02 December 2016
By Elaine Murphy
Cork’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneurs’ were named at an awards ceremony hosted by Cork’s three Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) on Thursday, December 1st in County Hall, Cork. The winners were chosen from 45 finalists, shortlisted from almost 190 applicants in the competition which was launched this autumn by the LEOs as part of the nationwide search to find ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (IBYE).
The campaign saw the three LEOs (Cork City, South Cork, Cork North and West) encourage young entrepreneurs from all over the city and county to enter and be in with a chance to win a share of the €150,000 investment fund available. This is the third year of the competition open to individuals aged 18 to 35.The final 45 young entrepreneurs attended the LEO’s intensive Business Boot Camp weekend in early November to focus on their business plans and pitches for the judging stage of the competition.
They were judged in three categories following the presentation of their business plan to judging panels in their region. The three categories were ‘Best New Idea’, ‘Best Start Up Business’ (trading up to 36 months), and ‘Best Established Business’. The LEO winner in each category receives significant investment in their business, with one overall winner in each of the regions receiving the accolade of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.
Since its inception the IBYE competition has unearthed a wealth of young entrepreneurs in Cork, who their respective LEOs work with to nurture and support. The €50,000 investment fund from each LEO is just one of the ways in which it helps to encourage and help young people to realise their dream of owning and developing their own business.
In the LEO Cork City competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Michael Sheehan of Milis Bio from Cork City, who received an investment of €7,000 in his company. Milis Bio, which is making novel proteins to act as healthy flavouring ingredients for the food and beverage industry, starting with a sin-free sweetener. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Clare Condon of Good Day Deli from Cork City.
Paul Moore from Bishopstown, founder of Rebel Chilli received an investment of €15,000 in the Best Start Up Business category. Rebel Chilli produces sauces that are totally unique, with each bottle bursting with fantastic flavour and real heat! The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Louise Ryan, founder of Oh! Naturelle which is based in Blackpool.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and an investment of €15,000, went to Darren Hickey of D&D Detailing which is based in Westlink Business Park, Old Mallow Road, which developed The Cleaner Car brand, a range of products specifically designed using a safe to use chemical for the car care industry. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Marie Martin of Martin’s Safety Equipment, who is a student in UCC.
Michael Sheehan also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the Cork City region.
In the LEO South Cork competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Vincent Forde from Carrigaline, who received €7,000 investment in his company, Gasgon Medical, which is a medical device company that supports medical staff in delivering improved patient care, with better outcomes, through collaboration and innovation. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Tomás Kelly, founder of Chawk from Douglas.
Mark Moriarty of Awesound, from Rochestown, received €15,000 investment in the Best Start Up Business category. Awesound helps podcasters earn twice as much, through targeted advertising or by selling to listeners. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Blaine Doyle of GlowDX from Midleton.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and €15,000 investment, went to Richard Barrett from Douglas, founder of Pundit Arena, which is a sports media platform that empowers fans to become paid sports journalists. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Luke Dennehy, Dennehy’s Health & Fitness from Ovens.
Vincent Forde also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the South Cork region.
In the Cork North and West competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Fiona Edwards Murphy from Kanturk, who received €7,000 investment in her company, Apis Protect, which helps beekeepers to prevent losses and increase the productivity of their hives through the use of unique in hive sensors and data processing technology. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Emerald De Leeuw, EuroComply from Crosshaven.
Hayley Milthorpe from Skibbereen, founder of The Cultured Food Company received €15,000 investment in the Best Start Up Business category. The Cultured Food Company is leading the revival of live fermented foods in Ireland. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000, was Emily Ahern, Evolve Therapy from Mallow.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and €15,000 investment, went to Nuala Carey of Glengarriff Pharmacy, which is a pharmacy that is caring for the people of Glengarriff.
Fiona Edwards Murphy also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the Cork North and West region.
All nine category winners will now be representing Cork and their LEO at the Regional Finals in Waterford on Thursday the 19th of January 2017. If successful there, they will fly the Cork flag at the national final where ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ will be crowned in March 2017.
Speaking at the county final, Adrienne Rodgers, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork City said “We started the search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur earlier this year and the competition received a record-breaking number of entries this year, with 1,800 young entrepreneurs applying nationally. After a very successful IBYE Boot Camp and County Final, the future is bright for both youth entrepreneurship and job creation in the region.”
Adrienne continued “We would like to commend all these brave young people having decided to take the next step in to making their business a success, and we wish them all the very best in their entrepreneurial journey ahead. At the LEOs in Cork, we are proud to be associated with the initiative and we wish the best of luck to the nine Cork winners who will fly the Cork flag in the regional final.”
Special guests at the IBYE County Final included Cllr Seamus McGrath , Mayor of the County of Cork, Tim Lucey, Chief Executive of Cork County Council, and Billy O’Connor and Veronica Murphy of The Discovery Partnership, who facilitated the IBYE Boot Camp weekend on behalf of the LEOs.
Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and at www.ibye.ie. To follow the progress of Cork’s winners, check out @IBYECork on Twitter and IBYE Cork on Facebook.