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Project number: 2020-1-IE01-KA202-066017

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, Press Office, Atlantic Technological University

Press Releases

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Atlantic Technological University (ATU)’s Springboard Food Innovation course has won a prestigious international award, titled “Fast forward entrepreneurship educator of the year”, for its unique peer-led approach to training, with food entrepreneurs teaching food entrepreneurs and providing participants with the opportunity to network with like-minded people, be inspired by their success and learn the reality of setting up and growing a food business.

The EU award was presented to course founder Dr Lisa Ryan, Head of Department of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, ATU Galway city campus, and colleague Maria McDonagh, Business Development Manager, at the 2022 Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU) Triple E Awards ceremony held in Florence, Italy earlier this year.

Dr Lisa Ryan, Head of Dept of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, ATU Galway, says: “The Springboard funded Certificate in Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship has supported a variety of local and national budding food entrepreneurs to make their food business ideas a reality. We were delighted to receive recognition for the Food entrepreneurship education we have been delivering at ATU Galway at the European ACEEU Triple E awards.” Maria McDonagh, Business Development Manager, ATU Galway, says: “This is a very exciting course for any budding food entrepreneur. It is designed to enhance their business skills and enable those with food or product ideas to develop them into viable businesses. The course has been developed by a combination of qualified staff in Food Science and Nutrition together with a panel of food entrepreneurs and promotes work-based learning ie “learning by doing”. Interacting with food entrepreneurs throughout the course provides participants with the opportunity to network and be inspired by their success and learn the reality of setting up and growing a food business. It has been fantastic to see so many course graduates advancing the stills they acquired to successfully develop their business ideas.”

The Triple E Awards give global recognition to efforts toward the quest for entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. ATU was among 60 universities throughout Europe and Ireland competing in the overall awards. There were 12 different award categories which had strong representation from Irish universities including ATU, University of Galway (UG), Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), University College Dublin (UCD), Munster Technological University (MTU) and University College Cork (UCC).

The “Certificate in Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship” course is funded by the European Social Fund and is part of the Springboard initiative governed by the Higher Education Authority, Ireland. It was first delivered in GMIT (now ATU) in 2016 through the then newly established Department of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. It has been delivered to over 200 Irish food entrepreneurs, providing those in the agri-food sector with the required skills and knowledge to take their product or service to the next level and grow their food business. Participants are encouraged to cultivate and develop their own food product or business thus growing new agri-food entrepreneurs. Graduates include food producers, individuals in the wider agricultural community, rural farmers, and food entrepreneurs, where entrepreneurial training has not typically been prioritised.

The success of the course led the programme team to explore bringing this type of training to Europe to upskill the wider agricultural community and to generate awareness around sustaining the food sector. To date they have been involved in eight EU funded projects and one international project aimed at increasing the quality of education and awareness of food sustainability.

Watch a video about the course and its innovative peer led training

Recently ATU Galway held a ‘Mentoring Agri-Food’ conference which was a great success and celebration of the diverse talent and passion championing our Agri-food sector. Attendees included graduates and peer trainers of the Certificate in Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship course. This event was part of ATU’s Erasmus+ project Advancing Women in Agri-Food Rural Environments (AWARE), which aims to support, develop, and mentor women in the agri-food sector. For details on the course see: Certificate in Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship | ATU – Atlantic Technological University.

How to apply for the course This is a sixteen-week part time course delivered via blended learning (online and in the classroom). The majority of the course is delivered online but there will be three scheduled classroom lessons. The course is funded by the Higher Authority of Ireland Springboard initiative.

Course fee: €300 for those in employment. The course is fully funded for those that are unemployed. To apply for a place on the course please visit

Start date: Monday 30th January 2023


Photo caption: Pictured at the recent ‘Mentoring Agri-Food’ conference in ATU Galway city, L to R: Aisling Moran, ATU,; Maria McDonagh, ATU; Ciara Daly, Conquer Digital; Jacinta Dalton, International Hotel School, ATU,; Sinéad Delahunty, Cookbook Author & Food Creator; Tracie Daly, Food Business Coach; Dr Lisa Ryan, Head of Department of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, ATU; Emma Finnegan, ATU; Declan Droney, Food Entrepreneurship Consultant.