Press Release                                                                                                                                     2nd June, 2023






WHC Labs, who are supported by Wicklow Local Enterprise Office and based in Newcastle, Co Wicklow, were winners at this year’s National Enterprise Awards.


The awards, which took place in the Round Room in the Mansion House in Dublin, were in their 23rd year and are run annually by the Local Enterprise Offices.


Wicklow based Company, WHC Labs, who took home the Innovation Award, are a biotechnology business, focused on yeast fermentation.  The team are experts in the brewing and distilling industry, using next-generation methods to grow yeast and bacteria, with an R & D Lab that is home to industry-leading equipment.


Announcing the award winners at the Mansion House, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney said: “The National Enterprise Awards are the highlight of the small business and enterprise calendar.  Year on year the diversity of businesses and the standard of companies that are coming through the process is getting stronger.”


Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Tommy Annesley, congratulated Tony O’Kane and Philip Woodnutt of WHC Labs, saying: “The company is at the forefront of innovation in the brewing sector which is growing and vibrant in County Wicklow.  With their unique range of services and products on offer, coupled with their strategic growth ambition, winning the Innovation Award this year is no surprise.”


Speaking after the awards ceremony, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Emer O’Gorman, stated: “WHC Labs is a great success story, operating in a unique biotechnology sector and providing highly skilled jobs based in Newcastle.  Everyone in County Wicklow is delighted with their success in winning the Innovation Award in the 2023 National Enterprise Awards and we look forward to following their successes into the future.”


Head of Enterprise at Wicklow LEO, Vibeke Delahunt, joined with the Cathaoirleach and the Chief Executive in congratulating the company on its ability to conceive, develop and deliver new innovative products and services to its customers.  “Every year we are really impressed by the quality of the business that come to the LEO for support and the innovation we see coming through their business ideas.  We are very excited for what the future holds for WHC Labs and we wish them continued success with growing their business.


Wicklow based company Aqualicence, supported by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, was last year’s overall winner.  Headed up by former Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) Finalist Kate Dempsey, Aqualicence has positioned itself at the forefront of planning and project delivery in the offshore renewable energy sector.


Several other companies won across a range of categories at the Awards, which were established by the Local Enterprise Offices to celebrate the impact and quality of small businesses across the country.


This year’s winners share a €50,000 investment fund and eight regional winners were also announced on the night. 


The National Enterprise Awards are one of a number of initiatives that the Local Enterprise Offices run, to foster entrepreneurship across the country. Others include Local Enterprise Week, the Student Enterprise Programme, National Women’s Enterprise Day and Local Enterprise Showcase. The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland. Established in 2014, the Local Enterprise Offices are the essential resource for any entrepreneur looking to start a business or any small business that is looking for support or advice to help them grow. Since their inception eight years ago, the Local Enterprise Offices have helped create over 25,000 jobs across the country. The LEOs work with thousands of client companies across Ireland in a diverse range of sectors offering mentoring, training, expert advice and financial supports to small businesses.


For more information see


LEO Enterprise Award 2023 -1

L/R: Vibeke Delahunt, Head of Enterprise, Wicklow LEO; Tony O’Kane and Philip Woodnutt, WHC Labs;  Emer O’Gorman, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council and Lorraine Gallagher, Director of Services Wicklow County Council, pictured at the 2023 National Enterprise Awards



LEO Enterprise awards 2023 -2

L/R: Tony O’Kane and Philip Woodnutt from WHC Labs with the Innovation Award at the 2023 National Enterprise Awards