Celebrating Student Entrepreneurs  – With IdeasLab Start100 Competition

25th June 2024

Posted In: Be In The Frame

IdeasLab, the entrepreneurial and innovation hub at University of Galway, has announced the winners of its student entrepreneur Start100 competition.

Damien Delaney, a first-year Psychology student from Birr, Co Offaly and the owner of Hology Photography secured the top prize and a €5,000 award for his visual-based app called FocusZen which enables individuals to use photography as a form of meditation and a way of enhancing their wellbeing.

Final year Bachelor of Commerce student David Garvey from Glenamaddy, Co Galway, received the One to Watch award and a prize fund of €1,000 for Arclo, an innovative clothing brand bringing t-shirts to life using augmented reality technology.

Most Engaging Pitch went to Claudine Mulihano, a first-year Podiatric Medicine student from Dundalk, Co Louth, and her idea StepWise, a smart insole designed to tackle the foot condition plantar fasciitis using Bluetooth technology to transmit real-time biomechanics data to healthcare practitioners.

Alongside the three main prize winners, one of the Start100 judging panel, Paul Merriman, chief executive of Fairstone, pledged to give student Emily Donellan from Maree, Co Galway €2,000 in funding for her podcast Start Right, a by-student, for-student podcast that offers tailored advice and guidance to young people transitioning from secondary school to college.

Start100 offers students an intensive six-week programme, where ten teams refine their business model and present at a special showcase, bringing their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges from the worlds of academia, research, and enterprise.

The competitions is designed to empower early-stage student startups.

During the process the teams are introduced to speakers from different industries, experts in entrepreneurial development both regionally and nationally, and Start100 alumni who have successfully started their own businesses.

Each team is matched with a mentor in a relevant field, ensuring they receive the advice and the support they need to take their idea to the next level.

Professor Peter McHugh, University of Galway’s Deputy President and Registrar, said: “University of Galway plays an important role in nurturing innovation and growth within our region and beyond. Start100 is an example of how the connections we foster with industry cultivate innovative leadership skills in our students, and provides them with the space and supports to develop ideas with the potential for broader societal impact.”

Méabh Conaghan, Regional Director for the West and North-West Regions, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Programmes that encourage and support student entrepreneurship at all levels are crucial to a vibrant start-up ecosystem.

The Start100 series of incubation supports is to be applauded as it helps students to explore, develop and validate their ideas in a structured and safe environment.

Enterprise Ireland West region is delighted to collaborate with Ollscoil na Gaillimhe and its IdeasLab team on Start100 2024. Enterprise Ireland warmly welcomes Start100, recognizing it as an avenue for future enterprise success and is happy to support this worthwhile initiative.”

Throughout the programme students visited CREW, ComWorks in Loughrea, Platfrom 94 and the Portershed and had guest speakers from Enterprise Ireland, Westbic, the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Start100 alumni. They were given workshops on intellectual property, tax, presentation skills and more, and speakers from successful enterprises such as Mbryonics and Tribe Hospitality.

The judging panel for the final event were Dr Helen McBreen, Partner Atlantic Bridge; Paul Merriman, CEO Fairstone; Méabh Conaghan, Regional Director for the West and North-West Regions, Enterprise Ireland; and John Brennan, CEO WestBic, and the prize fund sponsored by AskPaul for the second year in a row.

Dr Natalie Walsh, Director of Entrepreneurial Development at University of Galway, said:“Start100 is more than a programme it is a bridge that connects our student entrepreneurs with our vibrant regional ecosystem and beyond. By fostering these connections, we empower our students to leverage the wealth of knowledge, expertise, and resources available right here in our region.

The collaboration with local industry leaders, visits to innovation hubs, and insights from successful Start100 alumni, all contribute to a rich network of supports that helps our young entrepreneurs turn their innovative ideas into viable businesses with global impact.”

Pictured: Students David Garvey, Claudine Mulihano, Damien Delaney and Emily Donellan were awarded funds to support their business ideas as part of University of Galway IdeasLab’s Start100 student incubator.  (Image: Martina Regan)