UCC Hosts Public Lecture – The Globalization of Innovation and Business Creation – Weds 17th Sept 7.00pm

September 15, 2014 by

This week’s All Island Innovation Programme Series of Master Classes, hosted by UCC’s School of Management & Marketing, featuring Prof. Erik Vermeulen, Professor of Business and Financial Law at Tilburg University (https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/webwijs/show/?uid=e.p.m.vermeulen) are booked out but there are still places available for the Public Lecture at 7.00pm on Weds 17th Sept in the Boole 2 Lecture Theatre – The Globalization of Innovation and Business Creation.

With entrepreneurship and innovation on the decline, governments are increasingly turning to companies, universities as well as knowledge and research institutions to jumpstart the start-up community. These collaborations, conveniently dubbed “triple helixes”, are dedicated to the establishment of knowledge-intensive service clusters in which the structure and dynamics of interactions among the different actors drive innovation and value creation. However, the simple notion of triple helix collaborations does not succeed nearly as often as expected. Sufficient access to capital is paramount to support start-ups through the valley of death (which can be defined as the period between the initial capital contribution and the time the company starts generating a steady stream of revenue). The Lecture discusses the emergence of collaborative funding models and platforms, which ensure integrated and sustainable investment approaches. Such collaborative funding models encompass not only institutional investors and venture capitalists, but also universities, multinationals, family offices, and other investors interested in innovation and growth, giving a global perspective to innovation and business creation.

Advanced booking for Prof. Erik Vermeulen is essential at http://www.eventzilla.net/web/event?eventid=2139038901.

The events have been organised by Dr Lawrence Dooley at UCC’s Department of Management & Marketing.

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KonnectAgain Making Headlines

September 4, 2014 by

Fantastic to see Jayne, Helen and team going so well!

KonnectAgain

Jayne and Helen travelled back to San Francisco last week acquiring more exciting customers and securing further investment. During their trip we were delighted to see KonnectAgain featuring a lot in the Irish media.

Siliconrepublic featured KonnectAgain as their Tech start-up of the week last week. Check out the article here.

30under30SundayIndoHead Honcho Jayne was named as one of ‘The 30 under 30 shaping Ireland’s future’ in the Sunday Independent where they described her as “a consummate networker and the brains behind KonnectAgain, a software system which helps universities to connect with and keep track of alumni with fundraising in mind. “

Jayne featured alongside some of Ireland’s top young entrepreneurs including John & Patrick Collison, Paul Kenny and Patrick Leddy. “It’s really exciting to feature as one of the 30 most influential young people in Irish business today” said Jayne, Co-founder and CEO of KonnectAgain.

For the company, this coverage is really…

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UCC Hosts Innovation Master Classes – September 17th – 18th 2014

September 1, 2014 by

intertradeireland all island

I’m pleased to say that this year’s All Island Innovation Programme Series of Master Classes, hosted by UCC’s School of Management & Marketing, will feature Prof. Erik Vermeulen, Professor of Business and Financial Law at Tilburg University
(https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/webwijs/show/?uid=e.p.m.vermeulen).

Prof. Vermeulen will deliver three Master Classes and a keynote evening lecture over two days – 17th and 18th Sept.

Workshop 1 Weds 17th Sept 9.00am – The Organization and Funding of Early-Stage Businesses
Workshop 2 Weds 17th Sept 2.00pm – New Trends in Early-Stage Business Financing
Public Lecture Weds 17th Sept 7.00pm – The Globalization of Innovation and Business Creation
Workshop 3 Thurs 18th sept 9.00am – The Truth about IPOs (and Acquisitions) of High Tech Companies

Previous speakers in the All Island Innovation Programme Series have included Prof. Oliver Gassmann of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and Ms. Hanadi Jabado, Entrepreneur in Residence at Judge Business School, Cambridge University (UK)

These events have been very popular. Advanced booking for Prof. Erik Vermeulen is essential at http://www.eventzilla.net/web/event?eventid=2139038901.

All four events are free to attend.

The events have been organised by Dr Lawrence Dooley at UCC’s Department of Management & Marketing.

Further details of the events is detailed below.

