Academy Students Win Prestigious Prize for ‘Ouch Pouch’ Product

Students from Omagh Academy are still buzzing after scooping second prize in Northern Ireland’s Young Enterprise competition final.

Named ‘runner-up Company of the Year’, the 22-member Team Emerge were up against six other schools from across the country – but it was their child-friendly medical kit which captured the imagination of a large panel of judges.

Endearingly entitled ‘Ouch Pouch’, the product features plasters, anti-septic wipes and eye washes in a delicately hand-sewn medical pouch – and of course, a cuddly Medi Teddy to help “overcome tears and fears” after injury.

The product also flaunts an educational, easy-to-read booklet which explains how to administer minor first aid.

Judging Process

Three weeks before the competition’s winners were revealed, five members of Team Emerge travelled to Belfast’s Invest NI headquarters to be marked on the product they’d been working on since September.

Facing a panel of Northern Ireland’s top business moguls, the judging process involved a daunting pitch and a 20 minute interview.

This was something that student Naomi Charters, managing director of the team, said put their knowledge and nerves to the test.

“It was really scary as we had to memorise an entire two minute presentation of our product off by heart – with no cards to read off or prompts to help us,” she explained. “The judges asked us really tough questions about the company, and then they marked us on our innovation, marketing and sales techniques.

“We knew that for each one we had to answer with enthusiasm and detail, because we needed to show the judges that we really knew our stuff – while at the same time, showing our different skills as a company.

“While we got the second-highest mark, we don’t know what that was as it was all confidential!” she laughed.

However, Naomi said the atmosphere when travelling up to the Belfast City Hall for the recent awards ceremony was electric.

“We were all dressed in our long dresses, suits and bow ties, and some of us were even allowed to get out of class early to get our hair and makeup done,” she smiled.

“We enjoyed a lovely dinner in the ballroom, which was very fancy – there was even a magician.

“But when our team’s name was announced as second prize winners, we were absolutely delighted,” she continued.

“It was amazing, and it just showed that all of our hard work paid off. We achieved just what we wanted.

“At the start of the year, we said that we wanted to go to the gala ball and represent Tyrone – and we were able to do that. Coming second was a bonus!”

Ouch Pouch has proved particularly successful, having recently fought off the competition from over 30 companies from around Europe to be awarded the Best Overall Company at a European trade fair event in Austria.

At ‘The Big Market’ in St George’s Market before Christmas, the group were also awarded runners up in the Best Company category.

“I’ve learned that it takes lot of hard work, determination and dedication to be able to win second place,” Naomi concluded.

“You just need to put your whole heart into the competition, and believe in the company.

“If you really feel that your product is a winning product – enough to be worthy of going out and selling it – then you will be able to win.”