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The future of enterpreneurship In Ireland

The cut and thrust of real-life business were high on the agenda for young entrepreneurs exhibiting their own ‘real-world’ successful businesses at this year’s 11th annual Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park on April 17th.

With support and resources from the local Enterprise Boards, this annual competition is the largest programme of its kind in Ireland with 15,000 students from over three hundred schools having participated since September.

The winning students in the Senior Category will win an international enterprise education visit to Italy, €500, a trophy and a certificate. In addition, the top 15 students at senior level will be invited to attend a four-day Business Bootcamp this summer. Organised by the County and City Enterprise Boards with support from Ulster Bank, the bootcamp will be hosted at the state of the art Nexus Innovation Centre at University of Limerick.

Last Wednesday, three hundred selected finalists from across Ireland will present to the judges how they have set up and run their own companies with many student businesses showing strong demand for their products or services and a positive outlook for future growth.

A huge range of companies, projects and innovation by teenage entrepreneurs were on display at the National Finals of the Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park.

Once such company, ‘Ballymoon Sheep Solutions’, established by a student from Kilkenny College, Kilkenny, has developed a unique range of products for sheep farmers, including timber sheep pens, feeding troughs and foster gates, which have already sold in their hundreds, both directly and through outlets such as marts and co-ops.

The student enterprise, ‘Shoe Savers’, based at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, has caught the attention of a high end shoe retailer with its innovative Heel Helpers, which protects high heels while driving. The fledgling business is now close to achieving a lucrative deal to supply its product to the retailer.

Similarly, ‘Lytech’, established by students from Colaiste Choilm Secondary School in Swords, has adapted technology to develop a high quality solution to the serious issue of falling asleep at the wheel.  The iAwake ear piece device measures the angle of the head, emitting a loud beep if the driver begins to fall asleep at the wheel.  The company has already secured advance sales for its product and is now working on a newer version, the iAwake 2.0, which will offer a Bluetooth solution for drivers.

Since winning the Senior Category at the Student Enterprise Awards in 2012 for her business Irish Baubles, which designs and sells landmark-themed baubles, Ciara Whooley from St. David’s Secondary School in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, has expanded her business, signing deals with Dromoland Castle, Barrettstown Castle and the Irish Guide Dogs Association.

There are three categories in the National Student Enterprise Awards. Senior is for Fourth Year and Transition Year students, up to Leaving Cert. Students entering the Intermediate category are second and third year while junior refers to first year. In the Intermediate category, the 1st place student enterprise wins €400, a trophy and a certificate, while in the Junior category, the top prize is €300, a trophy and a cert.

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