Posted on Tuesday 4 September 2012 by Ulster Business

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Pictured at the presentation of the Innovation Founder of the Year Award 2012 are Ciaran McGivern from Bank of Ireland; Tom Eakin, Innovation Founder of the Year 2012 and Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT.

Northern Ireland entrepreneur Tom Eakin, founder of medical device manufacturer TG Eakin Limited, has been announced as the 2012 NISP CONNECT ‘Innovation Founder’ of the year.

This follows a public nomination and subsequent judging process to recognise the efforts of entrepreneurs whose innovative ideas and positive contribution to the community have helped put Northern Ireland innovation on the map.

The ‘Innovation Founder of the Year’ Award, supported by Bank of Ireland, recognises community leaders who have achieved distinction in founding, leading or building a Northern Irish life sciences or technology based business organisation.

Having assessed the public nominations, the judging panel believed that Tom was a very deserving recipient, in recognition of his contribution to building and shaping our local economy and significantly improving the quality of life of many people across the world.

Tom is now set to be recognised as the guest of honour and will give the keynote speech at this year’s NISP CONNECT £25K Awards Gala Dinner for his contribution to innovation in Northern Ireland.

Director of NISP CONNECT, Steve Orr, said: “In order to grow Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy we need to unearth, nurture and celebrate the entrepreneurial talent that come from these shores. Tom’s story is the perfect illustration of what is possible if innovators can be motivated to act on their inherent desire to innovate. We hope that by showcasing Tom’s incredible story that we can inspire more like him to come forward to realise their full potential. Through the NISP CONNECT network as an ‘Innovation Founder of the Year’, Tom will now be presented with the opportunity to champion high-growth start-ups, use his expertise to mentor upcoming entrepreneurs and help nurture new technology from research green-houses into commercial reality.”

Tom Eakin said he was “surprised and humbled” when he heard he was going to receive the award.

“It is a great honour and I am delighted to be considered in the same class as the two previous recipients. If we are to develop a strong knowledge economy in Northern Ireland I recognise the importance of celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship to prove to the next generation that there is nothing stopping them from developing and commercialising their own innovative thinking. This award is a great incentive for me and my company to do even more to encourage entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland,” he said.

While working as a pharmacist in Dundonald, Tom Eakin met many ostomate patients who told him about their problems with wound leakage and sore skin. A close family member with a urostomy motivated Tom to make his own products to address these problems and so TG Eakin Limited was formed in 1974. For the next 3-4 years Tom investigated all aspects of Ostomy pouches including design, materials and construction. After much development, Tom created a skin friendly adhesive which was designed to act as an interface between the pouch and the skin. The Cohesive Seal was born and sales began to take off in the UK. Sales across the UK and Ireland continued to grow and in 1991 the company started exporting Cohesive Seals to Europe and beyond.

Paul and Jeremy Eakin, Tom’s two sons joined the company in the 90’s and together they continued to grow the company through export sales, acquisitions’ and increased manufacturing capability.

TG Eakin has since expanded its range of products and today is a leading medical device manufacturer, dedicated to the production of high-quality skin protection products for use in stoma and wound care, improving the quality of life for Ostomy patients across the world. Eakin Holdings with factories in Wales and Northern Ireland now employs over 200 people, exports to over 30 countries worldwide and in 2010 received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Exporting Achievement.

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