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 6 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 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.
Limerick’s Paddy Finn was named winner of ‘Best Start Up’ category. 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.
“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,” said Cllr Sheahan.