National search for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs of 2018 gets underway

Local Enterprise Office Wicklow confirms €50,000 county investment fund available

IBYE 4328Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. and Minister of State for Business, Pat Breen T.D., have launched the national search to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs of 2018 (IBYE) through the Local Enterprise Offices.

IBYE is a programme run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), including LEO Wicklow 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 4th year, IBYE has an investment fund of up to €2million. The closing date to enter this year’s competition is Friday, 29th September, 2017 and there is a €50,000 county investment fund on offer to local winners and runners-up in Wicklow

Speaking at the national launch, the Tánaiste said: “Building on the success of previous IBYE competitions, this Government wants to support more young entrepreneurs right across the country through the LEOs. Ireland has a well-earned reputation as a country that supports and fosters enterprise. Our young entrepreneurs are talented, innovative and dynamic. Last year, 180 young entrepreneurs won investment funding for their businesses through IBYE, helping them reach their export and job growth potential. I would encourage all young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 35, to talk to their LEO about the IBYE programme and the valuable supports available throughout the various stages of the competition.”

Minister of State for Business, Pat Breen T.D. said: “IBYE offers a very significant stepping stone into the world of running your own business for young people aged 18 to 35. It's not just the scale of the investment fund on offer that makes IBYE so important, IBYE entrants can go on to receive intensive enterprise boot camp training from their LEO under the programme, to help them establish and develop their entrepreneurship careers. Now in its 4th year, IBYE has proven to be a great success in all the regions with more than 1,800 applying across the country last year. I would encourage young people with a business idea or currently running a business to apply for IBYE before the deadline of 29th September, 2017.

Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow said: “The substantial investments available under IBYE are a very important part of the programme and will help more young entrepreneurs here locally to grow their businesses and create more jobs. Other business supports, such as management training, networking and one-to-one mentoring are also at the heart of IBYE. Last year, 450 young entrepreneurs all over the country benefitted from these business supports and 180 of them won investment funding to help start and grow their own businesses, so the rewards are there for participants, as well as for the winners. Taking part in IBYE will help Ireland’s young entrepreneurs move their businesses to the next level with the support of their Local Enterprise Office, whatever stage their business is at.”

Bryan Doyle, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council said:

Now more than ever before, Wicklow County Council is connecting with young and aspiring entrepreneurs, through our LEO. We are very keen to ensure that anyone with a good idea for a business is given the necessary encouragement and support every step of the way.  There is a wealth of innovative thinking among our bright and increasingly confident young population. It is very important that we harness this resource to encourage enterprise locally. This will in turn create much needed sustainable employment and economic wealth throughout County Wicklow”.

IBYE is run locally by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow 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, LEO Wicklow 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. The Best Business Idea winner at county level will receive an investment of up to €7,000 and the runner-up will receive up to €3,000 of investment. These winners at county level will progress to Regional Finals hosted early next year in Wicklow and the national IBYE finals will be held in March 2018.

In addition to the Prize fund all applicants from County Wicklow will benefit from their participation as all applicants will be invited to attend a FREE training workshop on Saturday 14th October on how to develop a Winning Value Proposition and how to deliver a Winning Pitch.

County Wicklow has a excellent track record in the competition with 2 representatives Cathal O’Sullivan, Game-X from Greystones, and Shane Bonner, Newmarket Kitchen from Bray, in the 2017 National final, while James Keogh of Rathwood clinched the national title of ‘Best Established Business’ in 2015. Last year the #IBYE County Wicklow title was won by Ken and Janet of Discount Supplements Ltd, Kilcoole.

Former IBYE national winners and finalists attended the national launch in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin this week, including Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (IBYE Overall Winner 2017 and winner of Best Established Business), Alvan Hunt of Hexafly in Meath (Best Business Idea National Winner in 2017), Samuel Dennigan of Strong Roots in Dublin City (Best Start-Up Business National Winner, 2017), Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing in Sligo (Best Established Business National Finalist, 2014) and Niamh O’ Neill of Niamh O’ Neill in Louth (Best Established Business National Finalist, 2014).

Sheelagh Daly of the LEOs, Martin Corry of Enterprise Ireland and Paul Reid of CCMA Economic, Enterprise, Community and Culture Committee were also at the IBYE 2018 launch.                                                                                            

To enter, local entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 should visit the IBYE website at, to submit their applications online. The closing date for entries is Friday, 29th September, 2017 and there are no entry fees.

Further information and details are also available from the 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide through


For all media queries, please contact Annette Rowsome, Local Enterprise Office, Wicklow on 040430800 or