News & Events

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs meet with Minister Humphreys and Minister Breen


Ahead of the Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2019, the 24 Finalists from across the country were in Dublin today to meet with Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., and Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D. The Finalists had the opportunity to discuss their ideas and businesses with Ministers Humphreys and Breen following a day of pitch training in Dublin ahead of the September 15th Final.

Funded by the Government of Ireland this programme, an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, is run by the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices located in local authorities across the country and supported by Enterprise Ireland.

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) consists of three categories; Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best-Established Business with 8 Finalists competing in each category. The programme provides a €2million investment fund with targeted business development supports and attracted over 1,600 applicants from across the country. Last year’s overall winner was former Connacht Rugby player Conor O’Loughlin who is founder and CEO of gym management software platform, Glofox.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., said: “Our young entrepreneurs are our business leaders of the future; their ideas will help to create jobs and ensure that our economy continues to evolve and grow. We want to encourage entrepreneurship and that’s one of the reasons we’re lowering taxes and extending more social benefits to the self-employed. Congratulations to all this year’s IBYE finalists, who are showcasing the huge wealth of ideas that exist across the Irish start-up sector. This competition, and the recognition it provides, will be the first step for many of you on a long and hopefully successful entrepreneurial road.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “The IBYE programme has been a hugely successful initiative of the Government with an investment fund of €2 million. Since its inception in 2014, it has attracted over 7,000 applications and has provided our young entrepreneurs with the peer-to-peer experience and contacts that open doors to help them on their entrepreneurial journey now and into the future. These finalists are Ireland’s very best young business minds and, whatever the result in the final, the supports will be there for them to continue in business.”

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D. added: “This year’s finalists represent the significant breadth and diversity of enterprises that characterise Ireland’s entrepreneurial landscape. It is important that we encourage these bright young minds and give them the full range of supports that will allow their ideas and dreams into business realities. Making it to the final is already a great achievement and one that should give them great confidence in driving their businesses forward.”

Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “IBYE is one of the Local Enterprise Offices key programmes. It offers entrepreneurs at different stages the opportunity to avail of expert mentoring, pitch training and to have their ideas and businesses validated by those who have that experience of being entrepreneurs and guiding some of Ireland’s best businesses. IBYE is the perfect start for these entrepreneurs and their journey has been supported all the way by their Local Enterprise Office. They have worked closely with them to fine tune their ideas and business plans, hone their pitching and to bring out the best in them. That is why they are finalists, they have the qualities to be here and be a huge success in Irish business and the Local Enterprise Offices will be there to support them all the way.”

Martin Corry, Enterprise Ireland, said “The Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur programme has not just created great entrepreneurs, it has helped create great businesses. These are businesses that are employing people across the country, helping to support communities and bolstering Ireland’s entrepreneurial reputation globally. Our previous winners and finalists are at the very top of their game and have gone on to be hugely success both nationally and internationally. There’s no doubt that having made the Final this year and gone through the IBYE process, our class of 2019 will hit the same heights as those that have gone before them and hopefully exceed them!”

The finalists for this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur include a recent BBC Dragons’ Den participant, an entrepreneur using artificial intelligence drones for river rescues, a serial entrepreneur bringing shopping from your phone to your door, a 19-year-old whose skills learned in transition year now sees her employ 23 people, an entrepreneur using plant based nutrition to combat MS and diabetes and a young woman who is revolutionising the methods by which horses are bred.

The 24 IBYE Finalists for 2019 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.

The winners of the 2018 Irish Best Young Entrepreneur Awards were Conor O’Loughlin of Glofox who won the Best-Established Business and the overall IBYE Award for 2018. Alan Hickey of Vromo (formerly WeBringg) in Fingal, Dublin was the Best Start Up Business winner, while Brendan Boland of Loci Orthopaedics in Galway won the Best Business Idea for 2018.

The Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur takes place on Sunday 15th September at Google HQ in Dublin. For more information on the competition go to and for additional information on Local Enterprise Office supports and programmes go to


For further information:
Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 /
Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 /
Michelle Lynch – Fuzion Communications – 086 832 9112 /

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2018 – Facts & Figures
• The programme provides a €2million investment fund with targeted business development supports.
• 3 categories; Best Business Idea (Pre-Trading), Best Start-Up Business (up to 18 months) and Best-Established Business (Over 18 months)
• The programme is run by the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities across the country and supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland
• Over 1,600 entrants applied to be Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2019
• Over 400 places were provided at Business Bootcamps for entrants
• 185 local winners and runners-up sharing investments between €3,000 and €15,000
• 8 regional finals were hosted across the country
• An investment fund of €100,000 is provided for the National Winners and Runners-Up




Local Enterprise Office Limerick

Developed having witnessed a person being swept away by strong currents on the River Shannon, Deepseek is a technology company specialising in AI and it’s first product is an automated drone-based river rescue system.


Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny

Using Artificial Intelligence Analytics, Loanitt is a FinTech B2B credit intermediary with a technology that streamlines the credit application process and offers a full digital experience for all stakeholders.


Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

Blending sport and science, O’Reilly Sports is a sensor system that can streamline off field performance optimisation, testing speed and strength and offers unrivalled accuracy for gym-based exercise analysis.


Local Enterprise Office Louth

Setanta Nutrition Science was started off the back of research highlighting evidence of whole-food plant-based products being beneficial in the treatment of a range of diseases.  Conor has combined science with research to create a range of supplements aimed at treating the likes of diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis.


Local Enterprise Office Sligo

After working with entrepreneur Damien Crowley who set up Crowley Carbon, Damien began working in the sleep space.  He has designed discrete and ergonomic eye glasses that can deliver light therapy treatment through a person’s eyes, to help treat common sleep disorders.  In 2019 his company will release their free sleep hygiene app.


Local Enterprise Office Laois

Diane has set up True Fitness, a research led online health and fitness platform.  They are currently developing a point-of-care device to assess the variables that quantify insulin resistance, accompanied by a practical, evidence-based treatment plan.  Diane has also worked for the European Space Agency on a project in the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne and has raised over €100,000 for charity competing in ultra-endurance events in her spare time.


Local Enterprise Office Galway

After completing medicine in UCD, Elizabeth worked in a number of hospitals as a NCHD while completing an MSC in Bio Innovation.  She went on to set up Tympany Medical and has developed the world’s first specialised endoscope for ear surgery, enabling surgeons to have wide angled endoscopic views.  Over 20 million patients worldwide would benefit from surgical intervention with this device – OtoVu.


Local Enterprise Office South Cork

Having studied machine learning algorithms while taking his Electrical and Electronical Engineering Course in UCC Daragh developed the Yooni platform which provides interactive content, course selector tools and data collections tools for higher education institutes.  Their next product is a course selector which engages Yooni’s AI algorithm to help students determine what course they are best suited to.



Local Enterprise Office Wicklow

After finishing college Ross worked on high power “extreme ultraviolet” laser systems in the Netherlands.  Following this he moved back to Dublin to develop a liquid phase 3D bio-printer on behalf of UCD.  He is currently working with Stanley Black and Decker in the UK to develop a new generation of low cost, high quality 3D printers that can be built at any scale.


Local Enterprise Office Kildare

Pierce is a third-generation horse breeder and trainer and is a former rugby player having attended Trinity College Dublin on a sports scholarship he went on to play professional rugby league in the US.  Between rugby seasons Pierce worked on Equine MediRecord which is an app and website that simplifies medical record compliance for the horse industry through a regulator-approved digital medicines register.


Local Enterprise Office Louth

Having trained in gelato making at age 16 during her transition year, Orla has gone on to study E-Commerce in Retail at TU Dublin.  She set up Izmoo which manufactures Italian ice-cream locally through two company owned retail locations in Rosslare and Drogheda.  The company employs 23 people and also provides an external catering service.


Local Enterprise Office Fingal  

Starting his career as a labourer on building sites having qualified as a carpenter from DIT in 2007, Ciaran emigrated to Australia.  There he developed a successful company called Pyro Designs and built a custom piece of tech that dealt with business operations.  He sold this idea to developers and moved back to Ireland.  Here he has created, an AI technology platform which automates and displays real time construction costs.     


