THIRD-LEVEL student entrepreneurs have caught the eye of the Dragons – and now they want to lure them into their den.
Colleges all around the country have become breeding grounds for innovation and invention, and the Dragons want to cash in.
When it returns to television screens in the New Year, the hugely successful 'Dragons' Den' plans to devote a show to the endless array of creative ideas emerging from higher education.
Colleges are putting an increasing focus on cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurship among students and provide supports to help them to bring ideas to the market.
But the Dragons go one step further and offer financial backing to ideas that they believe are worthy of investment – often leading to spectacular success.
Those who successfully pitch their ideas also benefit from the sponsoring Dragon's advice and mentoring in developing their projects.
Applications for the new series close on December 20.
Dragon Gavin Duffy (inset) said they were "very keen" to tap into the business start-up scene at third-level.
"We haven't attracted those yet and I know from going around campuses that they are beginning to think in an entrepreneurial way."
In the first five series, the Dragons invested in more than 70 businesses to the tune of over €3.3m.
Meanwhile, the Higher Education Authority and the Irish Independent are seeking postgraduate research students to enter the annual Making an Impact competition.
Those interested are invited to make a short submission before 5pm on Monday, January 13, on the difference that their research will make to a particular aspect of Irish life, to the country as a whole, or internationally.
Five researchers, who in the opinion of an independent adjudication panel, have the most innovative or challenging ideas, will be invited to present their work at an event at The Helix at DCU in March.
Awards of €2,500 each, sponsored by the Irish Independent, will be made to two individual winners, one of whom will be picked by the panel and the other by second-level students in the audience.
Previous winners of the competition include RTE's 'Science Squad' presenter Fergus McAuliffe.