrudger” meme and media blitz hasn’t already been started??

    and then he then he tell us that the media don’t like to regurgitate advertisements as articles, thats yours day job isn’t it, to have ads without them seeming like ads, and there’s been no free advertising, airtime and column inches been given out for this Pr fluff. no not at all.

    are any of the chambers of commerces involved in this? or international business promotion organisations, you wouldn’t have any contracts that require you to push the line that’s, everything fine, if its everyone job to fix the crisis then my clients can’t get fingered for it, so they continue as they were.

  • liam says:


    I don’t want to come across as being overly negative about YCYC, but I think some basic errors have been made in the whole approach to this thing.

    I appreciate the concept of promoting ideas of those who have not got the resources or expertise to seem them come to fruition, but it looks like the wrong model has been used. Fundamentally, it is I think a mistake to not have any respect at all for the IPR of potential contributors. If you are looking for serious ideas that have a chance of success, it seems natural to me to include the inventors, rather than strip them of any right to further participation once you have identified a scheme with some chance of success. YCYC is using a model better suited to competitions for big ticket items like a house or a car, and I just don’t see how this will attract the level of quality and seriousness YCYC aspires to, that the country deserves and that Irish people are certainly capable of delivering.

  • Padraig McKeon says:

    Again I will try to respond and in doing so acknowledge that I’m not claiming we (YCYC) have got it all right, certainly in terms of communication – we are listening and will continue to listen. That is not to say either that we will change things just because it is raised in a discussion. Clearly though if there are differing views as to the impact of a particular point on, for example, the value of entering or the process of judging, then we have to be explicitly clear in our communication so that nobody participates under a misapprehension.

    Katherine to the point about people being uninterested because of the IP issue as you see it, I can only respond on the basis of our experience over the past week. From all over the country, and beyond, we are hearing numerous stories of an enthusiasm to enter and a lot of people applying themselves to the challenge. To mirror your own summary, that may seem idealistic, but it is true.

    Simon I don’t think there is anything that I could say which would change your position but I have to respond to your comment of 09.43 on the 2/3/2010. That comment could in my opinion be read to infer that those that make up the ‘private company’ An Smaoineamh Mor may seek to profit personally from this initiative. A lawyer may point to the precise words and say that is not what they say, but as a professional communicator I say it is the inference I believe many people would take. What ever about being accused of ‘woolly thinking’ ‘naivety’ or ‘lack of clarity’ there is no basis at all for such an inference and its existence in my opinion actually takes from some of the fair and arguable points about clarity in the Ts and Cs made earlier.

    Also consider that
    i. this initiative is being delivered in the line of sight of every citizen in the country.
    ii. More pertinently it is being done under the noses of every media organisation in the country. Yes the owners have agreed to provide ad space but it stretching credibility way beyond reason to suggest that the editorial side of the media houses would suspend all judgement and allow anything even remotely self serving to passed off under the guise of a charity. I say that from a position of having dealt with media pretty much every day for nearly 25 years and just in case there is any doubt, columnists in each of the Irish Times and the Sunday Independent expressed satirical or critical views already
    iii. Finally there are upwards of 30 organisations now proving some level of support to YCYC on a pro bono basis with over 100 people involved and that is before we factor in public figures that have put their faces, voices and names to the public campaign. They all participated as a gesture for the greater good and that has to be honoured

    I would respectfully suggest that all of those factors put an enormous if not
    unprecedented onus on YCYC to be entirely transparent in every aspect of its governance, now and in the future.

    Liam, I don’t read your comments as negative at all. While I’m not sure that I can address them to your satisfaction, I do appreciate the points made. The frame set around managing the IP in YCYC is significantly predicated on the belief that there won’t be much IP in the type of broad proposal that is likely to win, and I think you picked up on that earlier. You use the phrase “right to further participation” in respect of the winner and the progress of the winning proposal after its selection. While I’m assuming that in this conversation ‘participation’ specifically means IP ownership perhaps we need to consider options for the involvement of a winner if they wish after selection which could be open for a discussion that is specific to the circumstances of that winner and without prejudice to the objectives of the competition.