Public Lecture Weds 17th Sept 7.00pm – The Globalization of Innovation and Business Creation
With entrepreneurship and innovation on the decline, governments are increasingly turning to companies, universities as well as knowledge and research institutions to jumpstart the start-up community. These collaborations, conveniently dubbed “triple helixes”, are dedicated to the establishment of knowledge-intensive service clusters in which the structure and dynamics of interactions among the different actors drive innovation and value creation. However, the simple notion of triple helix collaborations does not succeed nearly as often as expected. Sufficient access to capital is paramount to support start-ups through the valley of death (which can be defined as the period between the initial capital contribution and the time the company starts generating a steady stream of revenue). The Lecture discusses the emergence of collaborative funding models and platforms, which ensure integrated and sustainable investment approaches. Such collaborative funding models encompass not only institutional investors and venture capitalists, but also universities, multinationals, family offices, and other investors interested in innovation and growth, giving a global perspective to innovation and business creation.

Workshop 1 Weds 17th Sept 9.00am – The Organization and Funding of Early-Stage Businesses
Investors typically use four criteria when evaluating an investment opportunity: (1) the attractiveness of the project analyzed in terms of market size and growth, product attractiveness, the business strategy, the likelihood of customer adoption, and the competitive position of the venture; (2) the quality of the management team and the organization of the venture; (3) deal terms; and (4) exit opportunities (the topic of Workshop 3). This Workshop delves into the organization and governance of early-stage businesses. Recent developments on this topic reveal that there have been major changes in how early-stage businesses are organizing themselves nowadays. How did this come to be? There is an increasing shift towards more entrepreneur favorable deal terms, investors are ditching the legalese and are instead opting for more user friendly term sheets, and the reputable and well-established investors are orchestrating a code of conduct to restore trust and confidence in the start-up ecosystem. Each of these developments begins to confirm the changing landscape within the industry. One thing is clear: early-stage businesses better take notice.

Workshop 2 Weds 17th Sept 2.00pm – New Trends in Early-Stage Business Financing
Access to finance is a major challenge for early-stage businesses. As discussed in Workshop 1, there are many strings attached to traditional financing whether it be through equity or debt, which explains the increasing interest in alternative investment options, including new types of investors such as micro-venture capital funds, crowdfunding platforms and corporate venture capital. Many of these financing options offer unique propositions beyond what is offered by the more traditional avenues of funding. For instance, crowdfunding (as a new type of entrepreneurial finance) enables early-stage start-up companies to raise ‘venture capital’ from a large group of individuals, sidestepping the traditional fundraising process that includes lengthy due diligence periods and tough negotiations over the valuation and contractual terms. This Workshop has been designed to better understand the new trends in early-stage business financing and to create awareness of the difficulties and challenges associated with these alternative financing options.

Workshop 3 Thurs 18th Sept 9.00am – The Truth about IPOs (and Acquisitions) of High Tech Companies
Liquidity issues disrupt the venture capital model and make venture capital investments less attractive. How should this problem be addressed? The solution is clear: We need more liquidity options (e.g., a structured pre-IPO segment in stock markets) that can effectively bridge these gaps. The Workshop starts with a bird’s eye view of legal and institutional measures that are currently being unveiled by policymakers, regulators, and exchange operators in their attempts to revitalize the IPO model. We later zoom in to examine the determinants that make an IPO successful. A particular focus is on the interactions among managers, board members, and investors. These interactions can have a positive impact on the inner workings of the newly listed company. We also explore the dynamics of the IPO market, and in particular show how interactions with intermediaries and advisors affect the further development of companies beyond the IPO. Finally, the Workshop looks at the costs and benefits of IPOs (compared to acquisitions).

Three Inspiring Start-Up Stories at IGNITE Open Information Evening

May 13, 2014 by

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Pat Lynch, Stephanie Lynch, Jonathan Healy, Sinéad Doherty, Brendan Finucane.

There was a great turnout at the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Open Information Evening last Tuesday 6th May.

