Speaking at the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition, Ms Coughlan praised this year’s entries and added that the future was not necessarily about students being successful but about enhancing their talent.
“It’s not all about creating success when you’re in your leaving certificate year or first year university but it’s the skills set that people achieve participating in this.”
Enterprise Ireland was helping start-up businesses, she added, especially those who had good ideas but maybe lacked business acumen.
But it was not an easy time for aspiring young people starting up their own projects, admitted the Enterprise Minister:
“It’s tough out there, the economy’s very fragile but we are building on what we can develop. When it comes to the reason why the smart economy is so important, the basis of it is science, technology and innovation.”
A total 1,588 projects entered this year’s science competition from 329 schools. Judges began inspecting the 209 school projects that did make it to the RDS yesterday.
There are more than 100 awards this year and 40 students will also be selected to be mentored by leading business professionals after the five-day exhibition.
Previous years have seen several entries go on to fame and fortune.
Two brothers from Limerick became millionaires when they sold their follow-up company Auctomatic in 2008 for an estimated $5 million.
To date, Irish students have also taken the top honours 12 times at the EU science contest.
A variety of entries packed out the Dublin hall yesterday. While some focused on ambitions agriculture or technology projects, others set about looking why the brain warmed when we yawn or why the religious faith of the Irish is dwindling.
Other entries looked at the food sector while another looked at the attitude of young people to sex.
Judges will make their final decisions on Friday when awards are granted.