Entrants to this year’s Louth county final of the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur are gearing up for their big night this week, with the the final now just seven days away.
Taking place in Bellingham Castle next Thursday night, the awards – including Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up and Best Established Business – will be presented by Louth County Council cathaoirleach and Ardee Municipal District councillor Colm Markey. Margaret Robb of Sweet Little Babies, herself a past IBYE Louth winner, will be the special guest speaker on the night.
Now in its fourth year, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is run by the Local Enterprise Offices across the country, in partnership with local authorities, and is also supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The National Final will take place on Sunday 4th March at Google HQ and the winners of the competition will share in an investment fund of €100,000.
County finalists this year are from an eclectic mix of industries – and include Simply Fit Food, who are based in Ardee. “We’re seeing companies emerge in Food, Tourism, Education, Lighting, Health as well as the IT and social media. It’s an interesting selection and the judges have a challenging task ahead of them,” IBYE co-ordinator in Louth Sarah Mallon says.
“IBYE is a springboard for young entrepreneurs here locally, connecting them to their Local Enterprise Office. We can help them to start or expand their business. Everyone who entered the competition this year was invited to “Enterprise Day” where they met with mentors, learned about the supports available to them and received valuable business advice,” she continued.
“From there, shortlisted companies took part in an intensive Business Bootcamp before submitting their updated business plans for the county final.”
Louth’s Head of Enterprise Thomas McEvoy says the level of applicants this year has greatly pleased those involved in the competition in Louth. “We had a huge response to the competition this year. We’ve attracted entrepreneurs aged 18-35 from right across the county with a superb array of start-up and established businesses.
“We’ve also been really impressed by some very interesting concepts in the New Idea category. Judging by the calibre of entries this year, the future of enterprise in Louth is looking bright.”
“County Finals are pretty intense,” Mallon added. “Finalists will meet the panel of judges, present their business, conduct an interview and answer questions. Judges will then have the task of choosing a winner and runner up in each of the three categories. Winners in Louth will share in an investment fund of €50,000 which will help them to grow their business and build on current success. Category winners will go forward to represent Louth in the regional finals in January.”