Last week, the 2020 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition was launched. The competition, which is being run digitally in light of Covid-19 restrictions, will see early-stage student start-ups go through an intensive 4-week mentoring programme in NovaUCD, UCD’s hub of innovation-related activities.
The programme, previously dubbed “Start-up Stars” is now in its sixth year, and aims to “assist the students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring”, according to a spokesperson from NovaUCD. This year, there are 11 participating early-stage businesses who will avail of the scheme.
The culmination of the programme will be a pitch from each start-up to a judging panel to try nab a €5,000 cash prize. Second and third positions will receive €3,000 and €2,000 respectively, whilst the remaining teams will get a €1,000 cash prize.
Some of the more interesting ideas include Appointment Pal, an app making booking a doctor’s appointment more efficient. Byowave are designing gaming controllers for people with disabilities. Medsimilars are developing a platform for customers to access detailed information and purchase biosimilar medicines approved by the European Medicines Agency. And Uni21 is an app which turns students’ lecture material into MCQs.
The College Tribune spoke to three of the students leading out some of the companies involved in the competition. Ciara Feely, a PhD student, is running Daysier with Courtney Ford. Speaking to the Tribune, Ciara explains that Daysier “is all about making the work day easier by conveniently providing personalised productivity advice”.
Elsewhere, we spoke to Eric Giannitrapani, a recent BComm International student. Along with some colleagues, Eric is working on JustFeedMe, an app that links takeaways cafes and restaurants with clients enthusiastic to buy unsold nourishment at a lower cost. Eric tells me that “for clients, the app is the straightforward way to eat well, spare cash and secure the planet. For Retailers JustFeedMe is a unique opportunity to receive an additional revenue stream, reduce food waste and reach new clients. A win-win solution!”
The Tribune also spoke to Maxence Vidal, he too a recent BComm graduate, on his effort with Tribe. “Tribe is a start-up aimed at matching language learners with native speakers. We want to make language learning more interactive than standardized language classes or language mobile apps”, says Maxence.
UCD Formula Student (UCDFS), the society behind the construction of an electric formula-style car which hopes to race in the Formula Student Electric competition, are also taking part in the programme.
Speaking to the College Tribune on the NovaUCD-run Student Enterprise Competition thus far, Ciara Feely stated that “everyone involved is very invested in helping us learn about the entrepreneurship process”. Maxence reiterated this sentiment, adding that having so many teams in the programme is a positive, as they are encouraged to exchange ideas, which “dissipates the competitiveness in the air, allowing us to focus instead on the good entrepreneurial endeavors we’re all pursuing”. Eric, too, has seen the positives of being involved in the programme, opting that his team have already benefited from “exceptional mentoring in order to develop the best possible go to market strategy for our businesses”.
It would have been easier for NovaUCD to simply cancel the competition in light of the current situation we find ourselves in. Fortunately for these students, and the other members of NovaUCD, the faculty has adapted rapidly and enabled the continuation of what seems to be a robust and beneficial competition for would-be entrepreneurs.
Alex Lohier – Deputy Editor