A comment on the junior doctors’ strike….

It is shocking to think that, in 2013, highly educated and trained individuals are pushed to working excessive, slave-labour hours. Enough is enough and the junior doctors have had no choice but to take a stand and fight for better conditions. Not only are the excessive hours a threat to patient care, they also impact on the individuals themselves, who are more at risk of burnout from excessive work pressures arising from habitually working overtime. Besides physical health risks, the psychological risks and business risks are also increased, with implications on morale, productivity, performance and talent retention. Who wants to work somewhere they feel unappreciated, overworked and ignored? The psychological contract has been severely, if not irreparably damaged here and it is going Continue reading here [...]


I had the pleasure today to listen to the business story of Sally Sawaya, Deputy Manager of Meru Herbs Nairobi, Kenya about the successful establishment and development of their Tea and Jams business. This is a fascinating story of how a coop of farmers in a small regional setting came together to build a successful business which now exports internationally. Started over 10 years ago, this business employed 35 farmers. Today it employs 265 farmers, on average 10 people per household who are involved in the farming and factory production. The local people in the Meru region decided to utilise the water access they had created by generating income through the growing of Hibiscus, Carcade and Lemongrass tea. Today this business exports about 90% of its produce to Italy, Japan and Ireland Continue reading here [...]

Funding for Humanitarian Relief

Humanitarian aid is being stretched. Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with conflict and its legacy; natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan have the power to disrupt and sometimes even paralyse economic and social infrastructure; recovery and reconstruction remain uneven following large-scale conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan; and political turmoil is escalating in parts of the Middle East and North Africa. In many instances the people already affected by crises face additional threats, their livelihoods made more insecure by the effects of climate change and the vagaries of the global economy. The international humanitarian response to these needs reached US$16.7 billion in 2010. If this preliminary, partial estimate proves to be accurate Continue reading here [...]

The Humanitarian Urban Risk Divide

An earthquake can bring hospitals, schools and homes tumbling down with unspeakably tragic consequences. A volcano can throw city airports into chaos. Flood waters can turn well-kept streets into detritus-strewn canals. The drug trade can turn an inner city into a war zone.An epidemic can spread rapidly through a crowded slum. As the pendulum of human development swings increasingly away from the countryside to the city, we see that rapid urbanization and population growth are combining to create enormous new challenges for the humanitarian community and pushing us out of our comfort zone to deal with a strange new urban world. When it comes to the impact of natural disasters, well-run cities can be among the safest places on earth. They can also be the best places to raise a family, for schooling, Continue reading here [...]

Looking at the world through Google glasses…

Many people ask what's the difference between radical and incremental innovation; the difference between 'renovation' and innovation.  The study of innovation has not been well served by definitions and the language that describes types of innovation can be ambiguous.  You often hear phrases like game-changing, breakthrough and disruptive used interchangeably.  But, as is often the case, one of Google's projects illustrates the difference better than a bookshelf full of Harvard textbooks (or whatever is the collective pronoun). Google Glasses is a perfect example of radical innovation.  The term 'radical' implies not just that the sponsoring organisation is embracing new technology or has a new offering to the market - but it also requires that the customer segment being targetted be new Continue reading here [...]

‘Pull-through’ – The new philosophy in SFI

Last Thursday (March 1st), with little fanfare, a new dawn broke in the world of Irish scientific research. Few could doubt that we have a problem in state funded research in Ireland. The problem is that in our quest for creating new knowledge, pushing the frontiers of technology someone has painted the finish line at precisely the wrong part of the process.  The holy grail for researchers and their sponsors (us, the taxpayer) is publication.  It's publications that get noticed and get you promoted.  Taxpayers who are funding this might be surprised that publication trumps commercialisation.  Getting a paper published is more advantageous for individuals and institutions than spawning the next Google (although, of course, they are not mutually exclusive). So, we have a veritable mountain Continue reading here [...]

China Calls on Ireland

Two weeks ago Mr Xi Jinping, Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China and expected next president, brought a delegation of 150 to Ireland – their only stop in the EU.  They left with 3 trade deals signed and a promise of more to come.  Mr Xi made the news as a personable visitor to a dairy farm, where he left gifts for the children and was pleased that a new born calf was named for him. He also proved himself a good shot with an unfamiliar Irish hurl, as shown in the photo below from the Irish Independent.[i] The visit also celebrated signs of strength in the Irish economy, including growing exports that helped fuel economic growth for the first time in three years.  It was a chance to underscore Ireland as a gateway to the EU and the Americas, an attractive source of beef and Continue reading here [...]

How even the biggest brands can lose their sparkle

I have just two words to say to companies who think they don’t need to innovate on their brand: Waterford Glass.  Innovation is at the top of every business agenda.  Peter Drucker says that companies should concentrate on innovation and marketing –‘everything else is just costs.’  But many businesses are justifiably cautious about investing in innovation.  There is a fine balance between, on the one hand, the imperative that companies that don’t innovate die and, on the other, 90% of innovations fail.  Moreover, there is often considerable organisational discomfort around embracing the chaos that is necessarily a part of the innovation process.  Let’s face it, it doesn’t take long in any meeting for someone to innocently ask ‘how, exactly, are we going to measure that?’ Continue reading here [...]

What do university lecturers know about innovation?

My name is Peter Robbins and I lecture on innovation and entrepreneurship in the School of Business in NUI Maynooth.  I recently joined the university (Feb, 2011) from industry.  Up until two years ago, I was Global Head of Innovation Excellence for GSK's Consumer Healthcare Division.  While there, I was involved in identifying and progressing promising new ideas to shepherd into the new product pipeline for global brands like Lucozade, Aquafresh, Nicorette, Sensodyne and Panadol.  The company's sales are over £28bn per year with the consumer division delivering over £4bn of that total.  In order to fuel the NPD pipeline for a business of this scale, it required the introduction of roughly £350m of new products every year. This demanded that the process of new product development Continue reading here [...]