Nurturing the talent of tomorrow

Mon, Feb 11, 2013, 00:00

“When we started out we never realised how big it would get. Lots of faculties now see participation as being very good for students’ CVs. We have also been fortunate enough to have many of the finalists come and work for us in Accenture over the years.”

This year’s winner will get the opportunity to develop their proposal as part of an Idea Incubation Internship with Accenture as well as partake in a leadership tour to New York.

There also are two runners-up prizes for Best Strategic Innovative Solution and Best Technology Enabled Solution.

But the benefits are not confined to the winners.

“The journey to the final is very important,” Ryan points out. “When they get to the shortlist participants are coached and mentored by our staff here on various aspects of business skills. The students benefit and our guys love it as well.”

The competition is for business ideas which involve the innovative use of technology. “Last year all of the finalists were in the mobile space while three years ago there were just one or two in that area, that’s how fast things are moving,” says Ryan.

“What we are looking for is an idea which addresses an identified problem and solves it. For example, last year’s winner was for a mobile application to resolve problems university libraries were having in tracking and managing books.

“The year before we had a very interesting idea for a stick which you put in your drink and which changes colour if the drink is spiked or adulterated in any way. That has now been patented.”

Business case

While the students bring the ideas Accenture tends to bring the business sense to the table.

“We have very high calibre judging panels. This year we have Louise Phelan from PayPal, Colm Lyon of Realex Payments, Eilish Hardiman of Tallaght Hospital, and Liam Kavanagh from The Irish Times and they put the finalists through a Dragons’ Den-style grilling.

“We find it is often the business area where the students are a little naive and that’s where we can help. By the time they get to the final they are able to make a really robust business case for their ideas.”

He is looking forward to the final again this year.

“The standard of the students is tremendous. These are confident, competitive young people who want to see if they can get their ideas accepted by the judges.

“And every year the judges go away uplifted and inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the students. They are a credit to their colleges in that regard.”

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