Taoiseach meets local finalists in IBYE Competition

24 talented entrepreneurs from all over Ireland go head-to-head to claim title of the country’s “best young entrepreneur” on Sunday, March 5th

Record numbers benefit from IBYE through Local Enterprise Offices, which carries €2 million Investment Fund 

Wicklow Winners meet An TaoiseachThe Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., has met the local finalists, that are representing County Wicklow at the National Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition. Also joining the Taoiseach at the meeting in Dublin were Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen T.D, Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices and Martin Corry of Enterprise Ireland.

Cathal O’Sullivan, Game X and Shane Bonner, Newmarket Kitchen travelled to meet The Taoiseach at Government Buildings in Dublin, representing Local Enterprise Office Wicklow.

A record 1,842 young entrepreneurs, aged between 18 and 35, have taken part in this year’s IBYE. The competition has progressed through county and regional stages where 24 young entrepreneurs have now emerged as national IBYE finalists and will compete for the prestigious title of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. The IBYE Final takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin on Sunday, 5th March. 

The Taoiseach met the national finalists at Government buildings, before the young entrepreneurs travelled to a pitch training session at Google. He said: “I am overwhelmed and inspired by the entrepreneurial talent that I have encountered here today.  In this fast-moving world, there can be no standing still and we must always stay ahead of the curve in terms of business. It is vital that we nurture our young businesspeople, encourage them, and give them supports as they strive to make an impact and to succeed.” 

“We must also be mindful that today’s young entrepreneurs are tomorrow’s employers. IBYE, which is run by the Local Enterprise Offices, is one of the best innovations arising from the Action Plan for Jobs. While there are now nearly 190,000 people more in employment than when the Action Plan for Jobs was first launched in 2012, we must not be complacent. A lot of work still needs to be done to ensure a bright future for everyone in this country. All the young people I met today are Ireland’s future.” 

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. commented: “These young entrepreneurs are shining examples of how Ireland can stand out and succeed in a highly competitive environment. Creativity, design, technology and innovation have been to the fore in this year’s IBYE. I want to congratulate the finalists here today and all who have participated in the competition so far and encourage them to keep going and realise their ambition. I also want to assure young entrepreneurs up and down the country that their Local Enterprise Office will be on hand every step of the way. I wish the finalists every success in the National IBYE final on the 5th March.”  

Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen, TD, said: “IBYE is one of the most important vehicles we have to help encourage, motivate and kick-start new business in Ireland. The fact that there was a 32 per cent increase in entries in this year’s IBYE competition is a reflection that our young people are eager and hungry to follow their dreams and do it for themselves. Entrepreneurs such as these are a key force in helping to create jobs across every region.” 

The IBYE competition is run by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow. Congratulating the local finalists and highlighting the benefits of the competition for young entrepreneurs, Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise of Local Enterprise Office Wicklow said: “Over the three years of the IBYE competition so far, more than 1,200 young entrepreneurs across the country have benefitted from taking part in IBYE Business Bootcamps and 360 have won investment funding for new or growing businesses. By taking up the supports on offer through the Local Enterprise Office, we are seeing that even more young entrepreneurs are up-skilling; they are developing and refining their plans and business models and they are using financial assistance to unlock new markets and expand their teams”

She added: “Looking ahead to the national final of IBYE on March 5th, we are very proud to be represented by Cathal O’Sullivan, Game X and Shane Bonner, Newmarket Kitchen and we will continue to support them through every step of their journey.”

A key motivator and showcase for Ireland’s young entrepreneurial talent, IBYE is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide and supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The initiative carries a total investment fund of €2 million. Already, 180 young entrepreneurs and business owners have benefitted from their participation in the earlier stages of the competition, receiving investments of between €3,000 and €15,000 each. 

At the National Final, the overall winners and runners-up in the three IBYE categories – Best Business Idea, Best Start-up and Best Established Business will be announced and one of the three national category winners will be crowned ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’.   

A winner and runner-up will be selected in each of the three IBYE categories, and along with the overall winner, will share the €100,000 national final investment fund at the awards ceremony on Sunday, March 5th.  

Competition updates and YouTube videos for each of the national finalists are available through www.ibye.ie or by searching #IBYE on social media.  

The IBYE National Final takes place on the first day of Local Enterprise Week, showcasing the range of enterprise supports available to small and micro businesses through every Local Enterprise Office.