The highlight of the evening was an inspiring discussion with panelists Stephanie Lynch founder of OnTheQt.ie, a website that profiles ‘hidden gem’ destinations for tourists, (www.ontheqt.ie), Brendan Finucane of Vconnecta Ltd, who has developed a mobile platform for political campaign management, (www.ecanvasser.com) and Dr Sinéad Doherty of AnaBio Technologies Ltd, who provides encapsulation solutions to the food and pharma industries,  (www.anabio.ie). All three took part in the IGNITE programme in 2013. The panel also included Pat Lynch, serial entrepreneur, member of the IGNITE Advisory Board and Stephanie’s Dad. Pat founded MicroTech Cleanroom Services following redundancy from Seagate Technology in 1998. He has since gone on to be involved in a number of successful start-ups. Jonathan Healy of Newstalk kept the discussion lively.

In a wide ranging discussion, the panelists spoke about the inspiration for the business ideas, what encouraged them to take the first steps, the highs and lows they have experienced  to date, the support provided by IGNITE and their plans for the future.

All three businesses were inspired by personal experiences. Stephanie Lynch saw the opportunity to promote Ireland’s off the beaten track destinations when working in the US, Brendan spotted the need for a product such as Vconnecta’s Ecanvasser when canvassing for a local politician and Sinéad recognised the potential for protein based encapsulation during her research work.

On the question of influences, UCC BSc (Business Information Systems) graduate Brendan noted the importance of winning the UCC Entrepreneurial & Social Society Young Entrepreneur’s Competition in 2012 and the encouragement of Sean O’Sullivan, CEO of South Cork Enterprise Board, UCC PhD graduate Sinéad was encouraged to start her own business by colleagues at Teagasc and Stephanie, with a BA (TV, Radio and & New Media Broadcasting) from the Institute of Technology in Tralee, noted success in the 2012 Young Entrepreneur Programme as an influence in starting her business.

Pat Lynch remarked that the biggest challenge to starting your own business is often in refusing job offers. All three entrepreneurs turned their backs on attractive job opportunities to start their own businesses and they haven’t looked back.

All three spoke about how they benefited from different aspects of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme.

Sinéad Doherty remarked that IGNITE helped her to “complete the picture”. She described herself as being happiest in her lab, working as a scientist. IGNITE encouraged her to develop the necessary business skills to transform from “lab rat” to winner of the Cork Chamber of Commerce Emerging Cork Company of the Year Award for 2014.

Stephanie Lynch described the benefit of the guest speakers and recalled a key moment during a workshop when successful entrepreneur, Johnny Walker, described her business as a “nice lifestyle” business that challenged her on the scale of her ambition. This comment spurred her into action to expand the business outside Ireland.

Brendan Finucane highlighted how regular panel reviews and progress reports as well as the guidance and support of business mentor, Anne Moore, helped him to realise the full potential of the business. Critically his participation on IGNITE brought him to the attention of an investor whose support has propelled the business from a final year project to a commercial product with Irish and, more recently, US customers.

All three also emphasised the benefit of working with and learning from the other participants on the programme.

Pat Lynch commented on the ups and downs he has experienced in business. He noted that running your own business requires long hours, dedication and passion and can be a lonely place when things go wrong. However, he reckoned he has created more wealth in three years working for himself than he did in twenty years as a white-collar PAYE worker.

Among the audience were IGNITE alumni Mike McGrath of Supply.ie, Liam Ryan of MR Food Innovation, Jayne Ronayne of KonnectAgain as well as IGNITE mentors Anne Moore, Neil O’Brien and John McCarthy and members of the IGNITE Advisory Board Dick Lehane, Paul Sutton and Sean O’Sullivan.

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is an incubation programme that supports recent graduates turn product ideas into commercial reality. The programme consists of a comprehensive schedule of workshops and seminars, an effective one to one mentor programme, access to the Universities academic, research and commercialisation expertise, business network development through regular networking events as well as office facilities and seed funding.

The Programme is open for applications for IGNITE 2015 until 30th May 2014. Application details are available at http://www.ucc.ie/en/ignite/know_more/ 

The Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices of Cork City and County and UCC/Bank of Ireland.

Making Jobs or Taking Jobs? – IGNITE Open Information Evening – Tuesday 6th May 2014

April 29, 2014 by

ignite logo tagline_2014_final

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Information Evening on Tuesday 6th May is the ideal opportunity for anyone interested in starting a business to find out more about options available; learn about the nine month business incubation programme at UCC aimed at nurturing, developing and strengthening entrepreneurial potential; and hear from a number of past participants who now run successful businesses. Guests will meet the programme’s experienced business mentors and workshop facilitators; and network with business people and industry partners connected with IGNITE.

