NovaUCD programme to help 10 student start-up ideas take off

10 early-stage student ventures in Ireland are taking part in a programme to help refine their business ideas and make them investor-ready.

The NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition 2022 is an intensive four-week mentoring programme aimed at student entrepreneurs with business ideas across sectors such as sustainable fashion, event management, the circular economy, human resources and hospitality.

Based at University College Dublin (UCD), NovaUCD is a centre for new ventures and entrepreneurs.

The competition, now in its eighth year, will include interactive workshops and lectures from industry experts as well as regular mentoring and pitching sessions to help students refine their ideas and prepare for investors.

“Over the next four weeks, we will be supporting the student entrepreneurs as they begin the process of converting their innovative business ideas into early-stage ventures,” said Tom Flanagan, director of enterprise and commercialisation at UCD.

“Our objective with the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition is to give the students the knowledge and confidence to continue to develop and grow their ventures into start-ups competing on a national and international stage.”

Prizes and participants

Some of the online and interactive workshops will be delivered by Rohan and Raomal Perera of Lean Disruptor, an Irish consulting group for early-stage businesses. They will cover topics such as customer development, design thinking, financial planning and fundraising, among others.

In mid-June, a final workshop will see each participant pitch to a panel of judges. The winning business idea will be awarded €5,000, while those in second and third place will get €3,000 and €2,000, respectively.

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A cash prize of €1,000 will also be awarded to each of the remaining seven teams for completing the programme, which has been sponsored by AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers and Xilinx.

Elizabeth Gageby Bell, a student of design thinking for sustainability in the UCD Innovation Academy, is one of the 23 participants this year. Along with her teammates, she has built a circular economy and sustainable fashion venture called Patch Post.

“Our aim is to establish Patch Post as a platform which will provide people with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to extend the life of their clothes, therefore reducing consumption and buy-in to the fast fashion industry.”

More than 120 students and 50 early-stage ventures have completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition to date, including Irish micromobility start-up Zipp Mobility.

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