Young Irish innovators took to the stage to promote their start-up companies and attempt to raise funding at the second Irish University Entrepreneurship Forum (IUEF) which took place in Dublin yesterday.
Held in a former bank with high ceilings and decorative mouldings, a sprinkling of old world charm was mixed with a dollop of new world technology, software development, and innovative thinking as the next wave of Irish entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in the UCD-TCD Innovation Academy on College Green for the now annual IUEF event.
Fancy investing €20k in FRED, an online e-Learning resource which assembles the necessary resources for exam students. The founder, Marco Booth, was frustrated when many of his teachers went on maternity leave during his Leaving Cert cycle. Spotting an opportunity, Marco developed an intuitive on-demand educational resource that would work specifically for the individual, using ‘content, understanding and community’ so a student wouldn’t be so dependent on the physical teacher. Marco would love to hear from investors / mentors that have experience in the Irish and UK education system.
A mobile software development company, Glass Robot, aims to develop a mobile social gaming platform which avails of social networking and user generated content. The principle is that they will provide the platform for other developers to create and share their own game rounds / levels. Glass Robot had higher funding requirements looking for a cool €300k.
Back to pitch for the second year in a row, Restored Hearing has developed a cure for ringing in your ears (Tinnitus) brought on by recent exposure to loud noise. They are also soon to manufacture special ‘smart’ hearing protection.
With Ireland branding its EU Presidency as ‘The Digital Presidency’ it was apt that Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission with responsibility for the Digital Agenda, spoke passionately about the digital opportunities and agreed with ‘The Digital Presidency’ self appointed tag. Ms Kroes said that Ireland would need to ensure that the Country continued to meet the growing skills requirements, citing that, despite high unemployment in many EU states, there will soon be a shortage of certain required technical skills in the EU unless appropriate swift action is taken. She also spoke of youth unemployment as the one item that deeply concerns her but recounted her meeting with innovators as young as 14 who are succeeding internationally with digital endeavours.
Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, also recounted real life stories of simple, yet innovative thinking in Ireland in the past and now, citing years ago on their way to market, a son told his father to let mum sell the eggs at market that day; – “why” asked the father. The son replied “as the eggs will look bigger in mum’s small hands”.
Dean of Research at Trinity, Professor Vinny Cahill, spoke about the Trinity Incubator; LaunchBox.ie, and a new initiative to foster investment from Trinity’s large Alumni called Idea Vault.
Some of the ‘business leaders’ in attendance didn’t hold back during the Q&A session citing a lack of financials and investor return / exit strategies as being absent from many presentations. The Deputy CEO and COO of Ryanair, Michael Cawley, was flabbergasted that one company would give its whole business model away in public at such an early development stage. Former CFO of Skype, Laura Sheesgreen, MD of Hewlett Packard Ireland, Martin Murphy, and Chief Innovator of Born.ie, Cameron Stewart, were amongst those impressed and supportive of the next batch of young innovators as they start on their entrepreneurial journey.
CentralHubDublin.com CEO, Paul O’Dwyer, was happy to attend and “support the next wave of future success stories. Many of the companies are very early stage, but they’re testing the water and putting themselves out there. From speaking with the company founders, many of them would welcome mentors / new contacts at this stage (over investment), so hopefully business people and marketeers will get in touch and see how they can lend a hand.”
Other companies presenting included:
– VConnecta; mobile run Voter Relationship Management System for politicians / political parties to help provide efficiencies around canvassing.
– Ishca; distributor or a bottle refill vending machines for water and flavoured water.
-VouMove; a sports and fitness software company.
– VideoScamp; video services for online retailers for video content creation / video services in Ireland.
-Carbon Control – carbon related quality mark.
The IUEF is a student run initiative providing an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to business leaders and an invited audience from the business, investment and student community. See http://www.IUEF.ie