€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 Wicklow Brewery on Tuesday 12th December last.
IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.
The overall “Best Young Entrepreneur” for the county was named by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow as Kate Dempsey, age 33 from Arklow with her Business Irish Mussel Seed Company. 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. In addition to the overall award of Best Young Entrepreneur, Kate also won the Best Business Idea category and an investment fund from LEO Wicklow worth €7,000.
There were two other main category winners on the night. Maurice Sheehy, age 27, from Wicklow won the Best Start Up category for this business, Fleet, which is an innovative peer to peer car rental platform that links both consumers and business to vehicles on demand. Michael Noble, age 30, from Kilcoole, won the Best Established Business category with his business Noble Solutions which is a management consultancy, specializing in the advancement of higher education in Southeast Asia. Representing the interests of a small number of public higher education institutions from the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, Noble Solutions is responsible for managing education projects that span Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Each winner in the Best Start Up and Best Established Categories will benefit from a prize of €15,000 for their business. All three category winners will now be representing the County at the Regional Final to be held in Wicklow on the 25th January 2018.
Meanwhile, the category runners-up also shared an investment of €13,000 between their three businesses. They were: Aoife Mullane, age 26, of A.mullane design, Bray in the Best Established Business category; Dean Siney, age 27, of Nutriquick based in Blessington in the Best Start Up category and finally, Gearoid O’ Biriain, age 29, of DroneSAR based in Rathdrum in the Best Idea category.
Presenting the Awards, Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council commended the finalists for their ambition for both themselves and their county saying
“It takes a special kind of person to start a business and it is truly inspirational to see people your age having the courage to take a risk and to pursue what you believe in. Innovation is the key to Ireland remaining competitive in the global marketplace. Finding new and better ways of doing things is what entrepreneurs do, and that is the very definition of innovation.
It is clear when we look around this evening at the diverse range of enterprises showcased here that Wicklow has a wealth of entrepreneurial talent”.
Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow added: “Since its inception 4 years ago the IBYE competition has meant a total investment of €200,000 in 18 Wicklow businesses led by entrepreneurs in the 18-35 age group. These young entrepreneurs are the bedrock of future economic development in the county and we are delighted with this government initiative to target and encourage young people to use their imagination and energy to create winning businesses. Both the quantity and quality of applications received through this competition in 2017 is a great indicator of the real entrepreneurial spirit in County Wicklow.”
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 Jacqui McNabb, LEO Kildare. The Regional Finals for IBYE are taking place in January and February 2017, to select 24 national finalists across the three competition categories.