Creativity TY programme ‘The Big Idea’ Needs 300 Mentors

4th November 2021

Posted In: Be In The Frame

A transition year programme being rolled out to 42 schools across Ireland needs more than 300 mentors before the end of November if it’s to deliver the new creativity and critical thinking programme to its students.

The Big Idea kicked off last year with just 500 students across eight schools but soaring demand for the programme will see it delivered to 2000 students across 20 counties in the 2021/2022 school year.

Founded by social entrepreneur and industrial design expert Kim Mackenzie-Doyle, The Big Idea seeks to bridge the gap between industry and education by teaching students the process of thinking creatively to solve industry and societal problems.

Kim says the programme is now seeking mentors from across all sectors, industries and disciplines to support students.

“We are looking for forward-thinking innovators who have worked on bringing ideas to life and used creative problem-solving. Our mentors are creatives, educators, consultants, designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, innovators, tech innovators and more.”

There were 100 mentors last year including Dermot Bannon, Diarmuid Gavin, Timi Ogunyemi, Lorna Ross and Roisin Lafferty.

And the programme has attracted the attention of sponsors & partners such as MSD, UX Design Institute, Portwest, Applegreen, Creative Ireland and others.

“Our mission is to empower the next generation to tackle the big challenges that they will face using creative thinking.

We believe that every student deserves to learn the skills of the future and to unlock their inner potential,” she says.

The programme gives access to innovative methodologies to all schools from across the education sector, from rural and urban schools to voluntary secondary, ETB and 42% of schools involved are DEIS (disadvantaged schools). This year, the programme will also be delivered to a full TY class on the autism spectrum.

“The benefits of creativity are for everyone and so, we want to keep the programme free for students, schools and parents, but we need mentors’ help to do this,” says Kim.

Mentors will support students with advice helping them to raise their confidence in developing solutions to local to global issues. They will join a community of progressive industry peers and take advantage of some incredible partner offers.

“They will be engaging with the next wave of future innovators and entrepreneurs at a critical point in their development as world citizens. It’s also a great networking opportunity as our mentors are the best and brightest from their industries – they are rising stats and industry heavy hitters.”

Last year, the overall Big Idea was won by Team Tech Trio from Presentation De La Salle in Carlow who created an innovative, interactive app for children and teenagers to improve their fitness and mental health. Other winning projects included an easy-to-read tech guide for older persons, an e-book calling out racist micro-aggressions, designs for a sustainable home from shipping containers and also desirable PPE for teens.

This year’s mentoring takes place in February 2022 with a 2-3 hour commitment, while judging happens in May, with the end of year showcase also that month.

“Mentors will each work with between three and five projects alongside their peers – working through the purpose-built online Big Idea dashboard.”

And you can get your entire team involved too. “There are lots of benefits to your company in getting employees involved – employee engagement, social impact, learning and personal development and of course, empowering the next generation of employees with in-demand skills and directly seeing the impact of your expertise on student thinking,” says Kim.

Mentorship packages cost just €200 each, and 100% of the money goes towards the cost of the programme for two students and their learning materials.

Kim says she hopes the programme will continue to help position Ireland as the most creative, innovative nation in the world by empowering a generation of problem-solvers. To register as a mentor or sponsor, visit