The latest search to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) is getting underway in Laois this week, through Local Enterprise Office Laois.
With a €2million investment fund available, including a €50,000 investment fund for Laois winners, the enterprise initiative from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland attracted 1,400 applications across the country last year and supported over 450 young entrepreneurs through training, mentoring and direct financial assistance.
Announcing the start of this year’s programme, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms. Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D. said:
“The quest to find Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur is one of the most exciting initiatives to create new businesses and new jobs in recent years. IBYE generates that "can-do" spirit in which young people excel.
“ I want to foster that spirit and to demonstrate that there is help out there for any young person that wants to take a risk and start their own business.
“The first-stop-shop to get advice and support on starting a business is your Local Enterprise Office. I want to congratulate the Local Enterprise Offices on rolling out IBYE and I look forward to meeting Ireland's young entrepreneurs up and down the country.
“ I would encourage all young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 35 to talk to their Local Enterprise Office about the IBYE programme and discuss their business ideas.”
The initiative is co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices and begins with a nationwide competition across three categories at county level: Best Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business.
Around 450 applicants, across every Local Authority area, will be invited to regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ in November, to help them develop their business and new venture ideas.
Speaking about Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen T.D., said: "Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) initiative offers a very significant stepping stone into the world of running your own business for young people aged 18 to 35.
“It's not just the scale of the investment fund on offer that makes IBYE so important, IBYE entrants can go on to receive intensive enterprise boot camp training from their LEO under the programme, to help them establish and develop their entrepreneurship careers.
“The level and depth of the business mentoring, training and advice available during the LEO bootcamps has proven to be extremely effective in helping young ambitious business people to cope with all aspects of running a business, especially the preparation of focused business plans.
“Such plans are an essential tool for making a success of any business. IBYE has proven to be a great success in all the regions and I would encourage young people with a business idea or currently running a business to apply for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur”.
With an investment fund of €50,000, Local Enterprise Office Laois will award six investment prizes to three category winners and three runners-up, before the Regional Finals early next year.
The local winners in the Best Start-Up and Best Established Business categories will receive €15,000 each and the two runners-up will each receive €5,000. The Best Business Idea winner locally will receive an investment prize of €7,000 and the runner-up will receive €3,000.
Evelyn Reddin, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Laois explains: “The €50,000 investment fund for Laois winners is a very important part of the competition and will help more young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create more jobs here locally.
“Other business supports, such as management training, networking and one-to-one mentoring are also at the heart of the IBYE competition.
“450 young entrepreneurs benefitted from these business supports last year, so the rewards are there for participants, as well as for the winners.
“Taking part in IBYE will help Ireland’s young entrepreneurs to move their businesses to the next level, whatever stage their business is at.”
The competition is now in it’s third year and last year’s local winners were: Michael Casey/M.A.C. Developments] in the Best Business Idea category; [Noel Walsh, Walsh Agri] in the Best Start-Up Business category and [Stephen Dowling, Dunmasc Genetics] in the Best Established Business category.
The county’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2015 was Michael Casey, M.A.C. Developments.
To enter, young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 in Laois are being asked to visit the competition website at www.ibye.ie, to submit their entry online. The closing date to enter is Friday, October 14 and there is no entry fee.