Young Longford entrepreneurs bid for success in ‘virtual' national final

National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube

Longford Leader reporter

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Some of Longford’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students will be eagerly logging online for the National Final of the Student Enterprise Programme. 

For the first time since the programme began in 2003, the National Finals will take place online and the county will have three student enterprises involved on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Longford. 


Longford’s standard bearers in the Junior Category will be Orla McCann, Rebecca Moorhead, Ella McKeon and Elena O'Reilly of ‘Heavenly Hairbands’ from Moyne Community School.  

In the Intermediate Category, Longford will be represented by Chloe Hopkins with ‘Timer Showers’ from Ballymahon Vocational School and the Senior Category representatives are Adam Floody, Paulina Janus, Matthew McGauran, Molly McGee and Kayla Rawle of B.E.E - Be Environmentally Efficient (beeswax wraps - an alternative to tin foil and clingfilm) from Moyne Community School.


Having originally been scheduled to take place in Croke Park on May 1, the Local Enterprise Office run awards, will be announced virtually on Wednesday, May  27 via live stream on the Student Enterprise Programme’s Facebook and YouTube channels. 


Longford has a proud tradition in the Student Entrepreneur Programme, with ‘Reel Easy’ from Moyne Community School receiving the “Best Commercial Potential award 2018” and ‘J & S Kitchen Aid’ from Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon finished 2nd place in the Senior Category in 2017.


The students and teachers from across the country will watch along online to the event hosted by RTE’s Rick O’Shea and will be joined during the ceremony by previous winners and Student Entrepreneur Programme Ambassador, Josh Van Der Flier.  The rugby star previously took part in the initiative when he was a student at Wesley College in Dublin.


The Finalists have been announced this year with a record number of 85 student enterprises competing in Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, close to 26,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part. 


Some of the finalists this year include an alarm that helps wake small children who can sleep through regular high frequency alarms, eco-friendly products such as beeswax film, an alternative to clingfilm, a bottle stopper to help prevent drinks tampering, germination balls that can be thrown on soil to help generate new wildlife, and stress hampers filled with stress relieving products.  


The National Final students are competing across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and judging is ongoing virtually with the finalists nationwide via electronic submissions.  Each student enterprise is challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.  The judging panel includes business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.  


This year’s Programme also saw two new pilot competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.  The first, the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” pilot was run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and open to any students involved in wider competition.  It required them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and how that could be achieved.


In the Senior category there was a new “Go Green: Be Sustainable Creative Business Competition”. In this new pilot competition students could push their most innovative business ideas via a video pitch, without having to produce a product or service and was open to all senior students taking part in the wider competition. 


Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices and Head of Local Enterprise Office Longford, Michael Nevin, said; “As a programme we are lucky in that much of the work that students were doing in relation to their Student Enterprises was done well before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. So, there is no reduction in the quality of entries, if anything we have a bigger final this year and some outstanding entries. 

“Looking through the Finalists you can see that students are more conscientious than ever when it comes to solving problems they see in everyday life, affecting the environment and the people around them.  It’s encouraging to see the focus that the next generation are putting on making the world a better place and irrespective of who wins, we will see some great student businesses coming from this.”  


Since 2003, over 200,000 students have taken part in the Student Enterprise Programme.  Last year again there was great variety across the entries, and the winners.  In the Junior category, Specrest from Fingal in Dublin designed a 3D printed biodegradable clip that will secure glasses on clothing.  Smooth Remove from North Cork, a device for shoe removal won in the Senior category while Crios Mhadra from Kerry, a dog safety harness for car travel took home the Intermediate prize.  


Full details of all this year’s 85 national finalists are available on the Student Enterprise Programme website at www.StudentEnterprise.ie