10 July 2021
By Tom Collins
Former UCC Students’ Union President wins €1,000 UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award for Carbon Footprint Tracking App
Ben Dunlea’s innovative thinking has led to the creation of an app which enables users to calculate their own carbon footprint arising from their daily routines and habits, suggest ways to live a more sustainable life, and save money.
Sponsored by CorkBIC, the competition was created to encourage entrepreneurial activity amongst final year Computer Science students at UCC.
Ben Dunlea, a recent UCC graduate and former Students’ Union President, has won the UCC 2021 Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by CorkBIC for a Carbon Footprint tracking app that encourages individuals to be more mindful of the impact that their lifestyles have on the planet.
The app enables users to input data relating to their diet, methods of travel, and utility usage habits, which the app then uses to recommend ways in which the user can reduce their carbon footprint. Users can track progress they’ve made and see detailed data via their user insights.
Ben’s app also allows users to purchase carbon offsets to address the remaining footprint they have via a once-off payment or a monthly subscription. As carbon taxes increase, and plant-based foods become price competitive, the app will increasingly direct users to lifestyle changes that will help them both lower emissions and save money.
Ben continues to make updates on the app.
“Since the end of the college semester, I’ve continued work on my app in my own time as well as part of the Student Inc Accelerator Programme. The support of the 2021 UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award and Student Inc is a reassuring vote of confidence in my idea, and I look forward to bringing it to market in the coming months.”
Ben’s entrepreneurship and innovation impressed a “Dragon’s Den” style panel of judges who awarded Ben the 2021 UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship award. The judging panel was made up of Shemas Eivers, Chair of Client Solutions and The Boole Investment Syndicate, Myriam Cronin, Manager Gateway UCC Incubation Centre, and Larry O’Donoghue, COO CorkBIC, who sponsored the award.
The award, which is in its second year, was created to inspire entrepreneurship among UCC’s Computer Science final year students.
Sponsor and COO of CorkBIC, Larry O’Donoghue expressed the importance of such an award.
“We are delighted to once again sponsor the UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award in 2021. Being involved in this Award goes to the heart of what CorkBIC is about; building businesses based on promising technology and capable innovative people like Ben and his App. The competition was very strong and we look forward to seeing more Entrepreneurs emerge from UCC’s computer science students.”
Professor Cormac Sreenan, Head of UCC’s School of Computer Science & Information Technology, said:
“Ben’s app is a tangible demonstration of the technical skills and knowledge that he acquired during the BSc Computer Science degree. His selection by the panel is testament to his abilities and potential as a future entrepreneur. I would like to thank the judging panel for providing the students with an opportunity to present their ideas, the mentors for helping the students to prepare their presentations and a special thanks to CorkBIC for their continued support for this award.”
UCC’s Interim President John O’ Halloran acknowledged the importance of Ben’s creative and thought-provoking app.
“I wish to offer my congratulations to Ben on recognition for what is an impressive, important, and innovative idea. His app is another tool in our battle against climate change, and as a University that prides ourselves on our commitment to sustainability, we are greatly encouraged to see our students and alumni rise to meet the environmental challenges facing the world. Anyone who witnessed Ben’s work as Students’ Union President will not be surprised at his latest act of leadership.”