Offaly’s Student Entrepreneurs Prepare For Virtual Final

Record number of Student Enterprise Finalists Announced for 2020

Some of Offaly’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students will be eagerly logging online next week 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 region will have five student enterprises involved on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Offaly.

In the Senior Category of the competition, Offaly will be represented by Cathal Flannery from Clononey Crafts, Banagher College. Cathal produces a range of crafted wooden items including lamps, pens and bowls.

In the Intermediate Category, Anthony’s Wooden Crafts’from Tullamore College will represent the county. The business is run by 3rd year student Anthony Gorman who makes handcrafted wooden reindeers.

In the Junior Category, the students representing Offaly at the National Finals in Croke Park are: Oisin Kennedy, Ryan Keenaghan, Iris Samonte and Rachel Doorley from Cluny Sustainable Crafts in Gallen Community School. They produce flower arrangements using upcycled jars.

In the new “My Entrepreneurial Journey” competition, Daniel Scally from Tullamore College won the Junior category while the Intermediate category, Sophie Moore of Oaklands Community College came out on top. 

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

Offaly has a very successful track record in the Student Enterprise competition. Recent awards won at the National Final include Overall Winner in 2018 with Manus Heenan’s “Abbey Bread” from Cistercian College. Offaly also won the Junior Runner Up prize in 2018 with Joanne Cushen’s “Gnó-Jó!” from Colaiste Naomh Cormac.

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.

Some of the finalists this year include an alarm that helps wake small children who can sleep through regular high frequency alarms, eco-friendly products such as beeswax film, an alternative to clingfilm, a bottle stopper to help prevent drinks tampering, germination balls that can be thrown on soil to help generate new wildlife, and stress hampers filled with stress relieving products. 

The National Final students are competing across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and 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. 

This year’s Programme also saw two new pilot competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.  The first, the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” pilot was run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and open to any students involved in wider competition.  It required them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and how that could be achieved. 

In the Senior category there was a new “Go Green: Be Sustainable Creative Business Competition”. In this new pilot competition students could push their most innovative business ideas via a video pitch, without having to produce a product or service and was open to all senior students taking part in the wider competition.

Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Offaly said; “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.  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.”  

Since 2003, over 200,000 students have taken part in the Student Enterprise Programme.  Last year again there was great variety across the entries, and the winners.  In the Junior category, Specrest from Fingal in Dublin designed a 3D printed biodegradable clip that will secure glasses on clothing.  Smooth Remove from North Cork, a device for shoe removal won in the Senior category while Crios Mhadra from Kerry, a dog safety harness for car travel took home the Intermediate prize. 

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