More and more students across Belfast are setting up their own business.
All thanks to the support offered to them by the Belfast Enterprise Academy (BEA).
The students who attend Ulster University, Belfast Metropolitan College and Queen’s University were given assistance to set up enterprises and develop business ideas.
As well as participating in workshops and receiving one-to-one mentoring to explore and develop a business idea or product, the students had the chance to meet with a number of current successful business owners and learn from their experiences.
24 young people were presented with certificates for completion of the programme at a recent ceremony in Belfast City Hall.
Among those were Andrew Boyd, Vicky Potts, Adam Whiteside and Alex Caskey – students from Queen’s University – who have set up Ivea Labs, a tech start-up company.
Developing a tech product to change the way tourists interact with exhibitions, their Visit product idea also won the Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition this month securing a prize fund of €10,000.
Andrew said: “What a year it has been for us – we have learned so much from the BEA.
“From the excellent mentoring element of the programme to being put in contact with the right people – visiting T13, the Northern Ireland Science Park and the Game of Thrones exhibition and building an app for the tourism industry, it’s been a wonderful experience.
“The Belfast Enterprise Academy was definitely the best thing ever – it made our business idea real and gave us so many opportunities to make the business feasible.”
Niall Cox, a first-year studying civil engineering at Ulster University, is also on his way to getting his business Viridi – a fresh food sustainable growing environment, up and running.
He said: “I really needed help with marketing my business and achieved this through the BEA.
“The mentoring and specialist support I received through the programme was very beneficial and helped me along the way.”
Aidan O’Gorman, a fourth year at Queen’s University studying electronic engineering, added: “My enterprise is called onTime – a rota management tool for the retail and hospitality industry. The contacts I met through the Belfast Enterprise Academy not only helped me with the development of my product but gave me the confidence to now get it on to the market and start selling.”