    Antoin, thank you very much for the extended post which is a commitment in itself. I get completely the ‘supportive criticism’, if I could describe it as such, of your post and I note and acknowledge your offer at the end of same. I think it would be worth following up on that if you could leave it with me.

    I will if I may respond to a number of the points that you raise although I have to confess that I wasn’t exactly sure what you were pointing to in your sixth and seventh paragraphs.

    My earlier reference to press releases was in response to a post that referred to media statements issued by contributors to YCYC after the launch. To my knowledge there are five public statements now in circulation – one by YCYC, and the other four by different contributors. I will endeavour to have all, or links to all, uploaded to the YCYC website.

    Perhaps in explaining YCYC we are suffering from knowing what we mean too well for too long and are assuming an understanding on the part of people only hearing of this for the first time – if that is so then we have to rectify that.

    In summary the entire YCYC project is in two parts.

    Part one is the competition which we have been discussing here, at the end of which there are two winners each picking up €100,000 for a proposal.

    Part two – the implementation phase – takes those two proposals and starts to work out their potential. A fund of €500,000 is earmarked for the work on each. That €500,000 is not seed capital or grant aid for a business and it is not signed over to the owner of the proposal. It is a fund to pay whatever costs or fees are required to do the work of Phase 2 – be that the input of experts, cost involved in studying work done elsewhere, costs involved in engaging with funding etc. – with that work directed by a sector and need specific group of experts convened by An Smaoineamh Mor specifically for the purpose.

    It is envisaged that Phase 2 will last two years. Without getting ahead of events the expectation is that as a proposal takes shape through the implementation stage towards a viable execution, among the critical outputs would be to secure tangible entities, with defined assets, resources and appropriate ownership structures to take responsibility for delivering the promised national impact

    I take the point that in the exposure so far of YCYC, the implementation piece has got less attention and less explanation. It is not helpful also that mainstream media coverage of the launch lumped all of the funds that will be applied to the winning proposals in together – we should have worked harder on defining how that was understood.

    Finally Steve, I’m not going to dignify your two contributions with a reply other than to say that it is the last refuge of the desperate to attack the messenger.

    Those two contributions aside can I acknowledge again the usefulness of this exchange in challenging any sense that we have everything ‘sorted’ on YCYC – we are still working on it. Thanks.

  • Barry says:


    just a few questions
    1. Who gets to view the completed list of all the submitted ideas (political/business community/public)?

    2. Is there any political involvement directly or indirectly with the competition?

    3. There are seven directors of the company An Smaoineamh Mor. Have there been any public interviews or statements given by the directors outlining the motives for establishing An Smaoineamh Mor and YCYC?


  • liam says:


    Understood and if there is any confusion over my questions, that is down to poor explanation on my part.

    Sorry if this is getting a little boring: By saying that YCYC expects that there won’t be much IP in a winning bid, I would ask you to consider the following scenario: what if a submission comes from somebody with an idea that turns out to contain patentable IP (the submitter may not even identify it as such to begin with)? With such a broad brief and especially if it is a very early stage idea, this is not entirely impossible.

    Regardless of motivation (such questions are largely irrelevant) I think that you are on to a very good thing here in principle, but my thought is that the lack of what might be regarded as equitable arrangements for IP represents some risk for an inventor submitting an idea. It would represent very little risk to YCYC to put such arrangements in place and would, in my view at least, increase the chances of an interesting idea popping up. The terms I describe above would allow an inventor to be significantly involved in the maturation of the idea, and would allow YCYC the right to licence IP to whomever they chose should the successful inventor wish to exit once the competition is complete (though I can’t imagine that the type of person who comes up with a truly transformational idea would easily just walk away from it).

