Cork’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneurs’ were named at an awards ceremony hosted by Cork’s three Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) on Thursday, December 1st in County Hall, Cork.
The winners were chosen from 45 finalists, shortlisted from almost 190 applicants in the competition which was launched this autumn by the LEOs as part of the nationwide search to find ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (IBYE).
The campaign saw the three LEOs (Cork City, South Cork, Cork North and West) encourage young entrepreneurs from all over the city and county to enter and be in with a chance to win a share of the €150,000 investment fund available.
This is the third year of the competition open to individuals aged 18 to 35. The final 45 young entrepreneurs attended the LEO’s intensive Business Boot Camp weekend in early November to focus on their business plans and pitches for the judging stage of the competition.
They were judged in three categories following the presentation of their business plan to judging panels in their region. The three categories were ‘Best New Idea’, ‘Best Start Up Business’ (trading up to 36 months), and ‘Best Established Business’. The LEO winner in each category receives significant investment in their business, with one overall winner in each of the regions receiving the accolade of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.
In the LEO Cork City competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Michael Sheehan of Milis Bio from Cork City, who received an investment of €7,000 in his company. Milis Bio, which is making novel proteins to act as healthy flavouring ingredients for the food and beverage industry, starting with a sin-free sweetener. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Clare Condon of Good Day Deli from Cork City.
Paul Moore from Bishopstown, founder of Rebel Chilli received an investment of €15,000 in the Best Start Up Business category. Rebel Chilli produces sauces that are totally unique, with each bottle bursting with fantastic flavour and real heat! The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Louise Ryan, founder of Oh! Naturelle which is based in Blackpool.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and an investment of €15,000, went to Darren Hickey of D&D Detailing which is based in Westlink Business Park, Old Mallow Road, which developed The Cleaner Car brand, a range of products specifically designed using a safe to use chemical for the car care industry. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Marie Martin of Martin’s Safety Equipment, who is a student in UCC.
Vincent Forde also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the South Cork region.
In the Cork North and West competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Fiona Edwards Murphy from Kanturk, who received €7,000 investment in her company, Apis Protect, which helps beekeepers to prevent losses and increase the productivity of their hives through the use of unique in hive sensors and data processing technology. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Emerald De Leeuw, EuroComply from Crosshaven.
Hayley Milthorpe from Skibbereen, founder of The Cultured Food Company received €15,000 investment in the Best Start Up Business category. The Cultured Food Company is leading the revival of live fermented foods in Ireland. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000, was Emily Ahern, Evolve Therapy from Mallow.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and €15,000 investment, went to Nuala Carey of Glengarriff Pharmacy, which is a pharmacy that is caring for the people of Glengarriff.
Fiona Edwards Murphy also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the Cork North and West region.
All nine category winners will now be representing Cork and their LEO at the Regional Finals in Waterford on Thursday the 19th of January 2017. If successful there, they will fly the Cork flag at the national final where ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ will be crowned in March 2017.
Speaking at the county final, Adrienne Rodgers, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork City said, "We started the search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur earlier this year and the competition received a record-breaking number of entries this year, with 1,800 young entrepreneurs applying nationally. After a very successful IBYE Boot Camp and County Final, the future is bright for both youth entrepreneurship and job creation in the region."