Dublin, Ireland, 23 June 2016, Skillar, an early-stage University College Dublin (UCD) student venture, has won the 2016 UCD Startup Stars Programme. Skillar is developing Quik a new mobile application to accelerate the part-time recruitment process.

Quik will allow employers to streamline the hiring and job-search process by enabling them to advertise part-time jobs and subsequently shortlist and talk to locally-available applicants who apply through the application. Quik will also provide validation of the previous work experience of applicants to shorten the recruitment and interview process.

The founders of Skillar are UCD students, Laurence McNally (Masters, Mechanical Engineering), Stephen Jones (4th year, Chemical Engineering) and Andrew Desmond (Masters, Digital Innovation).

UCD Startup Stars is an entrepreneurship programme, developed by NovaUCD, UCD Innovation Academy and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, to provide a framework and support for UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.

UCD Startup Stars began earlier this year when students undertaking workshops and modules at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and at UCD Innovation Academy explored and evaluated a variety of real world problems before forming teams to develop start-up solutions to address the identified problems.

Six student ventures, with 14 team members, were then selected to participate in an intensive mentoring programme which has taken place over the last 4 weeks at NovaUCD.

The aim of this mentoring programme was to assist the participants in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops and regular pitching sessions. In addition each team also received a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD.

Following final pitches Skillar 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 (profiled below) also received a cash prize of €500 each sponsored by Xilinx.

Laurence McNally, Skillar co-founder said, “We have thoroughly enjoyed our last 4 weeks at NovaUCD during which we have further developed our start-up idea and we are delighted that Skillar has won the 2016 UCD Startup Stars Programme. Skillar is currently at the feasibility phase and we plan to use our prize to further develop our product. Our aim is that Quik will be a more attractive and faster solution than traditional CVs and online applications for employers who are seeking part-time staff and individuals who are seeking part-time jobs.”

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “I would like to congratulate the founders of Skillar on winning the 2016 UCD Startup Stars Programme and to congratulate all the students who participated on this year’s programme.”

He added, “During the last 4 weeks we leveraged our start-up expertise and experience to support this group of enthusiastic and 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 UCD Innovation Academy and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School on the delivery of this annual start-up support programme for UCD students.”

Professor Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director, UCD Innovation Academy said, “The quality of the ideas and the student pitches today is testament to the work that is being undertaken at UCD to foster entrepreneurial mind sets and the ambition of our students to tackle big problems. UCD Startup Stars is a fantastic opportunity for our students to develop, test and launch a business or social venture that they are passionate about.”

She added, “We welcomed the opportunity to work with our colleagues at NovaUCD and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School throughout this year’s programme in a way that combined the best of all our experience. We look forward to bringing the programme to new heights and reaching even more students across the campus in the year ahead.”   

Majella Murphy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School said, “There was a great mix of students on this year’s programme – both undergraduate and graduate, from multiple disciplines, bringing diverse ideas and different perspectives. This sort of environment is very beneficial to early stage start-ups and I was also delighted that a number of our MSc in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Design students volunteered to mentor the teams over the course of the four weeks, bringing an additional richness to the programme.”

She added, “The UCD Startup Stars Programme is going from strength to strength and I am excited about the potential of the three-way collaboration between NovaUCD, UCD Innovation Academy and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.”

The members of the final UCD Startup Stars Programme judging panel were; Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation; Libby Gribben, Senior HR Director, Xilinx; Ray Fitzpatrick, Head of Equity Investment Unit, AIB Group; Raomal Perera, Chair, UCD Innovation Academy Advisory Group, entrepreneur and adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD; and Niamh Mac Sweeney, Business & Finance.

The sponsors of UCD Startup Stars Programme are AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Local Enterprise Office–Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Xilinx.

The hashtag for this programme is #UCDstartupStars

Editors Notes

Profiles of the other 2016 UCD Startup Stars Participating Projects

MedWear is developing a health monitoring platform to enable users gain greater insights into their health and to receive advice to assist them in living a healthier lifestyle. The platform is being developed to automate certain tasks such as calorie counting and BMI calculations to make it less time consuming for users to record such information.

This data will then be used to give customers tailored advice to assist them in improving their well-being and prevent onset of chronic illnesses. MedWear is also planning to incentivise healthy living via the platform through the introduction of gamification and rewards.

MedWear envisages that the data recorded on the platform could be used by users to seek reductions on their health insurance premiums. The acquired data will be stored on the MedWear platform and can be used, at the discretion of users, to help healthcare professionals make data-driven decisions.

The founders of MedWare are UCD students, Eoin Durnin (final year, Biomedical Engineering) and Sean McCarthy (final year, Actuarial Science).

SME Affinity aims to combat the information overload, and bridge the knowledge gaps, experienced by Irish SMEs by providing relevant and accessible material, and the opportunity to outsource business functions, through a new online platform.

SME Affinity plans to provide practical advice in the form of tasks to be carried out and checklists for business owners to help them to work through business processes such as completing tax or PAYE forms or developing a social media marketing plan.

The founders of SME Affinity are UCD students, Judith Harrington (final year, International Commerce) and Declan Keaney (final year, International Commerce).

Step Out aims to provide an alternative learning experience for secondary school students by introducing an online and offline platform to the classroom to bring interactive workshops which cover all aspects of English language and literature to schools worldwide.

Step Out aims to tackle the complicated analysis of dense texts which proves to be difficult and tedious for students. The Step Out team, composed of educators and dramatists, are currently creating a lesson plan database of workshops to roll-out in schools in Ireland and in the UK.

The founders of Step Out are UCD students, Sahar Mohamed-Ali (3rd year, Chemical Engineering), Eppie Claffey (3rd year, English and Drama) and Joanna Kelly (3rd year, English and Drama).

The Little Things is a social enterprise focusing on raising essential funds for mental health charities. The Little Things plans on supplying high-quality clothing, such as white shirts with branded coloured buttons, to enable people show their support for and to raise awareness of mental health issues. The Little Things, currently at the pre-production phase, plans to use designs from local Irish fashion graduates, and will also donate a percentage of profits to mental health charities.

The founders of The Little Things are UCD students, Hugh McGirr (Masters, Business and Biotherapeutics) and Josh Downing (Masters, Business and Biotherapeutics).

Whooozin is developing a website platform that makes group food ordering easy for working professionals and restaurant owners by solving the minimum order problem. Whooozin will also provide services such as grouping individual orders, accurate cost splitting and geo-targeted advertising.

The founders of Whooozin are UCD students, Ittira Joseph (final year, Masters Digital Marketing) and Archit Kumar (final year, Masters Business Analytics).

Further information on UCD Startup Stars visit https://startupstarsblog.wordpress.com/

Further information on NovaUCD visit https://www.ucd.ie/innovation/

Further information on UCD Innovation Academy visit https://www.innovationacademy.ie/

Further information on UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School visit www.smurfitschool.ie