Two promising start-ups win top prizes at UCC Ignite awards

28 Apr 2023

Ignite award winners Emily Murphy, Niamh Murray, Fionn McCarthy, Jack Norman and Alan Craughwell. Image: Joleen Cronin

Creative clothing designer Zirkulu and assistive technology developer Assistiv took the top awards at the Ignite Spring showcase.

A fresh batch of start-ups were showcased at a University College Cork event, highlighting the talent in the college’s Ignite programme.

The founders are developing business ideas that focus on new apps, dementia care services, sports performance, disability access, climate and personal health.

A joint initiative by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Bank of Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork and UCC, the Ignite programme is open to recent graduates from all third-level institutions in Ireland.

It helps them work full-time on a scalable start-up idea with potential for commercial or social impact.

At the Ignite Spring event, the start-up founders pitched their ideas to an audience of fellow entrepreneurs and a judging panel, with two top awards.

Zirkulu was the winner of the Bank of Ireland Investor Ready Award. Founded by Jack Norman and Fionn McCarthy, this company is creating clothing designs based on the principles of the circular economy.

Alan Craughwell, founder of Assistiv, was the winner of the Local Enterprise Office Revenue Ready Award. This start-up is developing assistive technology to enhance workplace accessibility and support people with disabilities.

The Best Pitch Award was bagged by Niamh Murray for her start-up ForgetMeNot, which is developing an app that acts as a personalised digital memory book for people with dementia.

The Sales Pitch Award was taken by Emily Murphy. She is the founder of The Mind Mechanic, which is developing mental wellness services.

“The founders we are working with are demonstrating that hard work and dedication can ensure that a good idea can be developed into a great business with the right support.” Ignite director Eamon Curtin said. “The programme consists of several valuable resources to help take your start-up to the next level.”

To date, the UCC Ignite programme has worked with 160 start-ups over the past 11 years, with these companies creating more than 370 jobs. Some start-ups that have worked with the Ignite programme include AnaBio TechnologiesApisProtectLegitFitEziVeinTalivest and Trustap.

Last October, social network start-up Nternz won the top prize at the Ignite programme showcase. This start-up developed a platform to allow students to discover and connect with careers and companies, and build their professional work experience.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic