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Health food venture O’Kale Krisps wins UCD 2017 student start-up award

Wednesday, 28 June, 2017

Posted: June 28, 2017

  • Early-stage food venture offers consumers a healthy snack alternative
  • Winning start-up's product on sale in 28 outlets across Ireland

UCD undergraduate students Jack Parsons (Business and Law) and Oisin McElhinney (Arts) have won the 2017 UCD Startup Stars Award.

Their early-stage food venture, (opens in a new window)O’Kale Krisps, makes low-calorie, nutritious and air-dried kale crisps. The crisps offer consumers a unique and healthy snack alternative. Each tub of O’Kale Krisps contains only 69 calories, is high in iron, calcium, vitamin C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. 

The snacks are currently on sale in three flavours (original, spicy chilli and cheesy) and are available in 28 stores across Ireland.

Now in its third year, UCD Start-up Stars is an entrepreneurship programme that provides advice and support for UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students from all disciplines who want to start their own businesses.

Students began the programme earlier this year when they participated in modules and workshops at the (opens in a new window)UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and the (opens in a new window)UCD Innovation Academy.

Five early-stage ventures, with a total of 15 team members, were then selected to participate in an intensive mentoring programme at NovaUCD – the hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin.

The mentoring helped the students to refine their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops.
Following final pitches, O’Kale Krisps was selected as the overall winner as it was judged to have the most commercial potential.

The founders of O’Kale Krisps received a cash prize of €3,000 sponsored by Xilinx. The four runner-ups also received a cash prize of €500 each sponsored by (opens in a new window)Xilinx.

“Through our products we want to build a community around healthy food, healthy body and mind to help people live a happier life,” said Jack Parsons, O’Kale Krisps.

“We hope to have O’Kale Krisps available in stores in all corners of Ireland by the end of the year. We also have future products in the pipeline and may venture into other areas of healthy living.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said she was looking forward to seeing all these early-stage ventures move to the next stage of development and launching into the market.

“During the last four weeks, we leveraged our start-up expertise and experience to support this group of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial students as they developed and refined their start-up ideas.”

The members of the final UCD Startup Stars programme judging panel were; Anthony Collins, Senior Staff Marketing Engineer, Xilinx; Barbara Diehl, Executive Director, UCD Innovation Academy; Caroline Gill, Innovation Education

Manager, UCD Research and Innovation; Gianni Matera, Founder and Partner, Growing Capital and Dr Sharon O’Kane, NovaUCD, Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

Professor Suzi Jarvis is the Founding Director of the UCD Innovation Academy. Majella Murphy is Entrepreneur in Residence, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

The sponsors of UCD Startup Stars Programme are: (opens in a new window)AIB(opens in a new window)Arthur Cox(opens in a new window)Ericsson(opens in a new window)Growing Capital(opens in a new window)Goodbody Stockbrokers and Xilinx.

A total of 17 early-stage ventures and 43 students have now completed the UCD Startup Stars Programme over the last three years.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations