‘Think Outside the Box’ Enterprise Ireland launches entrepreneurship awards for third level students

John Perry TD, Minister for Small Business, will today launch the Enterprise Ireland Think Outside the Box Awards as part of a major drive aimed at tapping into the potential for students and young people to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into commercial businesses.  This is a great opportunity for ambitious and enterprising students to build a real-world business venture and at the same time be in with a chance to win a prize from the overall €30,000 cash prize fund, which includes a €10,000 first prize, as well as a €30,000 consultancy fund.

The Think Outside the Box Awards, which are co-sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Grant Thornton and Intel, are open to all full time third level students in the island of Ireland.  Third level students represent a seed bed for future business start-ups and last year’s winning team from NUI Galway are a great example of the commercial potential for student entrepreneurs.  Their project DRS.ie, a drag reduction device for trucks that helps significantly reduce fuel consumption, has already attracted significant commercial interest and they have gone on to win €50,000 funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund to develop the project further.

Launching the initiative at NUI Galway, Minister Perry said:

‘There is a current gap in terms of really tapping into this potential for students to help drive the economy by commercialising their business ideas and looking on starting their own business as a real career option.  This in turn will stimulate employment among themselves and their peers.  Students represent a wealth of energy, creativity and innovation.  We need to tap into this and encourage and stimulate these students to be ambitious about their own potential to go into business for themselves’.

Over the coming year Enterprise Ireland will promote a range of activities at third level institutions to help stimulate increased levels of student entrepreneurship.  These will include joint Enterprise Ireland/college promotional events and the establishment of a panel of Entrepreneurship Ambassadors to support the initiative with talks and presentations to the students and academics within the third level institutions.  Enterprise Ireland will support all of the internal entrepreneurship competitions within the institutions on the island of Ireland with a €500 cash sponsorship prize for each college.  And Enterprise Ireland and the sponsors will work with all students who have an idea to start their own internationally traded service or manufacturing business to develop their ideas further.

Paul Kenny, CEO and Founder of Cobone and Entrepreneurial Ambassador for the Awards, said: ‘The biggest challenge in any business is starting and this is even more apparent when you are in college. The Think Outside the Box Awards can help overcome this hurdle and it’s definitely something the students of Ireland should get involved in. Setting up your own company is the most challenging and rewarding thing anybody can do and speaking from experience I have no regrets giving up a corporate job early in my career and going at it alone. If you have the ambition and drive to succeed, the Think Outside the Box Awards is definitely for you!’.

Justin Conboy, one of the 2012 Awards winning team members, added:

‘Winning the competition last year has provided us with great opportunities to develop our invention further. It has also allowed us to build new contacts, gain more financial support and start our own company. The Think Outside the Box Awards has also put us on the international radar.  We’ve had interest from potential customers in Europe and the United States, and many other companies across Ireland. It is safe to say the Think Outside the Box Awards has been the catalyst to our success and is something myself and Dearbhaile Forde are very grateful and proud to have won’.

Regional Executives from Enterprise Ireland will be presenting the details of the competition to all colleges and institutions between now and the closing date for the competition which is Wednesday 24th April 2013.  The Enterprise-Ireland Think Outside the Box Awards will hold a closing ceremony of the best national ideas at NUI Galway in June 2013.