Student Enterprise Programme hits 20

An initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices to encourage entrepreneurship in secondary schools, the Student Enterprise Programme has seen more than 300,000 secondary school students take part since it first began.

The launch of the 21/22 programme saw the introduction of this year’s Student Enterprise Programme ambassador, All Ireland winning Limerick hurler, Sean Finn. Finn launched this year’s programme at Desmond College in Newcastle West, Limerick, a college that has had success in recent years at the Student Enterprise Programme.

Notable recent winners of the Student Enterprise Programme include “Coppercase” in May this 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.

“Our students don’t want to just create a business, but a business that makes a difference in the world and it’s fantastic to see”

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.   

Business skills

The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Irish Government through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 29,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part in 2020 / 2021 with similar numbers expected to be involved this year.

“The business skills you can learn from business ideas and research to sales and marketing are tools you can use across your career and the ability to set up and run a business will always stand by you”

The students will compete across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and judging takes 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 has two additional categories that students can 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.

“The Student Enterprise Programme continues to go from strength-to-strength year on year and the 20th year promises to be no different,” said Michael Nevin, chair of the Education Enterprise Committee of the Local Enterprise Offices.

“In recent years we have seen students react to create businesses that are solving real world problems, whether it be pandemic related or within sustainability and the green agenda.  Our students don’t want to just create a business, but a business that makes a difference in the world and it’s fantastic to see. We are looking forward to seeing what this year’s students have to offer.”

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.

“Without doubt the Student Enterprise Programme is one of the most beneficial things you can get involved in secondary school,” said Finn, “The business skills you can learn from business ideas and research to sales and marketing are tools you can use across your career and the ability to set up and run a business will always stand by you.  All the very best to the thousands of students who are starting their businesses across the country at the moment and I’m a bit biased so hopefully we might see the Student Enterprise Programme title coming to Limerick in May to sit alongside the Liam McCarthy.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.

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