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Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys meet Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs

The bid to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur moves into top gear as candidates prepare for the National Final on 4th March

In the lead up to the Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), 24 finalists - the cream of Ireland’s entrepreneurial talent - were guests of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., today at Government Buildings in Dublin. 

The finalists had the opportunity to discuss their businesses and ideas with An Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys ahead of the IBYE Final which will take place on 4th March.  The IBYE programme is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) with the support of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.

The 24 entrepreneurs also attended a training day at Google HQ in Dublin where they were given extensive pitch training and they had the chance to meet their fellow finalists for the first time.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., said: “The Government is committed to supporting and fostering the ambition of our new and aspiring entrepreneurs, and helping them to compete on a global scale.  The IBYE programme is the first step on that road for many businesses and the range of innovative projects put forward by this year's finalists illustrates the wealth of talent and creativity in this country.  The competition is really worthwhile for all involved; last year 180 young entrepreneurs secured funding for their businesses through the IBYE process, giving them the chance to grow their ideas and continue on their path.  I would like to congratulate each of the 24 finalists for making it this far.  This is not only a great achievement for each of them individually, but the quality of their ideas assures me that the future of Irish entrepreneurship is in safe hands.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “The IBYE programme is a vital stepping stone for the country’s best young business minds.  Over the past 4 years it has attracted over 5,700 applicants, of whom many may never have even dreamed of starting a business.  While many have gone on to receive funding, for others it’s simply the process that has been the most rewarding for them.  The opportunity to network with their peers and to receive mentoring and intensive enterprise bootcamp training that help them to grow their ideas and develop their businesses has helped many companies get their feet off the ground.  For our 24 finalists this as the opportunity to enjoy the IBYE process and absorb everything from this experience and I wish them all the best for the final and in their careers.”

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D. added: “Since its inception, the IBYE programme has been hugely successful in helping to encourage and support business ideas from Ireland’s young entrepreneurs.  The high levels of participation in the programme reflect the very strong entrepreneurial spirit there is in this country and this is very encouraging for the future. I would like to congratulate all 24 finalists and hope they enjoy their day.  Regardless of the outcome, I know they will benefit from their IBYE experience and that it will encourage them to apply the principles of entrepreneurship to everything they do from now on.  I wish them all the best for their future careers.”

Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “The IBYE programme offers a snapshot of what Local Enterprise Offices provide in 31 locations every day across the country.  We get the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs every day who are dreaming of setting up and scaling their businesses.  To see these 24 finalists is a testament to the hard work of the LEO Network who have helped produce this calibre of entrepreneur for the 2018 IBYE Final.  The 24 finalists come from 19 Local Enterprise Offices so it’s great to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is wide spread across the country.  I have no doubt that each of these Finalists will go from strength to strength following their participation in this year’s programme.”

Martin Corry, Enterprise Ireland, said “Entrepreneurs with global ambition feature strongly amongst this year’s IBYE finalists who see their ideas translating to a world market and not just simply solutions for the Irish market. Several of the finalists are already in the process of establishing their presence overseas this year, while others already have an international office.  This next generation of Irish entrepreneur is a breath of fresh air and we want to ensure that, during the IBYE process and beyond, they have the supports they need to continue to scale their companies in export markets and further enhance Ireland’s reputation as a hub of entrepreneurial talent.”  

The 24 IBYE Finalists for 2018 will be competing for a €100,000 fund across the three categories.  The winner of the Best Business Idea will receive a €15,000 investment with the runner up securing a €5,000 investment.  The Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business winners will receive a €25,000 investment each with the runners up in those categories receiving a €5,000 investment, while the 2018 Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur selected from the three category winners will receive an additional €20,000 investment. 

This year’s IBYE finalists show a huge diversity of ideas, which include a self learning anti-fraud software solution, an app that solves the issue of secure transactions with strangers when selling online, a peer to peer car rental platform, a solution to the compilation, visualisation and relay of IoT (Internet of Things) data, a company guaranteeing 90-minute deliveries, a former Connacht rugby player revolutionising the future of gyms, a virtual power plant and a John Rocha protege bringing catwalk style to Irish cyclists.  

The winners of the 2017 Irish Best Young Entrepreneur Awards were Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical who won the Best Established Business and the overall IBYE Award for 2017.  Samuel Dennigan of Strong Roots in Dublin was the Best Start Up Business winner, while Alvan Hunt of Hexafly in Meath won the Best Business Idea for 2017.


For further information:

Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 01 727 2406 /

Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 01 727 2265 /

Notes to Editor

IBYE  Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2018 (#IBYE)Website:  

The IBYE programme is run by the 31 LEOs) with the support of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The competition is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. Now in its 4th year, IBYE has an investment fund of up to €2million and saw 1,471 applicants for the 2018 awards.

The competition is run across three categories: Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business. Up to 450 young entrepreneurs were invited by the LEOs to attend free regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ last year to help them develop their business and new venture ideas.

