Junior Achievement Ireland: Budding Businesses Battle For Awards

Junior Achievement Business awards at GMITPhotograph by Aengus McMahon

10 companies driven by 45 transition year student entrepreneurs competed in the West Regional Final of Junior Achievement’s Company of the Year Competition recently.

The judging panel comprised of Tom Hyland, Chairman Galway Science Festival, Helen Downes, CEO Shannon Chamber and Donie O’Keeffe, Senior Project Manager, Hewlett Packard. The panel had an extremely difficult job as teams from Salesian College, Pallaskenry, Desmond College Newcastlewest, Ardscoil Mhuire Corbally and Laurel Hill Colaiste competed against several Galway schools who were also successful in securing a place at the Regional Final.

The students set up their companies at the beginning of the school year and beat off stiff competition from over 50 other enterprises to qualify for the final. They enjoyed having their business acumen tested in interviews with the panel of judges and they also had to pitch their company in public audience, to their fellow entrepreneurs and other invited guests.

Junior Achievement Business awards at GMITPhotograph by Aengus McMahonAll the teams were mentored by business volunteers from Junior Achievement supporting companies and their teachers deserve great credit for enabling the teams to be so well prepared.
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Two Regional winners were announced by Tom Hyland, Chair of the judging panel:
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“Play & Learn” from Laurel Hill Colaiste, Limerick developed a simple card game designed to help students from the age of 6 and upwards, learn their Irish verbs in a fun and easy manner.
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“Crow Pick” from Desmond College, Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick designed a product to help golfers retrieve the ball from the hole, without bending, by using a “Crow Pick”.
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Helen Downes CEO Shannon Chamber commented “It was fantastic to witness such enterprising young people at the Junior Achievement company competition regional final in GMIT.  Their knowledge and enthusiasm for their business ideas made our job as judges a very difficult one.   It was an excellent day and competition was very strong!
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Congratulations to all the students involved and best of luck to the two winning teams at the National Final in May.”
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These two teams will now participate in the national final which will be held in Dublin on May 12th and 13th.
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Approximately 2,700 students nationwide participated in the Junior Achievement Company of the Year 2014. Four other regional finals have also taken place to decide the composition of this year’s national finalists. The national winner will represent Ireland and compete against 34 other countries at the JA European Company Competition 2014 in Tallinn, Estonia in July.
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Junior Achievement Ireland is a non-profit organisation working in partnership with business and the education sector to provide a range of enterprise programmes to students aged 5 – 18 years. The twin aims of Junior Achievement are to teach enterprise and life skills to young people and to target those at risk of early school leaving. In the 2013/14 school year 70,000 students will participate in JA programmes and events delivered by over 2,500 business volunteers.