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Biz Fest Launch

Press Release for Immediate Release – 16  September 2016

Minister welcomes Entrepreneurial Innovators “Bizfest” Networking event as part of South East Action Plan for Jobs.

A free event called ‘Bizfest’ aimed at helping Irish companies to develop their networks and expand their business in 2017 is being hosted in Kilkenny on 20th October 2016 as part of the South East Action Plan for Jobs.

Now in its fourth year, the expanded Bizfest 2016 is hosted by the South East Local Authorities – Local Enterprise Offices in association Enterprise Ireland & Bank of Ireland. Bizfest aims to provide an opportunity for owners managers and their key staff across Ireland to make connections while immersing themselves in the experience, entrepreneurial spirit and stories of entrepreneurs like Ann O’Brien – Kent Stainless , Michael Hoyne, Merlyn Showering , Philip Martin - Blanco Nino Tortilleria, Mark Cradock – Maven TM and Cian Ó Maidín - nearForm

The event is hosted by Dragons Den presenter Richard Curran and was attended by over 340 businesses in 2015. 

Welcoming the event, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “As we all know, making the right connections is a vital part of doing business in this country. This is avery useful networking event for Ireland’s enterprise community featuring a panel of talented business people who have experience on the local, national and international stage. The event forms part of the ongoing supports of the Local Enterprise Offices across the country, designed to provide a forum where larger companies can engage with smaller companies and create opportunities for collaboration which will ultimately create more jobs in the long term.” 

Speaking about the event Colette Byrne, Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council on behalf of the South East Local Authorities said“The Local Enterprise Office Networking Events are popular and lively events which generate much interest from businesses and help make connections happen which in turn develop key relationships, boost revenues and help maintain and create jobs”.  Byrne said “Bizfest is designed to help bridge the gap between SME's and large companies and this proved to be a successful model in 2015”

This years event is being delivered in an expanded format as part of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs and Frank O’Regan – Chairperson of the South East Action Plan for jobs said “Working collectively is key to the delivery of effective enterprise supports and economic development on a Regional Level and I am delighted to welcome this first event being hosted as part of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs”.

Bizfest 2016 is co-hosted by Bank of Ireland and Deirdre Shine, Branch Manager in Kilkenny added; “We are delighted to support Bizfest 2016 and would encourage all businesses from the area to participate in the event which will provide them with a fantastic opportunity to make connections not just locally, but with business peers right across the country.”

For further information on the event go to or e-mail


Notes for Editor

 For further information contact Kieran Comerford on 086/8252037 or e-mail

 Ticket Booking is Free of Charge and can be done via eventbrite on


 biz fest

(Left to Right) Martin Prendiville – Director of Finance – Kilkenny County Council , Frank O’Regan – Chairperson – South East Action Plan for Jobs , Rachel Doyle – South East Enterprise Ambassador – South East Action Plan for Jobs , Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD , Julie Sinnamon– Chief Executive – Enterprise Ireland ,Kieran Comerford – Head of Enterprise – Carlow County Council , Deirdre Shine – Bank of Ireland


Notes on Event

Bizfest was born out of a desire to connect business people together to assist in developing a business like yours in 2016. Bizfest is a business networking event featuring a panel of unique business people who have experience on the local, national and international stage. Now in its second year the 2015 event attracted over 350 business people from across Ireland.

Bizfest has 3 elements. The first element is the exhibition area which introduces you to products and services which may benefit your business; the second is the panel event which gives you the opportunity to hear from industry experts about how to energize your business into 2017; third is networking over lunch in the award winning Lyrath Hotel , Kilkenny. The event starts at 11am and finishes at 3pm


MC for the event  - Richard Curran 

Richard Curran has been a business journalist, broadcaster, author and commentator on business for two decades. He was previously a columnist with The Sunday Business Post, and before that was deputy editor of that newspaper. In a distinguished career in journalism, Richard has been business editor of the Irish Independent, business correspondent with RTE and assistant editor of The Sunday Tribune, he is the author of a number of books. As a regular contributor to TV and radio he is best known to many as the presenter of RTE’s business show Dragon’s Den. His 2007 documentary, “Future Shock - Property Crash”, predicted the catastrophic effects of the end of the property bubble. 

The panel event was the highlight of our 2015 event with a host of panellists who have experience at local, national and international level. Panelists confirmed to date include: 

  • Ann O’Brien – Kent Stainless
  • Michael Hoyne, Merlyn Showering
  • Philip Martin - Blanco Nino Tortilleria
  • Mark Cradock – Maven TM
  • Cian Ó Maidín - nearForm

Bizfest 2016 is hosted by the Carlow , Waterford , Wexford , Tipperary & Kilkenny Local Authorities - Local Enterprise Offices , Enterprise Ireland & Bank of Ireland under the South East Action Plan for Jobs 2016. .

Ann O’Brien – Kent Stainless

Ann O’Brien has enjoyed a varied career with Kent Stainless, a company which creates bespoke, own design stainless steel and infrastructural products for architectural clients and for the pharmaceutical, healthcare and food industry. Having begun in the company’s finance department, to heading up the HR department and tackling all its issues she is now Managing Director.

Kent Stainless has revolutionised its production strategy since its inception in 1982 and Ann’s role has evolved with it. She oversaw the growth of Kent Stainless’s staff from 70 to over 100 employees, two acquisitions, (one of which involved a factory move from Dublin to Wexford) and the introduction of team work and team leaders.

Ann recognises that success is never achieved in isolation. Ann believes every individual has played their part, especially the management team. Kent Stainless has received a lot of support from local bodies and from the company’s local professional advisors. But it is the drive and determination of every individual involved in Kents which has assured the company’s success

Michael Hoyne, Merlyn Showering

Michael Hoyne is Founder of Merlyn Showering, a Kilkenny based Bathroom Company which specialises in premium shower enclosures and trays. Since inception in 2000, Merlyn has grown to be the No.1 shower enclosure company in Ireland and the UK and has designed ranges for different markets across Ireland, UK, Russia and the Middle East.

The Merlyn business has been built by offering an innovative, quality range of products, supported by industry leading customer service. Michael and his team estimate that over 5 million people have a Merlyn Showering experience every day, they want to make it 50 million.

Philip Martin - Blanco Nino Tortilleria

Philip Martin is the founder of the Blanco Nino Tortilleria based in Clonmel, County Tipperary. Blanco Nino manufactures tortillas and chips using a traditional Mexican process which are then frozen for sale into the food service market via a range of distributors targeting restaurants/cafes/Mexican eateries. Products are currently being sold throughout Ireland, UK, Finland and Germany.

Philip was National Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2014  in the Best New Idea Category and he is personally listed as one of Ireland 30 under 30 by the Irish Independent and brains behind the execution of Ireland most successful ever crowd-funding campaign.

Mark Craddock – Maven TM

Mark has worked in the sales and marketing arena for technology companies for nearly 20 years, and was previously General Manager of TSL, helping the company to grow from its start-up roots in Carlow to a €20M revenue global company. In 2011, Mark identified opportunities for tech companies to buck the trend of the recession and grow their businesses, and started up Maven TM. With all of its operations proudly based in Carlow, the company has enjoyed impressive growth and provides demand generation, inside sales and market research services to companies in over 23 countries, ranging from small ‘cool’ companies to global giants.

Cian Ó Maidín - nearForm

Cian is an entrepreneur from Tramore in county Waterford. Cian co-founded nearForm in 2011. NearForm is now the number 1. Independent Node.js consulting company in the world, with a HQ in Tramore. nearForm is a global company, and all customers are outside of Ireland, spread across Europe, Canada and the United States. Currently nearForm are growing at more than 100% year-on-year with 100 staff across Europe and USA. The underlying belief at nearForm is that Irish technology is world-class and that nearForm can be one of the market defining companies in the cloud revolution.  Cian is passionate and views his career as a vocation and not a job, and is a family man, married to an amazing woman, and has 3 young kids 

Orla Battersby – Enterprise Ireland

Orla Battersby has recently been appointed as Head of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up Division which supports ambitious entrepreneurs who are focused on international markets and have the prospects of achieving annual sales of over €1m and employing 10 or more people within a 3 – 4 year timeframe.

Previously, Orla held a number of senior positions in Enterprise Ireland, most recently as Enterprise Ireland’s Territory Director for North America, based in New York.   She has also led Enterprise Ireland’s Client Management Development Department which runs Leadership and Management Programmes for Enterprise Ireland clients. Prior to that, Orla held positions within Enterprise Ireland as Head of Policy and Head of Education in Ireland, the umbrella brand used to promote Ireland’s higher education to international students.

Orla has served on a number of internal Enterprise Ireland committees including the R&D Committee, the Finance & Operations Committee and the Industrial Research & Commercialisation Committee. She has also served on a number of Irish Government Advisory Boards.

Orla is originally from Co. Dublin, is a graduate of DIT where she studied Marketing and has recently completed a Masters in Business Practice with the Irish Management Institute/UCC.