Rathwood wins the ‘Best Established Business’ category in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition
29-year-old James Keogh of Rathwood in South West Wicklow has won the ‘Best Established Business’ award at the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition, winning a €30,000 investment fund for his business through Local Enterprise Office Wicklow.
The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton T.D. made the announcement in front of 360 guests at the IBYE national final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin on Sunday, December 6th.
Rathwood, which is supported by LEO Wicklow, is renowned for its year-round themed events, with the retail entertainment company welcoming over 250,000 visitors every year and employing over 200 people.
Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland, the nationwide competition is organised through the Local Enterprise Offices and forms part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 with an overall investment fund of €2 million awarded to county winners and national winners.
Speaking at the National Final, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D said: “On behalf of the Government, I’d like to congratulate James Keogh from Rathwood on winning Ireland’s Best Established Business award for 2015. But more importantly, I’d like to congratulate the 1,400 young people who entered this competition through the Local Enterprise Offices and those that made it through to the local, regional or national finals. I’ve been personally inspired by the energy, commitment and ambition of these young people. By promoting entrepreneurship as a career choice, we can ensure that we start more businesses and ultimately create more jobs. Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-up businesses in their first five years. We are relying on these young entrepreneurs to start-up the businesses that will create the jobs of tomorrow, and the level of ambition and innovation on show in this competition provides great hope for the future. I am determined to ensure that Government supports these amazing young entrepreneurs in every way possible on their journey.”
Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Wicklow congratulated James Keogh on his win, saying: “We are very proud of James who has worked exceptionally hard in making Rathwood a national entertainment destination, providing local employment and bringing more than 250,000 visitors to the area every year. It is a big win for James and his team, but also for Wicklow and we’re delighted to have been there from early days to support James and his business. We’d encourage anyone who has been inspired by James’s story to access the wide range of enterprise supports available from their Local Enterprise Office.”
James Foody (age 24) from Glanmire in Cork won the overall ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ title as well as the ‘Best StartUp Business’ award, scooping a total investment of €50,000 for his start-up business.
The Health Tech entrepreneur, who is supported by Local Enterprise Office South Cork, co-founded Ayda, a Female Health Tech company in 2015, after finishing his Masters in Biomedical Engineering Research. The company’s mobile phone app is being designed to help women track fertility levels and a wearable fertility tracker solution is also being developed, for launch mid-2016.
Minister Bruton also announced the ‘Best New Idea’ award and €20,000 investment prize, which went to Blaine Doyle (age 24) of GlowDX in Kilkenny for his diagnostics company, which is setting out to diagnose neglected tropical diseases more cheaply in developing countries.
The Google award for ‘Best Online Promotion of Business’ went to Isolde Johnson of The Cool Bean Company in Dublin City, which develops a range of healthy meals under the Cool Beans consumer brand. Each of the winners will now be offered a place at the Google ‘Adopt a Startup’ programme in 2016.
In all, 24 finalists from 17 counties competed for the overall title and 9 of them made a live pitch to the judging panel in the final round at the Foundry in Google. This year’s judging panel included Sarah Doyle of Kinesense, Brian Crowley of the TTM Group, Colin Goulding of Google, Christine Charlton from the Local Enterprise Office in Westmeath and Tom Hayes of Enterprise Ireland.
Details for all the finalists are available at www.ibye.ie and by searching #ibye on social media and YouTube. The National Final for the IBYE competition was supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland and Google.