Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, is ranked number 1 in Europe for producing entrepreneurs and accounts for one fifth of all spin-out companies from Irish higher education institutions. Trinity is an integral driving force amongst the Irish startup scene in no small part thanks to the support systems in place within Trinity itself. Overseeing the vibrant startup culture is John Whelan, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity and LaunchBox, based in the Berkeley Library.
LaunchPad - Step One
BlackStone LaunchPad at Trinity is step one for student and alumni entrepreneurs. LaunchPad
provides space and resources for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and work on their projects.
Events are held weekly to facilitate networking amongst entrepreneurs as well as to provide vital
“We welcome student or alumni entrepreneurs to work in an interactive open space and encourage
them to reach out for advice on their projects.”
- John Whelan, Executive Director, LaunchPad
LaunchBox - Step Two
The LaunchBox programme is step two: it is a summer long incubator that helps to propel students to develop their business ideas further. LaunchBox 2016 welcomes a new cohort of 14 teams to develop their ideas over 3 months: a new wave of entrepreneurs, fresh off the starting block and confident that their big idea is the one to watch. As the number of competitors continue to grow year on year, the message is clear: students are beginning to pave a new way for themselves instead of conforming to conventional career routes. LaunchPad and LaunchBox foster a mindset that can and has changed the world.
“Trinity already acts as an innovation hub in the capital city. We plan to magnify that role, acting
as a catalyst for high-tech and creative clusters by feeding through a talent pool and stimulating
- Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost
Trinity has seen much success with campus born ideas, many of which have led to students globalising their good intentions with practical solutions. FoodCloud, Small Farms and CriServ are
just three such companies who stand out in the fight for bettering the world we live in.
FoodCloud, a social enterprise, was founded by Iseult Ward and Alex Sloan. The company is an alumni of the LaunchBox programme from 2013. FoodCloud help businesses redistribute their surplus food to people who need it. They have delivered almost 2.5 million meals around Ireland
since setting up in late 2013. By July 2014, FoodCloud established a partnership with Tesco ensuring all surplus food from their 146 stores is redistributed to charities in need across Ireland.
FoodCloud continues to inspire the new wave of LaunchBox participants. Alex Sloan, one of the
founders, continues to mentor his fellow LaunchBox participants, Small Farms and CriServ.
Runners up in the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society Dragons’ Den Competition Small Farms, founded by Johnathan Harris and Éire Smith, are revolutionising what we eat. They plan to set up a cricket farm in order to produce a more sustainable source of protein that is both high in minerals and nutrients, and has a low impact on our environment. They hope to incorporate their cricket flour into the daily western diet by adding it to commonly consumed baked goods and snack bars.
“Crickets leave a minimal environmental impact in comparison to their larger counterparts, whilst also outdoing them by producing 610 times more protein than beef.”
- Éire Smith
Small Farms is currently the only company in the world proposing to organically farm crickets and
they already have a client interested, the protein supplement company called Crowbar Protein,
based in Iceland.
Also taking part in LaunchBox 2016 is CriServ, founded by Conor O’Meara, Owen Monagan, Hugo Miley and Jamie Elliot. CriServ is tackling the refugee crisis.
“We aim to give a voice to those who need it most”
- Conor O’Meara
CriServ works by giving refugees quick and simple access to nearby emergency services. It also
records the threat level of refugees in any given area, how much danger they are in and what
supplies they are most in need of. Criserv could be a vital medium of communication to give
feedback on the aid refugees are receiving and the aid they need most. In this way, CriServ aims to
make the process of refugee migration more direct, focused and personal.
From studying History and Politics in Trinity, Alex Sloan has come a long way to become a consultant at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). During his time at Trinity, Alex helped cofound the successful startup FoodCloud. After finishing his studies at Trinity, Alex went on to volunteer for more than six months in the Level 3 UN Emergency Response in Iraq as the youngest international member of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI).
Now, working in the UN WFP’s own startup incubator programme in Munich, Germany, it is clear that Alex has a passion for social entrepreneurship and creating swift, practical solutions for people worldwide. The UN WFP aims to end hunger by 2030. It is thus embracing the need for investment in social enterprise in order to amplify it on global stage. As an alumni of the LaunchBox programme, Alex continues to hold his seat on the board of directors at FoodCloud and takes the time to give advice and mentor teams such as Small Farms and CriServ, in an effort to procure sustainable solutions to the world’s food crises both at home and abroad.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP is becoming an ever more plausible path for students, who aim to help the world with their problem solving skills. We are also seeing growth of the social enterprise business model as a way to do this and Trinity is proud to do its part by cultivating practical solutions to everyday problems of millions of people around the world. These entrepreneurs dare to do their part in helping humanity and are translating their good intentions into action. Trinity continues to foster this mindset with every generation.
Written by Eugene Markovski and Nicole McCormack, May 2016, SameRock
Eugene and Nicole are past alumni of LaunchBox and have their own startup: SameRock.
SameRock delivers media content and editing to business and personal clients.
“Because we’re all standing on the same rock”.
B.A. English and History
M.Sc. Business and Management
M.Sc. Psychological Science
PitchBook Universities Report (2015/16)
Trinity Innovation Strategy (2014-19