DCU students win top prize at entrepreneur awards

17 Jun 2011

A system that can pinpoint the exact location of firefighters in action has earned a team of students from Dublin City University the title of ‘College Entrepreneur of the Year 2011’ and a prize of €10,000 at this year’s Enterprise Ireland Think Outside the Box Awards.

The winning team’s project is titled Team Prometheus.

The team, represented by Oisin O Doinn and Eoin Markey, invented the system that locates firefighting crew in action, non-intrusively and in real-time. In case a firefighter becomes incapacitated in the line of duty, the new system allows the firefighter to be found and recovered as quickly as possible.

The device also detects the co-ordination of the crew members and can help manage them more effectively in those emergency situations.

In addition to winning the top prize, the winning team will also receive €5,000 in branding consultancy from Mammoth Advertising and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to develop the commercial viability of their overall concept. 

The awards have a total prize fund of €30,000. Sponsors include Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and Mammoth Advertising. 

The awards aim to encourage students to explore their talent for entrepreneurship and setting up a business. This year, the awards attracted submissions from more than 350 third-level students from colleges across all of Ireland. 

The ‘Most Technologically Innovative Idea Award’ of €7,500, which is co-sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and Enterprise Ireland, went to Rugby Lift from Queen’s University Belfast.

“These awards are hugely important in fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in young people, and encouraging them to think strongly about going into business for themselves,” said Tom Hayes, head of entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.

“Now more than ever we need ambitious and enterprising students to ‘think outside the box’ and explore their appetite for going into business for themselves. The priority is to get students thinking now about being an entrepreneur as a viable career option once they graduate. They are our successful entrepreneurs of the future and can play a real part in driving the positive uplift in the economy.”

Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, said competitions such as Think Outside the Box can act a springboard for future business leaders.

“Invest NI is pleased to play a part in promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship,” Hamilton said. 

“The highly innovative concepts presented to the panel today demonstrate the quality of research being carried out at local universities and colleges. Invest NI has helped some previous participants to bring their ideas to market and deliver clear economic benefits. I hope that some of the concepts presented today can also become tomorrow’s business successes.”

Other award winners were:

  • Second prize: €3,000 to Cordou from University of Ulster
  • Third prize: €2,000 to the Safetext Team from Trinity College Dublin
  • Two academic prizes totalling €2,500 were awarded to Niamh Harty from Trinity College Dublin and Chris Mclean from University of Ulster, Coleraine, as the academic institutions with the highest quality projects overall and for their commitment to the awards.

Photo, left to right: Richard Murphy, Enterprise Ireland, Oisin O Doinn, Eoin Markey from Team Prometheus and Alastair Hamilton, CEO Invest Northern Ireland