By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

Students from National College of Ireland’s MSc in Cloud Computing course were the overall winners of the Citi upStart Dragons’ Den style final in Queen’s University Belfast. Known as Team Codaline, their pitch involved the use of an artificial intelligence chatbot to improve cloud system administration.

Over 100 Master of Science students representing five universities from the island of Ireland had participated in the nine month programme. Citi’s upStart Accelerator was the entrepreneurial project in their course curriculum.

Team Codaline were awarded a number of prizes at the final held on 31 March 2017 including visits to the Citi London Offices, the Level 39 FinTech Accelerator, the Pivotal Labs Accelerator as well as access to MS BizSpark and Cloud Time.

upStart was established by Citi Ireland and Citi Belfast in 2011 as a programme to pair student start up teams with Citi mentors. The programme initially involved Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast.

For the 2016/2017 academic year, upStart was rolled out to 100 students in five universities across Ireland and Northern Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; University of Limerick; National College of Ireland; Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster.

Citi upStart is a collaboration between academia and industry to encourage entrepreneurial skills. The students work on a start up idea for their master’s degrees.

The programme provides participants with the opportunity to build their own tech start up and business. The skills developed during the process will be useful in any career path the students might choose to pursue later on.

Students who took part in upStart worked with 77 Citi mentors over nine months, generating ideas for their master’s degrees in Computer Science and Innovation.

During the early stages of the programme, students attended a Business Model Canvas and a Silicon Valley round table in November 2016.

At these events the students received guidance from members of the Citi Innovation Lab on developing their early stage ideas into full-fledged business concepts.

They also had the chance to sound their ideas off industry experts such as Amor Sexton, Senior Innovation Lead and Blockchain Expert, Citi Ireland, who has worked as a lawyer for startups for over 20 years.


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