The 6 early stage student ventures selected for University College Dublin’s (UCD) 2016 Startup Stars Programme have been announced today.

This entrepreneurship programme, developed by NovaUCD, the UCD Innovation Academy and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, provides a framework and support for UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.

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

Thirteen (13) student teams pitched their start-up ideas to a panel of judges who selected 6 early stage ventures to proceed to the next phase of the programme.

These successful teams, with a total of 15 team members, will now participate in an intensive 4-week mentoring programme which starts later this month at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

Among those selected are Skillar and Step Out.

Skillar is planning to redefine part-time employment in Ireland. With a focus on low-skill, high-turnover recruitment, Skillar aims to streamline the hiring and job-search process via a location-based app. This app will enable employers advertise jobs and subsequently shortlist and talk to locally-available potential staff who apply through the app. The founders of Skillar are UCD students, Laurence McNally (Masters, Mechanical Engineering), Stephen Jones (4th year, Chemical Engineering) and Andrew Desmond (Masters, Digital Innovation).

Step Out plans to bring high-quality and activity-based workshops to secondary school students around Ireland to supplement the teaching of English literature curriculum in a more engaging and relatable way. The founders of Step Out are UCD students, Sahar Mohamed-Ali (3rd year, Chemical Engineering), Eppie Claffey (3rd year, English and Drama) and Joanna Kelly (3rd year, English and Drama).

The 4 other participating start-ups are profiled below.

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “During the upcoming 4-week mentoring programme at NovaUCD we will leverage our start-up expertise and experience, gained over many years, to support this group of young entrepreneurial students as they develop and refine their start-up ideas.”

The mentoring programme, to help the teams to refine their start-up ideas, will consist of a series of structured workshops, taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops as well as regular pitching sessions. In addition there will be opportunities for the teams to network with the NovaUCD community of entrepreneurs. Each team will also be given a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD during this phase of the programme.

Professor Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director, UCD Innovation Academy, “Building on the successful pilot of UCD Startup Stars last year in partnership with NovaUCD we are delighted to be expanding the competition this year to include UCD postgraduate students and their wealth of research based innovation, in partnership with the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.”

She added, “UCD Startup Stars now provides both undergraduate and postgraduate students, who have an appetite for entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem solving, the opportunity to work beyond the confines of their subject areas and develop new solutions to problems they care about. Through this programme we are drawing together some of UCD’s most creative students who have the courage to attempt to solve difficult problems.”

Majella Murphy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School said, “The UCD Startup Stars experience will push the students beyond their comfort zone to really step up to the challenge of being a real life entrepreneur for four weeks. We hope that the experience will give them the confidence and enthusiasm to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavours beyond the end of the four week programme.”

At the final workshop, to be held in mid-June, each start-up will present to a final judging panel. Based on evaluation of the presentations and submitted business plans one overall winning team will be selected who will be awarded a €3,000 prize to help them on their start-up journey.

The sponsors of the UCD Startup Stars programme are AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers and Xilinx.

The hashtag for this programme is #UCDstartupStars.

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