THE county’s best young innovators were announced at the Laois final of Ireland’s Best Youngntrepreneur (IBYE) competition. Run by the Local Enterprise Offices, IBYE is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. Now in its fourth year, this year attracted almost 1,500 applications nationwide.
Evelyn Reddin, head of enterprise in Laois, explained: “The search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur began back in August and we were delighted with the calibre of entries. After a very successful enterprise day, bootcamp and county final, I’m pleased to confirm that the future of enterprise and job creation in Laois is bright.”
There was joy for 32-year-old Gary Cobbe from Irish Polymer Extrusions Limited, which is based in Mountmellick after it was named winner of the best-established business award.
They were joined by Sharon Leavy (34) of Sharon Leavy College of Hair and Beauty in Portlaoise, who was runner-up in this category. Gary was named overall winner of IBYE for Laois.
The best start-up category was a particularly hard-fought contest. Jonathan Bracken (33) of Bracken Enterprise in Portarlington was named winner in this category, while 34-year-old Aaron Lennon of Linked in Portlaoise was the runner-up.
Many innovative new business concepts emerged in the best business idea category. The winner in this section was 30-year-old Declan Dunne of Crate Studio in Portlaoise, while Hollianne Phelan (19) of Shopline in Portlaoise scooped the runner up spot.
The adjudicators in this year’s competition were Louise Ward, head of enterprise at the Local Enterprise Office in Roscommon, James Maloney from Enterprise Ireland and Ailish Delaney of IT Carlow. The awards ceremony was attended by other special guests, including Laois County Council cathaoirleach Padraig Fleming and its chief executive John Mulholland.
IBYE co-ordinator for Laois Honor Deevy summed up the event by stating: “Each of the winners and runners-up will share in an investment fund of up to €50,000 from the Local Enterprise Office to help grow and develop their business. The three category winners go forward to the regional finals in Kildare this month. The team in Local Enterprise Office Laois will provide intensive supports between now and then to prepare them for the regionals and hopefully Laois will have a representative at the national finals in March.”