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By Blog, Media


A Monaghan student who developed Coppercase, an antimicrobial copper case to store face masks, has taken the top prize at this year’s Student Enterprise Programme National Finals. Matthew McVicar, a 16-year-old student from St. Macartan’s College, supported by Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Monaghan, noticed the excessive amount of face masks being disposed of in his community and created a copper case to solve the problem. His product is now being sold in pharmacies in Ireland and the UK.

“Just three minutes in a CopperCase and your mask is free from Covid-19 and other viruses and bacteria,” Matthew McVicar of Coppercase explains. “Hundreds of studies have proven the antimicrobial effects of copper and Coppercase is one of only seven companies in Europe who have this authorisation to place copper on the market as a biocide,” the Student Enterprise Programme Senior National Winner went on to say.

The runners-up in the senior category were Amy’s Y2K Vintage Shop, from Lough Allen College, Drumkeeran, supported by LEO Leitrim. The young entrepreneur set up an online store sourcing and selling vintage clothes. Meanwhile, SZE Stories from St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk, supported by LEO Louth, came third with their book aimed at addressing student issues such as bullying.

The Student Enterprise Programme National Finals were held virtually and broadcast live from Croke Park to hundreds of finalists, students and teachers across the country. The Local Enterprise Office initiative, supported by Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities, began in September with close to 30,000 students taking part.

The event was hosted by RTE’s Rick O’Shea and he was joined during the ceremony by An Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar and Student Enterprise Programme Ambassador, Derval O’Rourke, a three-time Olympian and entrepreneur with her health, fitness and wellbeing platform

In the Intermediate Category, the first prize was taken by T-Snappi from Summerhill College supported by LEO Sligo. Their apron with snap on tea towel aims to address all sorts of kitchen mishaps. In second place were Tried and Tested from Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon supported by LEO Clare with a local celebrity cookbook. Timpeall an Ti from Castleisland Community College, supported by LEO Kerry, came third in the Intermediate Category with an educational board game for learning Irish.

In the Junior Category, the top award went to Go Green Now from Salerno Secondary School, supported by LEO Galway. They created a ‘go green now’ pack which included a tree kit with Coillte-sourced high quality acorns. Second place went to Two Peas in a Pod from St. Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross, supported by LEO Wexford who created a card matching game to promote tourism. And finally, third place in the Junior Category went to Wreaths By Occasion from Moate Community School, supported by LEO Westmeath who use willow sticks from a local bog in their wreaths.

There were 72 student enterprises competing in what is Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw 29,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part.

An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, who took part in the ceremony, congratulated the students today; “Congratulations to not only the finalists being recognised here today, but to everyone who took part in the competition. To be a finalist in the Student Enterprise Programme is a fantastic achievement in normal times and its incredible given everything that’s happened this past year. Everyone who took part should be very proud of all that they have achieved. Special mention to their teachers, parents and all those who helped them along the way. The ability to create an idea, turn it into a business and to run that business is a skill that will be invaluable later in life. Ireland has a proud history of entrepreneurship and no doubt those here today will all go on to achieve great things. Government will back you every step of the way.”

Michael Nevin, chair of the Local Enterprise Office’s Enterprise Education Committee, said; “Year on year the Student Enterprise Programme continues to produce the very best of ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students. It’s no surprise to see the challenges thrown up by the pandemic featuring in many of the businesses and the ongoing willingness for students to create businesses that not only sell services or products, but that help address ongoing issues in society. We see every year that the National Finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. From our class of 20/21 we will see some business leaders and global entrepreneurs of the future emerge.”

The National Final students, who competed across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, saw judging take place virtually via electronic submissions. Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

This year’s Programme also saw the inclusion of two optional competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories. The first, “My Entrepreneurial Journey”, was run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and open to any students involved in wider competition. It required them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and how that could be achieved. This year’s winners were Pro Games, Spectro Robotics, Our Lady’s Secondary School, Monaghan in the Junior Section and Mark’s Productions, Colaiste Eaman Ris, Kilkenny in the Intermediate section.

In the Senior category, there was a Covid-19 themed “Creative Business Idea” competition, which was open to all senior students taking part in the wider programme. In this competition, students could push their most innovative business ideas via a video pitch, without having to produce a product or service. The winners of this category were The Pocket Mask Cleaner, Colaiste Bhaile Chlair, Galway.

