A University of Limerick engineering graduate and entrepreneur has won a place at the first-ever national final of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition, for a chance to share a €100,000 investment fund.
Paddy Finn from the Castletroy-based Electricity Exchange is representing the region in the Best Start Up category at the national final in Dublin on December 6th and has already won €20,000 in investment from the Local Enterprise Office Limerick after being named Limerick’s Best Young Entrepreneur last month.
Launched by the Government earlier this year, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition is a core part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country.
At an awards ceremony last evening, three local business owners and new start-ups from Limerick, all under the age of 30, went head-to-head with other county winners from Clare, Kerry and Tipperary. Limerick was represented by Paddy Finn (Electricity Exchange), Aisling Maher (Aisling Maher Fashion Designs) and Aislinn O’Flynn (Sensomi).
The nominees were interviewed by a three-member judging panel and had to deliver a business pitch, live. Assessed on criteria such as business innovation, job creation potential and financial planning, the announcement of the national finalists was made at an evening reception held in the Castletroy Park Hotel.
While Limerick’s Paddy Finn was named winner of ‘Best Start Up’ category, there was double success for Tipperary in the two remaining categories. Philip Martin of Clonmel-based Blanco Nino won the ‘Best New Idea’ category while Tom Ryan of Nenagh-based Adsmart was named winner of the ‘Best Established Business with new add-on’ category.
Congratulating the finalists, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. said: “Central to our plans for jobs and growth is supporting more businesses to start-up. Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur in the region also ultimately Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”
The local winner now faces tough competition from 23 other finalists, emerging from eight regional finals.
The €100,000 investment fund in December is divided up across four prizes: namely Best New Idea (€20,000 investment), Best Start Up (€30,000 investment), Best Established Business, with New Add On (€30,000 investment), and Overall Winner of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (an additional €20,000 investment).
Over 400 business owners and start-ups from around the country, including 15 from Limerick, have benefitted from intensive business bootcamps and mentoring programmes at local level, as part of the competition.
Cllr. Kevin Sheahan, Cathaoirleach of Limerick City and County Council congratulated Paddy Finn on his ward success.
He said: “It bodes well for the future of the Irish economy that our young people have the confidence and skills to generate such exciting and innovative business ideas. Some might say that downturns in an economy can often result in new opportunities and generate a space for budding entrepreneurs to make an impact. I firmly believe that any time is a good time to start a company or to follow through on a new business plan as long as the idea is right, the will is there and the necessary supports are in place.”
“The establishment of the Local Enterprise Offices represents a significant step forward for the overall promotion of the SME sector. The network of offices are very much in the front line of supporting those with a good business idea and strengthening the local enterprise sector in partnership with the various agencies responsible for job creation in this region. The clear focus on local enterprise development is something that is reflected in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition, and therefore should be welcomed,” added the Cathaoirleach.
Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office Limerick, Eamon Ryan said: “We are very proud and honoured to have a representative at the national final in December, as over 1,000 businesses entered from every county in Ireland and competition for every place was intense.”
“Paddy now has a chance of being crowned ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ and to win additional investment of up to €50,000 in his business. We’d also like to congratulate all our other nominees and entrants, who ‘flew the flag’ for us at the county and regional finals and we look forward to supporting their businesses into the future,” stated Mr. Ryan.
Electricity Exchange Ltd. is a new entrant in Ireland’s electricity market and is operated by Dr. Paddy Finn and Duncan O’Toole. Based at the Castletroy Commercial Campus, the company aggregates large industrial electricity consumers that have the ability to reduce their consumption of power at short notice. The potential demand reduction capacity is in-turn sold to the Single Electricity Market through the Demand Side Unit mechanism. When called upon by EirGrid to reduce consumption on the grid, Electricity Exchange remotely operates generators or temporarily shuts off equipment on its clients’ sites in order to achieve the required reduction.
In all, eight regional finals are due to take place during November:
– Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Kilkenny
– Dublin City, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Dublin South
– Kildare, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath
– Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan
– Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Longford
– Galway, Mayo and Roscommon
– Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary
– Cork City, South Cork, Cork North and West and Waterford
For all the latest news and updates about the ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition, visit www.ibye.ie, www.localenterprise.ie or search #ibye on social media.