Secondary school students Matthew Kealy and Theo Staunton claimed the top prize at the Student Enterprise Programme national finals for their idea in repurposing plastic teat spray barrels into various items for reuse on farms.

The two turned empty chemical barrels found on farms into items including meal troughs and calf milk feeders.

Their product Barrelda was announced as the senior category winner of the 20th Local Enterprise Office Student Enterprise Programme on Wednesday, with an Táiniste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar attending the ceremony.

The St Patrick’s Classical School pair from Meath pair have sold 22 items of repurposed barrel equipment with an average sales value of €100 per unit and are planning to extend the number of products they create.

“Congratulations, of course, to all the winners and finalists here today, but also to everyone who took part,” said an Táiniste at the awards.

“To be able to create an idea, turn that idea into a business and to grow that business, is a remarkable skill that will stand to you no matter what you end up doing in your career later in life.

“In Ireland we have always shown great fortitude, determination and grit in times of difficulty and if these students are anything to go by, we have not lost that ability. In fact, I’m more positive than ever about the future and the next generation,” he told the student participants.

Encouraging entrepreneurship

The Local Enterprise Office enterprise education committee chair Michael Nevin said that the competition encouraged student entrepreneurship and gave the next generation of innovators a stepping stone on their path to develop their businesses.

“Year on year the Student Enterprise Programme continues to showcase the very best of Irish ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students,” said Nevin.

“This year produced a varied selection of businesses, from agricultural products and homemade gifts to products that were built on our unique ability to tell compelling stories.

“We see every year that the national finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey,” he commented.