A blanket that helps people with Dementia, Autism or sensory issues, has won the Laois final of the 2017 Student Enterprise Awards.
Four girls from Heywood CS are behind 'SenseAbility', a sensory blanket already in demand in the marketplace.
"The biggest problem now isn't getting in orders, it's keeping up with production," beamed Ruth Bergin, speaking after the group accepted their award.
"The standard is so high, I'm glad we qualified, Everyone has been so supportive," said Ellen McWey, thanking their teachers, mentors from Laois Local Enterprise Office and Dragon Alison Cowzer for support.
With Arianna Mezzapelle and Megan Walsh, they came up with the idea after seeing a loved one with Alzheimers. Each blanket is custom made to order by a dressmaker.
Co-ordinator for Laois Enterprise Board Sean Ryan, said it was chosen out of 70 projects across seven Laois schools, because of the work put in by the girls, and the product's potential.
Their teacher Paul Broderick is proud.
"They are the most caring bunch I've ever come across. From September they have drived this forward. They put everything into it," he said.
SenseAbility will now represent Laois at the National Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park on May 3.
Second prize went to Lockers Logic, from Mountrath CS. Third went to HRM Model Farms, from St Fergal's College Rathdowney.
The Most Innovative Award went to Iomha, from St Mary's CBS. The Best Display Stand was awarded to Dressing Room One also from CBS, and the Most Promising Concept went to Smartsock, from Mountrath CS.
Merit awards went to the two junior entries.
There were 32 stands from seven Laois schools at the event, with enthusiastic students explaining their businesses to the judges, and viewing each others' stands.
A team from Clonaslee College printed a guidebook to the Slieve Blooms, Snap & Go, on sale in shops for €10.
“We asked photography clubs for photos, and the county councils for maps. It’s our home, so we wanted to share it,” said Roisin Scully.
Bully Busters from St Mary’s CBS created primary school teacher packs to tackle bullying. It is already selling to schools, sponsored by EdCo, with 25 percent of profits going to Childline.
“We want to try and cut the route of bullying before it gets really serious in secondary, where it can lead to suicides,” explained Leon Holland.
Iomha, the SciFest winner in St Mary’s CBS, is a discussion forum website that went live a day before, at iomha.ie
“We have 42 users already, mostly from the US. We will launch a smartphone app next, we think it will be huge in a year,” said Robert Hayes, co-founder with Caolan Fleming and Matthew Cotter.
Honor Deevy is Senior Enterprise Development Officer with Laois LEO.
"Our role is to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Laois, so it's important to start with schools. To help them look at setting up a business as a viable career option," she said ,
Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Cllr Tom Mulhall praised the new ideas.
“This is what we need in Laois, to compliment what is already there. These students are gifted, professional and confident. I wish them all great success,” he said.