The Taoiseach and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today launched a new competition to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, with a total fund of €2m available to invest in winning businesses and entrepreneurs in every county in the country.
This project is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the Local Enterprise Offices. The competition will be run by the new Local Enterprise Offices, and the winners at county level will be eligible for an investment in their business of up to €25,000, while the winners at national level can receive an additional investment of up to €50,000. Investments in winning businesses will be determined according to business prospects and investment needs.
Mentoring, marketing and other supports will also be available to participating businesses at various stages of the competition.
The competition is open to individuals aged 30 and under and will be judged under three distinct categories:
- best new idea
- best start-up business
- best established business with new add-on
The first stage will be a county-based competition (run by the 31 LEOs) leading to the naming of the Best Young Entrepreneur in each county. This stage will include boot camps and mentoring programmes. This will be followed by regional finals and ultimately national finals with one business-person being crowned Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur before the end of the year.
There have been expressions of interest from television production companies on the possibility of covering the later stages of the competition in a reality TV format. It is expected that high-profile entrepreneurs will act as judges at various stages of the competition.
The aim of the initiative is to encourage and support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice, and to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland’s young entrepreneurs. This is hugely important for job-creation as two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence – more start-ups and a thriving entrepreneurial culture will lead to more jobs being created.
Launching the competition today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “I see the entrepreneurial spirit of young Irish people everywhere I go and the Government wants to support that so that young entrepreneurs can realise their ambitions and their business success can help make recovery local in every part of the country. This competition being run by the new network of Local Enterprise Offices can give a young individual or business a real injection of capital and expertise to take their ideas to the next level. The vast majority of the 1,200 jobs created each week last year were in small, local companies so it is obvious there is real potential to grow further jobs by supporting local entrepreneurs. This latest Action Plan for Jobs project is another Government measure to do just that.”
Minister Richard Bruton TD added: “Central to our plans for jobs and growth is supporting more businesses to start-up. Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups, so if we are to create the jobs we need we must support more entrepreneurs to start new businesses. That is why we put in place the entrepreneurship forum chaired by Sean O’Sullivan and that is why we established the Local Enterprise Offices to provide more and better Government supports to businesses in one easily-accessible place at local level.
“Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur in every county in Ireland also ultimately Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. We have excellent start-ups and entrepreneurs in Ireland – we just don’t have enough of them. I urge young people in every part of the country who is considering starting a business, or who might have a business idea – get involved, pitch your idea, take advantage of the mentoring and the supports, and maybe you will be Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2014.”