Student Inc Accelerator Programme – Two UL student entrepreneurs, Jack O’ Connor (left) and James Moran (right) have taken part in the prestigious 2021 Student Inc. Accelerator Programme.
Two UL students take part in Student Inc Accelerator Programme
By I Love Limerick correspondent Rachel Petticrew
Two University of Limerick student entrepreneurs, Jack O’ Connor and James Moran, have taken part in the prestigious 2021 Student Inc. Accelerator Programme, which allows university students to develop start-up business ideas. The programme’s final showcase took place on Wednesday 25th August, where participants pitched their start-ups to an online audience as well as a host of guest speakers from the academic and business worlds.
The Student Inc Accelerator Programme is a full-time programme that runs during the summer break from June to August. Students from universities across the southwest of Ireland are provided with seed funding and mentorship from other entrepreneurs, trainers and investors.
22-year-old UL student and 2021 Accelerator Programme participant Jack O’Connor has received numerous awards and represented Ireland at an international level with his start-up Moyo Nua. Featured in Forbes magazine, the social start-up focuses on improving the agricultural practices of smallholder farmers in rural Africa. Its primary focus is improving the productivity and effectiveness of hand farming while reducing labour intensity for the farmers themselves.
Discussing the idea for Moyo Nua, Jack says, “It’s quite an abstract concept, especially coming from West Limerick, but the image I use to illustrate the issue is that of the female farmer, doubled-over all day using a hoe to plant crops for her family. It’s a practice that hasn’t been effectively solved yet, and in today’s society with all of the innovations and development globally simply should not be an issue anymore.”
Thank you to @MTU_ie President @Maggie_Cusack, @UCC President @johbees, @ULPresident, @GMITOfficial President @OrlaFlynnGMIT and @LimerickIT Vice President Research, Development & Innovation @LiamBrown4525 for speaking at our showcase. pic.twitter.com/hBKjChMssg
— StudentIncIrl (@Student_Inc_ie) August 25, 2021
Moya Nua began when Jack entered the idea as a Young Scientist project in 2017, winning the Science for Development Award. A 10-day research and development trip to Africa followed, where he saw first-hand the potential impact that Moyo Nua could have. From there, Moyo Nua entered Enactus (a global third-level social enterprise competition) last October.
James Moran is the 20-year-old founder of GoNappy, a three-in-one baby-changing solution, allowing anyone to change their child on the go with just one GoNappy pack. A passionate designer, James came up with the idea while thinking of an easier way for his parents to change his little sister Alison while out and about. The product works by concealing a quick-closing nappy bag and wipes within the interior lining of a nappy. The contents are out of reach to the child, but easily accessible to the parent.
GoNappy won first prize for Best New Business Idea at the 2021 University of Limerick Foundation Entrepreneurship & Innovation Awards.
James told I Love Limerick, “I was very excited when I was offered a place on the three-month Accelerator Programme as I’ve always wanted to bring an idea to market but never had the know-how or time to dedicate to it.
“The things I learned will apply to every venture I tackle in the future. Networking is essential in the world of business and I was overwhelmed with how open and willing so many professionals are to give their time to help a young entrepreneur like myself. Student Inc gave me the platform and contacts to start any kind of business and manages to do so in such an enjoyable way.”
The young innovator believes other student entrepreneurs could also benefit from part-taking in the Accelerator Programme.
“I would recommend the program to anyone with an idea they want to pursue, or a small scale business. I feel like I have just completed a business degree in 3 months and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.”
Speaking to I Love Limerick, Gert O’Rourke of UL’s Nexus Innovation Centre said, “UL seeks to educate graduates who are prepared for pioneering roles in society as leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
“We are delighted to partner with the Student Inc. programme and would like to congratulate our two participating students Jack O’Connor and James Moran on the recent success of their business ventures.”
At the final showcase, Munster Technological University student Marc Dineen was awarded the winning pitch for his start-up Retaineraid. The idea has previously won Best Business Opportunity in MTU Prize for Innovation.
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