Posted on Monday 12 November 2012 by Ulster Business

CATAGEN 01

In the Best High Growth Company category, Catagen from Belfast was hailed as overall category winner. Pictured are Rosemary Stalker, Dr Andrew Woods, CEO and Ciaran Rafferty.

Companies from Newtownabbey and Belfast have each scooped a €20,000 cash prize as Northern Ireland regional winners of their categories in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition.

Seedcorn is the largest business competition of its kind across the island, offering a total cash prize fund of €280,000.

In the Best Emerging Company category, ShiftDock from Newtownabbey was hailed as overall category winner and Catagen from Belfast won the title of Best High Growth Company for Northern Ireland.

As regional winners, each business is guaranteed a cash prize fund of at least €20,000 and will now go on to compete in the all-island final before a prestigious awards ceremony to be held at Titanic Belfast on November 28.

The judges were extremely impressed with the presentations submitted by ShiftDock which has created an innovative web-based application which allows managers to create and publish employee schedules online.

Company director Patrick Devine said: "To have been selected as a regional finalist in these highly respected awards is a real honour and is a reflection of the ambitious business plan we put forward for ShiftDock. Developing and submitting our business plan and pitching it to the panel has been incredibly useful in focusing our attention on the expansion of the business.

"This prize money will provide a welcome boost to the business and will support our requirement for working capital. It has reinforced our confidence in our business idea and will allow us to focus on growing the company on a global scale."

Dr. Andrew Woods, CEO of Catagen, which manufactures and exports equipment for the catalytic converter testing market, added: "It is a great boost to us to have been selected as the Best High Growth Company and to be going forward as a regional finalist in the Seedcorn competition.

"Seedcorn has been an exciting and challenging experience for us and we feel that we have benefitted from every part of the process as it has allowed us to fine-tune our business model and given us the opportunity to discuss and present our case to real prospective investors. If we were to win the competition, we would be using the prize fund to help cover the cost of trade visits to potential customers in the USA and Europe and committing investment into scaling up our local operations."

The Seedcorn competition mimics the real-life investment process. Regional finalists in each category (High Growth and Emerging) were invited to make an investment pitch to an expert judging panel of VC's, Investors and Entrepreneurs. Two winners were then selected for each of the four regions (one from each category).

Commending the local winners on their success, Thomas Hunter McGowan, Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland said: "The quality of the entries received for this year's Seedcorn award has been as high as ever and the judging panel has been extremely impressed with the presentations they have seen so far from young, innovative companies from across the island of Ireland. In this difficult economic climate it can be a real challenge for businesses in their infancy to secure investment so it is encouraging to see companies such as ShiftDock and Catagen deliver such ambitious and insightful business plans."

Over 1,600 companies have taken part in the Seedcorn process since 2003 and previous finalists have gone on to leverage around £128m worth of equity after taking part.

The Northern Ireland finalists will join the other six regional winners from Dublin, Munster, Connaught and Leinster, to compete at the all-island final in Belfast for a chance to claim the overall cash prize of €100,000 and the title of Best High Growth Company or €50,000 as overall winner of the Best Emerging Company category.

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