Top awards for two Wicklow entrepreneurs
For the second year running, Wicklow entrepreneurs claimed two out of the top three categories in the southeast regional final of Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition.
The regional final was hosted by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow last week in Tinakilly Country House hotel.
Kate Dempsey, age 33 of Irish Mussel Seed Company, Arklow, won the Best Business Idea and Maurice Sheehy, age 27 of Fleet, in Wicklow town was awarded the title of Best Start Up Business.
Both Businesses fended off significant competition from County finalists from neighbouring counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny to claim the Regional titles.
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 while Maurice Sheehy, uses technology to 'drive' his business Fleet, which is an innovative peer to peer car rental platform that links both consumers and business to vehicles on demand.
The company not only offers individual owners the chance to earn additional revenue from their personal cars but also provides the opportunity for businesses such as garages and motor groups to add ancillary revenue to their business.
Challenging for Wicklow in the Best Established Category was Michael Noble from Noble Solutions, an education consultancy specialising in the development of transnational education partnerships on behalf of Irish and British Universities in South East Asia, however he was pipped to the post by Eoin Tracey of Kilkenny based company Glanway, a processing and production facility of waste derived alternative fuels who brought back a regional title for the Noresiders.
Wicklow County final winners and runners up have shared in a prize fund of €50,000 to date and Regional winners Kate and Maurice now have the opportunity to add to that by competing for a slice of the €100,000 prize fund available at the National finals which will take place on March 4 in Google Headquarters in Dublin.
Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, congratulated the winners on their success.
She said: 'The IBYE initiative plays a key role in helping young entrepreneurs move their business to the next level. The programme is about nurturing entrepreneurs through bootcamps, training, networking and mentoring, with the added bonus of a national €2 million investment fund shared between runners up and winners at county and national level.
'The winners represent the wealth of young talent that exists throughout the county which the LEO are committed to supporting in order to bring new and exciting business ideas to fruition. We wish Kate and Maurice continued success as they progress in the competition.'
The aim of the IBYE initiative, which is delivered nationally through the Local Enterprise Offices, is to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland's young entrepreneurs. Two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence.