Posted on Wednesday 23 January 2013 by Ulster Business


Five companies from Northern Ireland have made the shortlist of 18 organisations selected for the 2013 InterTradeIreland Innovation Awards.

Now in its fourth year the competition aims to search for the most innovative organisations across the island of Ireland. This year's shortlist features entries from established companies, innovators, start-ups and academia from both the North and South.

Among the five NI companies on the shortlist is Co Down-based Choc-O-Bloc, which has developed a new way of heating Belgian Chocolate that makes it soft and mouldable without melting, so it can be used to build chocolate models as edible gifts or treats; the University of Ulster, which has created an innovative fire-blast protection system with 12 times more ductility than its closest competitor, and Mash Direct Ltd, a Co Down based company that has developed a range of healthy quick-serve vegetable meals.

The other local businesses shortlisted are Glen Dimplex, the designer and manufacturer of heating products, with its new thermal energy storage system that can cut energy costs by 25 per cent; and Antrim-based Fast Engineering Ltd, which has developed a new folding tap stand for use in disaster zones and emergency response that is a fraction of the cost of existing ones and can be set up by one person in less than one minute.

Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director, InterTradeIreland, said, "Innovation is a business growth strategy that all successful firms must ultimately embrace no matter what sector they operate in. Every organisation, be it large or small, has the potential to innovate and these awards are a testament to the breadth and range of creativity and innovations from all types of companies, across the island."

Michael McAleer, Innovation editor at The Irish Times, media partner for the awards, said: "The Irish Times InterTradeIreland Innovation Awards aim to recognise and promote the best innovations within organisations of all sectors and all sizes from across the island of Ireland. I have no doubt that many of this year's entrants and shortlisted nominees will go on to replicate the successes of their predecessors."

More than 300 initial registrations were received in this year's awards. More than 140 detailed entries were judged by an initial panel of judges from the world of academia, media and business. The 18 shortlisted entries will present their innovations before a separate panel of judges in Dublin. This second judging panel includes: Liam Kavanagh, Managing Director, The Irish Times; Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO, InterTradeIreland; Dr. Ivan Coulter, CEO and founder of biotech firm Sigmoid Pharma; Dr. David Dobbin, Group Chief Executive, United Dairy Farmers; Helen Kirkpatrick, Corporate Finance Executive with Invest Northern Ireland; and Chris Horn, co-founder of Iona Technologies.

Each category winner will secure a €10,000 Irish Times media deal and an I-pad. They will then compete to win the overall title of 'Innovation of the Year', which awards the winner with a communications and advertising package from The Irish Times, worth €150,000. In addition, a UCD scholarship for an Executive Education programme commencing in 2014, a state of the art laptop and a consultancy package will also be provided.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 22, 2013 in Belfast.



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