News & Events

Wicklow teen wins top Student Enterprise Award

Patent-pending product for earphones wins top award with major prizes also going to Donegal and Meath Student Entrepreneurs

A teenage entrepreneur from Wicklow has won the top award at this year’s Student Enterprise Awards National Finals, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices.

16-year-old Luke Byrne took the overall Senior Category prize for 'Headphone Helpers', a patent-pending silicone band to stop earphones from getting tangled.

Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices across Ireland, the 14th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Final in Croke Park saw 201 student entrepreneurs from 69 schools showcase 76 different student enterprises, across Junior, Intermediate and Senior Categories.  A record-breaking 22,000 students from 620 schools took part in the programme this year.

The Intermediate Category, which is open to second and third year students, was won by ‘Inish Wood Working’ from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana from County Donegal for their hand-crafted giftware.

The top prize in the Junior Category, for first year students, went to 'Amor' from St. Oliver Post Primary School in Oldcastle in County Meath, for their modified stirrup tread for horse-riding.

Awards for Innovation, Best Display, Intellectual Property Awareness and Social Media were also presented during the ceremony, as part of the overall €10,000 prize fund.

The Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr.  Damien English T.D., presented the awards on stage in Croke Park, saying: “It is extremely encouraging to see the level of ingenuity and entrepreneurship in action throughout classrooms in Ireland today.  Through the Student Enterprise Awards, the Local Enterprise Offices are supporting more young people to develop practical business experience and it provides students with the opportunity to learn first-hand skills that are vital for securing future growth within the Irish economy.”

Sean O’Sullivan, Chair of Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, praised the work of the students and schools, adding: “What these winning student entrepreneurs have in common is the ability to identify a problem and develop a solution that has real commercial potential. The Student Enterprise Programme was set up to encourage more young people to start a business and to foster a more enterprising culture for start-ups. A record number of students and schools took part in this year’s programme, showing a growing interest in enterprise in the classroom.”

Tomás Hayes from the Network of Local Enterprise Offices delivered the opening address at the ceremony in the Hogan Suite. Last year's Senior Category Winner, Shíofra Ryan of 'An Tionchar’ in Offaly, told guests about her busy year and her negotiations with a potential investor for her new hurling boot.  

The Social Media Awards were supported by Essential French and the Intellectual Property Awareness Awards were supported by the Irish Patents Office. Twenty students with the highest marks in the Senior Category were also offered a place at the week-long ‘Winners Business Bootcamp’, which is running in University College Cork from May 30th to June 4th.

The 2016/2017 Student Enterprise Awards programme starts in September, with full details available at or by searching #studententerprise on social media.


For all media queries, please contact ENGAGE IRELAND                                                                                              

Sarah Bohan on 087 65 39936/ Adrienne Ferguson on 086 355 2974/ Siobhan Fitzharris 086 466 6967. Email:  office @


Interview opportunities with the winners, teachers and organisers are available (please contact Engage Ireland).

Event Information: Student Enterprise Awards (National Finals)

Co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices, the Student Enterprise Awards are now in their 14th year. The official website address for the programme is

An estimated 22,000 secondary school students from 620 schools took part in the programme this year and every county is represented.

The Local Enterprise Offices aim to encourage enterprise culture among students in Ireland. Students usually qualify for the National Final through their School and County Final, through their Local Enterprise Office.

Photography Note: Mark Stedman from Photocall Ireland (Tel: (01 679 2681) has been commissioned to syndicate images from the Student Enterprise Awards on Wednesday, 20th April 2016 (reproduction free).


List of Overall Category Winners (Senior, Intermediate and Junior Categories)

First Place (Senior Category)

Winning Business: Headphone Helpers

Supported by Local Enterprise Office: Wicklow  

Description: Silicone wearable band to avoid earphones from getting tangled (patent pending)

School: Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole

Student: Luke Byrne        

Teacher: Ruairi Farrell

First Place (Intermediate Category)

Winning Business: Inish Woodworking 

Supported by Local Enterprise Office: Donegal     

Description: Handmade wooden crafts, such as lamps, candlesticks, cheeseboards and bowls.

School: Scoil Mhuire Buncrana       

Students: Sean Óg Harrigan and Oisín McLaughlin            

Teacher: Martina McBride 

First Place (Junior Category)

Winning Business: Amor    

Supported by Local Enterprise Office: Meath          

Description: Modified stirrup tread used to help foot positioning of the horse-rider.     

School: St. Oliver Post Primary, Oldcastle     

Students: Emily Finegan, Kate O’ Reilly, Ava Caddan and Mary Freeman.       

Teachers: Ciara McConnell and Ronan Baxter.