Wicklow’s Young Entrepreneurs in the Driving Seat in the South East

Wicklow entrepreneurs were once again the toast of the southeast in the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, by claiming the top spot in two out of three categories for the second consecutive year at the Regional Final of the competition which was hosted by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow last week in Tinakilly Country House hotel.


Kate Dempsey - IBYEKate Dempsey, age 33 of Irish Mussel Seed Company, Arklow, Co. Wicklow won the Best Business Idea and  Maurice Sheehy, age 27 of Fleet, in Wicklow town was awarded the title of Best Start Up Business. Both Businesses fended off significant competition from County finalists from neighbouring counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny to claim the Regional titles.


The aim of the IBYE initiative, which is delivered nationally through the Local Enterprise Offices, is to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland’s young entrepreneurs. This is hugely important for job-creation as two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence – more start-ups and a thriving entrepreneurial culture will lead to more jobs being created. This project is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs and is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


Maurice Sheehy - IBYEThe regional winners are testament to the ingenuity of young entrepreneurs in county Wicklow and reflects the diversity of businesses being promoted by the next generation of business leaders in the County. Kate’s business, which is still in the pre-trading phase, was established to develop a dependable, quality supply of sustainably sourced Irish mussel seed. The company is developing a system to harvest mussel seed off the coast of Wicklow on suspended structures in the offshore conditions of Irish waters while Maurice Sheehy, uses technology to “drive” his business  Fleet, which is an innovative peer to peer car rental platform that links both consumers and business to vehicles on demand.  The company not only offers individual owners the chance to earn additional revenue from their personal cars but also provides the opportunity for businesses such as garages and motor groups to add ancillary revenue to their business.


Challenging for Wicklow in the Best Established Category was Michael Noble from Noble Solutions, an education consultancy specialising in the development of transnational education partnerships on behalf of Irish and British Universities in South East Asia, however he was pipped to the post by Eoin Tracey of Kilkenny based company Glanway, a processing and production facility of waste derived alternative fuels who brought back a regional title for the Noresiders.

The competition attracted 1,616 applicants nationally with 178 entrepreneurs applying from the south east region comprising Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow.  Wicklow County final Winners and Runners up have shared in a prize fund of €50,000 to date and Regional winners  Kate Dempsey and Maurice Sheehy now have the opportunity to add to that by competing for a slice of the €100,000 prize fund available at the National finals which will take place on March 4th in Google Headquarters in Dublin.

Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, congratulated the winners on their success, adding:

“The IBYE initiative plays a key role in helping young entrepreneurs move their business to the next level. The programme is about nurturing entrepreneurs through bootcamps, training, networking and mentoring, with the added bonus of a national €2 million investment fund shared between runners up and winners at county and national level. The winners represent the wealth of young talent that exists throughout the county which the LEO are committed to supporting in order to bring new and exciting business ideas to fruition. We wish Kate and Maurice continued success as they progress in the competition”.

More details about the competition and the supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and from the IBYE website at www.ibye.ie.