Last year, the 2019/2020 Student Enterprise Programme National Final winners in the Senior category were Handy Hose Holders from CBS Thurles in Tipperary for their practical milking parlour hose solution that has since been picked listed by Glanbia. The Intermediate category was won by Aim It Board from Loreto College in Dublin City, while Sofatop from Ballybay Community College in Monaghan took the Junior category award.

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 250,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business. Full details of all this year’s 72 national finalists are available on the Student Enterprise Programme website at


For further information:
Suzanne Meade – Fuzion Communications – 086 413 3031 /
Ciara Jordan – Fuzion Communications – 086 868 4555 /
Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 /
Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 /



Junior Category 

1st:       Go Green Now, Salerno Secondary School, Galway

2nd:       Two Peas In A Pod, St. Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross, Wexford

3rd:       Wreaths By Occasion, Moate Community School, Westmeath

Best Commercial Potential: The Natural Bubble, Royal School, Cavan

Best COVID 19 Adaptability: Parcel Trust, Colaiste Eamon Ris, Callan, Kilkenny

Special Merit: Safety Studs, Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Kerry

Extra Special Merit for Excellence in Marketing:  

2 Peas In A Pod, St. Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross, Wexford

Intermediate Category 

1st:       T-Snappi, Summerhill College, Sligo  

2nd:       Tried & Tested, Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon, Clare

3rd:       Timpeall an Ti, Castleisland Community College, Kerry

Best Commercial Potential: Handy Hooks, Ballymahon Vocational School, Longford

Best COVID 19 Adaptability: Covid Monster Comic, Lough Allen College, Drumkeeran, Leitrim

Special Merit (for Global Sustainability):    Bee Happy, Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin  


Senior Category 

1st:       Coppercase, St. Macartan’s College, Monaghan

2nd:       Amy’s Y2K Vintage Shop, Lough Allen College, Drumkeeran, Leitrim

3rd:       SZE Stories, St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk

Best Commercial Potential: Irish Sea Mist, Bridgetown College, Wexford   

Best COVID 19 Adaptability: Easy Ex, St. Ciaran’s Community School, Kells

Special Merit: Zero Fog, Desmond College Newcastlewest, Limerick  

Special Merit: Cartai Feasa, Pobal Scoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Kerry


Social Media Awards 

Most Effective Social Media Campaign:      Oglo, St. Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise

Most Creative Use of Social Media: Wired Jewellery, Ratoath College, Meath

Most Interactive Business on Social Media:           Hook r’Strike, Colaiste na Toirbite, Bandon, Cork

The Natasha Lynch Commemorative Award for Excellence in Social Media:      Hology Photography, St. Brendan’s Community School, Birr, Offaly


Intellectual Property Awards 

Junior Category:        Reflecto Tags, Mount St. Michael Secondary Schook, Claremorris, Mayo

Intermediate: Timpeall an Ti, Castleisland Community College, Kerry

Senior Category:        Bootfresh, Ballinrobe Community School, Mayo

Special Merit Award:            Irish Sea Mist, Bridgetown College, Wexford



‘My Entrepreneurial Journey’ Award 2021



1st:       Pro Games, Spectro Robotics, Our Lady’s Secondary School, Monaghan  

2nd:       Magtran, Lough Allen College, Drumkeeran, Leitrim

3rd:       Hydromobile X, Mount St. Michael Secondary School, Claremorris, Mayo



1st:       Mark’s Productions, Colaiste Eaman Ris, Kilkenny  

2nd:       Snap & Translate, Colaiste Mhuire, Ballymoate, Sligo 

3rd:       Multi-Card, St. Patrick’s Classical School, Navan, Meath



COVID-19 Creative Business Idea Video Award

 Special Merit (for Presentation & Pitching):          Counting After Covid, Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny   

Overall Winner:         The Pocket Mask Cleaner, Colaiste Bhaile Chlair, Galway  

Not Long To Go Now!!!

By Blog, Media

Not Long To Go Now!!!

With just over 2 weeks to go to the highlight of the Student Enterprise Programme calendar, all roads lead to Croke Park once again – albeit virtually!!!

The 19th Annual SEP Final takes place on Friday 14th May at 2.30pm.

