Students’ innovation scoops Grant Thornton Emerging Business Award

Science
Pictured with Kevin Foley, Grant Thornton are Emma (centre) and Lorna (right)

Pictured with Kevin Foley, Grant Thornton are Emma (centre) and Lorna (right)

Achievement is a shining example of the quality of the Waterford student and their commitment to applying their education to social and economic impact

A final year Ag Science student from WIT and her business partner were the winners of the Grant Thornton Emerging Business Award in the 2018 Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards. PROgress Equine began as a college project with advice coming from entrepreneurship, tech transfer and biotechnology experts at WIT.

Grant Thornton will also provide business plan development advice to the finalists, who also hope to apply to the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme starting this autumn at WIT’s ArcLabs research and innovation hub.

Entrepreneurial journey

Lorna Power who hails from Lismore, Co Waterford came up with the innovative business idea as part of the Rural Entrepreneurship Module on the BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science degree at WIT. She then developed a business plan for a sustainably produced innovative equine feed with a higher than average protein concentrate over the course of the 12-week module. She collaborated on the idea with her friend Emma Murphy, a UCD Business and Law Student from Cashel, Co Tipperary and co-founder of PROgress Equine. Lorna was mentored by her lecturer, Rachel O’Dowd who encouraged the students to enter the competition.

Fantastic achievement

Following the award announcement WIT President, Prof Willie Donnelly said: “I would to congratulate Lorna and Emma on their fantastic achievement. This is a shining example of the quality of the Waterford student and their commitment to applying their education to social and economic impact. At WIT we encourage and innovation and entrepreneurship and I would like to commend Lorna on bringing this through from lecture hall to the national stage. I would also like to thank the lecturers and staff who mentored the team and helped them through to the final 10 of 1,500 overall entries.”

Forward-thinking

PROgress Equine is a company which formulates and produces concentrate feedstuffs for equines that is both environmentally sustainable and nutritionally superior to existing products.

Lorna explains the product: “Our main focus is protein, a key nutrient for the healthy growth and development of bone and muscle in equines. By using innovative ingredients, we have identified superior sources of protein. Our source contains a guaranteed 50-55% protein and higher levels of essential amino acids than existing protein sources, such as soya bean. By adding this innovative protein source to our formulations, PROgress Equine provides equine rations that are more nutritionally beneficial at a similar price to products currently on the market.”

One of the keys to the potential of PROgress Equine is a growing population. “By 2050, there will be nine billion people on the planet. Using our current method of producing protein, we will not be able to meet the planet’s projected protein needs,” adds Lorna.

“PROgress Equine’s protein requires substantially less land and water to produce, making it more environmentally sustainable than soya bean in the long-term. PROgress Equine aims to initially target large studs and equine breeders with a fully formulated ration in Ireland, Europe and the USA. Going forward, PROgress Equine’s mission is to transform the landscape of how we produce animal feed, both now and in the future,” notes Emma.

Invaluable support

Having reached the final from over 1,500 entries nationwide, the two students have been supported and mentored over the past number of weeks by Rachel O’Dowd, lecturer in entrepreneurship at WIT; Ciarán Cullen, Manager, ArcLabs, WIT; James O’Sullivan, Technology Transfer Manager, WIT; and coordinated by Philomena Treacy from WIT’s Technology Transfer Office.

This year celebrates the 37th year of the prestigious Student Entrepreneur Awards which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and Grant Thornton and are open to all third level colleges across Ireland. The Local Enterprise Offices have also come on board as a co-sponsor for the awards this year.


For more information on the Student Entrepreneur Awards visit: StudentEntrepreneurAwards.com.

Read more about the supports the students received.

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Agricultural Science

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