The top awards at this year's Student Enterprise Awards National Finals have gone to enterprising teens from Offaly, South Dublin and North Cork. Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices across Ireland, the 13th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Final in Croke Park saw 300 student entrepreneurs showcase 74 different businesses, across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories. 17,000 students from 370 schools take part in the programme every year.
16-year-old Shíofra Ryan from Offaly took the overall Senior Category prize for 'An Tionchar', meaning 'Impact' in Irish, which has patent-pending designs on a boot for hurling and camogie players. The transition year student from St. Brendan's Community School in Birr is already in discussions with manufacturers, to produce her invention on a bigger scale.
The Intermediate Category, which is open to second and third year students, was won by Dara Ward from 'My GAA Journey' of Coláiste Eanna in South Dublin. The top prize in the Junior Category, for first year students, went to Mary O' Leary, Eva Fitzgibbon and Ciara Litchfield from 'Bring a Fairy Home' at St. Mary's Secondary School, Charleville in North Cork.
Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices across Ireland, the 13th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Final in Croke Park saw 300 student entrepreneurs showcase 74 different businesses, across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories. 17,000 students from 370 schools take part in the programme every year.
Awards for Innovation, Best Display, Intellectual Property Awareness and Social Media were also presented to schools as part of the €10,000 prize fund.
The Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr. Damien English T.D., presented the awards on stage in Croke Park, saying: "It is important that we continue to develop links between the education system and the real economy, so that school leavers are equipped with the skills, expertise and practical knowledge of business operations that will enable them to consider self-employment as a career option."
Minister English added: "It is extremely satisfying to see entrepreneurship as a career option for students becoming more mainstreamed thanks to the cumulative impact of programmes such as the Student Enterprise Awards, run so successfully by the Local Enterprise Offices. The enthusiasm of the winners – and all participants – should be acknowledged as well as their ingenuity and "can do" attitude which gives great hope for this Country going forward. By supporting the aspiring entrepreneurs of today, the Local Enterprise Offices are fostering the job creators of tomorrow."
Stephen Walshe, Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, praised the work of the students and schools, adding: "Every year, the Student Enterprise Awards encourage students from all over the country, to develop new enterprise concepts and products, learning about the business world in a 'hands on' way. Now that they've started their entrepreneurial journey in the classroom, the Local Enterprise Offices are there to help them with their aspiring businesses in the future too."
Kieran Comerford, the Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, delivered the opening address at the ceremony in the Hogan Suite. Last year's Junior Category Winners, 'Sheep Watch' from St. Oliver's Post Primary School in County Meath, told guests about their recent €10,000 crowd funding investment, as well the new prototype for their sheep monitoring collar.
The Social Media Awards were supported by Essential French and the Intellectual Property Awareness Awards were supported by the Irish Patents Office. The 2015/2016 programme starts in September, with full details available at www.studententerprise.ie or by searching #studententerprise on social media.