Full details available in our April 2021 newsletter here

How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

By Blog, Media

How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

My name is Anthony O’Gorman and I am a proud Student Enterprise Programme alumni!

I’d like to share with you my own business journey and what I’ve learned on my journey to being a teen entrepreneur.

My enterprise journey started in 2019 when I had a unique Christmas business idea – to hand-craft wooden reindeers.

I started by selling to my family and friends initially. Then I brought a sample into my school (Tullamore College) and I guess it just took off from there! I worked on the reindeers in my father’s workshop using his tools. Every evening I came home with 10 or 12 orders and ended up selling over 200 reindeers that first Christmas!.

My business teacher Ms. Griffin suggested that I enter the Student Enterprise Awards. I was delighted that I took her advice and I won the Offaly intermediate title and then went on to represent my county at the national final.

The competition was very strong at the National Final and even though I did not win, getting there was the greatest achievement of my life so far. I received a trophy and €350 which I reinvested into expanding my business.

Top 3 Lessons I Learned:

From taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, I learned a lot about business and about how I could improve my business model. I was able to identify the key changes I needed to make going forward such as:

  • I was charging too little per product
  • I needed to hire people to help me, as I had too many orders to manage in a short space of time
  • I needed to start planning earlier

These three lessons would prove to be invaluable to me in 2020.


2020: Turning Covid-19 into an opportunity

Covid 19 took hold in March 2020 and I ended up with a lot of spare time, as the Junior Certificate was now cancelled. It was the perfect opportunity to grow my business. I realised that families were at home spending more time in their gardens and I decided to tap into this a bit more by creating handmade wooden garden accessories such as trains, wheelbarrows and planters.

2020 was a game changer for my business in so many ways:

-I developed a sales platform from my Facebook page Anthony’s Wooden Crafts

-I identified easier, less labour intensive ways to work . I invested in new tools and equipment – (no more hand sawing)

-I started planning much earlier in the year (September, as opposed to November the previous year)

I set myself a target of 1,000 reindeers and I began producing in October. When I went back to school after the Summer I worked in the evenings and weekends to build up stock. A local photographer took some photos for my Facebook page. My mother had come across the Shop in Ireland Facebook page and uploaded the famous picture. Little did I know where this would lead.

From there, RTE’s Philip Bromwell contacted me. My business was featured on the Six O’Clock News and the Late Late Toy Show – this is what dreams are made of! It was a crazy few weeks between radio interviews and my photo being across all social media sites and local newspapers.


It’s All About Your Support Network

My family was so supportive. Without their encouragement, it probably would never have grown. My dad was always there to pick up my materials, do deliveries and give advice. My mam is very handy with a paint brush and sowing flowers!

As I became overwhelmed with orders, family members came to help; as well as the mammies of my hurling team. My school teachers and school tutor were there at all times for support too. For that I am so grateful.

I ended up producing double my target. It was hard work and very challenging at times, but the positives far outweigh that.  One final special moment in this journey was donating 100 teddies to Temple Street Hospital; one for every child in hospital at Christmas. I wanted to give a little back and it made me realise how lucky I was to get this opportunity.


What’s next for Anthony’s Wooden Crafts?

I have my website almost completed now. So it will be more professional and easier for people to order my wooden crafts.  School is also important and although right now I am doing my best with home schooling, I would prefer to be in the classroom.

The experience of being an entrepreneur at such as young age has really improved my financial and communication skills. The biggest lesson I learned overall though is that if you really put your mind to it  anything is possible, and you will succeed and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How to make your student enterprise dazzle!

By Blog

Hi everyone! We are a group of students currently taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme this year. Our student enterprise is called Dalia Jewels. We make handmade, affordable, quality and fashionable jewellery for young people.

We sell a range of different products including earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces and keyrings.

We sell mainly to other students and also online across Ireland and even abroad!

We have been so lucky to be able to take part in the Student Enterprise Programme this year. During our journey, we have learned so much about entrepreneurship and we would love to share some of our tips on running a successful business with you.

Tip # 1: Do something you are passionate about

Before starting up your business you need to make sure that what you plan on doing is something that you really enjoy and something that you are really passionate about. For us personally, we were going to make something completely different for our mini company but we soon realised that we are just not passionate about it so, we changed our idea and started Dalia Jewels as we all love wearing and making jewellery.

