Donegal Students Set For National Entrepreneurship Final

Student Enterprise Awards 1

Local Enterprise Office Donegal has announced that two teams of winning teenage entrepreneurs from St. Columba’s College Stranorlar will represent the county at this year’s Student Enterprise Programme National Final in May. The Finals return to a physical event this year at The Helix in Dublin having been held online in 2020 and 2021.

This year, over 500 pupils from 19 schools in Donegal took part in the programme and over 100 students from 9 local schools reached the Donegal County Final which took place on Wednesday, 16th March. 

The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 24,000 students from just under 500 secondary schools across the country take part in 2020 / 2021.  The programme supports students to create, design and market their own business, all with the hope of reaching the National Finals.

In the Junior Category, Catherine Cooke-Harkin’s student, James Murray from St. Columba’s College, will represent Donegal at the National Finals with his business ‘JCM Pens’. James started making pens in his woodwork class in second year and now offers a range of affordable handcrafted gifts including pens and keyrings:

I started woodwork in second year. My woodwork teacher had shown me pen making and I really enjoyed perfecting the skill. When I examined the use of different types of wood, and family and friends told me how much they loved them, I thought I could turn this into a business.

In the Senior Category of the competition, Co. Donegal will be represented on May 18th by Catherine Cooke-Harkin’s student Cathal Cannon from ‘Sports Injury Response’ from St. Columba’s College Stranorlar. ‘Sports Injury Response’ is a pitch-side medical assistance app for immediate guidance on first aid procedures for a large range of injuries and medical emergencies. 

St. Columba’s College also won ‘Best Commercial Potential for “Precision Sports”. Roisin O’Sullivan’s students at the Rosses Community School were awarded ‘Best Green’ category for their ‘Sustain for Life Swap Shop’ and Rachael McShane’s students from St. Eunan’s College won most ‘Innovative’ award for the “The Habit Book”. Davina McCandless’ students at the Royal and Prior Comprehensive won ‘Best Business Plan’ for “Name It and Frame It” while Lucy Gordon’s students at Abbey Vocational School won the Social Media award for their project “Vlad’s Bead Box.” Nuala Mc Cool’s students from Gairmscoil Chú Uladh who created “H.E.R Jewellery” won second prize in the senior category and Debra McDaid’s class at Pobailscoil Cloich Cheann Fhaola won third prize for “Sensational Sweets”.

Special guests at the Donegal Final included Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Jack Murray, and judges Martin O’Reilly of O’Reilly Sports and Nicola McLaughlin of Sequin Cinderella. 

Speaking at the County Final, Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal said:

We have a very successful student enterprise programme here in Donegal, with over 500 students from 19 local schools taking part this year. Our national finalists are excellent ambassadors for the programme, and we wish them the very best of luck on Wednesday 18th May.  In what has been a particularly challenging couple of years for students the programme has offered them an outlet outside of the usual school demands. What our students are learning from the programme is that with the right supports and encouragement, they can take an idea from the classroom and develop it into a real-life business. The skills they learn along the way, such as business planning, market research, selling, and teamwork, will help them become more entrepreneurial throughout their future careers.

The local students will be competing against hundreds of other student entrepreneurs from all over Ireland at the Student Enterprise Programme National Final, taking place at the Helix in Dublin on Wednesday, 18th May. 

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 300,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.  The Student Enterprise Programme also has new range of online resources for 2021 / 2022 at, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers. 

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