About Innovation & Development

NUI Galway is committed to providing students with avenues to grow and develop: as a student; your ideas; academic work and with your community.



The President of Ireland awards the Gaisce Medal to young people who take up a challenge. 

Gaisce is a personal development programme for young people aged 15-25 to dream big and fulfil their potential.  At NUI Galway we are committed to not only academic excellence for students, but also developmental opportunities. According to NUI Galway’s Vision 2020, a learning environment that enhances student interaction and engagement and enriches their leadership potential, is an important priority.

To support student engagement and awards, the University has a dedicated volunteering programme (ALIVE) and staff member. Through the ALIVE office, there are a number of resources to enable Gaisce on campus. Contact alive@nuigalway.ie to get started on your Gaisce journey at NUI Galway!


The Library MakerSpace is a creative space where you can attend workshops, 3D print, borrow equipment, or just make stuff! We have a host of fun tech and high-end PCs and Macs. You can also get involved by becoming a MakerSpace  volunteer and helping us manage the space and maintain the printers. No prior experience is required. 

See the MakerSpace website here.

Blackstone LaunchPad

Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus based entrepreneurship programme at NUI Galway. The programme is accessible by over half a million students globally.




Do you have an idea you want to EXPLORE?

The EXPLORE programme is once again accepting applications, and staff and students across campus are invited to apply.

Successful project applications will be awarded up to €900 in funding, along with a support structure, to enable innovative ideas get off the ground. Since EXPLORE was established in January 2012, over 100 new projects involving more than 600 students and staff have been supported.

Some of the funded projects include:

  • Smart Consent workshops providing guidance to students;
  • Digital Champions training students and staff about digital identity and online tools;
  • and the annual Undergraduate Research Conference which will take place again this year on 4 April.

Many more projects have gone on to win awards and are now nationally successful in their own right.

The EXPLORE programme itself won the Community Awareness Award at the National Student Achievement Awards 2016 in April last year.

“EXPLORE’s collaborative approach has been key to its success over the years. It combines the energy and vision of our students along with the insights and experience of our staff. We want to support innovative thinking and idea implementation”, explains Ruth Hynes, Innovation and Engagement Officer, who manages EXPLORE.

An entrepreneurial ecosystem

EXPLORE is part of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus, and along with Blackstone LaunchPad, are overseen by the Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi. A little over a year ago, Blackstone LaunchPad opened on the Concourse at NUI Galway, and since then has provided supports on turning ideas into viable businesses to over 3,000 students and staff. 

NUI Galway also has many other initiatives in this space, including the successful BioInnovate and TechInnovate programmes. There is also the student entrepreneurial society, EntreSoc, and the Enactus society which has its focus on social entrepreneurship. For final year students of Commerce and Business Information Systems there is the ICE module available to all students, who are given the opportunity to innovate in all aspects of business and community enterprise with the support of mentors from local business and community leaders.
Postgraduate students from science, engineering, medicine and arts develop and pitch new business ideas as part of the Introduction to Business module. Students from both these programmes have gone on to compete in the national Student Entrepreneur awards.

“There are so much activity in this space, it’s great to see. Encouraging innovation and and entrepreneurial mindset is not just about going it alone with your own start-up. The same skill-set can be applied inside an organisation, society or group. We want to nurture skills like opportunity recognition, creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration” added Ruth Hynes.
To find out more about EXPLORE or to download an application form, visit www.su.nuigalway.ie/explore

Examples of EXPLORE projects


Now funded nationally with support from Science Foundation Ireland, CÚRAM and the CKI, ReelLIFE SCIENCE started as an EXPLORE project in 2013 involving NCBES staff with postgraduate and undergraduate students from the College of Medicine and College of Science. Over 7,000 primary and secondary school students, from 250 schools around Ireland, have now taken part in the science video competition.

‘I Like Beaches’

Provides scientific information panels on beaches, describing threats to our coasts. The project was delivered by Discipline of Geography staff and students in conjunction with Galway City Council.


Now a hugely successful science education and outreach programme, Cell EXPLORERS started as an EXPLORE project in February 2012. It was originally driven by Dr Grenon from the School of Natural Sciences and nine Biochemistry and Biotechnology undergraduate students in collaboration with Galway Educate Together NS.

Breaking the SEAL - Schools, Archives, Learning

 This project connected leaving certificate history students to the resources of the James Hardiman Library. It was a partnership between the library and the School of Education, and was recently awarded the Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL) Annual Teaching and Learning Award.

Past Students: New Women - The 2015 podcast project, led by Centre for Global Women's Studies lecturer Mary Clancy and student Mary Magill, focused on Emily Anderson. The project, and Digital Memories (2013), had versions of some of the biographies in the Path-Breaking Women of NUI Galway Exhibit in the Hardiman Research Building foyer.



Undergraduate Research

Take your papers, projects and work to the next level! Share your research through these exciting avenues.

The Undergraduate Research Conference

The Undergraduate Research Journal