24th September 2018, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
To book your place  



About "The Spirit of" Event - EMPOWER Explore
The Taoiseach adresses the packed crowd at the 2011 event
"The Spirit of" event started as The Spirit of Entrepreneurship at GMIT Mayo back in 2006. Now in its Twelfth year, the event regularly attract hundreds of people to the event. 

On Monday 24th September, The Spirit of Enterprise” through EMPOWER Explore will kick off Mayo Ideas Week 2018. We want to celebrate YOU - amazing entrepreneurs, business owners and people with ideas as we come together for our annual Spirit event to educate, inspire and create an enterprising community in the Region.

Join us for an evening of thought-provoking speakers and leaders in their fields. This is a chance to engage and learn from some high profile female entrepreneurs in Ireland and a chance to connect and network with fellow entrepreneurs. 

The EMPOWER Programme is run by the GMIT Innovation Hubs and aims to fast track female-led businesses based in the West by addressing specific challenges hindering their development. EMPOWER is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund. It has two parts; EMPOWER Start for early stage ideas or businesses less than a year old, and EMPOWER Growth for females in Business for two years or more. 

‘This EMPOWER project is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020’.  

2018 speakers include:

* Alison Cowzer, Co Founder of East Coast Bakehouse and Dragon on Dragon's Den

* Vicki O Toole, MD of JJ O Toole's Ltd

* Donna Kennedy, Three Times Best Selling Author, Founder of We Summit

* Aine Mulloy, Co Founder of Girlcrew

* Norah Patten,  selected to take part in a unique scientist-astronaut training programme in Florida. On course to be first Irish Person in Space. Founder of Planet Zebunar.

*Lorraine Corcoran, Co Founder Horizon and Owner Director of Cosmetic Creations













MC for the evening is Carol Coleman
​Carole Coleman is a journalist, broadcaster and speaker. Carole has contributed to RTE news and current affairs for 25 years as a reporter and presenter. She held the positions of Environment & Education Correspondent from 1996-2001 and Washington Correspondent from 2001-2005. Carole has written two books on American culture and politics including the 2005 bestseller Alleluia America. Carole’s work has appeared in the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Daily Mail and on WAMU radio in Washington DC.  Currently a multi-media journalist with RTE, Carole is also involved in local initiatives in Leitrim to connect with the Irish diaspora and bring jobs to the region. 

Our hopes for the event are to provide inspiration for a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs across the West Region, to spark discussion on the opportunities arising from a period of change, and the potential for diversification into new products and markets.  

Over the years "The Spirit of" event has been host to many familiar faces including:

Chanelle McCoy (Chanelle Pharmaceutical), Breege O Donoghue (Primark), Evelyn O Toole (CLS) Fiona Slevin (Orreco) (John McGuire (Gamegolf), Colm Lyon (Realex Payments), Elenor McEvoy (Budget Energy)
Jordan Casey (Games Developer), Dorothy Creaven (Element Software), Niall Harbison (Simply Zesty), Terry Clune (Taxback.com), Michael Dwyer, (Pigsback.com), Jerry Kennelly (Stockbyte & Tweak), Frank Salmon (CMS Peripherals), John Concannon (JFC Manufacturing)
Tommy Griffith (PEL Recycling), Sean Rowland (Hibernia College), Leonard Moran (Ovagen and Biological Labs Ballina), Jonathon Ruane (Eventovate), Sean Gallagher (Dragon’s Den) and Ciaran Crean (Micksgarage.ie)

Terry Clune speaking at the 2012 event
The judges ponder their decisions during the pitching competition
About The Innovation Hubs
The GMIT Innovation Hub in Mayo, was officially opened in March 2006. The GMIT also has a second Innovation Hub located on the GMIT campus in Galway.

The Hub's primary focus is to support new enterprises in the region by providing incubation space, nurturing new ideas, aiding business development, and progressing the commercialisation of their business, while alleviating the high costs that they would normally incur if they set up alone.

Supported by Enterprise Ireland, the Innovation Hub in Mayo has 10 Incubation Units ranging in size from 18 to 36 sq. m. for start-up companies. The Innovation Hub has a Concept Desk Space facility to support entrepreneurs who have a good idea for a new business venture, which may in time develop into a project for the incubation units and offers virtual space to those businesses who may not physically be based in the Centre, but would avail of the wide range of services that the centre provides.

The Centre also has a New Frontiers shared Desk Space facility. This is a one year innovative enterprise support programme that targets individuals with commercial experience in starting their own high-potential, knowledge-intensive business. 

As well as providing concept desk space and incubation units, the Hub also facilitates the hiring of its boardroom and meeting room. 

The iHub has also ran an Enterprise Development Programme supported by South West Mayo Development Company and North East Mayo Leader Partnership Company. This was a four month enterprise-training programme will have a combined approach of practical learning through workshop delivery, hands-on experience and one-to-one mentoring for all participants. The Innovation Centre will facilitate the networking and other supports necessary to navigate the business start-up process.

The Innovation Hub enables companies to work in a secure, innovative, entrepreneurial environment as they progress through the various stages of a new company start-up. A range of business development supports is available for client companies such as financial, legal, sales, marketing and export development including mentoring and networking facilities.  

The Innovation Hub also works very closely with the students and staff of GMIT, who regularly engage in market research, product testing, material evaluation, and also assess branding opportunities on behalf of the iHub client companies.

Developing an innovative and entrepreneurial culture by linking education and business is a key philosophy of the institute and the opportunities afforded by the centre are continuously evaluated.

The Innovation Hubs have led to the creation of over 300 jobs since their opening.

For more information on the centre or any queries you may have on the services it provides please use the contact form provided.

IiBC reception area
Outside view of centre
Terry Clune speaking at the 2012 event
The judges ponder their decisions during the pitching competition