The open event, which takes place in UCC’s Western Gateway Building from 6.30pm, will include an interactive panel discussion, chaired by Newstalk’s Jonathan Healy, with past participants Dr Sinead Doherty, founder of AnaBio Technologies and winner of Cork Chamber of Commerce ‘Emerging Company of the Year 2014’; Stephanie Lynch, founder of OnTheQT; and Brendan Finucane, founder of Vconnecta. Each will share their stories, answer questions and discuss what influenced their decision to start their own business, and the challenges that they faced getting their business off the ground and overcoming them. Looking back now, they will discuss if there is anything they would have done differently, their plans for the next 12 to 18 months, and share advice with those considering starting a business.

Pat Lynch, Director of Compliance & Risks, member of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Advisory Board, and father of fellow panellist, Stephanie, will also be on hand to share his valuable experiences, both from the point of view of a serial entrepreneur, and as the parent of a daughter who is following in his footsteps and has ventured into the world of entrepreneurship.

Speaking about the correlation between entrepreneurial spirit and family background, Stephanie Lynch says “I was influenced from a very young age growing up in an entrepreneurial household. I was encouraged to think outside the box and not to be afraid to pursue my ideas and dreams. Seeing my father run his own business gave me another view on my career and made me think of taking my future into my own hands.”

Encouragingly, not having a direct family background in entrepreneurship isn’t an inhibiting factor when it comes to entrepreneurship, and  Brendan Finucane’s story, which he will share on May 6th, is a good example, showing there is a ‘new breed’ of entrepreneurs in the making, paving their own way in the world of business.

The IGNITE Information Evening will also provide guests with an opportunity to find out how the programme’s current start-ups are getting on as they prepare to exit the programme this summer.

Eamon Curtin, IGNITE Programme Director, says Fortune favours the brave, and this is certainly evident in the speakers we have lined up for the Information Evening on May 6th. We’re encouraging anyone interested in starting their own business, members of the local business community, and families of upcoming and recent graduates, to come along and learn about the opportunities out there when it comes to choosing a job or an entrepreneurial journey. On almost a daily basis I meet students interested in learning more about how to start their own business and we are seeing significant interest in the next IGNITE programme, commencing this autumn.”

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is currently recruiting for the next intake of budding entrepreneurs, and more information on this and the upcoming Information Evening is available at http://ignite.ucc.ie.

Raomal Perera Shares with IGNITE the Story of his Fundraising Journey – 10 April 2014

April 18, 2014 by

raomal perera
I’m delighted to say that the Board Room in UCC’s Western Gateway Building was packed on Thursday 10th April 2014 to hear Raomal Perera share his insights on his own successful entrepreneurial journey.

We were joined by business owners, representatives from industry and UCC staff as well as current participants of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme and IGNITE Alumni who were engaged with Raomal’s story on the highs and lows of his fundraising story.

Raomal spoke a little about his first venture, email messaging software firm ISOCOR, founded in 1991. ISOCOR raised over $10M through IPO before Raomal exited in 1999 to start mobile payments company Network365. His talk focused on how Network365 raised almost €30M through successive funding rounds over 4 years. Network365 became Valista in 2003 and after merging with Aepona was acquired by Intel in 2013.

Crucially, Raomal emphasised that investors are most interested in the person driving the business rather than the team or the business plan. He stressed the importance of integrity and passion to drive a successful business. Raomal quoted Warren Buffet: ‘Look for three things in a person: intelligence, energy and integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”

Raomal spoke of the importance of establishing credibility and exposure in start-ups. He described his own strategy with Network 365 to gain credibility by enlisting the services of big name accountancy and legal firms while at the same time using smaller PR agencies that can give the start-up full attention.

Raomal talked about the importance of networking and stressed that entrepreneurs must be their own ambassadors and take every opportunity to promote their businesses as they can never be sure what opportunities might arise through the contacts made.

On raising funds, Raomal noted his experience that it is easier to raise money when you have money, that the effort to raise money is the same regardless of the amount sought and that the relative equity given up is lower for higher amounts sought. However, he also highlighted the risk that having too much money in the start-up phase allows more expensive mistakes to be made.

