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SPARK – Social Enterprise Awards launched at DIT

Posted: 12 March, 2015

Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, was on the new DIT campus at Grangegorman today to launch the 2015 national third level student Spark social enterprise awards.

Minister for Business and Innovation Ged Nash TD launched SPARKS Awards

The SPARK Social Enterprise Awards are the product of collaboration involving Social Care Practice lecturers in DIT, IT Sligo and IT Tralee. This year the Awards are generously sponsored by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland) with a prize fund of €10,000.

The Awards are intended to facilitate, recognize and reward creativity and innovation among students working on a diverse range of social issues. Launching the Awards, Minister Nash said: "I'm delighted to support the Spark Student Social Enterprise Awards. I believe that students will benefit enormously from getting involved in exploring a range of complex social issues that are relevant to Irish society today and applying skills and innovative thinking they are acquiring through their studies in attempting to address them.  This is the type of critical thinking and entrepreneurship we are trying to encourage across society in my Department. This is a timely initiative that will instil key employability skills and encourage the development of innovative thinking in students to address the complex social issues in Irish society today".

DIT graduate Lisa Marie Clinton, entrant in last year’s Awards and now founder and CEO of www.availsupport.ie

To illustrate the potential of the Awards scheme, DIT graduate Lisa Marie Clinton gave a presentation on the idea that she developed for her entry for the SPARK awards last year.  Having gone through the requirements of the Award submission, Lisa Marie realised the potential of her proposal and has now developed an online support tool to help people to live independently – www.availsupport.ie. She has been awarded funding from the Local Enterprise Office in her home county of Monaghan and has already seen opportunities for further development.

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Mr Eamonn Siggins, Chief Executive of CPA Ireland, said: "CPA Ireland is delighted to be the proud sponsor of the SPARK Social Enterprise Awards 2015.  Social Entrepreneurship is a key growth area and we wholeheartedly support third level Institutes in their efforts to develop and foster social entrepreneurial skills in future graduates through this innovative competition. The introduction of business streams in this year's competition will bring a pragmatic business influence to bear in ensuring that projects are considered with commercial sustainability in mind."

Jean Ryan, CPA Ireland; Minister Nash; Judy Doyle, DIT; and Dr. John Pender, IT Sligo

Through participation in this experiential learning experience, students will develop team work, critical thinking, effective communication and leadership skills, all directly relevant to their future employability. Outstanding competition entries will be shortlisted for generous prizes totalling €10,000 and assessed by a judging panel composed of Fr. Peter McVerry, Lucy Masterson (Social Entrepreneurship Ireland), Gail McEvoy (CPA Ireland), Conor Hickey (Crosscare), Laura Dennehy (Enactus Ireland) and Fulbright scholar and serial social entrepreneur Ruairí McKeirnan. Entries to the competition close on Friday 24th April with the national finals scheduled to take place in Dublin during May.

For further information contact: Judy Doyle or Anne Marie Shier at annemarie.shier@dit.ie and judy.doyle@dit.ie at 01 4024227/4205