News & Events

Enterprise Ireland launches Student Entrepreneur Awards 2016

Calling all enterprising students – total prize fund worth €65,000

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD today (Wednesday) announced details of the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards for 2016. The Awards, now in their 35th year, are open to all fulltime third-level students in the Republic of Ireland.  Co-sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Grant Thornton and Intel, the Awards attracted submissions from over 1,200 students in 2015.  

The Student Entrepreneur Awards are part of an ongoing drive aimed at tapping into the potential for students to turn entrepreneurial ideas into commercial businesses. The objective is to encourage third-level students to start their own business as a career option.  With a total cash prize fund of €35,000 and expert mentoring, guidance and consultancy worth €30,000 from the blue-chip sponsors, the Awards provide a great platform for ambitious and enterprising third level students to build a viable and commercial business venture. 

The 2015 winner Rob Laffan, a student from Limerick Institute of Technology, beat off stiff competition with his project ‘Tippy Talk’, a bespoke, robust touch-screen communication system for non-verbal children with autism. ‘TippyTalk’ allows the child to communicate their desires, feelings and needs to their parents through the transfer of pictures to text messages. ‘TippyTalk’ can also be adapted to cover other areas of non-verbal disabilities.  Rob is now completing New Frontiers in LIT.  

Announcing details of the Awards Minister Bruton said: “As we work towards getting back to full employment we are determined to nurture and support those who start a business in Ireland.  Two thirds of all new jobs come from start-ups and we have put in place a range of measures through the Action Plan for Jobs and through the recent Budget to provide supports for entrepreneurs.   Supporting measures including Reduced Capital Gains Tax, a knowledge development box of 6.25% tax and a continuation of the corporation tax break for new start-ups. Third level students represent an exciting seed bed for future business start-ups. I would encourage students from all our universities and colleges interested in starting up a new business to avail of the specialist advice and assistance on offer through these Awards, and enter this exciting and dynamic competition”.

With a practical combination of cash prizes and consultancy, the Awards provide a great opportunity to turn a realistic business idea into a winning project and possibly a commercial business. The sponsors of the Awards bring their expertise to nurturing the finalists in the competition to commercialise their business by providing them with expert guidance in areas such as intellectual property, market research, finances, technology development, public relations and advertising, all aimed at supporting young entrepreneurs to develop viable businesses and create jobs. 

Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland, concluded: “Start-up businesses are the life blood of the indigenous economy and make a positive impact on job creation in towns and villages all over Ireland.  In driving entrepreneurship, we need to play to our strenghts, like the fact that  Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe.  The Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards provide support and encouragement, as well as practical assistance to help young entrepreneurs to move from idea to income as quickly as possible.  These young entrepreneurs have the potential to be the next big Irish business success stories and we are pleased to help them onto the first rung of the business ladder”. 

To enter the Awards, students are requested to submit a short video that captures their business idea and shows it’s commercial and export potential. If shortlisted, students will need to develop a business plan that shows the judges how viable and well researched the project is. A dedicated website, Facebook page, twitter account and pod casts support the promotion of the Awards and the subsequent winners. Executives from Enterprise Ireland will present details of the competition to all colleges and institutions between now and the closing date for the competition, 17 March 2016. 

Photos will be sent to Picture Desks, and will be available on request 


For Further information contact:  

Gillian Slattery, Regional Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland on 061/777027 or 087/9316103 or 

Paula Chase, Press Office, Enterprise Ireland on 01/7272842 or

Note to Editors re Prize Fund:

Overall winner – €10,000

Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award – €5,000 Cash prize sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys for exceptional business idea.

Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award – €5,000 Cash prize sponsored by Grant Thornton for exceptional business idea.

Intel ICT Award – €5,000 Cash prize sponsored by Intel for an exceptional ICT idea. The Intel team will mentor shortlisted projects interested in applying for Challenge Up!, the innovative corporate start-up program supported by Intel, Cisco and Deutsch Telekom.

Enterprise Ireland Roots in Research Award – €5,000 Each year the Irish Government funds thousands of research projects in Higher Education Institutes. The Roots in Research Award recognises a student’s or group’s ability to spot the commercial potential of the state-funded research project they are involved in. Ownership of intellectual property is not necessary but permission is required from your Research Supervisor to submit an entry.  To find out more about state-funded research in Ireland click here.

Merit Awards Fund – €5,000 The Merit Awards recognise the achievement of reaching the final. Overall, Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award, Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award and Intel Award winners are excluded from the Merit Awards.

Institute Award Fund Enterprise Ireland provides a €500 cash prize to the internal competitions in the third level institutions throughout the year. The judging and awarding of the cash prize is undertaken by the individual institutions.


€15,000 overall business advice and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland€12,500 Intellectual property consultancy and protection from Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys€2,500 Business plan development from Grant Thornton