Ireland’s enterprising teens on the road to Croke Park

Enterprising young teenagers, from the age of 13 and up, are getting ready to showcase their inventions and real-life businesses at the Student Enterprise Awards, which is co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices.

Infographic 2016 SEA Last Year's Winner

Of the 22,000 students from 620 secondary schools that took part this year, teens from 76 student enterprises have won a place at this year’s National Final in Croke Park on Wednesday April 20th and students from every county across Ireland will be demonstrating their businesses and inventions for the judging panels on the day.

Among this year’s inventions include patented headphone holders, an online game that helps children learn to code and wallets that protect contactless payment cards from skimming attacks.

The Student Enterprise Awards Programme is in its 14th year and brings the world of business into the classroom, helping students develop enterprise and management skills. With the support of their schools and the Local Enterprise Offices in the Local Authorities Network, students research, set-up and run their own real-life businesses.

The programme was set-up to help foster a more enterprising culture according to the Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, Sean O’ Sullivan. He said: “The Student Enterprise Awards give young teenagers a taste of what it’s like to run their own business and to be their own boss. Along the way, the programme helps them develop important entrepreneurship skills, learning about sales, innovation, managing finances and finding new markets. Learning the fundamentals of running a business now, will help them throughout their studies and career.”

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. said: “As I have said many times before, we have great entrepreneurs in Ireland but we just don’t have enough of them. That is why at the heart of our jobs plans are measures to encourage more young people to consider starting their own business as a career choice. The Student Enterprise Awards are central to this effort, and is an opportunity to witness the amazing quality of the businesses being established by our students and to celebrate their achievements. These young people are the innovators and the job-creators of tomorrow, and I’d like to wish everyone competing in this year’s competition every success with their business”.

16-year-old Shíofra Ryan from St. Brendan’s Community School in Offaly took the overall Senior Category prize for ‘An Tionchar’ last year, with patent-pending designs on a boot for hurling and camogie players. The Intermediate Category was won by Dara Ward from ‘My GAA Journey’ of Coláiste Eanna C.B.S. in South Dublin. The top prize in the Junior Category meanwhile went to Mary O’ Leary, Eva Fitzgibbon and Ciara Litchfield from ‘Bring a Fairy Home’ at St. Mary’s Secondary School, Charleville in North Cork.

The next Student Enterprise Awards programme starts in September, with further details on

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are now the ‘first-stop-shop’ State support service for micro and small businesses in each local area. The LEOs provide advice and direction, covering all government supports and requirements, to anyone who wishes to start or expand a business. They can also provide funding for projects that meet certain criteria, generally with regard to export potential, and other non-financial supports such as training and mentoring. Details on the supports available through the Local Enterprise Offices are available through