A surfing website designed by two students, which has the potential to develop tourism in the west of Ireland, has scooped the top prize of €15,000 at the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards held this week. The creators of WestCoastSurfer.com were presented with their prize by Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry T.D., NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne and NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Peter Mannion.
WestCoastSurfer.com is the brainchild of Oisin Halpin and Cian Brassil. Oisin is a third year Earth and Ocean Science student from Achill Island, Co. Mayo, whilst Cian is a second year Information Technology student from Kilcolgan, Co. Galway. Their goal is to design, build, promote, develop and manage the premier Irish surfing website.
Judges were impressed with the WestCoastSurfer.com brand and its potential draw investment to the domestic economy. Announcing the winner, chairperson of the judging panel, CEO of Creganna-Tactx Medical, Helen Ryan said: “West Coast Surfer.com has huge growth potential and is well grounded in commercial reality with great opportunities for the west of Ireland. Both Cian and Oisin have all the hallmarks of people who will be very successful.”
Six teams contested the final of the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards in anticipation of securing an investment of €15,000 for the winning project. The competition is the initiative of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, with the support of NUI Galway and has the goal of fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the students of the university.
The competition successfully attracted entrants from across all of the colleges and schools of the university, from which six ideas were chosen to progress to the final stage. The two runner-up prizes of €2,000 were awarded to LittleGreenWheels and Algorithm. LittleGreenWheels was created by Laura Crean, from Tralee, Co, Kerry, and Amy Martyn, from Salthill, Galway city and is an environmental recycling centre for children. Algorithm was created by Evelyn Fennelly, a first year Medicine student from Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Her project aims to help students overcome the difficulties of returning to education following childbirth.
As part of the final assessment of their entries, students received an investment of €500 for their projects, and also received the assistance of mentoring from the highly specialised team of mentors, which was comprised of a combination of members of the academic staff of the University and members of the local business community.
Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry who presented the winning team with their prize said: “The drive, determination and enthusiasm of the students is fantastic. It is heartening to see that within NUI Galway the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. I would also like to congratulate the University and the Students’ Union for their vision in fostering the talents of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.”
NUI Galway Students’ Union president, Peter Mannion said: “We have been overwhelmed by the number and standard of entries to the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards. The entrants are testament to the exceptional initiative and creativity of students in social and business enterprise. They show that students are both able and willing to create the big ideas that will help fuel our recovery. The Students’ Union is delighted to be in a position to facilitate some of these ideas as they take their first steps. I have no doubt but that we are working with the leaders of the future.”