Saturday, 20 June 2015

'Tippy Talk' wins Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015

Rob Laffan, a student from Limerick Institute of Technology, has today won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award and been named ‘College Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’. The winning entrant beat off stiff competition with his project ‘Tippy Talk’, a bespoke, robust touch-screen communication system that has been designed by the father of a non-verbal child with autism. ‘TippyTalk’ allows the child to communicate her desires, feelings and needs to her parents through the transfer of pictures to text messages. ‘TippyTalk’ can also be adapted to cover other areas of non-verbal disabilities.

Pictured at the Awards ceremony in University of Ulster’s Jordanstown Campus is Rob Laffan, ‘Tippy Talk’ from LIT. (credit Harrison Photography – no repro fee).

This year celebrates the 34th year of these prestigious awards which are co-sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Intel and Grant Thornton and are open to all third level colleges across the island of Ireland.

The Student Entrepreneur Awards are part of a major drive aimed at encouraging students to start their own business as a career option. This year the Awards attracted submissions from over 500 third level students from colleges across Ireland. The substantial prize fund includes €35,000 in cash prizes and €30,000 in consultancy fees which are available for winners to help them make a serious start at turning their idea into a commercial reality. In addition to winning the top prize, the winning team will also receive mentoring from Enterprise Ireland/Invest Northern Ireland to develop the commercial viability of their overall concept.

The awards were presented by Ian Murphy, Director of Growth & Scaling, Invest Northern Ireland and Sean Pagel from Production Services Ireland.

Three High Achieving Merit Awards, sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys, Grant Thornton and Intel, and Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Roots in Research’ commercialisation award were also presented.

The Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys’ High Achieving Merit Award of €5,000 went to ‘Blindspot’ from University of Ulster. Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys are also providing intellectual property consultancy and protection for all the finalists.

The Grant Thornton Emerging Business Award of €5,000 went to ‘The Wee Team’ from GMIT. Grant Thornton will also provide business plan development advice to the finalists.

Intel awarded their ICT award of €5,000 to ‘Blazer’ from Trinity College Dublin.

Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Roots in Research Award’, which highlights the commercial potential of research funded by the Irish Government, was awarded to med-tech start-up company ‘SecuRetract’ from UCC.
Merit Awards were also given to the remaining seven finalists, and a new Enterprise Ireland Institute Award of €1,000 was presented to Fred Scharf at University of Ulster in recognition of outstanding encouragement to students and the standard of applications submitted.
Tom Hayes, Head of Micro Enterprises and Small Business at Enterprise Ireland a said: “The aim of the Student Entrepreneur Awards is to get students thinking now about starting their own businesses and seriously considering enterprise as a valid career option. With an extensive range of supports from the sponsors, this competition gives students valuable hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and establishing a business. We are delighted with the caliber of applications for these awards which clearly demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive across Ireland’s universities and colleges”.
Congratulating the award winners on their success, Ian Murphy, Director of Growth & Scaling, Invest Northern Ireland, said: “Invest NI is delighted to be involved with the Student Entrepreneur Awards and in playing our part in encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship. Competitions like this can act as an important springboard for tomorrow’s business leaders and provide a platform for our young people to demonstrate their highly innovative concepts and commercial skills. It is equally important that they see starting their own businesses as a viable career choice and one to be immensely proud of”.