Summary

Student Inc. enables third level students to assess the feasibility of their business ideas and take them to the next stage of development including launching or expansion. What started as a programme delivered in a single location on one campus Student Inc. is now offered across 5 different universities on 15 different campuses.

Student Inc is a full-time 13-week immersive programme. Students work for the summer period assessing the feasibility of their business idea, building prototypes and learning all aspects of getting a business up and running, including customer discovery, market validation, finance etc. Throughout the programme there are 30 training sessions as well at 25 mentoring sessions, both one to one and group. They also receive €4,000 in seed funding.

External support for Student Inc., both financial and non-financial is provided by other stakeholders including the public organisations responsible for increasing the number of Ireland’s start-ups, i.e. Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Offices.

The programme is open to any third level student in partner universities regardless of year of study or academic domain. Student Inc. provides potential entrepreneurs the opportunity to “learn-by-doing” in a safe and supportive environment. Students who do not continue with their business idea on completion of the programme will be armed with a set of skills and the confidence to investigate future opportunities. Developing the entrepreneurial mindset of the programme participants is as important as the number of start-up businesses that emerge as a result of the programme.

Key People


Carole O Leary
Student Inc Programme Manager
Innovation and Enterprise,  Munster Technological University



Paul Healy
Manager
Rubicon Incubation Centre,  Munster Technological University



George Bulman
Operations Manager
Rubicon Incubation Centre,  Munster Technological University



Clionadh Fahy
Student Enterprise Intern
Rubicon Incubation Centre,  Munster Technological University



Breda O Dwyer
Director of CEED
Centre for Economic & Entrepreneurial Development,  Munster Technological University



Helen McGuirk
Head of Hincks
Hincks Centre for Entreprenurshp Excellence,  Munster Technological University



Darragh Coakley
Lead Technical Officer for online Student Inc. Delivery
Technology Enhanced Learning,  Munster Technological University



Lana Repar
Lecturer
Department of Food Business & Development,  University College Cork



Sean O Sullivan
Head of Enterprise
Local Enterprise Office (LEO),  South Cork LEO



Gillian Barry
Head of Innovation & Enterprise
Innovation & Enterprise,  Technological University of the South



Gert O Rourke
Manager
Nexus Innovation Centre,  University of Limerick



Turlough Rafferty
Operations Manager
iHubs ATU,  Atlantic Technolocial University



Kevin Curran
Head of Enterprise
Local Enterprise Office,  North & West Cork LEO



Niall O Keeffe
Head of Enterprise
Local Enterprise Office,  Cork City LEO


Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all of those that have made a huge contribution to the programme over the years, from trainers and mentors as well as our External Advisory Group which included Jacqui Norton Enterprise Ireland and entrepreneurs Daniel Fleming, Linda O Mahony and William Opperman.
Sincere thanks to the many entrepreneurs who have shared their entrepreneurial journeys, the ups and the downs, with our participants over the years.
We would like to thank all the research centres on the various campuses and the campus incubation centres that opened their doors, as well as their contact books, to the students.
We would also like to thank the Higher Education Authority (HEA) of Ireland that funded the expansion of programme in 2019.

Images

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Irish Government Minister & Rector University of Danang

MTU Student Inc team with colleagues from University of Danang Colleagues

Student Inc. participant collaboration in action

Student Inc Final Showcase - participants and Student Inc. team

Student Inc Participants 2018 with international participants outside Rubicon Incubation Centre

Student Inc. participants Da Silly Heads with Dee Forbes (Director General of RTE, National Broadcaster)

Student Inc Final Showcase Attendees

IMPACT STORY

Impacting lifes

Tracey Ryan had just completed her 4-year Herbal Science degree when she took part in Student Inc. Tracey had been making home lotions to relieve family members skin conditions. Tracey was making various lotions using all-natural food ingredients and herbs. While on Student Inc. Tracey was assigned a mentor, completed numerous market analysis exercise, met with potential customers, financial planning sessions as well as gaining certification for her products. Shortly after completing.

Student Inc. Tracey launched her business Bia Beauty. Bia is the Irish word for food. Tracey’s motto is “If you can’t eat something, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin”.
Bia Beauty products went on to win many national and international awards before the products were spotted by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Barbara Paldus, as she was returning to the US when she came across the products at Cork Airport. This chance spotting of the products at the airport has resulted in Bia becoming part of the multinational Codex Beauty natural skincare collective, under the umbrella Bia. The attraction by Codex to Tracey’s products included the natural plants & ingredients that were available. In Ireland there is lots of rain, it’s very green, and there is a giant bog in the middle of the country growing the most incredible herbs. And then you have the seaweed on the west coast of Ireland, the most potent, strongest seaweed. The products are stocked in John Lewis in the UK and Anthropologie and Saks in the US.

LEARNINGS

Lessons learned

Student Inc. did not become a success overnight. It has taken a broad range of stakeholders, both internal and external, to make it the success it is today. This includes the academic communities in each of the partner institutions, research centres and incubation centres on each of the campuses as well as the external stakeholders responsible for start-ups in Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Employing students to promote the programme to their fellow students has been a very effective tactic to recruit potential programme applicants. In Munster Technological University the Student Enterprise Interns spend 18 hours per week promoting entrepreneurship, including the Student Inc. programme, to students across all campuses.
Building awareness of the programme in the partners as they joined the consortium was challenging. However targeted and well timed social-media campaigns helped to get the message out to the potential applicants.

A key success factor of the programme is getting the right students on the programme. This is achieved through a rigorous recruitment process, clear guidelines outlining the demands of the programme and structured reviews throughout the programme to monitor progress.

Each year over half of the participants come from a non-business area of study, including science, engineering and medicine. The programme has a greater impact on the entrepreneurial mindset shift of these students than the students with a business, finance or marketing background.

FUTURE PLANS

What's coming?

Student Inc.: A National Student Entrepreneurship Programme. Our vision is that all third level students, across the island of Ireland will have the opportunity to apply for and complete the Student Inc. programme regardless of their geographic location, their year of student or their academic discipline.

We want Student Inc. to help in the promotion and realisation of the entrepreneurial mindset in the Irish third level student population.

We strive to illustrate that self-employment and entrepreneurship route post-graduation is as attractive, valuable and viable as going down the employee/ employment route.

As one of Ireland’s newest universities, Munster Technological University (MTU) has innovation and entrepreneurship as one of its key values for its staff and students and Student Inc. is a key driver in achieving this goal.

We would like to re-introduce the international element of the programme by re-engaging with our Vietnamese partners as well as our educational partners in the USA. These plans were hampered because of the pandemic.


KEY STATISTICS

15 campuses

Programme is available to the 44,000 students from 5 Universities covering 15 campuses across Ireland

85 NPS Score

Following a recent external evaluation a Net Present Score (NPS) of 85 was given to the programme, which is unprecedented for an enterprise development programme (NPS can range from -100 to +100)

175 participants

From the first programme of 3 participants it has grown to 30 participants per annum with 175 completed to date

41 % start ups

41% of those that completed the programme went on to start a business following the programme with a further 36% intending to start a business in the future

Impact on participants

The Programme has had a positive impact on participants’: • confidence to set-up/grow a business (60%, scoring this a 9 or 10 with a weighted average of 8.7) • ambition to become an entrepreneur (58%, scoring this a 9 or 10 with a weighted average of 8.4)

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