The 14th Annual Student Enterprise Awards national final in Croke Park saw 201 student entrepreneurs from 69 schools showcase 76 different student enterprises, across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories. A record breaking 22,000 students from 620 schools took part in the programme this year.
Three student Enterprise groups from Mayo made the trip to Croke Park to compete in the recently held national finals and they did not disappoint or leave empty handed. These groups came together in September 2015 to embark on their journeys and start their own businesses. With the support of their teachers, schools, Moy Valley Resources and the Mayo Local Enterprise Office, their businesses came to life. In order to progress to the national finals these students had been put through their paces and competed against some 1,000 students from Mayo. They all completed their respective regional competitions and progressed to the county final which was held in Hotel Ballina in March. At the county final, 24 student enterprises participated across the three categories Junior, Intermediate and Senior, which was organised by Moy Valley Resources and Mayo Local Enterprise Office.
In true Mayo entrepreneurial style, a phenomenal result was achieved by the Mayo students, with three schools across Mayo winning national titles at Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories. The first Mayo Enterprise group to receive an award was 'Story of my Life' from Ballyhaunis Community School. This enterprise was made up of five students, Merlin Pearson, Jason Reinhardt, Joshua Webb, Kevin Durkin, and Cian Walsh. The product was a diary covering a 50 year span over 350 pages. This group brought home the Junior IP Awareness Award 2016. It is a special prize awarded by the Patents Office and is awarded to the student enterprise whose business report demonstrates the best awareness, understanding, and inclusion of intellectual property (IP ) in their business and business planning.
'Melting Moments' from Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet, was also awarded the Intermediate IP Awareness Award 2016. These two students, Aoife Gethings and Dawn Worth, directors of their company, sold scented melting wax balls over the course of the programme. It was their understanding of why intellectual property is so important that they won this significant award. Branding of products and services is very important. In addition, these students ensured that the technology that they used in the product and the promotional literature did not infringe on anybody else’s rights, ensuring their success and winning the award.
The senior category was a highly competitive section but this did not deter our final group from Mayo. Mary and Sarah Murphy appeared to thrive in their surroundings and were so energised and enthusiastic, and it paid off. The company 'Make a Mark' sells hand-held guns for applying marking fluid to sheep. The sisters were placed third in the senior category which was a massive achievement.
John Magee, head of Local Enterprise Office Mayo, congratulated the award winning students saying: “The judges were very impressed with the students' ability to identify a problem and develop a solution that has real commercial potential. The Student Enterprise Programme was set up to encourage more young people to start a business and to foster a more enterprising culture for start ups. A record number of students and schools took part in this years programme showing the growing interest in enterprise in the classsroom.”
The top 20 students at senior level at the Student Enterprise Awards National Final 2016 were also offered the exciting opportunity to attend a business bootcamp this summer. The bootcamp is being organised by the Local Enterprise Offices and will take place in state of the art venues at University College Cork on May 30 to June 4. The five day boot camp will feature a range of interactive enterprise workshops from highly experienced trainers to help students further develop their business ideas. 'Make a Mark' also was awarded two of these places and will attend. This is a massive achievement for the girls and their enterprise.