Raomal shared his view that today’s start-ups have easier access to funds and supports and can access a wealth of free web-based tools that allow them to achieve so much more with relative little funding.

Raomal praised the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme for the start up support it offers tech start-ups in Cork. He also praised Enterprise Ireland for the work they do supporting businesses from early stage start-ups to establishing international networks and achieving global success.

We thank Raomal for taking the time to share his story and look forward to seeing him back in Cork again soon.

Raomal is Adjunct Professor at INSEAD in Paris teaching Entrepreneurial Studies and works with a wide range of early stage and start-up businesses in Ireland in his role as Principal of ThousandSeeds, www.thousandseeds.com.

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is an incubation programme that supports recent graduates turn product ideas into commercial reality. The programme consists of a comprehensive schedule of workshops and seminars, an effective one to one mentor programme, access to the Universities academic, research and commercialisation expertise, business network development through regular networking events as well as office facilities and seed funding.

The Story Behind AppMakeIt

February 26, 2014 by

Kieran Moloney

By Kieran Moloney

AppMakeIt was founded in November 2013 with the simple goal of making it easier for non-tech savvy people to create, customize and publish their very own Android and iOS mobile application to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and also, to allow them to share in-demand content that they are passionate about through their mobile App.

AppMakeIt was inspired by the very first mobile application I made (or attempted to make!) when I was attending University. During this time, I created a graduate careers Smartphone application by the name of Graduate Jobs Ireland. This mobile App was developed to help under-graduates and graduates of Irish third-level education to keep up-to-date with news, events and jobs related to graduates careers in Ireland. Despite having some coding experience through developing my own websites in the past, I still found the process of trying develop, test and publish my first mobile App very challenging, time-consuming and expensive!

After talking to business owners, educational bodies, newspaper editors and people involved in clubs I found that all of these groups had thought about, and were interested in, making a mobile App however, I came to realize that each one of these groups faced one or more of these three issues that I initially had which deterred them from making their own mobile App.

With this in-mind, I decided to create a solution that would eliminate these three common issues. AppMakeIt allows people with no programming experience publish their very own mobile App to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for just €39 and in turn, eradicating the technical challenges, the time takes and the expense involved with developing mobile Apps.

Check it out now at www.appmakeit.com!

Kieran Moloney is a participant on IGNITE 2014. Kieran graduated from UCC with a BSc in Business Information Systems in 2013.

The IGNITE Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and UCC/Bank of Ireland.

I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

February 18, 2014 by

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As a young female entrepreneur fresh out of college the question everyone asks me is:

Sarah why didn’t you get a graduate job?

The answer always is: I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

I count myself very lucky that I learned early on in life that my journey is my journey and I didn’t need to follow the ‘norm’ in getting a graduate job, but follow my dream in becoming a female ‘high flyer’ and strive to hopefully provide jobs for other graduates like myself in the near future.

I love every aspect of business, especially management and leadership. I want to empower and lead a team of ‘A’ players, as Steve Jobs did say.

There have been a few challenges I encountered in starting up UniWink, but the main challenge for me is filling in the gaps that exist within the UniWink management team.

My co-founder/brother, Mark and I both have Marketing and Management backgrounds, which means we clearly lack the IT skills needed to develop the online platform. The solution is still underway; we are continuing to secure funding to allow us to outsource the IT work following from the prototype development this March.

Since starting the UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Start-up Programme in October 2013, UniWink is continuing to grow from strength to strength. I have learned so much about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: hard work, patience, passion, self-discipline and most importantly having fun along the way.

The programme has thought me the concept of devising a business model and continuing to test my assumptions by going out into the market directly, asking the customers what they want, instead of telling them what they want and thereby creating value (wise words from Eamon the programme co-ordinator).

So what gives me a real buzz?

Interacting with the target market, bouncing ideas off them and the feeling that UniWink can really help the student community ‘Collaborate to Graduate’! We are by students for students, and strive to build a virtual learning community that fosters peer to peer assistant social collaboration. And this really gives me a buzz!

So there you are!

I’m Sarah Dineen, co-founder of UniWink.com- “Let’s collaborate to Graduate” coming soon to a campus near you..