Tip # 2: Get yourself out there

Try and market your business and products as much as you can. There are so many different ways to market your product such as social media, word of mouth, posters and much more. If you don’t get yourself out there you won’t build up the customer base that you would like.

Tip #3: Research, research, research

We can’t stress enough how important market research is and how important it is to do as much as you can. Know your competitors, your target market and know why there is a need for your product/service in your chosen industry.

Tip # 4: Know your finances

Get to know your finances and start working on them from the very start. It’s really important that you truly understand your finances and also track every single transaction made into or out of your business. This may seem confusing at times but the Student Enterprise website has so many useful resources to help you with tackling your finances.

Tip # 5: Customer Feedback

From the start of our business, we have been very customer centric as we know that the customer is always right! We have done many customer surveys and polls from the start of running our business to make sure that our customers are happy. Remember, if your customers are not happy, they won’t buy from you!!!  They may have a different opinion to you but try and compromise as customers are the most important part of your business.

Finally, don’t give up! It may be very disheartening to not succeed as you had hoped in your business but please do not give up. Many of the world’s most famous and successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have had some failures too. But, when they tried and tried again they finally succeeded and you can too!

Best of luck to everyone!

Dalia Jewels Team

By Blog

How I’m Keeping My Students Motivated & On Track For County Finals

-by Pierce Dargan, Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Co. Kerry

My name is Pierce Dargan. I am the Student Enterprise Co-ordinator in Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, Co. Kerry. This is my sixth year in Presentation and my sixth year involved in the Student Enterprise Programme.

Every year we run the Student Enterprise Programme with all First Year’s, and I can proudly say that every student in our school now, has engaged in the Student Enterprise Programme for at least 4 months, when they were in First Year. Five out of the last six years we have entered the Kerry County Final in both the Junior and Intermediate Categories.

Over the six years our school has claimed 21 County and 6 National Titles.

These 6 National Titles have come in the past three years, with two titles in each year:

  • 1st Place – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • 1st Place – Intermediate Category 2019 – Críos Mhadra
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2019 – Eary Fix
  • 2nd Place – Intermediate Category 2020 – Sála Síos
  • 3rd Place – Junior Category 2020 – Cast Aways

This huge success at County and National levels is down to the dedication and enthusiasm of our students and the support from our school, our students’ families, and the Kerry Local Enterprise Office. The key to our success is making the programme as enjoyable and as fun as possible and the rest looks after itself. I always ensure our students pick ideas they are passionate about, because as I always tell our girls, “If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work”.

Remote teaching and learning is a challenge for all students, especially those students working as part of teams and projects. The Student Enterprise Programme is like no other this year – with all aspects going virtual.

The following are my thoughts, approaches and tips for teachers to help their students to stay motivated and to aim for success at upcoming County Finals. Despite the restrictions, success can still be achieved from their homes over the coming weeks.

Ways to Keep Students Motivated:

The key to keeping my student enterprise students motivated is to keep in daily contact or at least every second day. I know this might seem like a lot, but I see most of my enterprise students in class and I just ask them to stay online for a few minutes at the end of a live class or if not, I just drop them a quick message on the ‘Enterprise Teams’ I have setup on our online school platform, Microsoft Teams.

Best Approaches:

Setting weekly goals for each group is essential, whether it is to post on social media, carry out a survey on Microsoft Forms or to get as many photos of their product/service as they can, within a 5km radius of course.

Top 3 Useful Tools & Tips:

With no face-to-face contact and with County Finals looming, we must get our students prepped as best we can. I think now more than ever we have the digital tools to keep our students engaged and moving forward.

  1. Firstly, use your online school platform to stay connected with your students. Set up a dedicated enterprise team with each group for regular contact and updates.
  2. Secondly, social media platforms are the key to getting their ideas out there. Set your enterprise teams targets to send out posts regularly. If they have no new information, get them to tell the world about their team, about their story and where their idea came from.
  3. Thirdly, encourage students to use tools like Microsoft Forms or Survey Monkey to get their field research done. Field and desk research are essential for validating students’ product choice or service and is key to impressing the judges at County and National Finals. This can easily be completed from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Take Away Message:

With an extension to the level 5 lockdown for another few weeks, County Finals will approach before we head back to school, but remember all schools and all enterprise students are in the same boat. Each year approximately 29,000 students take part in the Student Enterprise Programme and like the lotto, someone must win and why can’t it be your students???

