News & Events

Record number of entries for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE)

32% rise in IBYE entries welcomed by Minister Mitchell O’ Connor

More than 1,800 young entrepreneurs across the country have entered the ‘IBYE’ competition with a total investment fund of €2 million

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) have announced that a record 1,842 young entrepreneurs have submitted entries to this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, a 32% increase on last year*. 

IBYE is run by the 31 LEOs nationwide and has a total investment fund of €2 million. Young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 were invited to enter by the 14th October closing date and IBYE is supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.  

Through the course of the competition, IBYE applicants benefit from business advice, mentoring, boot camps, and have the chance to compete for significant investment funding to support the development of their business or idea. Each individual LEO has an investment fund of up to €50,000 to award to young entrepreneurs in their area across three categories – Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business. Winners at county level progress to regional finals, ahead of the national IBYE final in March next year.  

This is the third year of IBYE and the number of entries has grown year-on-year. The significant rise in entries has been welcomed by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D:“Young entrepreneurs are the employers of the future. I am delighted to see that more young entrepreneurs than ever before have entered the IBYE competition this year. Through IBYE, I want to ensure that their innovation, vision and drive, results in successful businesses that will create new jobs in the economy, and in all regions. IBYE provides a fantastic opportunity for aspiring and established young entrepreneurs to compete for investment funding, avail of expert business advice and form invaluable peer networks in enterprise boot camps where experience and knowledge can be shared”.   

“The Local Enterprise Offices around the country are an excellent resource for anyone thinking of starting or growing their business.  I look forward to meeting these young entrepreneurs during the competition.” she added. 

Christine Charlton of the Local Enterprise Offices said: “The level of entries to IBYE this year is the highest on record and reflects the potential that exists amongst younger age groups that needs to be nurtured. Our focus now is to select the young entrepreneur entrants who will go forward to the regional boot camps.  Everyone who participates in the IBYE boot camps will have access to expert business guidance and mentors who will help them face and overcome challenges in developing their business.” 

The first of the IBYE 2016 boot camps started in Waterford and Louth at the weekend and the IBYE county finals start in November, followed by eight regional finals. Three category winners will be selected from each regional final to go forward to March’s national IBYE final, when Ireland’s newest best young entrepreneur will be named. 

Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through and from the IBYE website at  


For media queries around IBYE, please contact Sarah Bohan or John Compton at Engage Ireland Tel:  01 427 8388 / Email: office 

Notes to Editor:

About IBYE: 

*Facts and figures: The total number of entries for IBYE 2016 was 1,842, compared with 1,398 entries for IBYE 2015 (a 32% increase). Source:

  • Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is an enterprise initiative run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country and funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. A €2 million investment fund is available through IBYE which supports young entrepreneurs through training, mentoring and direct financial investments.
  • IBYE is open to people between the ages of 18 (at date of application) and 35 (at 31st December 2016) with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business, including: individuals, venture teams, partnerships, existing businesses with a new idea,or people overseas (including Irish emigrants) who will headquarter in Ireland.
  • Each Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is running a competition in each county aimed at finding winners in each of the three categories as well as an overall county winner. Each LEO will have a total fund of up to €50,000 to invest in six businesses (three category winners and three runners-up) according to criteria including businesses’ investment needs. The three categories are as follows:
  • Best Business Idea(pre-trading) – up to €10,000 investment fund through every LEO (€7,000 for category winner and €3,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)
  • Best Start-Up Business(up to 36 months), with up to  €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)
  • Best Established Business(over 36 months) with up to €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)
  • The county winners will then proceed to eight regional finals from which 24 contenders (three from each region – one in each category) will be selected to compete for the national title of  Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. A further €100,000 investment fund will be available to invest in the winners of the three categories at the  national final, one of which will also be named with the prestigious title of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.


About the LEOs:

  • The 31 LEOs nationwide are the ‘first-stop-shop for providing advice, financial support, training, mentoring and other  supports to those wishing to start or grow their business in each Local  Authority area.
  • The LEOs are operated on a partnership basis  by Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities and their parent  Departments, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) and  the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPCLG). They were established in 2014 as part of a range of reforms carried out by the DJEI in recent years.
  • The LEOs provide funding for projects in  manufacturing and internationally traded services, which over time have  the potential to develop into strong export entities. There are three main categories of grant under which direct financial assistance is provided –  Priming, Feasibility and Business Expansion. The LEOs also provide training and mentoring support to entrepreneurs and businesses to assist  business development and performance.
  • The LEOs, through appropriate referral, also ensure that people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country are able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office and the Education and Training Boards – in one easily accessible location within the Local Authority.