Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs of the future were recently invited to compete for a share of the £28,000 total prize fund for the ‘College Entrepreneurs of the Year’ award scheme, sponsored by Ulster Bank, Invest Northern Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
Launched by Neil O’Brien, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland’s leading Youth Service Provider Globalclub, at the Ulster Bank’s NI HQ the awards scheme has been designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship amongst all third level students in colleges and universities across the Island of Ireland.
The winners of last year’s competition, Cathal Kenneally and Anna Forde are the brains behind Guardian Employee Assurance Services. Their business idea was to provide a random employee drug-testing programme for client companies. The service developed by Cathal and Anna used a non-invasive procedure to test employees for substance abuse through hair follicle analysis. They hope to commercialise their award winning project following the completion of their degrees.
Oonagh Hinds, client executive at Invest Northern Ireland commented; “This is a really valuable competition which is helping to encourage the spirit of enterprise amongst young people on an all-island basis. By encouraging students to focus on projects with commercial reality, they are better prepared to engage in entrepreneurial activities.”
Pat Maher, Executive Director from Enterprise Ireland said; “The value of the Awards in encouraging entrepreneurship was reinforced in a survey carried out among last year’s entrants. The survey of over 100 students revealed that 92 pc of students would think about starting their own business as a direct result of participating in the Awards. 47 pc of those interviewed said they wouldn’t have thought about starting their own business before they entered the Awards. This is a positive endorsement of the Awards and supports the findings of the 2003 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report which found that entrepreneurship is endorsed as a legitimate career choice by a clear majority of the population.”
David McCartney, Head of Ulster Bank Business Centres in Northern Ireland said; “Currently it is estimated that about one in every twelve adults of working age in Ireland are actively engaged in current entrepreneurial activity. Based on current population figures (the adult population of working age for Ireland is nearly two and a half million) this suggests that there are about 200,000 entrepreneurs in Ireland. Ulster Bank is committed to supporting Ireland’s entrepreneurs and we believe that these Awards are a unique and valuable opportunity to identify and foster our future business leaders”.