UStart participants demonstrate new businesses

Participants in DCU’s new UStart programme demonstrated their enterprise concepts at a presentation evening in the Hub on Thursday October 24th.

UStart is a unique alternative to the Intra programme that allows DCU students from any degree discipline to develop ideas, design products or services, and start their own businesses. Rather than interning for a company with Intra, those participating in UStart are given the opportunity to work for themselves.

Individuals or teams of entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the initiative which will be run as a sixteen-week intensive summer course. Participants are mentored by industry experts and are provided with seed funding of up to €10,000 for the development of their business, as well as residential accommodation and office space on campus.

Chief organiser of UStart, DCU lecturer Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, said the programme aims to turn students ideas into viable businesses. “We’re trying to change a culture here, trying to encourage people to follow their dreams and take risks”, he explained.

“I was always very entrepreneurial, and Ustart offered us an outlet to work on a practical idea and turn it into a business”, said Robert Wilkinson of participating start-up business NoteHome.

Wilkinson’s company offers an online and mobile communications platform for primary schools and parents. NoteHome works by replacing the old note home in a school journal and offers accurate information in real-time on a digital platform.

Another start-up business from the UStart programme is Agile Payments. This business aims to provide a non-cash transaction service to enhance user experience and provide a streamlined system free of restrictions.

Co-founder Richard Parker explained how their idea emerged: “After being to several concerts and music festivals with cash-only policies and having money lost or stolen, we decided we needed to do something. So we came up with a wristband that could take care of transactions for you.”

Further information and application forms are available at

Elaine Carroll

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