A new report*, released by the Local Enterprise Offices ahead of this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) National Final on the 22nd April, has shown that young entrepreneurs that received investment funding through the programme have current annual sales of €124million.


Funding for the LEOs and the IBYE competition is provided by the Government of Ireland through the State Agency, Enterprise Ireland.


Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is a programme for 18-35 years old run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices across the country. It focuses on three categories; Best Business Idea, Best Business Start-Up and Best Established Business. 


The piece of research, carried out by Set2Grow and commissioned by the State Agency, Enterprise Ireland, has highlighted the impact that Irish entrepreneurs have made in 2014, 2015 and 2016 through the IBYE programme. Between 2014 and 2016, 4,259 young entrepreneurs applied for IBYE, of which 1,350 received business bootcamp training and one-to-one mentoring. 

 IBYE stats infographic

348 of those entrepreneurs won IBYE investment funding of between €3,000 and €50,000 from their Local Enterprise Office and they now in turn have current annual sales of €124million and employ 2,217 people.  The total investment by Government through the Local Enterprise Offices across the three years in the IBYE programme was €5million.  


Minister Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation said: I am delighted that Government funding is being put to such an excellent cause through Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. The success of the competition has clearly demonstrated the appetite for young Irish people to start their own business. The facts speak for themselves: including this year’s applicants, over 5,500 18-35year olds have applied for funding to develop their business ideas. This new research now shows that the €5m we invested in IBYE has supported over 2,200 jobs and €124m in sales. Without a doubt, that’s an excellent return for the investment, and I would like to commend the businesses involved, not to mention the staff behind our network of LEOs, for their strong dedication to the initiative.”


Minister Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection said; “IBYE proves that every region and locality in Ireland has its share of young entrepreneurs. With the encouragement and support of the LEOs, IBYE has shown that young entrepreneurs can start their business locally, bring in extra investment and mentoring and grow strong companies and jobs in every part of the country.”


Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “The research highlights the impact a programme like IBYE is making in finding and developing Ireland’s entrepreneurial talent.  The Local Enterprise Office is the first stop for any entrepreneur who is looking to start or grow their business and we have consistently seen very innovative entrepreneurs starting their enterprise journeys through IBYE. 


“This research shows the positive contribution they are making to the Irish economy and across a range of sectors.  The Local Enterprise Offices through Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have invested significant funding in the IBYE programme and it’s really positive to see that the investment is paying dividends for the Irish economy.”    


The research also found that the two main sectors for entrepreneurs through the IBYE programme were Food and Software.  For 64% of respondents, their principle export market is the UK with Europe at 59% and the US at 29%.  The average figure of revenue derived from export sales for those surveyed was 24.7%.


Outside of their investment received from the IBYE programme, 39% responded that their additional funding came from the State with 61% coming from private sources including Venture Capitalists / Angel Funds as well as from friends and family.


When asked about the challenges they faced as entrepreneurs, “financing a new business at the outset” was their biggest challenge followed by “building their team”.  For 2018 they viewed growing sales as the biggest challenge followed by bringing a new product or service to market. 


The IBYE National Final for 2018 is taking place on Sunday, 22nd April in Google HQ, involving 24 finalists across the three competition categories. This year’s national winners will share a further €100,000 investment fund.


Every year there is a €2million investment fund contributed to the IBYE programme by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and allocated by the Local Enterprise Offices.  For more information on Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, see or follow the conversation online using #IBYE.     


Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2014 – 2016 Report

Key Findings

  • IBYE entrepreneurs have current annual sales of €124million through their company
  • These businesses now employ 2,217 people
  • 4,259 entrepreneurs applied for IBYE with 1,350 receiving mentoring / business boot camps
  • 348 of the applicants received funding between €3,000 and €50,000
  • The total investment by Local Enterprise Offices over the 3 years was €5millon
  • For 64% of respondents the UK is their main export market, followed by Europe at 59%
  • The two main sectors for IBYE funding recipients were Food and Software


Research Overview – Participants & Sample Size

*Source: ‘IBYE 2014 – 2016 Where are they now’ by Set2Grow

  • The IBYE Programme was introduced in 2014 and over 3 years 4,259 young entrepreneurs applied to the 31 LEOs to take part in the programme. 


  • Over the 3 years 372 investments were awarded to 348 individuals.


  • These 348 individuals were invited to participate in this research.  277 responses were received, a response rate of 79.6%.


