Students from Mayo have taken first prize in Intellectual Property Awards in both the Junior and Senior categories at the National Final of this year’s Student Enterprise Programme.
The finals of the Local Enterprise Office initiative were broadcast virtually on Friday from Croke Park with An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Ambassador Derval O’Rourke speaking with host RTE’s Rick O’Shea, as students and teachers watched on from across the country.
The winning students in the Senior Intellectual Property Awards were: Diarmuid Duffy and Ryan Corcoran at Ballinrobe Community School, who worked under the guidance of their teacher, Laura Dwyer.
Their student enterprise was called: ‘Bootfresh’, which is a boot/shoe dryer that dries wet footwear with a refreshing fragrance. The winners in the Junior Intellectual Property Awards were: Emily Foy, Kellyann Walsh and Aoife Heaney from Reflecto Tags at Mount St. Michael Secondary School, Claremorris, who worked under the guidance of their teacher, Aideen Murphy.
Their student enterprise was called: ‘Reflecto Tags’, which makes identity tags for animals that illuminates when light shines on it, helping prevent accidents when animals breakout of their enclosure.
There were 72 student enterprises competing in this year’s National Final in what is Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students.
The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw 29,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part.
An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, who took part in the ceremony, congratulated the students today; "Congratulations to not only the finalists being recognised here today, but to everyone who took part in the competition.
"To be a finalist in the Student Enterprise Programme is a fantastic achievement in normal times and it’s incredible given everything that’s happened this past year. Everyone who took part should be very proud of all that they have achieved. Special mention to their teachers, parents and all those who helped them along the way.
"The ability to create an idea, turn it into a business and to run that business is a skill that will be invaluable later in life. Ireland has a proud history of entrepreneurship and no doubt those here today will all go on to achieve great things. Government will back you every step of the way.”
Praising the winning students and all those representing Mayo at the National Finals, Elaine Moyles, A/Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo said: "This is a proud day for student enterprise in Mayo. We would like to congratulate the students, their families and their teachers at Ballinrobe Community School and Mount St. Michael Secondary School on winning these national awards in Croke Park. We would also like to pay tribute to all the other finalists and participants from Mayo who are impressive ambassadors for student enterprise in the county."
She continued: "Year-on-year the Student Enterprise Programme continues to produce the very best of ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students. It’s no surprise to see the challenges thrown up by the pandemic featuring in many of the businesses and the ongoing willingness for students to create businesses that not only sell services or products, but that help address ongoing issues in society.
"We see every year that the National Finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping-stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. From our class of 20/21 we will see some business leaders and global entrepreneurs of the future emerge."
The National Finalists, who competed across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, saw judging take place virtually via electronic submissions. Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.
Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 250,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business. Full details of all this year’s 72 national finalists are available on the Student Enterprise Programme website at www.StudentEnterprise.ie