Sustainable Business Idea Competition – Deadline May 6, 2021

If you are a Post Graduate Student, PhD candidate, Researcher or Early Stage Start Up with a Sustainable Business Idea, this is the competition for you. There are seven cash prizes of up to €4,000 to be won & follow on supports specific to your stage of development.

There has never been such an urgency in confronting the global challenges we face as a society. The world around us is changing, with huge implications for business strategy and value creation, requiring a new era of innovation set against a stressed global economy.

Identifying innovative ideas and people from across the Island of Ireland and supporting their development is a key requirement for a Sustainable Future.

This competition is about encouraging those interested in Sustainable Entrepreneurship to take some action towards that Sustainable Future. It is open to early stage and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the Island of Ireland who are interested to engage with MaREI, our partner institutions and our collaborators in this competition Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office network, through our kind sponsors Local Enterprise Office Cork City, South Cork and Cork North & West.

We hope that this competition will kick start the activity and progress required to turn ideas into solutions for a more Resilient and Sustainable Future.


How are entries assessed?

There are two categories;

  1. Post Graduade Student/ PhD Candidate/ Researcher from any Third Level Educational Institution on the Island of Ireland
  2. Early Stage Start Up – Pre Trading or Trading for less than 3 years on May 6th 2021. Trading is defined as deriving income from sales of the product or service provided by the business
  • Entries are welcomed until Thursday May 6th 2021 at 13.00 through this platform
  • Entries include an application form and a video upload
  • The video uploaded needs to be 3 minutes max in length or less
  • An adjudication panel will form a shortlist of the best entries. If you are on this shortlist, you will be invited to discuss your idea with the panel online on Thursday May 27th 2021. You must be available PM on this date for this discussion in order to progress in the competition.
  • Prize winners in each category will be chosen after the shortlist discussions
  • Prize winners will be announced during an online awards event on Thursday June 3rd 2021 at 13.00. Prize winners may need to be available to contribute to this event
  • The adjudication panel decisions are final and they reserve the right to assign entries to the category deemed most appropriate

What will be assessed?

  • The Idea – is this idea likely to be feasible?
  • The Promoter – does the promoter appear to have the drive and ability to bring this idea forward
  • The Market Opportunity – is there a significant market
  • Customer/ Potential Customer Interactions – Has the Idea been tested in any way with target customers
  • The Potential Impact of this Idea for a more Resilient and Sustainable Future
  • The Video Pitch


There are three prizes in each category

Overall winner – €4,000

Runner up Winner – €1,500

Runner up Winner – €1,500

A seventh prize of €1,000 is also available. Details of this prize will be announced at the awards event on June 3rd 2021.

Prizes have been kindly sponsored by the Local Enterprise Offices Cork City, South Cork and Cork North & West. These Local Enterprise Offices will arrange for prizes to be transferred to the prize winners as soon as is practical after the awards event. The Local Enterprise Offices will contact prize winners to explain the transfer process and to identify any additional information they may need to allow for the transfer of prizes.

Follow on support

All entrants to this competition will have the option to seek follow on support through MaREI or our partners where appropriate.

Please contact ei.ccu@dlaregztif.mail for an initial conversation about what supports might work best for you and direct introductions to the correct people to help you progress your idea to the next level, where appropriate.

Masterclass Series

The Masterclass facilitators are Ron Immink and Judie Russell, two experienced professionals in this area who also like to have fun!

  • April 1st – Ron – Start Up Methodologies that Work and Why

    • April 15th – Ron – Applying the Strategic Box – Passion, Purpose and Positioning

    • April 22nd – Judie – Design, Create and Deliver a Great Video Pitch


Ron Immink – Ron is a Serial Entrepreneur who works with Sustainable Nation Ireland and delivers Sustainable Business Programmes like Climate Launchpad and EIT Climate KIC. He believes in the Power of Books and has published 15 books. Ron will provide Start Up Methodologies, free access to some of his relevant books and summary content on 10 other books which will help fast track your Entrepreneurial learning.

Judie Russell – Judie is a Video Specialist and has worked on TV, Content Creation, Presentation and Production Internationally. She has a Master’s Degree in Business which gives her a deep understanding of how to effectively communicate Business Messages through Video Content. Judie also realises that Start Ups operate with limited resources so her programmes focus on low cost, high impact approaches.

Watch the recording below for more details about the Masterclass from Ron & Judie: