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Encouraging student entrepreneurs to start their own business

Enterprise Ireland


Annie Madden, co-founder of FenuHealth, winner of the 2022 Student Entrepreneur Awards. Photo: Maxwells

Annie Madden, co-founder of FenuHealth, winner of the 2022 Student Entrepreneur Awards. Photo: Maxwells

Annie Madden, co-founder of FenuHealth, winner of the 2022 Student Entrepreneur Awards. Photo: Maxwells

This year marks the 42nd Student Entrepreneur Awards, and Enterprise Ireland is inviting students from all third-level institutions across the country who have an innovative business idea, product, or solution, to apply.

Open to any undergraduate and postgraduate student with a vision, the Student Entrepreneur Awards helps to put students on a path to creating their own business.

But the Student Entrepreneur Awards is more than a competition. It’s a process that can help move students from the concept or idea stage, to take the next step towards turning it into a potentially commercially viable business.

Every year, the Student Entrepreneur Awards receives well over 1,000 entries. There are consistently very high-calibre ideas among these entries, which is a testament to the emphasis that our higher-level institutes place on entrepreneurship.

Applications for the 42nd Student Entrepreneur Awards this year are open for entry until March 16.

Entries can be from individuals or teams and interested students are invited to submit a two-minute video on studententrepreneurawards.com. This video should showcase their ideas, and highlight the commercial and export potential of their concept. The goal is for entrants to be as clear and articulate as possible in the video, for them to have carried out some background research on the target market and commercial viability, and to demonstrate why their idea or product adds value.

The top 50 entries are shortlisted, and these applicants in this cohort will then be asked to submit a business plan. Those entries will then ultimately be whittled down to the 10 finalists who will have the opportunity to present their ideas to the judging panel.

The winners will be announced on June 9 at an awards ceremony.

Co-sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and professional services firm Grant Thornton, as well as the Local Enterprise Offices, the ten finalists selected will compete for several awards, including the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award, the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award, and the Local Enterprise Office High Achieving Merit award.

The overall winner will receive €10,000 and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to support them to develop the commercial viability of their concept. Other award winners will also receive expert advice and mentoring supports. t​

Many of the previous winners of the Student Entrepreneur Awards have gone on to enjoy great success and growth.

The 2022 Student Entrepreneur Awards overall winner was University College Cork student Annie Madden, the co-founder of FenuHealth, which develops 100pc natural products designed to prevent and resolve stomach problems in horses and ponies. FenuHealth offers a range of nine products and exports to 15 countries.

In 2020 the overall winner was Mark O’Sullivan, whose company Neurobell developed a medical device for the early detection and monitoring of brain injuries in infants to help clinicians diagnose abnormal brain activity faster.

And it’s not just overall winners who have enjoyed success. Previous competitor PMD Solutions is a company which creates a respiratory monitoring device that can detect a change in a patient’s breathing before it becomes a problem. ​

​Richard Murphy, Manager of Local Enterprise Office Support, Policy & Co-ordination Unit at Enterprise Ireland.

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