News & Events

Smooth shoe removal students secure 2019 Enterprise Award

Ireland’s largest Student Enterprise Awards crown Class of 2019

The best and the brightest of Ireland’s secondary school entrepreneurs were in Croke Park today for the National Finals of the Student Enterprise Programme, run by the Local Enterprise Offices.

An enterprise inspired by a grandparent’s inability to remove their shoes took top prize in the senior category. Smooth Remove from Boherbue Comprehensive School in Mallow, North Cork designed an ergonomic wooden device that enables the easy removal of footwear for those who may have back problems or have difficulty bending down to take off their shoes.

Pet safety was to the fore in the Intermediate category as Críos Mhadra from Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, Kerry won the judges vote. Designed by 14-year-old students Katelyn Curtin and Kelly Anne Nix the 3-point safety harness provides comfort and safety for those travelling with pets in their car.

In the Junior category, a practical solution by a daughter for a parent’s tendency to misplace glasses at work was a big hit with the judging panel. Ava Gilmartin from Malahide Portmarnock Educate Together School in Fingal vowed to solve her mother’s issue of her glasses constantly falling off, while working as a nurse. Ava created Specrest, a small biodegradable clip which is made using a 3-D printer that keeps glasses secure.

Over 26,000 students took part in this year’s programme from across the country and today 222 representing 78 student enterprises have reached the National Final competing across 3 categories; Junior, Intermediate and Senior, with the winners being announced and presented with their trophies by Pat Breen TD, Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection.

The programme delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Office is funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with Enterprise Ireland across every local authority area.

Congratulating the winners Minister Breen said; “These student entrepreneurs are the future of Irish business and job creation across the country. The skills attained by these young students during the Student Enterprise Programme will be invaluable to these young entrepreneurs and provide them with a fantastic foundation for a future in business. Many congratulations to all the students here today. By making it to Croke Park you have shown you can create and run a business. And congratulations also to their teachers who play such a significant role in sparking and encouraging their entrepreneurial imagination. If these students decide that being an entrepreneur is the path they want to take in their future, I can assure them their Local Enterprise Office will be there to support them every step of the way.”

Michael Nevin, Chair of the Education Enterprise Committee, Local Enterprise Offices, said; “This year we’ve had over 26,000 students involved in creating, setting up and running a business, learning a whole new range of skills. We have finalists looking to address environmental issues, mental health issues and climate change issues so the class of 2019 is very much committed to creating businesses who can make the world a better place and that is a great thing. Many businesses of today could learn a lot from these students particularly in their clever use of social media to promote their enterprises. No doubt the finalists today have a bright future in business in whatever form that takes and we hope to see them walking through the door of their Local Enterprise Office in the near future.”

The runners-up this year in the senior category were Hurl Standz from St. Mary’s CBS in Laois who create wall-mounted, handcrafted metal stands to hold hurls and helmets. In the Intermediate category, second place went to JCJ Get a Grip from St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Westmeath whose enterprise was a pre-cut and pre-measured and scored tape which is applied to the underside of Irish dancing shoes to prevent slipping without affecting the sound. The runners-up in the Junior category went to B Good Brownie from St. Patrick’s Classical School in Navan, Co. Meath, who make gluten and lactose free brownies with unique blend coffee.

Awards were presented for intellectual property awareness by the Irish Patents Office and for social media by Essential French. Twenty students in the Senior Category also win a place at the residential ‘Winners’ Business Bootcamp’ over the summer to help them further develop their business skills. Further details about the next Student Enterprise Programme, which begins in September through the Local Enterprise Offices, are available through


For all media information and interview requests with students, please contact:

Sarah Bohan, LEO Communications at Enterprise Ireland / 0876539936
Declan Lee, LEO Communications at Enterprise Ireland / 0876957451
Fuzion Communications Contact / Ciara Jordan 086 8684555 / Suzanne Meade 086 4133031

Event Information: Student Enterprise Programme National Final (May 3rd 2019)

Co-ordinated by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities across the country, the Student Enterprise Programme is now in its 17th year. The official website address for the programme is As part of its remit, the Local Enterprise Offices aim to foster an enterprise culture among students in Ireland. Students qualify for the National Final via their School or County Final, organised by their Local Enterprise Office. Funding for the programme is provided by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.

Photography Note: Reproduction-free images of the winners will be available Mark Stedman from 17.00 on 03.05.19.
National Category Winners for 2019 (the full list of winners will be published on

Senior Category

Student Enterprise: Smooth Remove
School: Boherbue Comprehensive School, Cork
Students: Laura Moynihan, Michelle Bradley, Sean Doody, Joe Clogan & Anthony O’Connor
Teacher: Áine Ni Bhroin
Local Enterprise Office: Cork North and West

One of the student’s grandparent’s was having difficulty in removing footwear so they created Smooth Remove. Designed from wood with a heel shaped groove that will fit any size of footwear, the user slides their foot into the groove using their other foot to keep the device secure the footwear eases off. The Smooth Remove also includes a Perspex wedge underneath for removing dirt from boots and shoes. The device was so popular they have now integrated it into a shoe box design that allows both the removal and easy storage of footwear. The Smooth Remove can be personalised with names and images and retails at €10.

Intermediate Category

Student Enterprise: Críos Mhadra
School: Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Kerry
Students: Kelly-Anne Nix and Katelyn Curtin
Teacher: Pierce Dargan
Local Enterprise Office: Kerry

Kelly-Anne Nix and Katelyn Curtin (both aged 14) are national finalists in the Intermediate Category, representing Kerry. The dog-loving duo have developed a complete three-point safety harness for pets, for car journeys. Although traditional neck harnesses are already on the market, Kelly-Anne and Katelyn have designed a complete body harness that keeps the entire body of the pet safe and secure in the car. When Kelly-Anne’s pet dog (Max, a Bijon Freise) hurt his neck while wearing a traditional harness, the experience inspired her to design a full body harness. Now both of their dogs, Max and Katelyn’s dog, Kerry (Maltese Cross puppy), wear the harness whenever they’re in the car.
The harness comes in two sizes: small (€32.99) and medium (€34.99) and is finished by a local tailor in Castleisland. The duo have sold harnesses to pet owners in Kerry, Cork and Limerick.

Junior Category

Student Enterprise: Specrest
School: Malahide-Portmarnock Educate Together, Dublin
Students: Ava Gilmartin
Teacher: Mrs C Bergin
Local Enterprise Office: Fingal

Ava Gilmartin (aged 13) is a national finalist in the Junior Category, representing Fingal.
Specrest is an affordable, biodegradable holder for glasses, that can slide into bags, pockets, clothing or even sunvisors in cars. Ava came up with the idea after hearing her mum (a nurse), complaining about her glasses falling off in work. Ava designed Specrest to be a secure, handy way to keep glasses safe and she manufacturers locally. She’s exploring a patent application for Specrest, which costs €5 and is on sale in opticians, pharmacies and supermarkets. Specrest isn’t Ava’s first business, as she began making and selling bracelets as a six-year-old.

Judging Panels for Student Enterprise Programme National Final 2019

Junior Category:

Ciara Donlon (CEO & Founder of Theya Healthcare)
Fiona Donnelly (Management Consultant and Entrepreneur)
John Byrne (SAOL Mind Coaching)

Intermediate Category:

Caroline McHale (Education Consultant)
John Russell (Russell & Co)
Ciara Clancy (Beats Medical – Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition in 2017)

Senior Category:

Peggy McGlynn (Former Business Adviser in Local Enterprise Office Louth)
Orla O’Carroll (Orla O’Carroll Ltd)
John O’Dea (CEO Tech Ireland)