Trinity and Queen’s teams triumph at Citi upStart Awards

25 Mar 2013

Precision Engineered from Trinity College Dublin and Platform Planet from Queen’s University Belfast emerged victorious at the 2013 upStart entrepreneurship awards organised by banking giant Citi.

Precision Engineered is a real-time synchronisation engine initially aimed at the hotel industry and Platform Planet is a games platform that allows users to create and share their own game levels aimed at the 7-12-year-old age group.

upStart is an entrepreneurship programme in partnership with the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin and the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast.

The upStart programme is a cross-border partnership between Citi Belfast and the Citi Innovation Lab Dublin. The programme was run over two semesters in the current academic year at Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin. There were 34 students on the programme from the two universities. 

The business leaders of tomorrow

Teams of students studying for master’s degrees at the universities created their own start-up businesses for a new technology product or service. Each business plan had to provide a real market prospect and teams competed with each other to win the opportunity for virtual funding from Citi, along with technology development support from Cisco, Red Hat and Microsoft.

The eight finalists competing presented their business plans to a panel of judges from Citi, Cisco, Red Hat, Microsoft and the IDA. Other business ideas included a mobile application for reading meters, a web-based ordering service for restaurants, an application targeting consumer deals, a gaming platform for the virtual world of robots, a multi-platform mobile application for local business marketing and an automated locking system for passwords.

The students were mentored by business advisers from Citi Belfast and the Citi Innovation Lab, Dublin. The programme included guest lecturers from the technology industry who discussed with the students the latest developments and sector trends. In addition, the programme hosted roundtable discussions for the students with Citi Ventures and Citi experts in global locations, including London, New York and San Francisco.

“In its second year, the Citi collaboration with TCD has continued to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Prof Stephen Barrett, course director of the MSc in networks and distributed systems at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin said.

“The upStart programme strengthens the combined innovation and software engineering modules in the MSc course, with its focus on real-world innovation and product development.”

His counterpart at Queen’s, Dr Barry McCollum of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, agreed. “The upStart programme has been extremely beneficial to these master’s-level students in terms of real-world practical and commercial experience.

“The engagement between the university and Citi represents a continued commitment to ensuring students are able to identify, develop and exploit new and exciting opportunities within their future working careers.”

Also present at the awards was Ireland’s Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who said he was impressed at the talent and ingenuity on display.

“This is the type of talent and entrepreneurship that we should be fostering to encourage our business leaders of tomorrow,” Quinn said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years