The 2017 AIB Start-up Academy concluded on Thursday evening with a final pitch event involving 14 aspiring entrepreneurs at the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin. After much deliberation, the judging panel deemed Kevin Kelleher, CEO and co-founder of Limerick-based company Ostoform to be the winner. Ostoform will now take a share of the €200,000 prize fund, including a €20,000 cash injection.
Over 300 guests attended the event in the Smithfield venue, which was hosted by broadcaster and entrepreneur Gráinne Seoige. The 14 finalists each delivered a 5-minute elevator pitch about their business and then faced a 5-minute Q&A session with an expert judging panel. Runners up to Ostoform were Michael Swift of Frankman and Ailbhe Keane of Izzy Wheels.
Now in its third year, the AIB Start-up Academy received almost 500 applications from businesses across the country. These entries were narrowed down to a shortlist of 22, from which 10 were chosen. A further four start-ups were selected at the regional AIB Start-up Academy Summits in Galway, Cork, Dublin and Belfast.
The final 14 start-ups then took part in a comprehensive 8-week strategic training and mentoring programme on topics such as networking, data analytics, design thinking, finance, marketing and social media.
Ostoform is a medical device that aims to manage peristomal skin complications for people with ileostomies. Based in the University of Limerick, the company is currently receiving funding through Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund and has won an award at the Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, resulting in €10,000 in funding from InterTradeIreland.
Brian Keating, AIB Group Propositions and Brands Director and lead AIB Start-up Academy judge, said, “The AIB Start-up Academy has gone from strength to strength over the past three years and the standard of pitching tonight was excellent. I’d like to congratulate Kevin on his win, but each and every start-up tonight should be proud of their business and what they’ve achieved. The competition is just one element of our support for start-ups, throughout 2017 we will be running AIB Start-up Academy Bootcamps, open to all entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey.”