  • This research was completed in February 2018



IRELAND’S BEST YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALISTS 2018 – Final, Sunday, 22nd April, 2018


2018 Best Business Idea Finalists


LEO Kildare: Matthew McCann of Access Earth (age 28)

An app and website that allows anyone to rate hotels, restaurants and coffee shops for accessibility and suitability for those with mobility needs.   


LEO Sligo: Noel Dykes of Frankli Communications (age 35)

A HR software product that helps management identify and address staff-related problems at an early stage, improving staff morale and retention.


LEO Meath: Mark Baldwin of GloboPod (age 29)

An educational website where primary and post-primary teachers and students can access curriculum rich virtual reality tours through a tablet, iPad, laptop, smartphone or virtual reality headset.


LEO Wicklow: Kate Dempsey of Irish Mussel Seed Co. (age 33)

A sustainable method of harvesting mussel seed for distribution to mussel producers to ensure no further decline of mussel production around the country.


LEO Galway: Brendan Boland of LociOrthopaedics (age 35)

The InDx implant for the treatment of thumb base joint arthritis accommodates the natural motions of the joint resulting in an improved functional outcome with a less invasive surgery.


LEO Limerick: Padraic Hayes of (age 24)

A patented beverage dispensing system that allows consumers to mix and blend a customised nutritional drink to suit their needs.


LEO Fingal: Kevin Kelleher of Ostoform (age 34)

A solution for skin complications for ostomy patients that has seen a 45% improvement in skin conditions during the patient trials.  


LEO Cork City: Joe Perrott of Remote Signals (age 35)

Assists the compilation and visualization of data by connecting objects to the internet through sensors to display real time information to businesses. 



2018 Best Start-Up Business Finalists


LEO Westmeath: Ciaran Gorman of BevCraft (age 28)

A mobile contract canning service, that sources, brands and date codes cans before transporting them to the producers facility, and then fills, tests and multipacks them for immediate distribution.


LEO Wicklow: Maurice Sheehy of Fleet (age 29)

A peer to peer car rental platform that links both consumers and businesses to private vehicle owners and on-demand insurance.


LEO Kerry: Niall Harty of Harty Nutrition (age 30)

Produces Origin Bars, high protein, high fibre nutrition bars aimed at the health-conscious millennials.


LEO Mayo: John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles & Stone (age 34)

A tile, wood flooring and sanitary wholesale and retail business that allows customers build their own designs.


LEO Donegal: Ciara McGlynn of Niche SSP (age 31)

A candidate focused international recruitment firm who recruit construction estimators for construction clients in North Carolina, remotely from Donegal.


LEO Cavan: Jessica Kavanagh of Olann (age 27)

Creating hand dyed yarns in a diverse range of colours that are seasonal forecasted and cognisant of skin tones.


LEO South Cork: Conor Lyden of Trustap (age 24)

A transaction platform that acts as a safety net for people when they want to sell online with strangers.


LEO Fingal: Alan Hickey of WeBringg (age 32)

Delivers online sales, using innovative technology and a fleet of crowdsourced delivery personnel, within 90 minutes. 



2018 Best Established Business Finalists


LEO Louth: Nicola Reddy of Celtic Adventures (age 31)

A mobile adventure activity provider that offers a wide range of activities such as rock climbing, coasteering, abseiling, kayaking, and airsoft.


LEO Limerick: Paddy Finn of Electricity Exchange (age 31)

A Virtual Power Plant that delivers additional power generation capacity to the electricity system while avoiding the cost, infrastructure and carbon emissions associated with building a traditional power station.


LEO Kilkenny: Eoin Treacy of Glanway Limited (age 33)

Turns black bag waste into recyclables and fuel for sustainable energy generation.


LEO Dun Laoghaire Rathdown: Conor O’Loughlin of Glofox (age 35)

A software for fitness studios and gyms that allows them to manage and grow their business.  The software maximises their efficiency, increasing their revenue and improving their customer retention.


LEO Waterford: Robbie Skuse of Kollect (age 25)

An on-demand waste collection platform that creates simple, convenient and efficient ways to collect and recycle waste.


LEO Offaly: Eoin Barra of Mór Irish Gin (age 30)

Produced from the Arderin Distillery, offering two products, their flagship Wild Berry Gin and a limited edition Pineapple Edition Gin.


LEO Donegal: Thomas McLaughlin of Tadaias Premium Cycling Apparel (age 31)

A range of high end cycling clothing and accessories for both on and off the bike that combines the latest technology with a host of rider inspired features and detailing. 


LEO Mayo: Daniel Loftus of Urban Fox (age 28)

An artificial intelligence technology for large online retailers that is designed to reduce the occurrence or online credit and purchase fraud.