    YCYC in either case gets a substantial equity share in any resultant enterprise as they are fronting the capital (amongst other things) to make it happen, and equity is where the long term potential is, not licensing.

    Lets be honest, there is always a chance that you have a ‘right idea, wrong person’ situation and as it stands, YCYC is completely protected from this. But since the assessment includes an interview stage, this is already somewhat de-risked.

    I am of course assuming that the winning proposal will be executed as some form of business venture, and it may not be.

  • Padraig McKeon says:

    Liam, you have no cause to excuse the questions. I see the point(s) and I accept that the scenario is plausible. Our approach to implementation is to leave open the gretest possible flexibility and then assess what needs to be done on the merits of the circumstances of the chosen winners. Perhaps that is too general? Take it that we have no desire to limit the possibilities and neither are we in any way seeking to cod anyone.

    I’m not trying to avoid the issue but I’m not sure that we can progress it much further through this forum – and that is not a criticism; Simon’s post has been very helpful to challenge. DM?

    Happy to post back then for information of others and further discussion.

  • Padraig McKeon says:


    1. The judging process will be in three stages. The first between the end of April and end June will deliver 20 entries for further consideration. The second in July / August narrows that to five and the final stage selects two from the five. The evaluation and juding process is being overseen by David Byrne (ex EU Comissioner) In the first stage he will have a panel of subject matter experts in the various category areas identified to best understand the merits of the proposals and they will be supported by executives selected specifically for the project from the large audit and management consulting firms. For the second and third stages a panel of judges is currently being finalised that will include national and international figures of standing in the areas of creativity, business and social innovation. WE expect to annouce those judges before the end of thios month. The judging process is independent of the Steering Group and none of the material submitted is being shared outside the judge panels

    2. There is no political involvement with the competition.

    3. Four of the seven Directors listed in the documentation originally submitted to register the company were agents of the legal advisors which established the company An Smaoineamh Mor. They have no active role now that it is being established. The three active Directors from those listed are Laurence Crowley, Martin Murphy and Eugene McCague who are being joined by Austin Hogan who is the full time Director for the project. Mssrs. Crowley and Murphy commented widely to and were quoted by the media at and around the launch event on Feb 17 and will continue to do so along with others involved in the Steering group (Ferdinand Von Prondinsky, Ann Marie Shaw and myself) and the chair of the judges, Mr Byrne.

  • Just to clarify from my own experience – to register a ‘company limited by guarantee’ which is a type of company with no shares, you need seven members. Once you are established, you only really need one or two members. There is no particularly good reason for this, that’s just the rule. Typically the people who sign up are apprentices, legal secretaries and other people with no power or influence whatsoever. Once the company is established they then resign.

  • steve white says:

    seriously tuppenceworth gets all high and mighty and removes my comments after MR Drury asked( rambling as they were they echoing what you said about about AIB being involved in PR campaign to rescue the country they damaged and to move on without blaming them , and you tuppenceworth guys weren’t above taking the piss so don’t why are you above questioning the marketeers

  • Fergal Crehan says:

    Believe it or not, yours were not the only comments to have been deleted. They were accidentally marked as spam, and will reappear as soon as the author of the post un-spams them.

  • Padraig McKeon says:

    Steve I didn’t ask for anything to be removed. Let people judge for themselves

  • […] I wanted to run a national competition offering a cash prize of mysterious origin in exchange for total ownership of an idea of such staggering- almost mystical- potency that it could restore a nation of […]

  • […] the domain itself (yourcountryyourcall.com) was registered by Allied Irish Bank (one of the largest banks in the country). Padraig McKeon, a member of the […]

  • […] domain itself (yourcountryyourcall.com) was registered by Allied Irish Bank (one of the largest banks in the country). Padraig McKeon, a member of the […]

  • Mick says:

    Talking of no political involvement, IP and the like, the similarity between this and this are curious.

    A letter to the minister on 19th May elicited no response, presumably not worthy?

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