Sunday 4 December 2016

Agri-business and life sciences up at entrepreneurial awards

Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30

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Agri-business and life sciences are beginning to emerge as some of the strongest sectors in the country outside of technology, according to Ernst and Young (EY).

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The two categories performed strongly in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) awards.

The competition head, Kevin McLoughlin said that there have been a number of emerging sectors in the awards.

"Outside of technology there's a couple of sectors that are starting to emerge quite strongly this year. Agriculture is one, including one of the biggest businesses in the north of Ireland, which is a company called Dunbia, who employ 4,000 people.

"You've got other sectors starting to emerge like life sciences or probably more appropriate would be medical technology.

"That sector is very strong in Galway, there is a very strong startup scene in Galway, which has probably been spawned to an extent by the universities but also probably from the medical technology and life sciences companies that have been foreign direct investors in that Galway area," Mr McLoughlin said.

Other sectors now throwing up entries in the competition include engineering, which Mr McLoughlin welcomed in line with the recovering economy.

"There's the emergence of other interesting areas too like engineering, which again is good to see that coming back as the economy starts to recover."

Those honoured at the awards have contributed significantly to the economy. EY said that over €17bn in revenue has been generated by the EOY alumni and they also employ 170,144 people across the country.

Dublin had the most winners over the years with 25 from 134 nominations while other counties that have performed strongly include Kerry which had five winners and Galway, Meath, and Louth with two each.

Female entrepreneurship is something that EY are trying to push and they say that both entries and nominees have risen over the years but they are looking for more.

"From a demographic perspective one of the things we've been trying to push is to have more female entrepreneurs and this year out of our finalists we had four out of 24 which is certainly an improvement. We would certainly be looking to improve that further.

"It is an increase, and I think that is a response to a real push and I think we would look to push further," Mr McLoughlin said of the female entries to the awards.

A general upsurge can be witnessed in the 'emerging' sector of the awards, which recognise new companies, and Mr McLoughlin said that is reflective of Ireland's growing start-up scene.

"With the economy starting to recover there are certainly more and more people who are starting their own businesses. I think that the real proof we see of that is that each year we manage to get 110 to 120 strong nominations. "It's not just the same people every year and the way that breaks down across the across the categories is that 60 to 70 of that 120 is from the emerging category which is a good indicator of the start-up scene if you like."

Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison, who founded online-payment company Stripe, scooped this year's prestigious award.

The brothers fended off competition from a shortlist of 24 and will represent Ireland on the world stage.

Irish Independent

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