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Minister Pat Breen launches Ireland’s largest Student Business Programme

Ireland’s largest business and enterprise programme for second level students, the Student Enterprise Programme, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, was launched today by Pat Breen TD, Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection in Portmarnock Community School in Dublin.

The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 24,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part in 2018 / 2019.  The programme supports students to create, design and market their own business, all with the hope of reaching the National Finals in Croke Park on May 1st.   

Minister Breen was joined at the launch by professional rugby star, Josh Van Der Flier, the 2019/2020 ambassador for the Student Enterprise Programme.  Van Der Flier was a participant in the Student Enterprise Programme when he studied at Wesley College. 

This year’s Programme will see two new pilot competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.  The first, the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” pilot will be run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and is open to any students involved in wider competition.  It requires them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and what is required. 

In the Senior category there is a new “Most Creative Business Idea” section.  Under the theme “Go Green: Be Sustainable” students can push their most innovative ideas, without having to produce a product or service and it is open to all senior students taking part in the wider competition. 

Speaking to some of the students involved in this year’s programme at the event, Minister Breen emphasised the importance of them engaging with enterprise and using it to innovate and create solutions for today’s world. 

The students of today are increasingly aware of the role they can play in changing the status quo.  Encouragement of entrepreneurial and innovative skills allows them to change things, to create new opportunities and to contribute to solving some of the many issues facing society today and in the future.  This spirit has always been very evident in the Student Enterprise Programme.  Every year we see creative young minds bringing fresh thinking to all areas of business, whether it’s innovative design, new software, revolutionary apps, or simply solving a daily issue in some area of life.

These students are the entrepreneurs of the future, they will be our job creators, they are the ones we want to support and help on their entrepreneurship journey.  We want to foster those ideas because these students will provide the business success stories in the future. I wish all students the very best of luck in this year’s programme.  I know they will find it a richly rewarding experience.” Minister Breen said.  

Student Enterprise Programme Ambassador, Josh Van Der Flier, said;

Having a good grasp of business will stand by you at any age and in any profession and that’s why the Student Enterprise Programme is such a great initiative by the Local Enterprise Offices. I know from having been involved myself at school how great it is to learn how to create that idea, make it happen and then make sales from scratch.  I certainly didn’t win any awards for my business, but it gave me a great knowledge of how a business works at an early age and the thousands of students who take part will always have that.”   

Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said;

The aim of the Student Enterprise Programme is to instil that little bit of entrepreneurship in every student that takes part.  The Local Enterprise Offices work closely with the schools to help spark their ideas but also ground them in what will help them make sales.  These skills are invaluable and to see the amazing ideas, year on year, many of which have become viable businesses, is inspirational not only to their fellow students but to anyone involved in business and entrepreneurship.” 

Students from this year’s Student Enterprise Programme from Portmarnock Community School were in attendance at the launch, including 2018 / 2019 National Junior Category Winner, Ava Gilmartin and her business SpecRest from Fingal.  Inspired by her Mum, a nurse, who continually lost her glasses while at work, Ava created a 3D printed biodegradable clip that will secure glasses on clothing.  The invention saw Ava named as one of the 3 category winners at Croke Park last May along with Smooth Remove from North Cork, a device for shoe removal in the Senior category and Crios Mhadra from Kerry, a dog safety harness for car travel in the Intermediate category.   

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 200,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.  The Student Enterprise Programme also has a new website for 2019 / 2020 at, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.   


For further information:

Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 /

Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 /



Junior – Specrest – Educate Together, Portmarnock (in attendance at launch)

Intermediate – Crios Mhadra – Presentation Secondary, Castleisland, Kerry

Senior – Smooth Remove – Boherbue Comprehensive, North Cork


Junior – Complete Caman – Presentation Secondary School, CastleIsland, Kerry

Intermediate – Lift Arm Assist – CBS Kilkenny

Senior – Abbey Bread – Cistercian College, Roscrea, Offaly


Junior – Daisy’s Pawesome Bowties – Our Lady’s Secondary School, Drogheda

Intermediate – Scott Engine Tables - Colaiste Chill Mhantain, Rathnew, Wicklow

Senior – ROC Protection – Clonkeen College, Blackrock, Dublin


Declan Lee

Senior Executive

Strategic Marketing & Communications - Local Enterprise Offices

Corporate Communications & Marketing

Enterprise Ireland

T: +353 (0) 1 727 2406 / +353 (0) 87 695 7451


W: /

Twitter: @Entirl / @Loc_Enterprise / #MakingItHappen 

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