Ben Hamilton, Billy Murphy, Callum Gormley, and Adam O’Leary from Coláiste Mhuire, Cobh, who took 2nd prize in the senior category at this year’s Student Enterprise Programme National Finals. Photo: Darragh Kane

National award for Cork students

Students from a Cork school came close to winning the top prize in Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students.

Ben Hamilton, Billy Murphy, Callum Gormley Barrett, and Adam O' Leary of Coláiste Muire, Cobh, took 2nd place in the senior category at this year’s Student Enterprise Programme National Finals.

Their student enterprise, Coláiste Muire Student IDs, produces and sells student ID cards that can be used to receive discounts in local shops. The students developed their business under the guidance of their teacher, Ciara O’Callaghan.

There were 82 student businesses competing across 3 main categories for this year’s final. Overall, the Student Enterprise Programme saw 25,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part.

Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.

The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins, said: “We see every year that the national finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a steppingstone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey.

“From our class of 22/23 we will see some business leaders and global entrepreneurs of the future emerge.”

Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Business, Neale Richmond TD, attended the awards ceremony and congratulated the students on their achievement.

He said: “With over 25,000 students taking part in this year’s programme, it is a huge achievement to make it to the finals and shows a real flair for entrepreneurship.

“Some amazing businesses and entrepreneurs have come from this programme – the majority did not win any prizes but are still running successful businesses today.

“So, to those of you who won something today, a huge congratulations, but most importantly, to you all, this is the first step on the path. You are the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future, and everyone here today is excited to see what you do next.”

The Student Enterprise Programme is funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country.

Since the programme began in 2003, over 350,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.