Some of Ireland's brightest teenage entrepreneurs were in the capital this week, ahead of the Student Enterprise Awards National Finals on April 22nd. Their real-world businesses include the "Duffily Bag" from Desmond College in Limerick, a new type of waterproof sleeping bag for outdoor use; "Holly's Pets Patisserie" from Sutton Park School in Fingal, which are handmade nutritional treats for dogs and "GiftGro" from Newbridge College in Kildare, which are 'grow it yourself' gift kits.
On April 22nd, 300 secondary school students representing every county in Ireland will be gathering in Croke Park to build their enterprise displays. In all, 74 different student enterprises across three categories have made it through to the 13th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Finals.
Welcoming some of the finalists to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on Kildare Street, the Ministers had words of encouragement for the teens, as they prepared to face the judges next week to win a share of the €10,000 prize fund.
Minister Bruton said: "In Ireland we have great entrepreneurs, we just don't have enough of them. That is why as part of our Action Plan for Jobs we are seeking to support more young people to choose entrepreneurship as a career choice. The Student Enterprise Awards programme is a hugely important part of this. With 17,000 students from 370 secondary schools researching and running their own businesses, this is a hugely successful programme. I'd like to congratulate all of this year's finalists and I wish them the very best of luck with their businesses at the National Finals on April 22nd."
Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr Damien English T.D., who will present the awards at the ceremony next week, said 'By supporting the aspiring entrepreneurs of today the Local Enterprise Offices are fostering the job creators of tomorrow. I am very encouraged to see the innovative and inspirational youth of today and I wish them all the very best of luck and I very much look forward to meeting all of the finalists and presenting the awards to the successful teenage entrepreneurs at Croke Park on the 22nd April'.
Stephen Walshe, the Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, also met with Minister Bruton. He highlighted the wide range of student enterprises taking part this year, saying: "We are very impressed by the variety and diversity of the student-run businesses this year. Technology companies are very popular, along with craft, farming and sports-related businesses. Through this hands-on programme, students are learning very valuable lessons about the world of business, that will help them both inside and outside the classroom.
The Special Guest at the awards ceremony is the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr. Damien English T.D, with RTE's Rick O' Shea as master of ceremonies.
In addition to the prizes across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories, there will also be 'Intellectual Property Awareness' awards presented by the Irish Patents Office and 'Social Media' awards presented by Essential French. Further updates around the Student Enterprise Awards are available through www.studententerprise.ie or by searching #studententerprise on social media.