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ISEF 2016 took place in Croke Park Stadium on April 7th, 2016. Six of Ireland’s most innovative student startups presented their business models to a highly experienced judging panel, with Martin’s Safety Equipment being selected as the winner.

Martin's Safety Equipment was founded in 2011 by a transition year student. Marie Martin's father had become ill spraying pesticides, encouraging her to invent the Safe Scrub Sprayer.

Marie went on to win the Young Entrepreneur Programme, receiving national attention for her product as well as mentorship from Denis O'Brien and Jerry Kennelly.

Marie is committed to her mission of promoting health and safety in the agricultural sector and providing farmers with innovative new products to protect their health.


Blazer is developing an airport security system for honeybee hives that uses image recognition technology to monitor, record and analyse honeybee health before take off and after landing. The device then reports back actionable information to beekeepers. 

The problem is that beekeeping today is a very difficult undertaking:

• Varied threats  
• Subtle indicators
• 2 week window to detect before colony collapse
• 1⁄3 of managed honeybee colonies die out every year
• Wild honeybee decline = pressure on beekeepers

Real time data allows beekeepers to respond to threats in a proactive way using proven treatment methods.The long­term value in Blazer is the locally, nationally and globally aggregated data collected on honeybees.



Nu. is an ethical fashion community, aiming to reinvent the way we shop. They believe in looking great, without the environmental and social costs. 

The Fast­Fashion industry is cheap, unethical and highly profitable. Nu. will create a marketplace where fashion is both affordable and sustainable, whilst remaining profitable. Nu. runs eye­opening events throughout Dublin, with a focus on highlighting the harm caused by the current industry. In this respect they provide fun, stylish and affordable wardrobes without causing harm to the planet. 

Their objective is to make ethical fashion the norm, while refusing to support unfair systems of production.



QuickSpot was established out of pure frustration over something that we encounter nearly every day; the inability to find parking. 

By utilising a regular CCTV camera, their unique software, and combining it with an effective mobile application, they are able to identify and guide drivers to available car park spaces. 

With the average price per space being significantly lower and less intrusive than any of their competitors, we believe QuickSpot have the potential to become a market leader in the smart parking industry.

Using just a mobile app, QuickSpot could offer the overall solution for the parking industry.

Vital Fixies

Vital Fixies is a fixed­-gear bicycle company. Designing from Dublin and manufacturing in Taiwan, they are are focused on quality, style and affordable pricing.

Dozens of dedicated designers and engineers work together to carefully construct every facet of the bikes. Their simple, elegant design costs less and ages gracefully. They eliminate waste, you save. Their bicycles are half the traditional retail price and because they sell direct to their customers and don't have expensive retail stores, the customer receives far higher quality bike for their money.

Their goal is simple; to offer high quality fixed gear bikes at an unbeatable price.

Cork Cares

Cork Cares is a social enterprise that enables consumers and businesses to give back to charity whilst also getting something in return. 

They connect local businesses and charities by selling deals online. They then donate a percentage of sales, meaning the consumer is given a good deal whilst supporting their favourite charity. The business is also able to give back and receives a new customer. For charities, they provide a sustainable, regular source of income with no effort needed on their part.

Having launched in Cork and with ambitions to expand, their aim is to have consumers shop normally, but with far greater benefit to society.



Facebook delivered our first workshop in early February at their offices in Grand Canal Docks. The workshop, delivered by Neal Baroni, was themed around running a successful marketing campaign. 

For the first hour and a half Neal walked us through the unique capabilities of Facebook's advertising platform, and its potential for cost­-effective customer reach. Our startups then broke into 4 breakout groups, which offered more personalised advice, from members of the Facebook team, on overcoming marketing challenges specific to their area of business.

The delivery from the Facebook team was exceptional, and set the tone for a great few months ahead.


Tom Smyth of Broadlake introduced the idea of a business plan to many of our non­business background startup students. The business plan is a document which is not only of utmost importance to an investor when making an investment decision, but equally as important to the startup, providing a clear strategy which the startup will follow to reach its goals. With management experience in L’Oréal, Tom could provide the startups with a list of essentials to effectively running a business.

