On March 19th, student entrepreneurs from counties Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford participated in the regional final of the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Competition 2015 hosted at Cork County Hall. The 10 teams qualified for the regional final from a group of over 420 students who completed the Junior Achievement Company programme in schools across the region. The team, which comes out on top at the national final will represent Ireland at the European final in Berlin in July.
Regional finalists from Bishopstown Community School, Cork; St. Mary's Secondary School, New Ross, Co. Wexford; De La Salle College, Waterford and CBS High School, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary rose to the challenge of having their business acumen tested by the panel of judges and represented their schools and families with great distinction. The students pitched their company to the panel of three eminent judges as they vied to secure a place in the national final to be held in Dublin in May.
The judging panel comprising Paschal McCarthy, GE Healthcare; Richard Cotter, RCCIreland and Frank Buckley, RCI, was really impressed with the entrepreneurial flair and particularly the level of preparation invested by the students, their teachers and mentors.
In opening the event, Deputy Mayor of the County of Cork, Marcia Dalton commented: "Cork hosted the first Junior Achievement Company of the Competition European Final back in 1990 and Cork County Council is delighted to continue this tradition of supporting student enterprise in the region by hosting the 2015 Junior Achievement Company Competition Regional Finals".
It was obvious that the teams had worked hard to take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial talent. The regional final is a real test of nerve as each team must participate in an interview with the judging panel and also make a public presentation in front of their fellow student entrepreneurs, the judges and other invited guests.
The students had to complete the JA Company Programme over a 6 week period with business volunteers from JA supporting organisations. The teams that qualified for this year's regional final benefitted from the support of their teachers and families, while also adhering to the advice of their mentors from EMC, Musgrave and Genzyme in perfecting their ideas and preparing for the regional final.
The teams chosen to represent the region at the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Competition are: Bishopstown Community School, Cork with their company, 'Changes' - a 30 day mental health programme that challenges young people to learn new skills in caring for their mental health and St Mary's Secondary School, New Ross, Wexford with 'Perfect Portions' - a product that aims to tackle obesity.
The two regional winners will go on to compete in the national final of the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Competition 2015 hosted by the DCU Ryan Academy, Dublin in mid-May. The national winner will represent Ireland in Berlin, Germany at the Junior Achievement/ Young Enterprise Company of the Year Competition 2015, competing against 34 European countries.
On behalf of the judging panel Pascal McCarthy GE Healthcare congratulated the students and their teachers. "These students put their hearts and souls into their companies. Their projects ranged from social entreprises to problem solving innovations. These young people are truly inspirational and I congratulate each. It was a privilege for us to serve as judges today."