With an IBYE investment fund of up to €50,000 each, every LEO awarded up to six investments to three category winners and three runners-up at county level. The local winners in the Best Start-Up and Best Established Business categories at county level received investments of up to €15,000 each and the two runners-up received up to €5,000.

The Best Business Idea winner at county level received an investment of up to €7,000 and the runner-up received up to €3,000 of investment. These winners at county level then progressed to Regional Finals earlier this year with the winner of each of the three categories across the eight regional finals progressing to the National Awards.



2018 Best Business Idea Finalists


LEO Kildare: Matthew McCann of Access Earth (age 28) 

An app and website that allows anyone to rate hotels, restaurants and coffee shops for accessibility and suitability for those with mobility needs.   

LEO Sligo: Noel Dykes of Frankli Communications (age 35)

A HR software product that helps management identify and address staff-related problems at an early stage, improving staff morale and retention.

LEO Meath: Mark Baldwin of GloboPod (age 29)

An educational website where primary and post-primary teachers and students can access curriculum rich virtual reality tours through a tablet, iPad, laptop, smartphone or virtual reality headset.

LEO Wicklow: Kate Dempsey of Irish Mussel Seed Co. (age 33)

A sustainable method of harvesting mussel seed for distribution to mussel producers to ensure no further decline of mussel production around the country.

LEO Galway: Brendan Boland of LociOrthopaedics (age 35)

The InDx implant for the treatment of thumb base joint arthritis accommodates the natural motions of the joint resulting in an improved functional outcome with a less invasive surgery.

LEO Limerick: Padraic Hayes of (age 24)

A patented beverage dispensing system that allows consumers to mix and blend a customised nutritional drink to suit their needs.

LEO Fingal: Kevin Kelleher of Ostoform (age 34)

A solution for skin complications for ostomy patients that has seen a 45% improvement in skin conditions during the patient trials.  

LEO Cork City: Joe Perrott of Remote Signals (age 35)

Assists the compilation and visualization of data by connecting objects to the internet through sensors to display real time information to businesses. 

2018 Best Start-Up Business Finalists

LEO Westmeath: Ciaran Gorman of BevCraft (age 28)

A mobile contract canning service, that sources, brands and date codes cans before transporting them to the producers facility, and then fills, tests and multipacks them for immediate distribution.

LEO Wicklow: Maurice Sheehy of Fleet (age 29)

A peer to peer car rental platform that links both consumers and businesses to private vehicle owners and on-demand insurance.

LEO Kerry: Niall Harty of Harty Nutrition (age 30)

Produces Origin Bars, high protein, high fibre nutrition bars aimed at the health-conscious millennials. 

LEO Mayo: John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles & Stone (age 34)

A tile, wood flooring and sanitary wholesale and retail business that allows customers build their own designs.

LEO Donegal: Ciara McGlynn of Niche SSP (age 31)

A candidate focused international recruitment firm who recruit construction estimators for construction clients in North Carolina, remotely from Donegal.

LEO Cavan: Jessica Kavanagh of Olann (age 27)

Creating hand dyed yarns in a diverse range of colours that are seasonal forecasted and cognisant of skin tones.

LEO South Cork: Conor Lyden of Trustap (age 24)

A transaction platform that acts as a safety net for people when they want to sell online with strangers.

LEO Fingal: Alan Hickey of WeBringg (age 32)

Delivers online sales, using innovative technology and a fleet of crowdsourced delivery personnel, within 90 minutes. 

2018 Best Established Business Finalists

LEO Louth: Nicola Reddy of Celtic Adventures (age 31)

A mobile adventure activity provider that offers a wide range of activities such as rock climbing, coasteering, abseiling, kayaking, and airsoft.

LEO Limerick: Paddy Finn of Electricity Exchange (age 31)

A Virtual Power Plant that delivers additional power generation capacity to the electricity system while avoiding the cost, infrastructure and carbon emissions associated with building a traditional power station.

LEO Kilkenny: Eoin Treacy of Glanway Limited (age 33)

Turns black bag waste into recyclables and fuel for sustainable energy generation.

LEO Dun Laoghaire Rathdown: Conor O’Loughlin of Glofox (age 35)

A software for fitness studios and gyms that allows them to manage and grow their business.  The software maximises their efficiency, increasing their revenue and improving their customer retention.

LEO Waterford: Robbie Skuse of Kollect (age 25)

An on-demand waste collection platform that creates simple, convenient and efficient ways to collect and recycle waste.

LEO Offaly: Eoin Barra of Mór Irish Gin (age 30)

Produced from the Arderin Distillery, offering two products, their flagship Wild Berry Gin and a limited edition Pineapple Edition Gin.

LEO Donegal: Thomas McLaughlin of Tadaias Premium Cycling Apparel (age 31)

A range of high end cycling clothing and accessories for both on and off the bike that combines the latest technology with a host of rider inspired features and detailing. 

LEO Mayo: Daniel Loftus of Urban Fox (age 28)

An artificial intelligence technology for large online retailers that is designed to reduce the occurrence or online credit and purchase fraud.