From an AI device that allows visually impaired or blind people to enjoy video games to eco solutions for farmers, socially responsible clothing and language learning tools, the Enterprise Ireland Third Level Student Entrepreneur Awards 2021 shows Ireland’s entrepreneurial flame burns bright.

Field of Vision, which has created a touch-based handheld device for blind or visual impaired people, was named overall winners of the Enterprise Ireland Third Level Student Entrepreneur Awards 2021.

The Field of Vision team consists of Trinity College Dublin students Tim Farrelly and David Deneher along with Omar Salem, a student at Queen’s University Belfast.

“The competition acts as a springboard for tomorrow’s business leaders, and previous winners and finalists have gone on to achieve success both nationally and internationally”

The third level student team developed a touch-based handheld device that enables people with blindness or visual impairment to feel the speed and energy of sports matches with granularity that audio cannot reach. By using artificial intelligence to analyse live video feeds of games, Field of Vision translates what’s happening on the field to tablet devices through ‘haptic feedback’. This immersive experience allows the user to better visualise the game.

Seize the day

Field of Vision was one of 10 finalists at the awards, which took place virtually, and the team received €10,000 as part of the Enterprise Ireland student prize. Field of Vision will also receive mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to develop the commercial viability of their device.

This is the 40th year of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards, which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices. The awards are open to all third level institutions across the country. 

The Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award went to Marion Cantillon of Pit-Seal. Representing University College Cork, she received a prize of €5,000 for her biofilm which eliminates the need for farmers to use plastic or tyres to seal pits and reduces methane emissions.

The Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award and €5,000 went to Pure Clothing, the socially responsible clothing brand created by Dublin City University student Peter Timlin and University of Limerick student Richard Grimes.

The Local Enterprise Office ICT Award and €5,000 went to Diglot, a language learning book company founded by Trinity College Dublin students Cian Mcnally and Evan Mcgloughlin. They weave foreign words into English sentences in classic novels, allowing the reader to absorb new vocabulary gradually. To date, Diglot has achieved sales in 19 countries worldwide.

Ivan McPhillips, lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Rural Development at the GMIT School of Business, won the Enterprise Ireland Academic Award.

Along with the prize money, the winners will also share in a €30,000 consultancy fund that will enable them to turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Enterprise Ireland Merit awards were given to the remaining six finalists along with €1,500 per team. 

“Over the past four decades, the Student Entrepreneur Awards have provided an important platform for young people across the country to showcase their innovative business ideas and realise their entrepreneurial ambitions,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

“The competition acts as a springboard for tomorrow’s business leaders, and previous winners and finalists have gone on to achieve success both nationally and internationally. We’ve had over 250 entries for this year’s awards, with applicants demonstrating ingenuity in their approach to solving real-world problems across a range of sectors. I want to congratulate all the students who took part in the competition in what has been a uniquely challenging year.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, congratulated all the winners. “I’m really impressed by the calibre and ingenuity of the ideas put forward, especially given the significant challenges that came with this unprecedented year. A particular commendation to the award winners. Every student that participated should be very proud of their accomplishments. I wish them every success as they continue on their entrepreneurial journey.”

Pictured (from left): Tim Farrelly, Bachelor of Engineering student at Trinity College Dublin; David Deneher, BA in Computer Science and Business student at Trinity College Dublin and Omar Salem, Master of Aerospace Engineering student at Queen’s University Belfast

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 14 June 2021