Dublin, Ireland, 29 June 2015, GradHow an early-stage University College Dublin (UCD) student venture has won the inaugural UCD Startup Stars programme.

GradHow is developing an online platform to help college students reduce the uncertainty they encounter when they graduate by helping them to understand the employment opportunities that are relevant to them and by challenging the way employers recruit.

By improving connections between employers and universities GradHow aims to improve the graduate employment process.

The founders of GradHow are Ben Chadwick and Alan John Browne, who have both recently completed 3rd year commerce at UCD and Stephen Duffy who has recently completed 1st year commerce (international) at UCD.

UCD Startup Stars has been developed by NovaUCD and the UCD Innovation Academy to provide a framework, and support programme, for UCD undergraduate students who want to work together to build start-up companies.

UCD Startup Stars began earlier this year with cross-disciplinary workshops delivered over a 3-month period as part of the UCD Innovation Academy’s Creative Thinking and Entrepreneurial Endeavour modules. During these modules students from across the university learned creative thinking, teamwork, design thinking and lean business skills.

Following pitches at the end of the modules 6 early stage student ventures, with 16 team members, were selected to participate in an intensive mentoring programme which took place over 4-weeks at NovaUCD.

The aim of this 4-week programme was to assist the participants in refining their start-up ideas. It consisted of a series of structured workshops including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring.

In addition each team also received a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD for the duration of the programme.

Following final pitches GradHow was selected as the overall winner as it was judged to have the most commercial potential and the founders received a cash prize of €3,000 sponsored by Xilinx.

Each of the five runners-up also received a cash prize of €500 sponsored by Xilinx.

17/06/2015 - NovaUCD - GradHow, UCD Start Up Stars.  Picture Nick Bradshaw

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “I would like to congratulate the founders of GradHow on winning the inaugural UCD Startup Stars programme and all the undergraduate students who participated on the programme.”

He added, “During the 4-week programme we leveraged our start-up expertise and experience at NovaUCD to support this group of young entrepreneurial students to develop and refine their start-up ideas. We now look forward to seeing these early-stage ventures move to the next stage of development and launch into the marketplace.”

He concluded, “We were delighted to work with the UCD Innovation Academy on the delivery of this new start-up support programme for UCD undergraduates.”

Professor Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director, UCD Innovation Academy said, “UCD students in every faculty in UCD have big ideas and entrepreneurial zeal. When we offered our students an opportunity to participate in UCD Startup Stars, we were very impressed by the standard of their ideas.”

She added, “UCD Startup Stars was devised to combine the Innovation Academy’s skills in creative problem solving with NovaUCD’s vast experience in commercialisation and we have brought about a programme that offers UCD students a perfect launching pad and testing ground for the initiatives that they are passionate about.”

She concluded “After a successful first programme, we look forward to bringing the programme to new heights next year, and developing on our fruitful partnership with NovaUCD that combines the best of both our work.”

The members of the final judging panel were; Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation; Libby Gribben, Senior HR Director, Xilinx; Owen O’Byrne, Head of Product, Fire Financial Services; Alan O’Dea, Entrepreneurial Specialist, UCD Innovation Academy and Andy O’Sullivan, AIB Innovation.

The sponsors of UCD Startup Stars were AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Pay with Fire and Xilinx.


29 June 2015

Images are available on request to Micéal Whelan contact details below.

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, University College Dublin, Communications Manager (Innovation), t: + 353 1 716 3712, e: miceal.whelan@ucd.ie.

Editors Notes

UCD Startup Stars has been established by NovaUCD and the UCD Innovation Academy to provide a framework, and support programme, for undergraduate students from across the university who want to work together to build start-up companies. The programme is sponsored by AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Pay with Fire and Xilinx.

Profiles of the other five UCD Startup Stars Programme Participants

CarGo is developing a carpooling app for the student community. Using the student login system the CarGo app will provide a platform offering a safe and social carpooling experience.

The founders of CarGo are UCD students Andrew Costello, who has completed 3rd year politics and international relations, information and social computing and Hugh Fitzpatrick who has completed 3rd year archaeology and geology.

Clink is creating an online community to connect prospective third level students with current undergraduates and graduates to help them to select their college courses by empowering them to make informed decisions about their post-secondary school pathways.

The founders of Clink are UCD students Anna O’Flynn, who has completed 2nd year economics, and John Byrne, who has completed 4th year commerce (international).

Meep’s aim is to make 18-25 year olds feel great about themselves by creating a social, fun-filled and esteem-building matching app. The Meep app will enable the youth of today to know the nice things that other people are thinking about them and has recently been validated by a large group of 18-25 year olds.

The founders of Meep are UCD students Gary Melican, Andy Lyne and Cian Ó Faoláin who have completed 4th year commerce (international) and who just want everyone to be happy.

NootroLife aims to bring healthy cognitive optimisation to the general public through the sale of SmartCoffee. Through SmartCoffee, the combination of Nootropic (cognitive enhancing) ingredients with coffee, NootroLife plans to give consumers a way of increasing their memory, focus, motivation and therefore overall productivity.

The founders of NootroLife are UCD students Conor Corroon, who has completed 2nd year science, Sarah Shanahan, who has completed pre-medicine and Enes Gahbiche who has completed 2nd year civil engineering.

SoleSense is an innovative start-up which is designing pressure-sensitive insoles for running shoes to measure the impact force and power generation during a runner’s stride. This data will allow runners to optimise their running stride and to improve performance and reduce injury risk.

The founders of SoleSense are UCD students Constantine Doherty, who has completed 1st year science, Colm Moran, who has completed 3rd year engineering, and Paul McDonagh, who has completed 2nd year engineering.
At NovaUCD, the hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, we nurture and support new high-tech and knowledge-intensive companies as part of UCD’s mission. At NovaUCD we provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art incubation facilities alongside a comprehensive business support programme for client companies. UCD’s technology transfer team, which is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from research and other knowledge-intensive activity at UCD, is also based at NovaUCD. NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.

The UCD Innovation Academy’s mission is to provide a transformational educational experience for the betterment of society and the economy. It shapes creative minds capable of launching new ventures. Established through the Innovation Alliance between University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin it has expanded from its initial focus on working with PhDs to working with undergraduates, postgraduates, and educators, and with organisations and partners beyond academia.