Enterprise Ireland’s 2024 Student Entrepreneur Awards competition opens for entries

Third-level students nationwide who have an innovative business idea with commercial potential are invited to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards competition 2024.

This is the 43rd year of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards, which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices.

The awards aim to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic disciplines to explore starting their own business.

Ten finalists will be selected to compete for several awards, including the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award, the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award and the Local Enterprise Office High Achieving Merit award.

The overall winner of the Student Entrepreneur Awards competition will receive a prize of €10,000 and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to support the development of their products and explore new market opportunities. The other award winners will also receive expert advice and mentoring support from Enterprise Ireland, in addition to sponsorship to help them bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.

University College Cork student Emma Coffey, founder of FinalBend won Enterprise Ireland’s 2023 Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Inspired by Emma’s love of athletics, the Cork-based company provides affordable, sustainable, athletic clothing.

The GoPlugable team from Dundalk Institute of Technology and Queen’s University, Belfast won the Local Enterprise Office High Achieving Merit Award in 2023. The company is creating a marketplace for private Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers by connecting home EV chargers in a common platform where EV users can share access to their home chargers with other users.

University of Limerick students from Ablatepure, which has developed a medical device that can be used as part of a new breast cancer treatment method, enabling greater cosmetic outcomes for patients, and Trinity College students from MicroDoc, which automates medical paperwork for doctors and their administrative staff, were also among the award winners for 2023.

Richard Murphy, Manager of Local Enterprise Offices Support, Policy & Co-ordination Unit, Enterprise Ireland, said: Each year, the Student Entrepreneur Awards attract high-quality entries which reflect the calibre of our third-level institutions, our entrepreneurial students, and their academic leaders. As the competition enters its 43rd year, we continue to see incredible innovations from a variety of sectors including sustainability, healthcare and consumer goods and many previous participants have developed successful businesses both in Ireland and internationally.

The Student Entrepreneur Awards provide the ideal opportunity for students to explore the viability of their business concepts and get support from experienced mentors to make their business idea a reality. The competition provides a first step for business success, and I would encourage any third-level student with an innovative idea to enter now to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey.

Emma Coffey, of Finalbend, winner of the 2023 Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year, said: I am incredibly honoured to have been named the Student Entrepreneur of the Year, a recognition that has opened numerous doors for both myself and my company, FinalBend. The experience I gained from the process of applying to the competition, preparing business plans and pitches and finally presenting my business to the panel of judges was invaluable. The journey of FinalBend is just beginning, and I am eager to see how far we can go, fuelled by the support and recognition from the Student Enterprise Awards.

The closing date for Student Entrepreneur Award entries is 15th March 2024. The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, 7th June 2024.

Entries to the Student Entrepreneur Awards 2024 can be made via www.studententrepreneurawards.com