The programme, which is Ireland’s largest business and enterprise programme for second level students, was launched by Pat Breen, T.D., Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection and rugby star Josh Van Der Flier. Van der Flier is the SEP Ambassador for 2019 / 2020 and a former participant in the programme while a student in Wesley College in Dublin.
Fingal has the largest SEP in Ireland, with over 2,500 students from 25 secondary schools taking part in this year’s Programme in the hope of making the National Finals in Croke Park on the 1st May. The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 LEOs in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 25,000 students from 515 secondary schools across the country take part in 2018 / 2019.
Last year proved to be a particularly good year for student entrepreneurs in Fingal, with Malahide-Portmarnock Educate Together School scooping the top prize in the Junior category at the Croke Park final. This new school had just opened its doors last September in the Riasc Centre and won the coveted first place at the national awards, proving Fingal’s student entrepreneurs are top of the class!
This year’s Programme will see two new pilot competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories. The first, the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” pilot will be run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and is open to any students involved in wider competition. It requires them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and what is required.
In the Senior category there is a new “Most Creative Business Idea” section. Under the theme “Go Green: Be Sustainable” students can push their most innovative ideas, without having to produce a product or service and it is open to all senior students taking part in the wider competition.
Speaking to some of the students involved in this year’s programme at the launch, Minister Breen emphasised the importance of them engaging with enterprise and using it to innovate and create solutions for today’s world. “The students of today are increasingly aware of the role they can play in changing the status quo. Encouragement of entrepreneurial and innovative skills allows them to change things, to create new opportunities and to contribute to solving some of the many issues facing society today and in the future. This spirit has always been very evident in the Student Enterprise Programme. Every year we see creative young minds bringing fresh thinking to all areas of business, whether it’s innovative design, new software, revolutionary apps, or simply solving a daily issue in some area of life.
“These students are the entrepreneurs of the future, they will be our job creators, they are the ones we want to support and help on their entrepreneurship journey. We want to foster those ideas because these students will provide the business success stories in the future. I wish all students the very best of luck in this year’s programme. I know they will find it a richly rewarding experience.” Minister Breen said.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Eoghan O'Brien, said: “Fingal’s students have the immense potential to become successful entrepreneurs and contribute positively the region. That’s what the Student Enterprise Programme is all about. Fingal county Council, through the Local Enterprise Office, is fostering a strong entrepreneurial culture within the county leading to the creation of local jobs”.
Oisín Geoghegan, Chair of the Network of 31 LEOs and Head of Enterprise in Fingal, said: “The aim of the Student Enterprise Programme is to instil that little bit of entrepreneurship in every student that takes part. The Local Enterprise Offices work closely with the schools to help spark their ideas but also ground them in what will help them make sales. These skills are invaluable and to see the amazing ideas, year on year, many of which have become viable businesses, is inspirational not only to their fellow students but to anyone involved in business and entrepreneurship.”
Since the SEP began in 2003, over 200,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business. The SEP also has a new website for 2019 / 2020 at www.StudentEnterprise.ie, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.