Our Entrepreneurial Students' Highlights
Congratulations to QUB student businesses Evy, Kegomatic and BellaMoon who blew judges away with their pitches last week at multiple competitions and secured a combined prize pot of £26,000.
Students have been working tirelessly throughout the year on prototypes, pitches and business plans to ensure that their ideas are developed to the stage where they can be presented to judges.
Exectutive MBA student Irene Breen won top prize at the ‘Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards’ with her business ‘BellaMoon’, a unique multi-functional baby breast-feeding and co-sleeping bed, pregnancy pillow and baby dock. Her prize pot included £20,000, a fully funded intern, a corporate website and high level mentoring from Santander. Winning this prize has enabled Irene to plan to launch her business in early 2018.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Student groups Evy and Kegomatic won in their individual categories at the Invent 2017 awards. Evy, a smart tracking bag that ensures you ‘never forget’ won £3,500 in the Electronics category. Kegomatic, an automated beer keg solution, won £2,500 in the Agri-Science category. Both groups will attend the NI Tech Mission to California as part of their prize, to further develop their idea.
In addition, a Queen’s University and University of Ulster partnership won £1,000 in the student category with their business ‘HurtLockers’, an electronic first aid kit.
QUB Dragons’ Den came to an electrifying end in May. Mandela Hall was transformed to create a Dragons’ Den, similar to the real BBC Dragons’ Den, and finalists entered the Den to pitch their business idea to a panel of business experts.
Almost 80 students applied to the competition, all aiming to pick-up a share of the £10,000 investment pot, with ideas that would change the way we camp, order drinks at a restaurant or even learn how to play the guitar. Entries for the competition were from both undergraduate and post-graduate students studying a diverse range of subjects at the University.
Following an initial shortlist of 22 business ideas to the ‘Quick Pitch’ stage, 12 finalists were then selected to pitch to The Dragons, a panel of business experts including David Bradshaw, Client Executive, Invest Northern Ireland; John McKee, Chief Executive, Linkubator; Grant Edwards, Associate Director, Tughans; Catherine Martin, Partner, CavanaghKelly and Denise Murtagh, Business Development Manager, Dungannon Enterprise Center.
In the final the Dragons faced a tough decision, as the standard was so high they decided to split the money between 3 winners… Evy and StringSense who walked away with £4,000 each and SwotUP who won £2,000.
Inspiring the next generation of budding female entrepreneurs… 22 female students completed the Annual Queen’s Students’ Union’s ‘Innovateher’ programme.
Innovateher, which is now celebrating its 6th year in existence, encourages female students to think entrepreneurially and come up with business ideas they think could be successful. These could be a new product, a new service or even a new market for an existing product or service. Enterprise SU received over 50 applications from students from a diverse range of departments across the University.
After a number workshops to develop their skills and knowledge of business in areas including Marketing, Financials and Pitching, the participants presented their business idea to a panel of influential business women with £1,200 being distributed to the top pitch, best idea, best business model canvas and best use of technology.
INVENT challenges inventors, entrepreneurs, scientists and startups with proof-of-concepts and prototypes in science and technology to discover the commercial potential of their idea. Entrants compete through rounds of pitching assessed by our independent expert judges to win a share of the £33,000 prize fund, access to our global network and a place on the NI Tech Mission to California.
Two QUB teams made it to finals this year! Firstly, first year student entrepreneur of the year, Eve McLelland is the founder of Embed, an emergency bed made entirely of cardboard for those in need. Secondly Eleso, a trio of engineering students are on a mission to enable drivers to pay for petrol by using their registration plates! At the INVENT 2016 awards, Eve won the student category and the elevator pitch, winning £2,500 towards Embed!!
The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is an annual business pitching competition that rewards student and graduate entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes, mentoring and start-up support. This year 3 teams from QUB reached the final pitching stage in London
- IVEA: a team of 4 computer science students with an interactive tourism solution for Northern Ireland.
- Eleso: a new start-up company providing a faster, easier and more secure payment method for refuelling (previously PayOx).
- SnaptIt: A student startup, based in Belfast, providing a smart wristband helping you beat anxiety, stay productive and snap out of bad habits.
Unfortunately there were no wins for us this year, the level was incredibly high and the judges had a really tough time deciding on a winner.
It was an unbelievable experience for all the students involved, each business did an amazing job and we couldn't be more proud of them. Each team received some great feedback and made excellent contacts to follow up with as they build their businesses.
The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition
On Wednesday 22nd June we travelled down to the Google EMEA Headquarters in Dublin for the day to see QUB first year Eve McLelland - founder of Embed - compete in the final of the Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition 2016.
Em-bed is an emergency bed made entirely of cardboard for those in need. Unfortunately this year wasn’t her year but Eve did an amazing job to make it to the final 6 businesses at the age of just 19 and the judges really loved her product!
Want proof? See photo on the left!
Student Entrepreneur Awards 2016
Ché Cameron, Orla Murphy, Josh Walls, Michael Connor and Conor Mcguigan make up a team of engineering students and the founders of WaterWatch- a device that automatically stops leaks in your home and prevents flooding.
The team were lucky enough to make it to the final 10 teams in the competition and spent the day down in Limerick IT. It seems it’s only the beginning for the gang as they walked away with €1,000 and a wealth of new contacts as they take their business forward.
What's the Big Idea?
Now in its nineth year, the competition has become bigger and better, with more awards and prize money than ever before. This year’s competition saw over 80 applicants whittled down to a shortlist of 24 and the 9 winners walking away with a combined prize pot of £2,800. The ‘Best Overall Business Idea’ Award, sponsored by Ormeau Business Park, along with £500 was awarded to Niamh Scullion from Co Derry for her innovative business idea ‘Skytent'.
Queens University Society, Enactus, has received £4,895 to fund and further the work of their project Kickstart. KickStart works with young, ex-offenders who have children, in the local Belfast area. The project aims to give the beneficiaries qualifications to make them more employable, enabling them to turn away from crime and lead a better example for their children.
Enactus is a student-led initiative which uses the positive power of entrepreneurship to transform the lives of others. Enactus Belfast runs social projects within the Belfast community and further afield. The grant will enable the society to facilitate a number of workshops which will allow our beneficiaries to gain various OCN qualifications. The aim of the project is to make the beneficiaries more employable having exited prison, so that they can build a better future for themselves and their children.
The donation was provided by the Santander Foundation, which offers Discovery Grants to UK registered charities for projects that help disadvantaged people in local communities.