Director’s Speech at the Launch of Origin8

Origin8 is the new industry gateway and innovation hub at NCAD.

I am delighted to welcome you all here today and I want to thank all the contributors and organisers of the Innovation Day at NCAD.               
As well as the young designers in Origin8, I want to thank the design staff in Product and Industrial Design, also Derek McGarry and Gemma Duke for their contribution to the development of Origin8.

But I am especially pleased to welcome An Taoiseach to the College - in what is a typically busy time – to launch the project.

This is an important bridging moment for NCAD, and, indeed, for the education sector – which echoes a bridging moment for Ireland as we ‘turn’, as a college and as a country, to face the challenges of the 21st Century, in a rapidly changing world.

We know a new economy is called for - but what is also needed is a new ‘ecology’ – and not just in Ireland – a new ecology, which, by definition, is inclusive of social and cultural as well as economic capital - a new ecology where the economy, the culture and the society meet and where their interdependence is recognised and acted out.

Human-centred and user-first design at NCAD is based on the idea of interdependence.

In this setting – of the primary institution for art and design education, within university education, in Ireland – the interdependence of design and fine art and teacher education, is already established. Creativity and new thinking – expressed in different forms – flow back and forth across those domains of knowledge… and, now, today, we are focusing on a key dimension of NCAD – innovation and incubation of start-ups – which is being put on a much more strategic footing in order to generate and sustain connections to others kinds of knowledge, in the economic sector.

This is part of a larger process… a process of change for the College and the making of a ‘new NCAD’ – which the board and the staff are determined to advance in ways which justify public investment in creative forms of learning - a new NCAD as a site for the production and distribution - as well as the consumption - of knowledge.

We all know the stakes are very high in this period but, we would argue, so are the returns… if we invest in creative collaboration and creative synergies!                

We have direct evidence of the value of collaboration in the deepening relationship between NCAD and UCD - in particular, with UCD architecture and, in the context of the projects in Origin8, with Nova UCD. We are grateful for the substantial support Nova and Enterprise Ireland has provided for the College over this period of development.

It is within this new ecology of cooperation and exchange, where culture meets economy meets society, that – not only will new forms of creativity and learning emerge, but it is where new forms of employment and social cohesion will be generated in the future. The developing relationship with Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland – in relation to the regeneration of the Thomas Street Area - and with Fatima/Rialto, in relation to an expanded model of learning - represent pillars in that process, for the College. 

So, I would just say that an effective economy is certainly necessary but, alone, it is not enough. The economy represents how a society lives, the culture represents why a society lives. Just as design and fine art must interact within NCAD to produce value so culture and the economy must interact, within society. And that interaction merits investment if we are to have a whole rather than a fragmented society.

Art and design as a sector, and NCAD, as a publicly funded institution, not only have the opportunity, but we have the responsibility, and also the means, to contribute to this larger agenda. Fulfilling that responsibility is what a new NCAD is about and that, in its early days, is also what Origin8 is about.

Thank you.

I am very pleased now to ask An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. to address us.

Professor Declan McGonagle