SCHOOLS

Innovative Kilkenny students ready to log on for Enterprise finals

Several local students taking part in national finals of Student Enterprise Awards

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

Senior Category : Cllr Deirdre Cullen; Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny; April Walsh, Senior Category Winner from Duiske College and Cathaoirleach Peter Cleere.

Some of Kilkenny’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students will be eagerly logging online today (Wednesday) for the National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme.

For the first time since the programme began in 2003, the national finals will take place online and the county will have seven student entrepreneurs involved on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny.

The national final students are competing across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior. Judging is ongoing virtually with the finalists nationwide via electronic submissions.

Each student enterprise is challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. The judging panel includes business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

April Walsh, a student in Duiske College will represent Kilkenny in the Senior category award with her project Artistic Adventures, a hand-drawn colouring book with fun characters and doodles that graduate in difficulty, in order to progressively improve colouring skills.

St Brigid’s College Callan students Aly Cantwell, Ella Cantwell, Rosa White — with their business Phone Essentials — will represent Kilkenny in the Junior Category Award. Twin brothers Mark and Evan Srouji from Colaiste Eamann Rís, Callan will be competing in the Intermediate Category for their high-quality handmade Bee and Bug Houses.

In a new pilot competition ‘My Entrepreneurial Journey’ whereby students had to imagine their life as an entrepreneur at a future stage of their life; highlighting what where they got their business idea, what they learned about the ups and downs of running a business, lessons learned, and more. Nathan Ryan from Colaiste Eamann Rís, Callan will represent Kilkenny in the Intermediate section of this competition.

Having originally been scheduled to take place in Croke Park on May 1, the Local Enterprise Office-run awards, will be announced virtually on Wednesday, May 27 via live stream on the Student Enterprise Programmes Facebook and YouTube channels.

Kilkenny has a proud tradition on the Student Entrepreneur Programme through the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny, and in 2018 Kilkenny had winners in all three categories with Lift Arm Assist, receiving first prize in the Intermediate category with some of the team returning to participate again this year in the senior category.

The students and teachers from across the country will watch along online to the event hosted by RTE’s Rick O’Shea and will be joined during the ceremony by previous winners and Student Entrepreneur Programme Ambassador, Josh Van Der Flier. The rugby star previously took part in the initiative when he was a student at Wesley College in Dublin.

The finalists have been announced this year with a record number of 85 student enterprises competing in Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, close to 26,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part.

“As a programme we are lucky in that much of the work that students were doing in relation to their Student Enterprises was done well before this pandemic broke out,” says Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny Fiona Deegan.

“So, there is no reduction in the quality of entries — if anything we have bigger final this year and some outstanding entries. Looking through the finalists you can see that students are more conscientious than ever when it comes to solving problems they see in everyday life, affecting the environment and the people around them.

“It’s encouraging to see the focus that the next generation are putting on making the world a better place and irrespective of who wins, we will see some great student businesses coming from this.”

Full details of all this year’s 85 national finalists are available on the Student Enterprise Programme website at www.studententerprise.ie.