An invention which takes the physical exertion out of hitching and de-hitching trailers and caravans in a safe and secure way has earned an IT Sligo student a place in the national final of the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards 2017.
Sligo’s Paul Roper, who is studying for a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Quantity Surveying at IT Sligo, invented the ‘Lock On’ hitch – a fully automated device for attaching trailers.
“I worked in the distribution business for several years before going back to college, and I kept noticing that attaching trailers often posed challenges for work colleagues and clients,” explains Paul who came to IT Sligo as a mature student in 2015.
“The Lock On hitch is designed in such a way that it enables a wheelchair-bound person, for example, to safely hitch and de-hitch a trailer,” he says
“It can also be used on slippy or uneven terrain such as marina slipways – allowing you to attach a trailer to a vehicle stationed on safer ground.”
The Student Entrepreneur Awards’ main sponsors are Enterprise Ireland along with Intel, Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys and Grant Thornton, The awards are part of an ongoing drive aimed at tapping into the potential for students to turn entrepreneurial ideas into commercial businesses.
The objective is to encourage third-level students to start their own business as a career option.
“Paul’s invention and his determination to commercialise his product is a wonderful example of student entrepreneurship” said Niall McEvoy, Head of Innovation at IT Sligo.
As well as presenting their business idea/product, the 10 selected finalists have to submit a business plan for their venture.
There is a cash prize of €10,000 for the overall winner as well as the opportunity to avail of €30,000 worth of specialist advice and assistance to potentially help turn the students’ enterprise idea into a business reality.
Paul’s invention won the ‘Best Pitch Audience Prize’ earlier this month when he presented his ‘Lock On’ device at Regional Innovation Showcase, organised jointly by IT Sligo, Letterkenny IT and the New Frontiers programme. The event celebrated regional entrepreneurship and development amongst the North West’s business and start-up community.
The Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards 2017 will be announced at a ceremony in Cork Institute of Technology on June 7th.
Before that, Paul is busy completing his end-of-year examinations in Quantity Surveying.
For more information on the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards 2017, click here.