QUB students secure £100k in start-up funding amidst Covid pandemic

  • Eight students from Queen's University Belfast have secured over £100,000 in funding for their innovative start-up concepts in the last year, despite the difficulties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    Queen’s Students’ Union’s Enterprise SU team has provided the ambitious entrepreneurs with start-up advice, mentoring, programmes and competitions, such as QUB Dragons’ Den, as well as offering support through external funding opportunities.

    Leon Gibson, a Business Management student from Belfast, took first place and a £35,000 prize in The Techstart X Creator Fund Challenge for his start-up ‘MyRafflr’ - a raffle-based marketplace facilitating highly secure and transparent digital raffles for individuals, charities, and organisations.

    He said: “I couldn’t speak highly enough of the team at Enterprise SU and the support they have provided me over the last few months... I would encourage anyone with anything from an initial idea to a developing stage start up to reach out and make use of the resources available”.

    Ballymena native Peter Gillan, who is studying Mechanical Engineering, secured third place and £10,000 in the same competition for his start-up ‘Atlas Smartbell’ - a smart adjustable dumbbell that empowers people to receive personal training from their living room.

    Shea Quinn, Jonathan Smyth, Peter Gillan, Omar Salem & Leon Gibson are just some of the start-up creators to receive funding this year

    Some of the other external competition and grant winners that Enterprise SU have supported this year include Shea Quinn, a PhD student from Newry, who won £10,000 in Catalyst’s Co-Founder Competition for ‘Bioliberty' - an assistive glove that will benefit both sufferers of hand weakness and occupational therapists to accommodate remote hand therapy.

    Shea was one of four QUB students to receive this £10k grant from Catalyst, which is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to nurture NI's innovation community. 

    Belfast-based Software Development student Jonathan Smyth won a £10,000 Techstart Proof of Concept Grant for ‘Linc Technology’ - the world's first digital visual, hand-sizing smartphone system for the jewellery and watch e-commerce space.

    Omar Salem, an Aerospace Engineering undergraduate from Dublin, also received €10,000 in The Student Entrepreneur Awards for his joint start-up ‘Field of Vision' - a product that uses artificial intelligence to gather all the action of a live sports match, to then broadcast it to purpose-built, touch-based devices, which enables visually impaired sports fans to follow and experience the game with their own senses.

    Francesca Morelli, Enterprise SU’s Enterprise Development Officer, said: “We are inspired every day by the students and alumni who come to us with their ideas and aspirations, and I’m delighted that so many of those that we have supported have been rewarded this year. These wins are so well deserved, and this vital funding will help with costs as the students continue to develop their start-ups.”

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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