Rob Laffan, College Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015 winner
Rob Laffan, a student from Limerick Institute of Technology, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was named ‘College Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’.
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.
This year the winning projects are:
College Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015 winner: ‘Tippy Talk’ – LIT – Rob Laffan
TippyTalk is 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 allows for the child to send messages to her parents no matter where they are in the world. Not just limited to autism, TippyTalk can be adapted to cover other areas of non-verbal disabilities.
Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys’ High Achieving Merit Award winner: ‘BlindSpot’ – University of Ulster – Joseph McKinney, Adam Jamison & Thomas McGlaughlin
BlindSpot offers a unique, 21st century virtual reality training tool which enables the user to immerse themselves in a virtual world. Using a VR headset, steering wheel, gears and pedals we are able to simulate the driving experience accurately with the ability to adjust steering resistance, vehicle height/ length and many other features to make the BlindSpot experience as real as possible. Using the media of Virtual reality we believe we can revolutionize driver training by allowing users to spend more time training providing a safe, risk-free training method that can be used in the workplace or at home. This product allows learner drivers to practice manoeuvers and drive in conditions that may be seasonal and alien to them, such as driving at night or in snow.
Grant Thornton Emerging Business Award winner: ‘The Wee Team’ - GMIT – Loraine Sotoparra & Laura Williams
Mr. Wee – a unique product that trains boys to lift the toilet seat. Our idea is a solution to a worldwide domestic problem! It is a device which forces boys to lift the toilet seat in order to urinate and can be used as a training device for younger boys. It is fixed to the toilet seat upper rim creating a barrier across the seat. The product can be bent back onto itself if the user wishes to be seated! It is easy to clean, safe and hygienic. It has 3 fitting sizes and can be customised with any graphics and text to target a broad audience. It’s a simple, affordable, effective product ready to go to market.
Intel ICT award winner: ‘BLAZER’ – Trinity College Dublin - Francis Yates, Joseph Lanzillotta & John O’Reilly
The BLAZER team are building a system that will save the honeybees. The problem they are facing is Varroa mite infestations leading to colony collapse disorder. This is truly a global problem. The BLAZER system will be easily installed to existing hives to provide the service of Varroa removal and prevention by using lasers to remove mites from bees as they enter and exit the hive. It will also monitor the number of mites being removed daily and provide the beekeeper with real time data analytics allowing them to better manage their hives. The team consists of two engineering student Francis Yates and John O'Reilly and one business student Joseph Lanzillotta.
Enterprise Ireland ‘Roots in Research Award’ winners: ‘SecuRetract’ – UCC - Conor O'Shea, Jan Kegel, Ruggero Loi & Prasanna Ramaswamy
The ‘SecuRetract’ team answers an important clinical need identified by a number of leading colorectal surgeons. ‘SecuRetract’ is a minimally invasive, disposable retractor for use in laparoscopic surgery with a number of advantages over competing technologies. This novel, patented retractor has the potential to ease surgical procedures as well as improving patient outcomes by alleviating a number of common complications currently experienced by the gold standard approach in laparoscopic retraction. With a rapidly growing global market, ‘SecuRetract’ is positioned to bring meaningful employment to Ireland with promising export and business growth potential.
For more information visit the Student Entrepreneur Awards website
Robert Laffan talks about his award-winning idea: