Accelerator Programme for Student Entrepreneurs Kicks-Off at University College Dublin

Pictured at NovaUCD are students who are participating in the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition

Accelerator Programme for Student Entrepreneurs Kicks-Off at University College Dublin

The 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, an intensive 4-week accelerator programme for student entrepreneurs, which is now in its 10th year, has commenced at University College Dublin (UCD) with 14 early-stage ventures and 27 participating students.

The participating ventures are focused on a wide range of business ideas ranging from aircraft maintenance to sustainable fashion to digital health, and legal services.

A €3k Tech Sustainability Prize sponsored by Terra Solar and a €3k NovaUCD One to Watch Prize are available to the winners of this year’s competition.

The accelerator programme is run by NovaUCD, the innovation and start-up hub at UCD, as a framework to support undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.

The aim of the competition is to assist the participating students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular mentoring and pitching sessions.

Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD said, “Over the next few weeks we will be supporting the participating student entrepreneurs as they begin the process of accelerating the translation of their business ideas and concepts into start-ups. A key objective of this annual competition is to provide students with the skills, the confidence and the opportunity to further develop their ideas and to hopefully in time launch their start-ups on a national and even an international stage.”

The 4-week programme, which uses the Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas approach, includes a series of structured workshops and interactive workshops delivered by Raomal Perera, Caitlin Hafer and Nirisha Manandhar from Lean Disruptor. Topics such as, customer development; value proposition; working in teams; design thinking; prototyping, environment mapping; financial planning and effective fundraising and pitching, will be covered.

This year two new components have been introduced to the programme. The first is focused on supporting the students to think about how they can create AI powered start-ups, what are the tools and opportunities to leverage generative AI, not only in their products or services, but also in their business operations. The second is to provide ‘checkpoints’ as the students develop their business ideas where they can reflect on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how best to align their emerging start-ups with these goals.

At a final workshop, to be held in late-June, the participating ventures will pitch to a judging panel. Based on the evaluation of the presentations two winners will be selected, one will be awarded the €3k Tech Sustainability Prize sponsored by Terra Solar and other will be awarded the €3k NovaUCD One to Watch Prize.

Over 70 early-stage ventures and some 170 students have completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition to date.

Among the entrepreneurs who previously took part in the competition is Charlie Gleeson, who completed the competition in 2019 with an e-scooter business idea, which became Zipp Mobility. The company which he grew to launch e-scooter and e-bike services in locations across Ireland, the UK and Poland was acquired by ZEUS Scooters in 2023. Charlie is currently General Manager, FreeNow, Ireland.

Seventeen (17) postgraduate and ten (10) undergraduate students are participating on this year’s programme. Many of the students completed NovaUCD’s new entrepreneurship initiative, called Nova Vision, which took place earlier this year. The key goal of Nova Vision is to nurture sustainability and technology, in alignment with the UN’s SDGs, and to empower students to contribute to positive global change through entrepreneurial activities.

28 May 2024

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, t: + 353 1 716 3712, e:

Editors Notes

At NovaUCD, the hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, we nurture and support new high-tech and knowledge-intensive companies. At NovaUCD we provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art incubation facilities alongside a comprehensive business support programme for client companies. At NovaUCD, we also offer a range of tailored modules, courses, seminars and programmes to researchers and students in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and technology commercialisation, including the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition. NovaUCD’s founding sponsors are; AIB, AMD, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody and UCD.