FIFTEEN students from second level schools across Kerry, Limerick, Cork and Drogheda have been selected as finalists for the coveted title of Young Entrepreneur 2012.
The students and their business ideas will be put to the final test on May 3 at the annual YEP Awards Ceremony which has become a highlight in the Kerry Entrepreneurial year.
The Finalists will pitch their ideas live on stage to a panel of judges including Norah Casey of Dragons' Den and John Concannon of JFC Manufacturing.
The 15 finalists were rewarded with a visit to Áras an Uachtaráin this week where they had an opportunity to meet President Higgins and present their business ideas.
President Higgins congratulated all the finalists on their projects and wished them luck with their entrepreneurial endeavours.
"It is an exciting time to be young, Irish and innovative. You have the opportunity to create a whole other form of society. You can do things in an entirely new and creative way," he said.
The students have been working on their projects since the start of the school year, the first step of which was to come up with a business idea and then putting together a feasible business plan. The annual Young Entrepreneur Programme is one of a number of initiatives developed by the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Shannon Development and entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly and is now in its firth year.
The Junior Entrepreneur programme, which is currently running in Kerry's primary school's is also in the final stages for the year and the shortlisted schools will be announced later this week.