University College Dublin (UCD) has announced O’Kale Krisps as the overall winner of the 2017 UCD Startup Stars Programme. The programme, the University’s start-up support initiative for student entrepreneurs, has now ended at NovaUCD.

O’Kale Krisps, an early-stage food venture, has developed low-calorie, highly nutritious and air-dried kale crisps to give consumers a unique and healthy snack alternative when they are on the go.

Each tub of O’Kale Krisps contains only 69 calories, is high in iron, calcium, vitamin C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. The snacks are currently on sale in three flavours (original, spicy chilli and cheesy) and in 28 stores across Ireland.

The members of the O’Kale Krisps team are UCD undergraduate students, Jack Parsons (Business and Law) and Oisin McElhinney (Arts).

Jack Parsons, O’Kale Krisps, said, “We have thoroughly enjoyed our last 4 weeks at NovaUCD during which we have further developed our start-up and we are delighted that O’Kale Krisps has won the 2017 UCD Startup Stars Programme.”

He added, “Through our products, we want to build a community around healthy food, healthy body and mind to help people live a happier life. We hope to have O’Kale Krisps available in stores in all corners of Ireland by the end of the year. We also have future products in the pipeline and may venture into other areas of healthy living.”

The UCD Start-up Stars entrepreneurship programme, now in its 3rdyear, has been developed by UCD Research and Innovation, the UCD Innovation Academy and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, to support UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.

The programme began earlier this year with cross-disciplinary workshops and course modules delivered at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and the UCD Innovation Academy. During this period students from across the University explored and evaluated a number of real world problems before forming teams to develop start-up solutions to address the identified problems.

Five early stage ventures, with a total of 15 team members, were then selected to participate in an intensive mentoring programme which took place over the last 4 weeks at NovaUCD.

The aim of this mentoring was to assist the students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops and regular pitching sessions. In addition, each team also received a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD.

Following final pitches, O’Kale Krisps was selected as the overall winner as it was judged to have the most commercial potential and the founders received a cash prize of €3,000 sponsored by Xilinx. The four runner-ups (profiled below) also received a cash prize of €500 each sponsored by Xilinx.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate the founders of O’Kale Krisps on winning the 2017 UCD Startup Stars Programme and I would like to applaud all the students who participated in this year’s programme.”

She added, “During the last 4 weeks we leveraged our start-up expertise and experience to support this group of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial students as they developed and refined their start-up ideas. We now look forward to seeing all these early-stage ventures move to the next stage of development and launching into the market.”

Professor Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director, UCD Innovation Academy said, “UCD Start-up Stars is a great collaboration between NovaUCD, the UCD Innovation Academy and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.”

“The students have worked very hard these past few weeks on venture ideas they are passionate about. The final pitches, better than any words, are a testament to the work that is being undertaken at UCD to foster entrepreneurial mindsets and the ambition of our students to tackle big problems. The programme is a fantastic opportunity for them to develop an idea and explore its viability in the real world.”

Majella Murphy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School said, “There was a great mix of students from multiple disciplines, on this year’s programme who brought with them diverse ideas and perspectives which are very beneficial to early stage start-up ventures.”

The members of the final UCD Startup Stars Programme judging panel were; Anthony Collins, Senior Staff Marketing Engineer, Xilinx; Barbara Diehl, Executive Director, UCD Innovation Academy; Caroline Gill, Innovation Education Manager, UCD Research and Innovation; Gianni Matera, Founder and Partner, Growing Capital and Dr Sharon O’Kane, NovaUCD, Entrepreneur-in-Residence.


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