€50,000 investment fund presented by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow to six young entrepreneurs in the county, all aged between 18 and 35.
Wicklow’s best young entrepreneurs have been announced at the County Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, which took place in Tinakilly County House Hotel, Rathnew, last night.
IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.
The overall “Best Young Entrepreneur” for the county was named by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow as Ken & Janet Carey, age 35 from Discount Supplements Ltd. in Kilcoole. The entrepreneurial couple also won the category for Best Established Business and an investment fund from LEO Wicklow worth €15,000.
The other main category winners on the day were Shane Bonner, age 34, from Newmarket Kitchen in Bray in the Best Star Up category and Cathal O’Sullivan, age 24, from GameX in Greystones in the Best Idea category. The top prize in the Best Start Up category was €15,000, with a top prize of €7,000 for the Best Idea category.
All three category winners will now be representing the County at the Regional Final in Wexford on the 31st January 2017.
Meanwhile, the category runners-up also shared an investment of €13,000 between their three businesses. They were: Michael Carney, age 30, of Raindrop Drinks, Wicklow in the Best Established Business category; Riva O’Malley, age 31, of Black Castle Drinks based in Wicklow in the Best Start Up category and finally, Shane Byrne, age 28, of Responder Ltd. based in Rathnew in the Best Idea category.
Presenting the Awards, Cllr. Pat Fitzgerald Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council commented on the high calibre of the enterprises in the competition saying “The finalists in each category of the competition are genuinely committed and passionate about their business ideas, but more than that, they demonstrate a real understanding of what it takes to be commercially successful. Each of them has developed a clear, articulated vision for where they want to take their business in the future, driven by innovative thinking and practical business plans.”
Sheelagh Daly is the Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow and she said: “We started the search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur in August and the competition received a record-breaking number of entries this year, with 1,800 young entrepreneurs applying nationally, and almost 60 applications from County Wicklow. After a very successful IBYE bootcamp and County Final, the future is bright for both youth entrepreneurship and job creation in the region.”
Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Bryan Doyle, re-iterated the commitment of Wicklow County Council to supporting small businesses in the county “We in Wicklow County Council, through our Local Enterprise Office, are committed to doing all we can to support the development of enterprise in the County. We recognise the importance of encouraging new start ups, and of helping existing businesses to grow. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that there is a supportive environment for business in the county, that the required infrastructure is in place and that the quality and professionalism of the state supports at local level exceeds expectations and meets the real needs of business.”
The vital role of the judging panel was also acknowledged at the awards ceremony and this year’s judges included: Dr Chris Meudec, Institute of Technology Carlow, Lisa Cunningham, Vogue Business Development and Keith Brock, LEO Fingal. The Regional Finals for IBYE are taking place in January and February 2017, to select 24 national finalists across the three competition categories.
Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie/wicklow and from the IBYE website at www.ibye.ie