Posted on Tuesday 4 February 2014 by Ulster Business
Launching the Entrepreneur of the Year programme are EY's Frank O'Keefe and Rob Heron, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, InterTradeIreland's Margaret Hearty and Jeremy Fitch from Invest NI.
Entrepreneurial talent from across Northern Ireland attended the launch breakfast event held at Ulster Hall to hear about the significant benefits of being part of the programme from 2013 finalists, Martin Hamilton (Mash Direct) and Eleanor McEvoy (Budget Energy). The programme has been running for 16 years.
"With the recent exit from the bailout, Ireland has emerged from economic austerity to a business landscape with sizeable opportunity" said Partner-in-Charge of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, Frank O'Keeffe.
"Our mission for this year's programme is to assist our 2014 finalists and wider community of entrepreneurs in building a strategy that will keep them ahead of the curve and truly prepare them for the opportunities that economic recovery will bring, in Ireland and globally."
Attending the event, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster, commented: "Northern Ireland has a long-standing reputation for excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship. I am very confident that the EY Entrepreneur of The Year Programme will inspire the next generation of enterprising minds to make the most of the opportunities available."
As part of the programme, this year's 24 finalists will join a group of 150 entrepreneurs, all previous finalists and winners of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, for a week-long CEO Retreat taking place between Seattle and Vancouver. The week will include "world-class" executive education sessions as well as master classes with renowned entrepreneurs and CEOs of some of the world's biggest multinationals.
"The CEO Retreat will be centred on ensuring our island's best entrepreneurs are fit for future growth and job creation, enabling them to step back from their fast-paced lifestyles to look at their future in the most constructive and strategic way possible," said O'Keeffe.
The awards programme is divided into three categories - Emerging, Industry and International - with 8 finalists chosen in each category by the independent panel of judges. Chaired by Padraig Ó Céidigh and made up of former EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, the independent judging panel includes Denis O'Brien, Anne Heraty, Liam Casey, Jerry Kennelly, Terry Clune, Brian Long, Ed Harty, Michael Carey, Pat McDonagh and representatives from InterTradeIreland, Invest Northern Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. Open to high-performing entrepreneurs across the island of Ireland from every sector, the programme accepts submissions from entrepreneurs of different growth stages as well as nominations from the public.
EY Partner Rob Heron urged Northern Ireland's entrepreneurs to put themselves forward as potential nominees. "The benefits of being involved in this programme aren't limited to the winners. Every finalist is inducted into our influential community of over 350 previous EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists from across the island. This close-knit network of entrepreneurs provides unrivalled support and mentorship from the very best in their peer group as well as access to a worldwide network that is indispensable to any entrepreneur with global ambitions."
Individuals who wish to put themselves forward or nominate an entrepreneur with their consent, can fill out the online nomination form at www.eoy.ie