The IGNITE Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and UCC/Bank of Ireland.

Looking for Money? – Ask for Advice

February 13, 2014 by

searching for money - UCC IGNITE Programme

Among the very many words of wisdom shared with IGNITE in recent months was the idea that if you want money, you should ask for advice. I can’t quite remember who said this* but whoever it was added an important rider: if you want advice, you should ask for money.

With a number of the IGNITE businesses actively seeking finance, with some success I should say, it’s been interesting to see just how true this has turned out to be!

If you want money, you should ask for advice.

I guess it makes sense when you think about it. If you speak with a prospective investor, explain that you are starting a business, make it clear that you value their advice and ask for a chance to meet, it sets the scene for ongoing dialogue.

Asking for advice shows that you value the opinion of others. Asking for an opportunity to meet again suggests that you are prepared to act on advice. Together they provide the basis for a relationship to develop. Then, if the idea is compelling enough, the offer of advice may turn into an offer of investment. So you end up with money having started out looking for advice.

If you want advice, you should ask for money.

On the other hand, while there are two possible answers if you ask for money – either a qualified YES or a certain NO – it is far more likely that the prospective investor offers advice. After making the pitch, how many times have you heard: “That’s very interesting but what I would do if I was you is ….” or “the really interesting opportunity for you is ….”! Leaving you with what might turn out to be great advice when you really needed money.

(* Among the entrepreneurs that have spoken with IGNITE are Fred Karlsson – Founder Donedeal, DC Cahalane – CMO Trustev, Frank Hannigan – Chair Razor Communications amongst other roles, Jim Breen – CEO/Founder PulseLearning, Johnny Walker – Founder Global Diagnostics and Healthfounders, Pat Lynch – Founder Microtech Cleanroom Services, Anne O’Leary – Founder CADCO, Declan Fox – Founder Comnitel, William Fitzgerald – CEO Inhance Technology, Fergus Hurley – Founder Focal Labs,  Owen Loughrey – Founder mystoreanaltics, Natasha Lynch – Founder Essential French, Raomal Perera – Founder Network365 and ISOCOR).

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is the programme director of the the IGNITE Programme, which is an incubation initiative at University College Cork to aid graduates with start up businesses, products and ideas.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.

Why Awards and Competitions are Good for Business

February 3, 2014 by

Cate Blanchett - Awards

People often ask me if there is any point in going forward for Business Awards and Competitions. My answer is usually a resounding YES, but the entry requirement for the Award must be relevant to the needs of your business or it’ll be a complete waste of your time.

While the most obvious benefit is that you might win a cash prize, and more than one business was jump started with a €5,000 or €10,000 prize, the real benefits can often be a little less obvious, and you don’t have to win to take advantage.

One big benefit of entering a competition is that it can help raise the profile of your business through the PR that surrounds the competition. The bigger the competition, the further you advance, the greater the press coverage. But this is only of use if your business can take advantage of the exposure. Do you have a product to sell? Or are you trying to raise investment? Businesses that attract public attention before they are ready often find that they have to work much harder to get that attention back when they are actually ready.

Your start-up can gain significant credibility as a result of winning or being placed in a competition. But it must be an established competition. The more established the competition, the better the reputation, the greater the credibility.

Awards events and competitions are also excellent opportunities to make great contacts.

Just think how hard it is to get in front of just one leading investor or entrepreneur. Imagine how difficult it is to get in front of four or five!  Getting short-listed for a competition gets you the opportunity to pitch to the judges, usually a panel of industry leaders, with a lot less effort. But it must be the right panel.

Many business owners use competition deadlines as artificial milestones to help focus attention and effort. There is nothing like a looming application deadline to get the first draft of the business plan over the line, with or without a little midnight oil.

And finally, there is no better way to crystallise your business proposition, to fine tune your pitch or to hone your presentation skills than the practice, practice, practice that comes with preparing for an award or competition.

There are many awards and competitions open to early stage and start-up businesses. Those well worth taking a look at include:

And more than one business has made up it’s own Award and subsequently gone on to win! Not that I’m recommending this approach.

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is Director of the the IGNITE Programme, an incubation initiative at University College Cork designed to support graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable businesses.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.