The CFO of Broadlake, Karl Cleere, then ran through the basics of financial statements with the startups, and how proper recording of finances is vital to an organised startup.

Daniel Ramamoorthy

Bootstrapping is a process wherein a startups uses their limited resources and capital to organically grow their business. 

Daniel Ramamoorthy, having consulted the Irish government as a member of its Entrepreneurship Forum, gave the startups an insider’s perspective to the world of bootstrapping. There were many anecdotes, hints and tips from Daniel along the way.

This was followed by a Q&A with Daniel, where the startups had the chance to get advice from a professional startup consultant, whilst also learning how to start running their startup without the need to raise funds from investors.

Semi Final

On the 7th of March, ten teams from across Ireland travelled to the ISEF semi‐final in Ci’s tramway house offices.  This year we were fortunate to be affiliated with WebSummit, who kindly offered to both host and judge in the semi‐final round.

The semi‐final was a night focus & determination as each team gave a 5 minute elevator pitch followed by intensive Q&A from WebSummit judges.

The judges had an exceptionally hard time choosing the finalists, which was a testament to the quality of all startups involved.

Over the past several months ISEF have had to narrow an extensive shortlist of over 50 startups down to 10, demonstrating the competitive nature of the competition. 

The 6 finalists have been selected as those with the greatest potential to disrupt industry and impact the communities around them. 


Bobby Kerr

Bobby Kerr is an Irish entrepreneur and businessman. As chairman of Insomnia Coffee Company he has led Insomnia to become Ireland’s largest coffee house chain over a 16 year period. 

He presents ‘Down to Business’ a Saturday Business Breakfast show on Newstalk and was a founding ‘Dragon’ on RTE’s Dragons’ Den.

Bobby is one of the owners of BANG Restaurant which has carved out a reputation as one of the finest restaurants in Dublin City. He has a variety of business interests in food & hospitality, technology, manufacturing and retail. Bobby is also a popular public speaker and business mentor.

Anna Scally

Anna Scally is Head of KPMG Ireland's Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) practice and Centre of Excellence for Innovative Start­Ups. She also leads KPMG Ireland's FinTech sector initiatives. 

She is passionate about innovation and creating entrepreneurial start­ups. Anna advises a number of early stage companies on the challenges around fundraising, structuring shareholding arrangements, rewarding founders and employees and growing global operations.

Anna leads KPMG's global partnership with Connected Intelligence (Ci), the team behind Web Summit, F.ounders and their related events, and is proud to have been the first corporate partner on board since the very start in 2009.

Gary McGann

GARY McGANN is the Chairman of Paddy Power Betfair Plc, one of the world’s largest public online betting and gaming companies. Gary is also Chairman of Aon Ireland.  He is the former Group Chief Executive Officer of the Smurfit Kappa Group, one of the leading providers of paper-­based packaging solutions in the world. 

Before joining the (then) Jefferson Smurfit Group in 1998, he held various executive positions at senior VP or CEO level in Irish industry in both the private and public sector. In early 1994, the Irish Government appointed him as Group Chief Executive of Aer Lingus.

Brody Sweeney

Brody Sweeney founded the O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar chain in 1988, and succeeded in expanding the chain to nearly 350 outlets in 16 countries.

In 2005, Brody retired from the day to day management of the business to pursue a career in politics, and stood for the Dail in the 2007 General Election.  Brody put O’Briens into examinership in 2009, restructured the business, and exited it.

Brody is the founder of the Camile Thai Kitchen Group; a chain of Thai focussed online delivery restaurants which he still manages. He is chairman of the award winning Little Museum of Dublin, and a non­executive director of Bord Bia.

Niamh Townsend

Niamh Townsend is General Manager for Dell Ireland and is responsible for driving Dell’s business in Ireland. This involves delivering a wide range of services, solutions and products to a diverse range of customers in the public and private sector.

Niamh joined Dell in 2010. In previous roles at Dell, Niamh was responsible for managing Technical Sales Reps to support growth of the enterprise business.

Niamh is especially passionate about helping new businesses get their start. Through the Dell for Entrepreneurs programme, she has personally supported many entrepreneurs with their startups, from inception.