With the Irish Alltech Innovation Competition 2015 less than a week away we caught up with last year’s winner, John Kennedy from Waterford Institute of Technology. We picked his brain for his insights into the Alltech Innovation Competition.
What were your thoughts and feelings leading up to and during your presentation?
The build-up coming up to the event was quite exiting! There was a combination of being nervous and also proud of representing Waterford Institute of Technology for this competition. It took a lot of work to get to the final and even if I decided not to proceed I was awarded €1000 for my efforts before going any further. Therefore, I had the mind-set when entering that I was coming out of this competition with an award either way and with an achievement that is perfect to tell any future employer.
On the day I did come across some little surprises. For instance, I was the only candidate that was not within a group. When I walked into the boardroom being introduced to the other colleges, it did shock me. Also, as I was driving from Kilkenny, my presentation was last on the day which made this day feel like the longest day ever. But the best feeling of all was the responses I got from the judges. They were very supportive of my idea and offered me great advice for the future which I will never forget as long as I live.
What were your thoughts and feelings on the day when you won?
Before any names were called out, I felt I hadn’t a chance. I thought that when everybody else was in groups of three or more, they could have brought more to their presentations. But hearing each of the runners up, it just occurred I wasn’t named. Then I was titled the winner and from there, time froze. For a moment I actually forgot how to stand. Later I realised I had to present my idea again to everyone but this time I had no nerves. I was so overwhelmed from winning that it felt brilliant that someone believed in me and my idea. My academic background is agriculture and I thought no one would listen to a farmer talking about IT and app developing. However after months of hard work, my enthusiasm and motivation did show on the day and I was awarded for my efforts. This just proves that with hard work, success will come your way.
What you have been doing since the competition?
Thanks to this competition, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. WIT believed in my idea so much they helped make my app become a reality. Throughout the year, I received great mentoring and advice for FieldBuddy and it looks very promising. Also with the €4000 prize money, I was able to afford my dream to apply for a postgrad in information technology. As the course had limited places and usually just allows candidates with a physics or maths background, I was able to apply thanks to this competition. In terms of other agri-projects, I’m currently writing a research thesis on measuring grass height using a smartphone camera and have successfully proven this theory.
Do you have any top tips for this year’s competitors?
Firstly, it’s only natural to be nervous; this proves that you believe in your idea. The best advice I can give is to be yourself and know that you have a voice and an opinion like everybody else. This competition is about promoting people with great ideas. There are many opportunities within the competition and it has opened many doors for me.