Irish Student Entrepreneurship Forum to feature 50pc female-led start-ups

27 Mar 2014

FoodCloud team members Alex Sloan, Iseult Ward and Emma Mooney

The third annual Irish Student Entrepreneurship Forum (ISEF), which highlights up-and-coming young entrepreneurs, strikes a perfect balance between male and female-led start-ups in its showcase – hopefully demonstrating the shape of things to come.

The 2014 ISEF will host 200 delegates at the UCD/TCD Innovation Academy tonight, Thursday 27 March. The student-run initiative aims to encourage entrepreneurship and build a start-up culture among students, while the event itself connects active entrepreneurs in third-level education with the Irish business network.

“Innovation is critical for economic growth and the students of today are the future of tomorrow. Ireland has great strength in its third-level institutes; ISEF attempts to showcase this strength,” said ISEF co-head Richard Treacy.

Tonight’s event will feature keynotes from Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn, TD, teen entrepreneur Jordan Casey, and Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-ups scaling manager Lisa Vaughan.

Student showcase

A key element of the forum, though, is the student start-up showcase. This year’s invent will highlight six early-stage companies, most of which are technology-based and three of which are female-led.

Gail Condon’s Writing for Tiny creates personalised e-books for children, focusing on difficult topics to communicate. Wayra participant KonnectAgain, led by Jayne Ronayne, has developed a simple platform that is constantly and automatically updated to help institutions keep in touch with their alumni.

FoodCloud, founded by Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, is a social enterprise launched in October 2013 that connects charities to businesses with surplus food through a smartphone app and website.

Other start-ups showcasing at the event are Artomatix, Educat3D and 2013 ESB Spark of Genius Award finalist AdMe.

The student start-ups will pitch to a panel of business leaders including Mary Cronin, co-founder of Thousand Seeds; Frank O’Keeffe, partner in charge of EY’s Enterpreneur of the Year; Karl Aherne, managing director of Wayra Irleand; Brian Hayes, former managing director of CitiGroup Europe; Richard Cullen, co-founder of Jelly Bean Factory; and rugby player Leo Cullen.

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland. You can nominate inspiring women in the fields of STEM via email to or on Twitter to @siliconrepublic.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.