Award-winning student entrepreneurs from secondary schools across the country are, this week, applying their business acumen at the “Winners’ Bootcamp”, a four day business bootcamp, which commenced on Tuesday 4th June at the Nexus Innovation Centre in the University of Limerick.
The 19 students, from secondary schools in Counties Dublin, Leitrim, Wexford, Monaghan, Kerry and Limerick, won prizes in the Senior Category at the Senior Enterprise Awards National Final in April and are now being coached in areas such as iterative product and service development, experiential storyboarding and business pitches.
The Winners’ Bootcamp, organised by the County and City Enterprise Boards and sponsored by Ulster Bank, us designed to help develop the students’ entrepreneurial skills through sessions like the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’, which requires the students to build a prototype using only spaghetti and marshmallows and ‘Spoons’, which will encourage the teens to think creatively.
Since last September, 15,000 budding entrepreneurs from over 300 secondary schools have researched, set up and run their own enterprises as part of the Student Enterprise Awards. In April, 300 finalists across 83 different enterprises competed at the National Finals in Croke Park in April, with the award winners in the Senior Category receiving an invitation to attend the inaugural “Winners’ Bootcamp”.
Aged between 16 and 17, these teenage entrepreneurs include the overall Senior Category winner, ‘Squeazy’, (St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim), which developed a toy based on a science experiment; ‘Sweet Tooth’ (Presentation Wexford), which produces a tempting range of Irish handmade artisan chocolates; ‘Easy Farming’ (Patrician High School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan), a manufacturer of an innovative crush with weighing scales for cattle; ‘Social Gamers’ (CBS The Green Tralee), three teenagers who organise video gaming events; ‘F-21D’ (Desmond College, Newscastlewest, Co. Limerick) a screen wash containing anti-freeze and ‘Music By Numbers’ (Castleknock Community College, Fingal, Dublin) a new system for learning music scales in a visual way.
Loman O’Byrne, Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the County and City Enterprise Boards, said: “The Winners’ Bootcamp will challenge these young entrepreneurs in how they think about and approach business and will help shape their thinking as they tackle the business world in years to come. It will also be, however, an important opportunity for the teenagers to have some fun; meeting their peers and sharing new experiences.”
Tom Leahy, Regional Director of Corporate Banking at Ulster Bank, which is sponsoring the Business Bootcamp said; “Fostering entrepreneurship in young people is of key importance for Ireland’s future economy and Ulster Bank is delighted to be part of this process. The Winners’ bootcamp will provide invaluable support to these young entrepreneurs, creating a platform upon which they can generate and develop their businesses ideas.”
Andrea Deverell, the Manager at the Nexus Innovation Centre at the University of Limerick, said: “Smart energetic young people are the raw ingredients for a successful entrepreneurial eco-system, we need to put more time into nurturing and challenging Ireland’s future entrepreneurs. This can be achieved by valuing their ideas, and enabling them to be part of our growing community of entrepreneurs. The focus of the Nexus Innovation Centre will be on developing the students’ entrepreneurial skills so that they can apply these learnings, not only to their current ideas, but as future entrepreneurs. Exposing the students to new perspectives and expertise, we will equip them for the challenging world of business, now and in the future.”
Experienced entrepreneurs from Nexus will be on-hand throughout the week to provide students with advice, insights and top tips about doing business in the ‘real-world’. Those involved include entrepreneurs Albert Quigley of Gnarly Adventure and Aislinn O’Flynn of Sensomi, John Cussen and Brendan Grogan of Neon Shark, Michael Byrne of Conceptworx and Kevin Meaney of IDF Marketing.