Young Entrepreneurs Celebrated at IGNITE Awards & Showcase

9 Nov 2023

The IGNITE Awards & Showcase Autumn 2023 was hosted in The Hub, University College Cork. Six participants pitched to win investment and revenue awards.

Entrepreneurs gathered at The Hub in University College Cork last evening to showcase their start-ups and plans for growing their business ideas. The budding business leaders who spoke on the night were all participants on the IGNITE programme which takes place at UCC.

Guest speaker on the night was IGNITE alumnus, Mark O’Sullivan, who co-founded newborn brain monitoring technology company, Neurobell.

Six IGNITE participants pitched their businesses to the packed audience of entrepreneurs, business owners and investors.

Among the six start-up founders pitching for the two awards were TrustDish, an allergen management system aimed to support people with food allergies dining outside of their home; Volta Robotics, a company working with an automated process for disassembly, sorting, and repurposing EV batteries; MobyShare, which facilitates peer-to-peer car sharing; FASH Forward which partners with a network of sustainable brands to host sustainability workshops on repair and upcycling; BlueDawn Agency, a digital marketing service helping business owners grow their ecommerce platforms; and Barbora Coaching, which hosts coaching sessions to better individuals wellbeing.

The founders competed in two award categories - the Investor Pathway Award and the Revenue Pathway Award.

The winners on the night were:  

  • Shannen O’Reilly of TrustDish, winner of the Bank of Ireland Investor Pathway Award. 
  • Ailis Crowley of FASH Forward, winner of the Local Enterprise Office Revenue Pathway Award. 

Other awardees on the night included Elvis Seporaitis of Volta Robotics, winner of the Bank of Ireland Investor Pitch Award and Marek Zbanski of BlueDawn Agency, winner of the Local Enterprise Office Sales Pitch Award. 

The IGNITE programme has worked with 170 start-ups over the last 12 years and these companies have created more than 370 jobs.

IGNITE Director Eamon Curtin said: “This has been a very busy year for past and present participants on the IGNITE programme. We are especially proud of the numerous awards that have been won by programme alumni.  We were delighted to welcome everyone to UCC this evening for what was a great showcase of the business ideas that our participants have been working on. It was wonderful to also welcome back Mark O’Sullivan who talked about his own business story. Mark is a great example of what can be achieved from dedication and hard work.”

The IGNITE programme is based at University College Cork and is open to recent graduates in any discipline, from any third level Institution in Ireland, who have the passion and ambition to work full-time on a scalable start-up idea that has potential for economic, environmental or social impact. The programme is funded by University College Cork, Bank of Ireland, the three Local Enterprise Offices of Cork City, South Cork and North & West Cork, Cork City Council and Cork County Council.

Aileen Broderick, Manager at Bank of Ireland said: “We are always amazed at the achievements of the participants on the IGNITE programme and we wish them great success as they grow and nurture their business ideas. The showcase event gives us all the opportunity to see what is happening on the IGNITE programme and we are always very impressed with the standard of ideas and talent on show.”

Dr Niall O’Keeffe, Local Enterprise Office Cork City, said: “Congratulations to all the participants on the IGNITE programme who showcased their ideas this evening. The IGNITE programme helps those with business ideas to nurture their visions. It also allows them the opportunity to network with people they need to talk to. The IGNITE programme continues to go from strength to strength and you can see the impact it has on the programme participants and helping them to thrive.”

The awards were determined by an adjudication panel of Aileen Broderick, Manager at Bank of Ireland; Larry O’Donoghue, Chief Executive Officer at CorkBIC and Dr. Niall O’Keeffe, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork City.   

Applications are now open until 27 November for the next IGNITE programme which begins in January. Click here to start your application. 


Clár Gnó Iarchéime IGNITE

Western Gateway Building, University College Cork