UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK (UCC): The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is a 12 month business development programme that supports recent 3rd level graduates to develop an innovative product or service idea into a sustainable, scalable business. The programme aims to harness the talent of the almost 30,000 third level students in the South West Region of Ireland to contribute to regional economic development through innovation and enterprise creation.

Key goals include building sustainable businesses, creating high value employment and developing the next generation of business owners. Other goals include providing investment opportunities, launching innovative products and services, nurturing entrepreneurial thinking and connecting industry and education.

The Programme has supported almost 80 start-ups and over 80 founders since it launched in 2011. Of these, 47 businesses have gone on to employ almost 150 people. A number of the start-ups have accessed international markets, have raised significant private investment and are on target to create further employment in 2018. Many have gone on to become clients of Enterprise Ireland, the Irish enterprise development agency.

The Programme combines workshops, seminars and guest speakers, the support of mentors and industry contacts with office space and early seed funding. This approach is rare in a global context. The European Commission recognised IGNITE’s innovative approach and proven outcomes at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards in 2016.

The programme received a Special Mention Award for Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016, held during the EU SME Assembly in Bratislava in November 2016. Ms Kristin Schreiber, Director for COSME Programme at the European Commission and Chair of the EEPA Jury, recognised IGNITE as a ‘comprehensive programme that demonstrates excellent results and involves a really broad range of stakeholders’.

The programme is run by a full-time Director, guided by an Advisory Board comprising representatives from industry, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices of Cork City and County and University College Cork.

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