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AIT Launches Entrepreneurship Academy

Up to €30,000 in seed funding available for best companies

InnovAIT, the new entrepreneurship academy at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), is offering up to €30,000 in seed funding for the best companies developed there.

The institute is inviting graduates to submit their business ideas, with the best proposals being accepted onto the entrepreneurship programme and the academy. Up to €25,000 is available for the best high-potential start-up (HPSU) company, and a further €5,000 for the best non-HPSU company.

InnovAIT will provide degree holders with the opportunity and support network to develop their business idea into a commercial reality. It is aimed at graduates from any discipline, who have an idea for a new business or who wish to enhance an existing business.

Director of the entrepreneurship academy, Dr Marc Cashin, said: "InnovAIT is a really exciting development at AIT, where we're combining academic expertise with practical business know-how. Each participant in the academy will have two mentors, one drawn from AIT and the other from industry. The mentors and the workshop format of the programme will combine to form the ideal environment where budding entrepreneurs can enhance their professional and technical development."

A unique element of InnovAIT is that while participants develop the skills and know-how to start their own business, they will also acquire an academic qualification in a Higher Diploma in Entrepreneurship.

According to Dr Cashin, the HDip will be very different to other academic programmes. "We recognise that the primary ambition of these up-and-coming entrepreneurs is to acquire the knowledge that will help them improve their business proposition, from marketing to finance and strategy development. Delivering the course through workshops and guest lectures will ensure that participants derive the maximum benefit from the experience."

The workshops are focused on key areas relevant to the budding entrepreneur and include the entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial strategy and business model development, innovation and creativity, marketing strategy, operations and lean start-up, entrepreneurial finance, the pitch – selling your business idea, and the business plan.

Head of AIT's Business School, Eoin Langan, said that: "AIT has been a leader in supporting start-up businesses for many years, particularly through our Midlands Innovation and Research Centre. We are to the forefront in working with companies on schemes like innovation vouchers and through various enterprise platform programmes. That experience will inform our work in InnovAIT and ensure that these up-and-coming entrepreneurs receive the best possible support environment to make their business ideas a reality."

Eligibility for InnovAIT will be based on applicants having completed a level 7 qualification in any discipline. All applicants will be required to complete an application form that will include an outline of their proposed business idea. The application form includes a section on the applicant's motivation and interest in starting their own business. Applicants will be shortlisted for interview for the programme based on meeting the criteria of having a business idea or concept or further develop an existing business.

The interview will be used to assess the applicant's suitability for the programme and to outline the expectations in terms of commitment required by the participant. Applicants will have to display many of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs to be considered for the programme. They will need to be highly motivated self-starters who have the drive and ambition to become successful. The closing date for receipt of application forms is Friday 19 October 2012.

Further information about InnovAIT is available online at

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