The Institute of Creative Advertising and Design’s long-standing Upstarts Programme has pivoted to a free-to-participate model. In doing so ICAD aims to remove barriers to entry and provide routes to the creative industries for underrepresented communities. This transformation is made possible through the support of Core, who are enabling the programme as Lead Partner along with BBH Dublin, TBWA\Dublin, and The Mix as Program Partners and Design Opp as our non-profit Partner.

Neil Rooney, Executive Director of ICAD said “Upstarts is a highly effective, proven programme - typically over 80% of participants are employed within 6 months of completing the programme” Neil went on to say “With our Lead Partner Core and our Programme Partners The Mix Dublin, TBWA\Dublin and BBH Dublin, we have a consortium of agencies that fully realise the value of the programme to emerging creatives and to the industry. Through this collaboration we are providing pathways to the creative industries for talented creatives, regardless of their experience or background.”

Upstarts provides benefits to agencies, studios, mentors and participants alike. The programme provides a platform for host agencies and studios to develop internal mentorship and leadership skills that enables career progression, while gaining access to a proven pipeline of emerging talent. Participants receive comprehensive training and support, including workshops, practical briefs, and mentorship, preparing them for a successful career in the creative sector.

Nadia Marlène Karim, ICAD Management Board member and Associate Creative Director of Core Creative, the lead partner of the Upstarts programme said “The Upstarts programme is about participants bringing forward new ideas, and fresh perspectives to the advertising sector. We will create the most effective work, when those creating it fully represent all parts of society in Ireland. The majority of those working in our industry are still from the affluent urban areas, reflecting the need for greater social demographic diversity, among others. Core are delighted to play our part in creating more diversity in our industry which will result in more powerful creativity which better connects with culture.”

Now in its 18th year, Upstarts is one of Ireland’s longest standing and most successful creative mentorship programmes. During that time the programme has provided knowledge, experience and community to hundreds of creatives in Ireland, springboarding them into a creative career - 82% of Upstarts are still working in a relevant role. The Upstarts programme is a cornerstone of ICAD’s Foster mission, which drives and collaborates on initiatives that benefit creatives both professionally and personally.

For more information about the Upstarts Programme and how to get involved, please visit ICAD’s website -