A team of students from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has come away with a €10,000 prize and the accolade ‘College Entrepreneur of the Year’ after winning the top spot in Enterprise Ireland’s Think Outside the Box awards for their new project that aims to help dairy farmers identify mastitis in cows.
This is the 31st year of the awards, which aim to encourage students to consider entrepreneurship as a career option.
Along with Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Intel and Grant Thornton sponsored the awards.
The prize fund includes €30,000 in cash prizes and €30,000 in consultancy fees to help the winners pursue their business ideas.
More than 400 third-level students from colleges across Ireland submitted entries this year.
The winning team from CIT was made up of students Nicola O’Mahony, Donal Carey, Kenneth Barry, Damien McAuliffe, Ciaran Malone, Owen Mc Donagh and James Cahill.
They beat off competition from the other entries for their project dubbed MasTech, which has been designed to allow dairy farmers identify mastitis in infected cows quickly. The idea is that farmers will be able to act swiftly to isolate an infected cow from the herd and prevent the disease from spreading.
As well as walking away with €10,000, the CIT students will also get mentoring from Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI to help them develop the commercial viability of their MasTech concept.
Another group of students from CIT won €5,000 for having the most technologically innovative idea for their project Hush Hush Hairdryers.
The emerging and dynamic company of the year award, plus a €5,000 prize, went to Rootie’s Crisps team from University College Cork. The Intel prize of a trip to the Intel Challenge Europe Award in 2014 went to XpressLF from Queen’s University Belfast.
John Perry TD, the Minister for Small Business, congratulated the winners at a reception held at NUI Galway today.
He said the awards are an opportunity for third-level students to test their flair for business.
"They expose them to the challenges and excitement of taking an idea and nurturing it into a serious business proposition," said Perry.
Last year’s winning project was DRS.ie, a drag reduction device for trucks that was developed by students at NUI Galway. The company has since gleaned €50,000 under Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund.