Antimicrobial case to store masks wins student (16) national enterprise award
Matthew McVicar’s product is now on sale in pharmacies in Ireland and the UK
Matthew McVicar (16) who won the top prize in the annual student enterprise programme awards.
A 16-year-old from Monaghan has been awarded the top prize in the annual student enterprise programme awards for developing a copper case to store face masks.
Matthew McVicar from St Macartan’s College in Co Monaghan was named winner of the enterprise programme’s senior category for Coppercase - an antimicrobial copper case used to store face masks - which is being sold in pharmacies in Ireland and the UK.
He decided to design the product after noticing how many face masks were being disposed of in his community. “Just three minutes in a Coppercase and your mask is free from Covid-19 and other viruses and bacteria,” he said. “ Hundreds of studies have proven the antimicrobial effects of copper and Coppercase is one of only seven companies in Europe who have this authorisation to place copper on the market as a biocide,” he added.
Some 29,000 students from nearly 500 secondary schools nationwide took part in the latest student enterprise programme with the 2021 awards held virtually and broadcast live from Croke Park on Friday. Students competed across three categories - senior, intermediate and junior - and were tasked with creating, setting up and running their own business while providing proof of sales of their service or product.
More than 250,000 students have taken part in the student enterprise programme since its inception in 2003.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who attended Friday’s virtual ceremony, paid tribute to all participants and to the “fantastic achievement” of the finalists. He also thanked the teachers and parents who had supported students on their enterprise journey.
“The ability to create an idea, turn it into a business and to run that business is a skill that will be invaluable later in life,” said the Tánaiste. “Ireland has a proud history of entrepreneurship and no doubt those here today will go on to achieve great things.
“Government will back you every step of the way,” he added.
Michael Nevin, chair of the local enterprise office’s education committee, underlined how year on year the programme “continues to produce the very best of ingenuity and entrepreneurship amongst our secondary school students”.
“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. From our class of 20/21 we will see some business leaders and global entrepreneurs of the future emerge.”
Also competing in the national senior category, Amy’s Y2K Vintage Shop from Lough Allen College in Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim was named a runner-up along with SZE Stories from St Louis Secondary School in Dundalk, Co Louth.