UCD Startup Stars supports six early stage ventures

Finance | Wed 6 May | Author – Business & Finance
UCD start-up programme
Pictured (l-r) at NovaUCD are Constantine Doherty (1st year science); Colm Moran (1st year engineering); Brendan Cremen, UCD director of Enterprise and Commercialisation; John Byrne (4th year commerce international); Professor Suzi Jarvis, founding director, UCD Innovation Academy; and Anna O’Flynn (2nd year economics).

Six early stage ventures have been selected to take part in a new start-up programme for University College Dublin (UCD) undergraduate students.

The initiative, called UCD Startup Stars, has been developed by NovaUCD and the UCD Innovation Academy, to provide a framework and support programme for UCD undergraduates who want to work together to build start-up companies.

UCD Startup Stars began with cross-disciplinary workshops delivered over a three-month period as part of the UCD Innovation Academy’s creative thinking and entrepreneurial endeavour modules. During these modules, students from across the university learned creative thinking, teamwork, design thinking and lean business skills.

At the end of this period 13 student teams pitched their start-up ideas to a panel of judges who selected six early stage ventures who will now proceed to the next phase of the programme.

The six successful teams, with a total of 15 team members, will now participate in an intensive four-week mentoring programme to help them to refine their start-up ideas. This programme will start later this month at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

The programme will include taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops as well as regular pitching sessions. In addition to the structured workshops there will be team mentoring and opportunities to network with the NovaUCD community of entrepreneurs. Each team will also be given a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD during the programme.

Among those selected for UCD Startup Stars are ‘Clink the College Link’ and ‘Sole Sense’.

Clink, whose founders are Anna O’Flynn (2nd year economics) and John Byrne (4th year commerce international), is developing a college course database platform to address the high drop-out rate of first year college students. The platform gives prospective students an in depth, personalised view into courses, and their learning style, to help them decide if it is the right course for them.

Sole Sense, whose founders are Constantine Doherty (1st year science) and Colm Moran (1st year engineering), is developing pressure-sensitive insoles for running shoes that analyse the users technique as they run and will provide real-time, easy-to-read information via an app that can enable the user to prevent injury and improve performance.

Professor Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director, UCD Innovation Academy said: “UCD Startup Stars combines the expertise of the Innovation Academy with that of NovaUCD to provide UCD students, who have an appetite for entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem solving, the opportunity to work beyond the confines of their subject areas and develop new solutions to problems they care about. Through this programme we are drawing together some of UCD’s most creative undergraduates who have the courage to attempt to solve difficult problems.”

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “NovaUCD is delighted to be working with the UCD Innovation Academy on this new start-up support programme for UCD undergraduates. We now look forward to leveraging our start-up expertise and experience, gained over many years, and supporting this group of young entrepreneurial students as they develop and refine their start-up ideas during the forthcoming 4-week mentoring programme at NovaUCD.”

At the final workshop, to be held in mid-June, each start-up will present to a judging panel. Based on evaluation of the presentations and the submitted business plans one overall winner will be selected who will be awarded a prize of €3,000 to help them on their start-up journey.

The sponsors of UCD Startup Stars are Arthur Cox, AIB, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Pay with Fire and Xilinx.