373 postgraduate students have been awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise from UCD Innovation Academy. This represents the largest cohort to-date with graduates taking the course in seven locations around the country.

The awarding ceremony, which took place on Saturday 10th December, was attended by dignitaries that included Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D. and UCD Alumnus and long-time supporter of the University, entrepreneur Denis O’ Brien. Both offered their insights and words of support to the ‘Class of 2016.’ Joining them at the ceremony was Acting Head of the HEA, Anne Looney, UCD Deputy President and Registrar Prof. Mark Rogers and Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact, Prof. Orla Feely, Founding Director of the Innovation Academy, Prof. Suzi Jarvis and the Chair of its International Advisory Board Raomal Perera.

The course, thought by the Innovation Academy’s multi-disciplinary team of entrepreneurs and academics is supported by the Higher Education Authority Springboard+ initiative. It equips participants with the entrepreneurial skills to identify and innovate new business or social ventures of their own or within existing organisations. It focuses heavily on learning by doing. Throughout the course participants quickly apply the learning to real challenges required to innovate and pitch solutions. Participants come a wide range of fields from banking and sales to the arts and work together in teams. Peer-to-peer learning is a strong aspect of the course.

Over 1,200 people from around Ireland have benefitted from the course to date. Approximately 70% of participants have found employment or started their own venture within six months of completing the course. A number of graduates have now become employers in their own right.

Graduates of the course include Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardees Keith Moore (Smartvote.ie) and Sam Synnott (Buddy Bench), Co-Founder of the Dublin Cookie Company, Jenny Synnott and Ronan Cunningham, Founder of the Irish Footgolf Association.