A team of first-year engineering students from NUI Galway has won the top prize in Enterprise Ireland’s 2012 Think Outside the Box Awards for its clean-tech innovation to reduce fuel consumption of trucks by up to 8pc.
Now in their 30th year, the awards were this year co-sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Mammoth Advertising, Intel and Grant Thornton.
DRS.ie won the top prize of €10,000, while it also received the accolade ‘College Entrepreneur of the Year 2012’.
The NUI Galway students Justin Conboy, Dearbhaile Forde and Garrett Archbold have invented a drag reduction device that aims to reduce the drag between a truck and its container load and achieve fuel consumption reductions by up to 8pc.
The students have come up with a balloon-type device that attaches to the back of a truck and has two side air inlets.
This year, the awards attracted submissions from more than 360 third-level students across Ireland who have ideas they want to transform into commercial ventures.
DRS.ie for instance, will also get €5,000 in branding consultancy from Mammoth Advertising and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI to develop the commercial viability of its overall concept.
Cruickshank is also providing intellectual property consultancy and protection for all the finalists, while Grant Thornton will provide business plan development advice.
Other winners included the AWAMA project from Queen’s University Belfast. The team won the in the Most Technologically Innovative Idea category. It will receive €5,000.
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Meanwhile, Zooplar from University College Cork won the Emerging and Dynamic Company of the Year prize and will also get €5,000.
Zooplar also won a trip to Poland from Intel to participate in the Intel Challenge Europe Technology Entrepreneurship Competition.
Tom Hayes, head of Micro Enterprises and Small Business at Enterprise Ireland, said today the competition hones in on giving students hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and establishing a business.
“We have been hugely impressed by the quality of the submissions from across the colleges. These young people show all the hallmarks of the innovative and resilient entrepreneurs and management teams that are so critical to setting up successful new businesses and creating much-needed jobs,” he said.
Bill Scott, Invest NI’s executive director of Regional Business, spoke about how the competition provides a platform for entrepreneurial students to demonstrate their innovative concepts and to learn the commercial skills that are required to take their ideas to the next level.