News & Events

New supports for Ireland’s teenage inventors and entrepreneurs

Minister Breen launches new teacher resources, developed by Local Enterprise Offices, to support next generation of entrepreneurs.

The Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD, is visiting the school of an award-winning teenage entrepreneur today, to launch new teacher resources that will support over 20,000 secondary school students taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme.

Organised and run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, the year-round Student Enterprise Programme is the biggest enterprise education initiative of its kind in the Country with students from 620 schools taking part every year across three categories.

The new resources, which include a teachers’ manual, student workbook and helpful tips from successful entrepreneurs, will be launched by Minister Breen in County Wicklow when he visits the school of Luke Byrne, the 17-year-old inventor behind ‘Headphone Helpers.’

Byrne is a student at Coláiste Chraobh Abhann in Kilcoole, which participates in the programme in County Wicklow every year. He won the Senior Category at the National Student Enterprise Awards earlier this year in Croke Park for his invention of a silicone band to keep earphones tangle-free.

During today’s visit, the Minister will also meet other enterprising students from the school, who are either competing in this year’s programme, or who have previously won awards for their enterprises.

Minister Breen said: “Entrepreneurship is the backbone of our economy and starting to embed this culture at an early age is extremely important. This programme, and the new resources that are being launched today, ensures that entrepreneurship becomes a natural option for our young people as they discover their passions. We want to nurture Ireland’s future entrepreneurs and business leaders. It is great to see both teachers and entrepreneurs coming together to ensure that this solid base is built into our schools”.

Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices said: “The success of the Student Enterprise Programme, which is now in its fourteenth year, is that it brings the world of enterprise and education together at grassroots level. The new resource packs were designed with the help of both teachers and entrepreneurs, to support and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs. Thanks to the support of hundreds of schools, principals and teachers throughout the country, the Student Enterprise Programme enables students to explore the world of business, starting in the classroom.”

The Minister is being welcomed to the school by its Principal, Shane Eivers, Business Co-Ordinator, Ruairí Farrell, members of the Board of Management along with representatives from the Local Enterprise Offices, the Local Authorities Network and Enterprise Ireland. The Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, a local TD, is also expected to attend.

Shane Eivers, the Principal of Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, spoke about how important enterprise in the classroom has become in recent years. He said: “The challenge of producing the next generation’s entrepreneurs is being met by a vibrant and dynamic Business department and a cohort of enthusiastic students. Students are being afforded great opportunities to express their creativity, tenacity and determination while getting real life experience of establishing and running a business.”

At the 2015/2016 National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme in April this year, the Junior Category winners were from St. Oliver Post Primary School in County Meath. Their winning invention was called ‘Amor,’ a modified stirrup tread for horse-riding. 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.

Teacher resource packs are available to secondary schools, free of charge, on USB key from Local Enterprise Offices and through the website.


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Notes to the Editor

About the Student Enterprise Programme

The Student Enterprise Programme is co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices and involves 22,000 students from 620 secondary schools every year. It runs from September to May and the 2016/2017 National Final takes place on May 3rd 2017 in Dublin’s Croke Park. / #studententerprise / @StudentEntAward

About Luke Byrne, Senior Category Winner, National Student Enterprise Awards 2015/2016

17-year-old Student Enterprise Award winner, Luke Byrne, came up with a clever fix to keep earphones tangle free. It’s a silicone band worn around the neck with loops to prevent earphones from becoming tangled and falling on the ground when walking or running.

His idea for ‘Headphone Helpers’ arose from his own frustration with headphones getting tangled when he was out running. Luke – a 5th year student in Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow - drew up the concept for his idea and then set about getting a sample made up with silicone. He gets his packaging and printing done in Ireland and his silicone bands are made in Asia. His first order was for 200 units and today, he is selling on average of 20 a week through his website for €7 each.

The teenager won the overall Senior Category at the National Student Enterprise Awards in April 2016 for his enterprise. He is currently negotiating a deal with a major Irish retailer which, if successful, could see sales of ‘Headphone Helpers’ jump from an average 20 a week to 1,000.

Student Enterprise Programme Showcase

Previous Programme Participants (Senior Category):

Luke Byrne (17) of ‘Headphone Helpers’, a silicone band to keep earphones tangle free.

Rachel Kennedy (17) and Eimear Jordan (18) of ‘Exerdice,’ a clever exercise tool.

Rachel Crimes (16) and Marc Brady (17) of ‘Teanga Spraoi,’ an Irish language board game to encourage young people to speak Irish more fluently.

Current Programme Participants (Senior Category):Rachel Kinsella (15), Aine Molloy (15) and Rebecca Hayden (15) of ‘Breathe,’ a mindfulness book to promote positive mental wellbeing.Erika Bellamy (15) and Amy Byrne (15) of ‘Cherry on Top,’ a range of ready-to-bake ingredients to make chocolate treats.

Current Programme Participants (Junior Category):Sadhbh Durston (12) of ‘Yum Yum,’ a range of homemade chutney hampers and treats.Alannah McCabe (12), Emily Little (13) and Darragh Flynn (13) of ‘Pawfect Treats,’ a brand of nutritional pet treats for cats and dogs.

Contents of new Student Enterprise Programme Teacher Resources Pack (on USB Key) include:

  • Teachers’ Enterprise Manual
  • Student Enterprise Workbook 
  • Marking Scheme
  • National Final videos from 2015 and 2016
  • Business Bootcamp 2016 videos
  • Video Tips from Real Life Entrepreneurs 
  • Sample Student Business Reports
  • Previous Winners’ Profiles 
  • Enterprise Progression Wallchart
  • Insider Tips 
  • Patents Office Information Booklets