Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur IBYE

The search for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs of 2019 gets underway

IBYE is a programme run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) with the support of the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The competition is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. Now in its 5th year, IBYE has an investment fund of up to €2million. IBYE is a nationwide competition, run across three categories: Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business. Up to 450 young entrepreneurs will be invited by the LEOs to attend free regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ later in the year to help them develop their business and new venture ideas.

With an IBYE investment fund of €50,000 each, every LEO will award up to six investments to three category winners and three runners-up at county level. The local winners in the Best Start-Up and Best Established Business categories at county level will receive investments of up to €15,000 each and the two runners-up will each receive up to €5,000.

It could be you…………

Entry Eligibility

The 2019 IBYE competition will be open to people aged between 18-35 across 3 categories:

  1. Best Idea (has an idea for a business but has not starting trading at time of application) *
  2. Best Start-Up Business (has started trading but in business 18 months or less)
  3. Best Established Business (has been trading for more than 18 months)

*NB: Trading is defined as deriving income from sales of the product or service provided by the business

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants:


  • Aged between 18 (at date of application) and 35 (at 31st December 2019).
  • Applicants aged under 18 at closing date (15th March 2019) for applications are not eligible to apply.
  • The applicant must be the main promoter and owner of the business i.e. the applicant must have started or acquired the business and currently have the lead role in the business and a significant shareholding/ownership in the business.
  • Re: Trading Income for applicants in the Best Business Idea Category. If income has been generated before the closing date for applications (15th March 2019), then the applicant will be reallocated to the Start-Up category.
  • The competition is based around the “entrepreneur”, not the company and therefore only the person named on the application can compete and proceed through the competition. Only the person named on the application can participate in Enterprise Day, Bootcamp, present at County, Regional or National finals, participate in PR opportunities and participate in the Google Training Day. No substitutions are allowed.
  • Eligibility for the Best-Established category starts from the closing date for applications i.e. 15th March 2019. Based on that date, Established Businesses are companies established before 15th September 2017 and Start-Ups are companies started after that date.
  • Applicants must own, control and manage their business Intellectual Property where applicable.
  • Not for profit and social entrepreneurship applicants must operate on a commercial basis.
  • Applicants for Best New Idea that don’t have a permanent business address must enter the competition in the county which is their home address.
  • Applicants for Best Start-Up and Best-Established categories must enter the competition in the county in which their business is located.
  • Previous 1st Place winners of IBYE at County or National level are excluded from applying in the same category in any County.
  • Applicants must be eligible to own, manage and operate a business in Ireland at the time of application.
  • Previous 1st Place winners of IBYE at County or National level are excluded from applying in the same category in any County
  • Applicants from overseas are eligible to apply. Overseas applicants must identify which LEO they wish to be associated with and the applicant must be in a position to engage with the LEO in relation to evaluating their competition entry (e.g. site visit / skype interview) and be eligible to own and operate a business in Ireland at the time of application.
  • Applicants must submit an online application and optional video by the closing date of the 15th March 2019.
  • Applicants can only enter the competition under one category-one project submission per applicant only and in one location only.
  • Applications will be shortlisted before Bootcamp (15 participants in total)
  • Applicants must be available to attend Bootcamp, Mock-Pitches and Judges Pitching
  • Applicants must apply on
  • The decision of the Local Enterprise Office and judges is final and is not open to appeal.

Key Local Dates to Note

  • Thursday, 24th January 2019 – IBYE Launch/ Information Briefing on Competition - Templegate Hotel Ennis
  • Friday, 15th March 2019 – Closing date for applications
  • Saturday, 23rd March 2019 – Enterprise Briefing Day (9.30am-5.30pm) - Hotel Woodstock Ennis
  • Saturday & Sunday, 6th & 7th April 2019 – Bootcamp Training Days (9.30am-5.30pm) - Hotel Woodstock Ennis
  • Weeks of 8th & 15th April 2019 – One-to-One Mentoring (Time and Day TBC) - Clare County Council
  • Tuesday, 23rd April 2019 – Mock-Pitches (Time TBC) - Hotel Woodstock Ennis
  • Thursday, 25th April 2019 – Deadline for submission of final business plan (4pm)
  • Wednesday, 1st May 2019 – Pitching to Judges (Time TBC) - Hotel Woodstock Ennis
  • Thursday, 2nd May 2019 – County Final (6pm) - Durty Nellys, Bunratty

Click Here to Apply

Micro Finance Ireland (MFI) offering loans to IBYE Entrants

MFI’s proposed IBYE 2019 loan offer is:

Loans up to €25,000 at a discounted rate of 5% APR to all competition entrants in the Best

Start Up and Best Established Business categories until 30th September 2019.

For entrants to the Best Business Idea Category, the offer of loan finance is extended until

30th December 2019 so that you too can avail of the offer when the business is closer to trading

*Subject to normal lending criteria, terms and conditions apply.


  • Business must be either already trading or close to trading (in the next 3/6 months)
  • Business has fewer than 10 full-time employees and annual turnover less than €2m
  • Entrepreneur has submitted an Online Application to IBYE Competition 2019

Streamlined Application Process:

  • Applicants register their interest through the MFI website’s dedicated IBYE page and relevant documentation will be sent to the applicant directly
  • Applicants request their LEO to forward a copy of the IBYE Online Application to Microfinance Ireland by email to as part of their application
  • MFI will contact the applicant directly