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SPARK: DIT team wins National Social Enterprise Award

Posted: 29 September, 2016

The final of the 2016 SPARK Social Enterprise awards took place in the head office of CPA Ireland on Friday 23rd September.


Toddle Talk – winners of the 2016 SPARK Social Enterprise Award, DIT students Marguerite Diamond, Mandie Leenheer and Maria Suszek.  In addition to their trophy the team received €2000 in prize money to develop Toddle Talk further

The winning team of the 2016 Awards was Toddle Talk from DIT.  Students Marguerite Diamond, Mandie Leenheer and Maria Suszek developed their Early Education Programme for Parent and Toddler Groups.  The team explained the aim of Toddle Talk is to equip parents under stress with the tools to engage with their child and to enrich their vocabulary and their home learning environment.

The Awards reflect a philosophy of solution-based learning and are focused on encouraging social innovation and entrepreneurship among third level students.  Now in its third year, the Awards are sponsored by CPA Ireland, with a prize fund of €10,000.  Eamonn Siggins, Chief Executive of CPA Ireland, commented: “As an Irish accountancy body we are always looking at ways in which we can engage in supporting innovative projects and competitions such as the SPARK Student Social Enterprise Awards. This competition embodies many of the values that we as an accountancy body would also like to be associated with.”


CPA Ireland Director of Business Development and chair of the SPARK Judging Panel 2016 Mr Paul Mc Niece

This year’s competition was keenly contested with innovative entries from six Institutes of Technology making it to the final.  The finalists presented their ideas to a distinguished panel of judges composed of Conor Hickey CEO of Crosscare, Chris Gordon a renowned Social Entrepreneur and Angela Hamouda, Dundalk Institute of Technology and ACE.   The panel was chaired by Paul McNeice, Director of Business Development from Certified Public Accounts Ireland.


Judges  Angela Hamouda, Paul Mc Niece, Chris Gordon and Conor Hickey, with SPARK Awards coordinators Judy Doyle (left) and Annemarie Shier (right)

Second place went to a team from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), Kenn.Tec + -  a portable water purification fountain that uses solar energy to power a highgrade replacable filter which purifies the water. A team from Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) won third prize for their Individualized Reminiscence Support - a person-centred therapeutic tool, designed to enhance the lives of people with dementia.

Other finalists included teams from Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT); IT Sligo; and IT Tallaght with submissions addressing a diverse range of important and relevant societal issues.

SPARK Awards Advisory Board members Anne Marie Shier and Judy Doyle from the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences in DIT, who coordinated this year’s competition, were delighted with the expanded participation this year.  “Having begun in 2014 with DIT, IT Tralee and IT Sligo, this year SPARK also attracted participation from LIT, ITB and IT Tallaght.  As lecturers, we are in a privileged position to offer guidance and support to students who, when given the space and time, can be so innovative and creative in responding to gaps in social needs and services.  Our students are committed to enhancing the lives of people and their communities.”

The SPARK Advisory Board thanked CPA Ireland for its continuing sponsorship which has contributed significantly to the growing success of the initiative.