The UCD Student Innovation Fund in partnership with UCD Students’ Union (SU) awarded a combined sum of €15,500 to student-run startups last Thursday evening, the March 27th, as part of a new initiative by UCD to invest in student entrepreneurs.
The panel of judges heard pitches from 33 startups in total and following delegation decided to allocate specific sums of funding to the ideas they felt deserved the backing.
Only six of the 33 submissions were successful in attaining a portion of the funding on offer. HireMe was one of the successful applicants. It is a startup that was set up by final year Economics and Finance student, Donal Tobin, who described his business as a “LinkedIn for students” and aims to solve the problem of graduate recruitment.
Another successful pitch was given by the group behind the Trigger Tube. This idea was developed by first year Engineering student, Andrew Cullen, who wants to solve the problem of bulky foam rollers. He has designed a foam roller product that also carries essentials, for example water bottles, to training classes.
Ciara Keane also received the funding requested for her Compare Birth Control (comparebirthcontrol.com) startup, which allows women to both read and write reviews on all the currently available contraceptive pills.
Similarly iSave, an idea put forward by postgraduate student Ciara O’Brien, will get the opportunity to avail of mentoring from the panel as well as the financial backing. She wants to solve the issue of “lifestyle banking.” Her app would allow for users to set saving goals for themselves and to in turn be able to manage their finance goals more efficiently.
Getthelift.ie, meanwhile, was set up by Electronic and Computer Engineering postgraduate, John O’Donnell, who has created a website to allow for students across Ireland to form car-pooling services.
The final startup to get financial backing was Shane Keaveney’s innovative biomass to fuel process. This is an initiative developed by Keaveney, who is finalising his PhD thesis in Mechanical Engineering. His plan is the produce a method of creating “high quality, dry, energy dense material from low quality, wet and undesirable biomass in an energy efficient way for fuel applications.
These final firms have the opportunity to avail of ongoing support from either the UCD Students’ Union, the Student Centre staff or from Nova UCD. The competition was seen as a success and a spokesperson from the panel said that they are hoping to make it an annual event.
The UCD Student Innovation Fund is a joint initiative set up by the UCD Students’ Union and the UCD Director of Student Services and Facilities, Dominic O’Keeffe. It was set up to give UCD student-run startups the chance to be awarded funding in order to subsidise their business plans and to ensure that creative UCD startups don’t go unnoticed.
Its aim was to address the lack of financial investment in UCD student entrepreneurs through a Dragons’ Den style panel, open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The competition involved three rounds with the first being a pitch in the ‘den’ by all applicants, then the shortlisted applicants were invited back into the den for further discussion. The third round was an awards ceremony where the winners were announced.