03 May 2022

The National Finalists for the Student Enterprise Programme have been announced ahead of the final on the 18th May.  The Local Enterprise Office initiative, now in its 20th year, has seen over 300,000 secondary students complete Ireland’s largest enterprise programme since it began.


The announcement of the finalists took place at The Helix in Dublin, the venue for this year’s finals, with this year’s Ambassador, All-Ireland winner and All-Star, Limerick’s Sean Finn.  Over 24,000 students took part in the Student Enterprise Programme this year, which began in September 2021 and returns to a physical National Finals event for the first time since 2019.


From over 24,000 student enterprises, the top 5 businesses in each of the three categories, Senior, Intermediate and Junior have been selected to go forward to the Final at the Helix on the 18th May where An Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar will announce the winners. 


The Finalists who were announced today are led by Desmond College from Newcastle West in Limerick and Presentation Secondary School from Castleisland in Kerry both of whom have two National Finalists in the Top 5 that will be appearing at the Helix later this month.  There is a good spread across the country with eleven counties in total having schools included in the Top 5 Finalists across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.     


Seán Finn, Student Enterprise Programme Ambassador and 2021 Hurling All-Ireland winner, said; “It’s fantastic to see the variety and talent among the young entrepreneurs we have across the country from the thousands that took part this year.  Now that we’re at the Final stage we are seeing the best there is out there and some really brilliant ideas have made it to here.  Ideas not just about being a business, but about solving real issues and problems.  The very best of luck to them all on the 18th May and no doubt whoever wins will be following in a long line of successful entrepreneurs.” 


Michael Nevin, chair of the Education Enterprise Committee of the Local Enterprise Offices, said; “This is the 20th year of the Student Enterprise Programme and the standard continues to improve year on year.  There have been some amazing ideas in from across the country and while not all with make the final on the 18th they can be very proud of what they have achieved.  That experience will stand with them forever and hopefully will light the spark of entrepreneurship with them that they will carry into later life.  We are well set to have some great winners here in two weeks time.”


Notable recent winners of the Student Enterprise Programme include “Coppercase” last year who took home the senior prize.  The antimicrobial casing for face masks was the brainchild of Matthew McVicar of Macartans College in Monaghan, who is son of Combilift founder Martin McVicar.  In 2020, a clever attachment for a milking parlour, Handy Hose, took the senior prize and they are now listed with Glanbia across the country, while Fenu Health who also participated in 2016 /17 are taking the equine world by storm with their gut health supplements.   


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, sees over 24,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part yearly. 


The students compete across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and judging took place virtually 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 programme also had two additional categories that students could enter.  These are the “Most Creative Business Idea” video competition for the Senior category and the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” category for the Junior and Intermediate categories.


Last year the Student Enterprise Programme National Final winners in the Senior category were Coppercase from Macartan’s College in Monaghan for their antimicrobial copper lined case for face masks.  The Intermediate category was won by T-Snappi from Summerhill College in Sligo, while Go Green Now from Salerno Secondary School in Galway took the Junior category award.


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 www.StudentEnterprise.ie, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.