Local Enterprise Office Donegal

An All-Ireland Football Championship winner in 2012 with Donegal he has established O’Reilly Sports in Ballybofey.  The company produces custom clothing supplier to sports clubs, businesses and organisations throughout Ireland, the U.K and the U.S having currently supplied to over 200 organisations.


Local Enterprise Office Tipperary

A graduate from UCC with a BSC in Finance, Sharon became a chartered accountant with PWC.  Having worked extensively in the area she set up Shorla Pharma with an ex-colleague in 2018.  In 2019 she attended a Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp at MIT and Harvard Medical School in Boston before joining a global community of innovators passionate about solving healthcare related problems.  Shorla Pharma is a healthcare company developing innovative therapies around women’s and paediatric health and it’s first product is for breast and ovarian cancer.


Local Enterprise Office Mayo 

After working in the UK and forged a career in facilities, Brendan had noticed a key set of problems kept cropping up.  To address these problems he set up Skillko in 2017. Skillko is a next generation training platform, creating an open marketplace for businesses and training suppliers to connect and transact more efficiently.  They currently have 10,000 users on their system.


Local Enterprise Office South Cork   

With a first-class honour’s degree and PHD in Early Childhood learning, Wendy Oke wanted to put her learnings into practice.  Passionate about child development, she believes that access to quality education is vital for a child to reach its full potential.  Based on this she created TeachKloud, a cloud-based management and compliance platform that helps teachers spend less time on paperwork and more time on the development of the child.



Local Enterprise Office Tipperary

Growing up watching a family friend make hurleys, Cathal Bourke began a hurley repair business while in transition year.  Around the same time he began designing and selling sports kits at school.  Cathal then began to manufacture hurleys on a large scale, producing pieces for a range of inter-county hurlers.  He expanded the business creating Bourke Sports that now also specialises in custom sportswear and last year secured the contract for the Tipperary Camogie team.


Local Enterprise Office Dublin City

Devan is a serial entrepreneur, having worked extensively in the areas of E-Commerce / delivery, platform design and architecture.  After two years of research and prototype development, Devan launched Buymie to the Irish market.  The on-demand grocery delivery platform now employs 16 people with over 100 independent contractors using his platform to provide personal shopping to consumers.    


Local Enterprise Office Waterford

Conor Walsh established Encon over ten years ago.  They have been operating in the housing market, delivering retrofit homes that are more efficient and affordable to run.


Local Enterprise Office Carlow

A graduate of the Smurfit Business School, David’s first startup was Blucoup, a mobile application that notifies consumers of offers as they pass directly by a store.  He went on to found Equireel, which is a media company that focuses on using unmanned cameras to enable riders analyse and improve their performances in eventing.  They have recently signed a contract with FEI the world governing body for equestrian sports.


Local Enterprise Office Offaly

A qualified veterinarian, Emma-Rose was having difficulty sourcing a suitable stallion for her one warmblood mare, with any suitable stallions abroad this proved very expensive.  She came up with the idea of Euro Stallions, offering an affordable service of sport horse semen to fellow breeders in Ireland and beyond.  In 2019 they established an EU approved stallion semen and embryo collection facility allowing them to export and offer this service to other breeders.


Local Enterprise Office Longford

Having worked in pharmaceutical intermediaries and carried out his own extensive research on the changes and growth in the dairy industry he concluded a need for industry specific disinfectants to eliminate bacteria at source and reduce the need for antibiotics.  Lir Analytical was born from this and they now develop scientifically engineered chemical solutions for both the beverage and food processing industries with over 1.4million in sales since 2014 and exporting internationally.


Local Enterprise Office Cavan

Over ten years ago Caroline Thompson started the Riverside Spa in Stradone, Cavan.  The business is still thriving and specialises in relaxation therapies from Dermalogica facials and body treatments and also includes a full thermal suite area.


Local Enterprise Office Mayo

An entrepreneur from a young age, Sean McGarry was picking blackberries and selling them to local businesses in Mayo.  Having two teenage sisters leaving razors, soaps and bottles on the shower floor led to the creation of ShowerGem.  Designed by his father, Sean immediately saw the potential and turned it into a business.  The patented shower caddy is now in homes and showers across Ireland he recently received the financial backing of three Dragons on BBC’s Dragon’s Den.