Remind your students constantly to be positive, be prepared and remember no one knows their product or service better than them, so they should be confident and competent in their ability to wow the judges.

Best of luck to all in the upcoming County Finals!!!


What SEP has taught us

By Blog, Media

Our Experience of Taking Part in The Student Enterprise Programme

– by 2 Peas In A Pod


2020 is a year that many want to forget!!!

For some, it brought lonliness and boredom, but for us, thanks to taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, it brought to life our business 2 Peas in a Pod.

Where our business idea came from?

We became inspired with our business idea just a few weeks into lock down. We were playing a game with our family, sent to us from German friends, where we had to match images from Cologne. It was then that the idea came to us to create our own fun-filled family memory game based on Wexford images. We did some research online and we didn’t see any similar games.

In September, as 1st year students in St Mary’s, New Ross, we learned about the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP). So we decided to turn our idea from lockdown into a product.

Our business teacher and lots of our friends and family thought it would be a great idea. So we decided to go for it. We set up the business and named it 2 Peas in a Pod because we are twins and because the aim of our game is to match 2 identical images of Wexford and get 2 Peas in a Pod. We decided to add a quiz to to our product, for a bit of extra excitement.

So many lessons learned along the way!

 Overall, we are thrilled we took a risk and set up our student enterprise as we got the chance to make a fantastic product. We developed loads of skills throughout the journey. We have learned so many lessons and skills in entrepreneurship since last September. Here’s some of the most important ones that we’ve learned:

 Intellectual Property (IP):

  • While on our entrepreneurial journey, we learned many great lessons and skills. Our first task was to contact photographers from Wexford to ask them to donate pictures. This was our first challenge as we did not know the photographers and they did not know us and so they really had to trust we were putting their images to good use.
  • This was when we learned about Intellectual Property as we had to name each photographer on their image as it was their work. We loved picking out the pictures as they were really good quality and showed our county in a beautiful way.

Dealing with suppliers:

  • Another challenge was getting the product printed. We researched printing prices and visited some printers but this was more difficult due to Covid. We decided to go with local printer Emco as we could walk to them after school and John was really great to give us advice.

Learning about using different forms of media:

  • We made a promotional video using iMovie which we had never used before and we did an interview with the New Ross Standard.
  • We also set up Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts for our business with our parents’ permission.
  • We learned about using Pay Pal for making payments also.

 Learning how to sell & promote:

  • Some of our sales were made in school to our friends and teachers and in our primary school too.
  • It was harder to sell our game in person due to Covid and lack of Christmas markets but with more people at home, online sales were easier, we think.
  • We got great selling tips on the SEP webinars every Monday such as the importance of  “being passionate” when making sales and also to “listen to the customer” so we really tried that.
  • We’ve now sold about 150 products by keeping it promoted. We have gotten some lovely comments from our followers and customers. We tagged well known people like Kevin Dundon, Tadgh Furlong, Eoin Murchan and Walter Walsh to endorse or ‘like’ our product too which gave us some great publicity. RTE Nationwide follows us too.
  • We have also asked some businesses to sell our product for us like Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody House Hotel.

Finding Inspiration:

  • We find Derval O’Rourke, the new Female Ambassador for the SEP very inspiring. She is an outstanding athlete and she’s our favourite coach on Ireland’s Fittest Family!!! We didn’t know that she is also a super entrepreneur in the area of health and fitness so she really has lots of good advice to give.

Managing Our Time & Money:

  • Keeping track of our costs and finances was important too so we really had to shop around for the best value packaging options.
  • We also had to manage our time well especially during November and early December when we had to meet all our orders, get them posted in time for Christmas and prepare for our school exams in first year too.
  • We are lucky that we worked well as a team that we could share our work load. We would advise others to make a list of tasks to do and divide them up between them and to have fun during the experience.

Keeping Motivated:

  • To keep motivated, we try to promote our product every few days on social media, so that people get to know about it and hopefully buy it.
  • We tell our followers about the benefits of our product, like it is fun, it is educational, it helps improve memory and it makes a great gift especially for people missing Wexford. Believing in ourselves and our product works to motivate us.

Although we are only 13, we’re getting to see what it is like to run a real life business for ourselves. We are really enjoying the experience …. and we love making money too!!!