Student Inc. is a co-ordinated, accredited programme supporting student entrepreneurs to develop business ideas or grow their existing businesses in Ireland.
Problem addressed:
Entrepreneurs are one of the world’s most precious commodities: as generators of jobs, supporters of local communities and pivotal components of more prosperous societies. Young entrepreneurs are of particular importance. Brimming with potential and energy, their activities, if nurtured and supported, can lead to meteoric growth, jobs and success.

Student Inc was developed to increase the number of start-ups coming from the undergraduate student population in the South West region of Ireland as well as creating more entrepreneurially minded graduates.

How objectives are reached:
Student Inc. is the first student focused accelerator programme in Ireland, which draws students from academic partner’s population to develop their business ideas. It is the only programme in Ireland that provides a stipend for students to allow an opportunity to work on their business idea for a period of 3 months, whilst gaining 10 ECTS (Level 8). Each programme has 45 x Group training, 150 x 1:1 mentoring sessions and 5 x lunch and learn sessions with seasoned entrepreneurs to support the 30 participants. Co-ordinator, 2 x enterprise interns, business incubator staff and client firms provide further support, guidance and work space during the programme. Student Inc. does not take equity is any company it supports.

The main stakeholders are:
Higher Education Authority of Ireland, Cork Institute of Technology, Tralee Institute of Technology, University College Cork.

Resources needed

Student Inc programme costs per annum (3 Universities): €330,000
• Student Stipend (30 students x €4,000): €120,000
• Programme Co-ordinator + 6 x Enterprise Intern Staff: €140,000
• 45 x Group Training and 150 1:1 Mentoring sessions + 5 x Lunch & Learn
Note: Cost per university (10 students)

Evidence of success

Concrete outcomes include:
• Securing HEA Ireland funding €987,800, to run a 3- year programme
• Creating more entrepreneurially minded graduates, evidenced by growth in applications (40 in 2019, 88 in 2020) for 30 places
• 50% of students gaining 10 ECTS credits
• In 2019/20 Student Inc. interacted with 3,400 students who pitched 880 business ideas
• Enabling students to test business ideas in a safe, supportive environment
• Secured funding to build elements of the programme online

Difficulties encountered

• ensuring ‘buy in’ from academic staff to have lecturers promoting Student Inc. and linking with coursework encourages a cohort of interested applicants
• Covid-19 meant most face to face training/mentoring activities had to move online
• Access to on-campus incubators to maximise benefit to stud

Potential for learning or transfer

The Student Inc. programme is highly transferable as:
• the main beneficiaries are the students who participate and their local economies who gain increased number of start-ups and more entrepreneurially minded graduates who can gain employment in many sectors regionally
• it can be rolled out to any third level campus with an incubator
• it is a great model to showcase how collaboration can occur strategically across academia
• no limits on what year of study participants must be undertaking, students’ can be engaged in Level 6-9 studies in any institution
• applicable to all academic disciplines: in 2019 57% were Engineering and Science students and 43% were Business and Humanities. In 2020 these numbers were 53% and 47%
• academic accreditation for the programme of 10 ECTS credits has been developed by the Hincks Centre @ Cork Institute of Technology. This incentivises student’s involvement as they gain credit for their learning whilst testing their business idea

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Cork institute of Technology
Southern and Eastern,
Start Date
January 2019
End Date


John Hobbs Please login to contact the author.