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DkIT Student Team Wins Prestigious International Entrepreneurship Award

08 December 2022

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are thrilled to announce that one of their MBS Student Teams – Plugable - has just won the International Strascheg Award for their innovative business idea! Launched this autumn, the 2022 International Strascheg Award is open to innovative business ideas led by student teams or early-stage start-ups that are entrepreneurially motivated. The 4 students are Andrine Mendez, Elizabeth Ruane, Claudia Gradinariu and Oisin Finn. Applicants must be linked to one of the Start For Future (SFF) European Entrepreneurship partner institutions through their course of study. As a key partner in SFF, DkIT were able to bring this exciting opportunity to their students across several discipline areas. 

Two categories of awards were available – one for project team ideas and one for early-stage start-up ideas. An international panel of judges assessed applications on their degree of innovation, market potential and implementation prospects. Project team composition and presentation skills were also considered. Plugable were one of 28 DkIT student teams to participate in the current round of SFF, and they competed against 17 other international student project teams to make the International Strascheg shortlist. The team was invited to the SFF Co-creation Summit in Munich last month to pitch in the final event where they were awarded the prestigious first prize, along with a cheque for €2,500.

Plugable accelerates electric vehicle (EV) adoption by developing an EV charge network, providing EV charging access to those with no access across Ireland and the EU. The team developed their innovative business idea through their ‘Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice’ module, part of the Master of Business Studies (MBS) in Entrepreneurship & Marketing programme, taught by Lecturer Dr. Jennifer Fegan. Commenting on their win, Dr Fegan said:

“The Plugable team gave a brilliant presentation in Munich and we are thrilled to see them win this award. Theirs is a very innovative idea, and I know that Andrine, Oisin, Claudia and Elizabeth have worked hard to develop it. We are excited to see this project go from strength to strength.

The Start For Future European Entrepreneurship project is an intensive pre-incubation programme where entrepreneurial individuals and teams are provided with an opportunity to work on their ideas and develop prototypes in the Health, Manufacturing, Food, Urban Mobility and Circular Economy sectors. Leading the SFF initiative for DkIT, Professor Colette Henry from the School of Business & Humanities, commented:

I am delighted with SFF’s success so far, particularly this latest win by the highly innovative Plugable team. Andrine and his colleagues have developed a fantastic business idea in the renewables sector and are deserving winners. Their win not only evidences the entrepreneurial mindsets of our MBS students, but also the dedication of their lecturer and mentor – Dr Jennifer Fegan. Plugable will be able to avail of further support through the SFF programme, as well as continued mentoring from Jennifer and incubation support from RDC Manager Garrett Duffy.

This Strascheg win comes on the back of SFF’s recent Triple E Award for Triple Helix Collaboration of the Year. The Triple E Awards are a global recognition of efforts towards the quest for entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. It is the first award to focus specifically on different dimensions of universities' third mission, that is, their economic and social mission in the community.

Professor Henry concluded by saying:

“Through our SFF European project we can offer all DkIT students the opportunity to participate in entrepreneurial activities, provide them with entrepreneurship training, match them with experienced start-up mentors and offer opportunities to gain additional support from the incubators in our 25-partner international consortium. This is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded students to fast track their ideas into the international market.”

Start for Future is a co-developed programme initiated by European Universities, reinforced by the EUAcceL and the Tandem+ Consortium and EIT Urban Mobility and EIT Manufacturing. The initiative comprises 25+ partners in the Start for Future Alliance, which is a collaboration of universities, industry partners, ecosystem leaders, innovators, investors, policy makers and start-up supports from across Europe.

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