Wicklow’s “Best Young Entrepreneurs” for 2019 and €50,000 investment fund winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow on Tuesday 30th in the beautiful surrounds of Tinakilly House Hotel in Rathnew.
As part of a nationwide search launched by Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Pat Breen to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs (IBYE) for 2019, the six winners and runners-up were chosen from 16 local finalists and will now share a €50,000 investment fund.
IBYE, now in its fifth year, is a nationwide youth enterprise initiative to help 18-to-35 year olds with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. In 2019, 1,644 young entrepreneurs entered IBYE, which is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.
The county final was hosted by Vibeke Delehunt Head of Enterprise at Local Entreprise office Wicklow and among the special guests at the awards ceremony were Leas Cathoairleach of Wicklow County Council Councillor Irene Winters, Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council and Simon Harris T.D. Minister for Health.
The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by Billy O’Neill, aged 28 founder of Aeroforms in Bray. Aeroforms is an Inspection and Issue management Software as a Service company for the lettings industry. It allows letting agents and tenants to inspect and report issues on properties and stores all info in the cloud. The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Katie Brandon Byrne age 35, of Lil and Izzy Boutique also from Bray.
The winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and the €15,000 investment fund was Ross Lawless, aged 29 founder of Calt Dynamics in Arklow. CALT Dynamics is a pioneering company in mobile 3D printing. They are creating a new generation of 3d printers that operate using a new process they have invented and patented called Physical Mask Curing. This process, PMC for short, is enabling them to build printers that are high resolution, have a lower investment cost and are completely scalable. This means they can build printers that are mobile and field ready with no computer or internet required, right up to industrial devices with much larger build volumes than ever seen before. The runner-up in this category, collecting a €5,000 investment fund, was Craign Mulcahy, aged 28, of ConstrucutionBOS in Delgany.
Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to David Benko, aged 24, a native of Slovakia now residing in Kilcoole for his business Acoutic Acoustic Materials. The company is involved the manufacturing and distribution of acoustic and environmental materials. Products from Acoustic Materials are mostly made out of recycled materials, and can then be re-recycled, therefore reducing the environmental impact of buildings. The runner-up in this category, scooping a €5,000 investment fund, was Michelle Frayne , aged 34, of Slaney Veterinary Centre in Baltinglass.
Ross Lawless was also awarded the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for Co. Wicklow
In the lead-up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Wicklow. They attended an intensive Business Boot Camp, receiving mentoring and support on their business plans, pitch training as well as getting the opportunity to connect with other young entrepreneurs from Wicklow.
Vibeke Delahunt, Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office said: “As our winners clearly demonstrate, youth entrepreneurship is thriving here in Wicklow. IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities. In 2019, Local Enterprise Office Wicklow supported 16 young entrepreneurs through the IBYE competition and over <insert figure> young entrepreneurs in total, since the competition began in 2014. We want to build on that success by supporting Wicklow’s young entrepreneurs today and into the future.”
Minister Harris spoke on the evening and congratulated the participatnts: “It was an honour to present the awards along with my colleague Cllr Irene Winters and Wicklow County Council Chief Executive Frank Curran this week. Supporting entrepreneurship is a key focus of this Government. The substantial investment available under IBYE is a very important part of the programme and will help more young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create more jobs. 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 and create winning businesses.”
The county winners from Wicklow will now progress to the regional finals, which take place on 19th June in the Step House Hotel in Carlow In all, 24 national finalists will be selected at regional finals across the country to compete for the overall title of “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”
At the IBYE national final on Sunday 15th September, which takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin, a €100,000 investment fund will be awarded to winners.