Three of the county's best young entrepreneurs have won a total investment of €50,000 through the Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, as part of the €2 million Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur competition (#IBYE). Aimed at young and aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 30, Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur competition is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices.
At a ceremony in Wicklow County Campus, Rathnew on Tuesday, 29th September, awards were made for Wicklow's best start-up, best new idea, and best existing business, as well as an overall award for the best young entrepreneur in the county.
The local winners and investments won were as follows:
Best New Idea (winning a €10,000 investment): Ross Lawless of CALT Dynamics
Best Start-Up (winning a €20,000 investment): Michael Carney of Raindrop Drinks
Best Established Business (winning a €20,000 investment): James Keogh of Rathwood
James Keogh of Rathwood was also named as Wicklow's "Best Young Entrepreneur".
All local winners will now represent Team Wicklow at the regional finals in Kilkenny on the 19th of October. A total of 24 finalists will then compete at the Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur National Finals in December.
Marking the occasion, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:
"Central to our plans for jobs and growth is supporting more businesses to start-up. Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups, so if we are to create the jobs we need we must support more entrepreneurs to start new businesses. Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur also ultimately Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur. We have excellent start-ups and entrepreneurs in Ireland – we just don't have enough of them. It is great to see so many excellent entrepreneurs and business-people getting involved in this competition, and I am delighted to congratulate the local winners. I wish all three winners every success in the later stages of the competition – and wish all participants every success as they grow their businesses and contribute to the job-creation we need".
Special guests at the #IBYE County Awards included Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, Andrew Doyle TD, Cathaoirleach John Ryan of Wicklow County Council, and Bryan Doyle, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sheelagh Daly from the Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, paid tribute to all the young entrepreneurs in the region, saying: "As the first stop shop for entrepreneurs and small businesses, it is heartening to see a growing and vibrant community of young entrepreneurs locally. Through Business Bootcamps, mentoring and general business advice, the Local Enterprise Office plays a vital role in supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, on a year-round basis. We will also be working closely with this year's IBYE winners, to help maximise the return on the €50,000 investment that they have been awarded."
Also speaking at the ceremony, Bryan Doyle, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council spoke of the efforts being made to support businesses in the county: "We in Wicklow County Council, through our Local Enterprise Office, are committed to doing all we can to support the development of enterprise in the County. We recognise the importance of encouraging new start-ups, and of helping existing businesses to grow. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that there is a supportive environment for business in the county, that the required infrastructure is in place and that the quality and professionalism of the state supports at local level exceeds expectations and meets the real needs of business."
This year's judging panel were also thanked during the ceremony for their role in the competition and members included Head of Local Enterprise Sheelagh Daly, Lisa Cunningham of Vogue Business Development and Chris Meudec, Software Development Lecturer in IT Carlow.
Back in 2014, Wicklow was represented in last year's #IBYE competition by David Costello of Better Talk, Michael Noble of Noble Education, and Shane Byrne and Philip Kirwan of Showoff who were overall winners in Wicklow and went on to reach the National Final.