05 May 2015

A national survey carried out by the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme explored current attitudes towards entrepreneurship among third level students throughout the country. Examining student interest in becoming entrepreneurs, the IGNITE Entrepreneurial Index 2015 surveyed 600 third level students from across all disciplines.

The survey which assessed the positive and negative factors that influence student attitudes towards entrepreneurship found that 60% of respondents were aged between 18 and 23, while 20% were aged 30+, with an overall  45:55 male: female response rate. Over 25% of respondents were first year undergrad students, highlighting an early interest in entrepreneurship.

It was found that more than half of students have a business idea they would like to develop, and for 40% of respondents, their main motivating factor is the opportunity to be independent and responsible for their own decisions, indicating a maturity not necessarily associated with college goers. 1/4 of respondents said they have spotted an opportunity in the market and see a chance to make money.

The survey examined areas of study, and found that almost 25% of respondents were undertakings a business based college course. Interestingly 66% of business students said they have a business idea they would like to develop, indicating they are doing a business based course with a view to starting their own business in the future. Science students provided the next highest response rate, and surprisingly 50% these indicated they have a business idea, not what one might ordinarily expect from science based courses.

When it comes to experience, 30% of respondents have experience of working in a small business while 50% of respondents have no experience in business or entrepreneurship, although almost 70% of students interested in developing their own business have a history of self-employment in their family, suggesting a correlation between entrepreneurial spirit and family background. 

Almost half of first year students said they have a business idea, yet almost all of these said they have no previous experience in business or entrepreneurship. This indicates there is a real need to educate, encourage and support students who express an interest in entrepreneurship as a career choice.

Commenting on the survey findings, Eamon Curtin, IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Director said: “There appears to be a healthy interest in entrepreneurship within the student community nationwide. It is important that this is recognised and nurtured, to encourage entrepreneurship as a viable career choice, as it comes closer to the time for this young people to make a decision on the next step of their career journey.”

Unfortunately there are a number of perceived barriers that students face when it comes to starting a business, the most significant of which is the lack of financial resources and support, with almost 60% of students listing this as their main concern.

Eamon highlights that “There are so many supports out there now, like the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme, to help young entrepreneurs successfully start their own business – giving access to business mentors, advice, and financial support for example – that there’s really no excuse not to pursue their ambitions. I chat to young people every day and encourage them come in and have a chat with us about how we can help, and what the next step for them is.”

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme, supported by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City and County, UCC and Bank of Ireland, is a nine month business incubation programme at UCC for recent graduates from any discipline from any third level institution with a viable business idea; aimed at nurturing, developing and strengthening entrepreneurial potential.

IGNITE is currently recruiting for the next intake of participants, starting this autumn and applications must be submitted by Friday, May 29th. To submit an application or for further information, visit http://ignite.ucc.ie or email ignite@ucc.ie