New opportunities for start-ups and existing businesses in Mayo and the west region were outlined at the annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship event in GMIT Castlebar last Monday.
A new Enterprise Ireland €200,000 Competitive Feasibility Fund for the west was announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as well as a new enterprise acceleration programme operated in GMIT’s innovation in business centres, the Graduate Entrepreneurship Programme (GEP ), the EI Innovation Voucher scheme, as well as a range of programmes available in GMIT’s two innovation centres in Castlebar and Galway.
GMIT runs a number of programmes in its two innovation in business centres (IiBCs ); the new Enterprise Acceleration Programme (EAP ) funded by South West Mayo Development Company, New Frontiers Programme funded by Enterprise Ireland and the Graduate Entrepreneurship Programme (GEP ).
The EI Innovation Voucher scheme, which has been running for several years, provides funding for companies to carry out research with third level colleges including GMIT, with the aim of helping develop their business.
Opening the event, GMIT president Michael Carmody said that the development and support for entrepreneurship and new and innovative businesses and industries has become a key focus of GMIT in recent years and forms one of the five pillars of the institute’s strategic plan.
Some 300 people attended the Spirit of Entrepreneurship event which was sponsored by Lionbridge Technoloiges. Two leading entrepreneur businessmen, Terry Clune, founder of Taxback.com and Michael Dwyer, founder of pigsback.com, told of their start-up experiences while client companies in the GMIT innovation centres also pitched their business ideas to a panel of Dragon’s Den experts.
The winner of the Dragon’s Den pitch was Alan Dowling from VBC for his artificially intelligent holographic presenter which is currently on show in Dublin Airport. He pitched his business along with two others, Stephanie O'Malley of Education Desty and Colm Rochford of Powersavvy. AIB presented a cheque for €1,500 to the winner.
Maria Staunton, centre manager of the IiBC GMIT Castlebar, said attendees were very happy with the information and knowledge they acquired at the event.
GMIT’s two innovation in business centres, at the Castlebar and Galway campuses provide excellent supports to entrepreneurs and start-ups in the region, offering space, entrepreneurship programmes, mentoring, specialised clinics, networking for clients within the centre, and access to GMIT research.