April 5, 2012

Students from Desmond College, Newcastle West were out in force on Wednesday (28th March) in Croke Park as they competed with over 60 other students for the title of National Winner at Agri Aware’s Green Dragon Secondary School Innovation Challenge.

These budding innovators were all out to impress the panel of judges which included leading economist and Chairman of Love Irish Food, Jim Power; the 2012 Apprentice winner, Eugene Heary; agricultural presenter, Ella McSweeney; Heidi Corr, of the Dublin Business Innovation Centre and Pauric Corrigan, President of the National Irish Safety Organisation.

Desmond College : Green Dragon 2012 : National Final

The finalists had to convince the Green Dragons that their idea for a new Agriculture, Food, Environment or Health and Safety product or service had the potential to be a real seller on the market.

A total of €14,000 in prizes was awarded at the event and the “Calving Jackers” team of Conor Barry, Martin Madden and AJ O’Connor were runners-up in the agricultural category with their idea for an attachment to a calving jack that helps assist vets when performing a caesarean section on cows.

Now in its third year, the Green Dragon Secondary School Innovation Challenge is an Agri Aware initiative supported by Bord Bia, AIB Bank and FBD. The initiative provides students with the opportunity to bring their innovative idea from concept stage through to development of business and marketing plans. Earlier today, the students made their business pitch to the judges, in front of a live audience.

This year, the category winners will also have the opportunity to showcase their ideas at a European level at the Dublin City of Science in July in the National Convention Centre. This event will be attended by over 6,000 scientists, business leaders and Government officials from across Europe.

Commenting on the success of the National Final, Agri Aware Chairman, Bernard Donohue remarked, “The standard of the business pitches made to the panel of judges today was outstanding. All finalists were remarkable and we congratulate them all for their great effort.”

Teresa Brophy, Manager Ireland Market, Bord Bia commented “The range and standard of Quality Assured food ideas at the National Final was fantastic. From taking part in the challenge these students have learnt how the Quality Mark is a reassurance of Bord Bia’s highest quality standards and the importance of choosing food with the Mark when shopping.”

Speaking at the final, John Farrell Agri Strategy, AIB Bank remarked, “The creativity and entrepreneurship of these students is remarkable, we witnessed some truly innovative ideas today. The standard of the finalists was very high and I would like to commend all the finalists for the time, effort and work that they have put into their entries.”

Conor Gouldson, Company Secretary with FBD said, “We were delighted to see such a high standard of entries across all four categories, especially in the health and safety sectors. We extend our congratulations to all of today’s winners, and we hope that these students’ great ideas come to fruition in the not too distant future.”

Green Dragon Secondary Schools Innovation Challenge-Prize Winners

Agriculture Winner and Overall Winner: Smart Seeds Delivery System, Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Agriculture Runner Up: Calving Jackers, Desmond College, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick