Wicklow Teen wins Student Enterprise Award

 Wicklow Teen Wins Top Student Enterprise Award

Patent-pending product for earphones wins top award with major prizes also going to Donegal and Meath Student Entrepreneurs

A teenage entrepreneur from Wicklow has won the top award at this year’s Student Enterprise Awards National Finals, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices.

16-year-old Luke Byrne took the overall Senior Category prize for 'Headphone Helpers', a patent-pending silicone band to stop earphones from getting tangled.

Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices across Ireland, the 14th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Final in Croke Park saw 201 student entrepreneurs from 69 schools showcase 76 different student enterprises, across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories.  A record-breaking 22,000 students from 620 schools took part in the programme this year.

The Intermediate Category, which is open to second and third year students, was won by ‘Inish Wood Working’ from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana from County Donegal for their hand-crafted giftware. The top prize in the Junior Category, for first year students, went to 'Amor' from St. Oliver Post Primary School in Oldcastle in County Meath, for their modified stirrup tread for horse-riding.

Awards for Innovation, Best Display, Intellectual Property Awareness and Social Media were also presented during the ceremony, as part of the overall €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 extremely encouraging to see the level of ingenuity and entrepreneurship in action throughout classrooms in Ireland today.  Through the Student Enterprise Awards, the Local Enterprise Offices are supporting more young people to develop practical business experience and it provides students with the opportunity to learn first-hand skills that are vital for securing future growth within the Irish economy.”

 Sean O’Sullivan, Chair of Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, praised the work of the students and schools, adding: “What these winning student entrepreneurs have in common is the ability to identify a problem and develop a solution that has real commercial potential. The Student Enterprise Programme was set up to encourage more young people to start a business and to foster a more enterprising culture for start-ups. A record number of students and schools took part in this year’s programme, showing a growing interest in enterprise in the classroom.”

Tomás Hayes from the Network of Local Enterprise Offices delivered the opening address at the ceremony in the Hogan Suite. Last year's Senior Category Winner, Shíofra Ryan of 'An Tionchar’ in Offaly, told guests about her busy year and her negotiations with a potential investor for her new hurling boot. 

The Social Media Awards were supported by Essential French and the Intellectual Property Awareness Awards were supported by the Irish Patents Office. Twenty students with the highest marks in the Senior Category were also offered a place at the week-long ‘Winners Business Bootcamp’, which is running in University College Cork from May 30th to June 4th.

The 2016/2017 Student Enterprise Awards programme starts in September, with full details available at www.studententerprise.ie or by searching #studententerprise on social media