Record seven from Northern Ireland included on EY Entrepreneur of Year short-list

Pictured at the announcement of the finalists in the 2016 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme, from left, Sean Duffy, programme director, Ian Murphy, Director, Invest NI, Anne Heraty, CEO Cpl Resources and Kevin McLoughlin, partner lead
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NORTHERN Ireland will supply a record seven of the 24 finalists in this year's EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) programme, which culminates with a gala televised awards dinner in Dublin in October.

And they include five of the eight finalists in the industry category along with one each in the international and emerging sections.

Each of they will be vying to follow in the footsteps of two other Northern Ireland entrepreneurs who each walked off with the overall crown in the EY initiative - Dr Peter Fitzgerald, managing director of Randox Laboratories in Crumlin (2004) and Brian Conlon, founder of First Derivatives in Newry (2010).

Those from the north short-listed are:

• Industry category - James Leckey (Leckey), Gareth Loye (M&M Contractors), Eamon Donnelly (Uform), Jim Wright (JMW Farms), and Dr Suresh Tharma/Mr Ashok Songra (3fivetwo Group).

• International category - Brendan Mooney (Kainos Group)

• Emerging category - Leona and Sean McAllister (PlotBox).

The 24 finalists have a combined workforce of almost 3,000 people and turnover of €450 million, and the overall winner is chosen based on a number of criteria including innovation, value creation, strategic direction, financial performance, national and global impact, and the entrepreneur’s contribution to society and industry.

This year's programme focuses on the theme of building a business legacy, and includes mentoring initiatives, bespoke executive education and an international chief executives' retreat to Boston, when the finalists will meet decision-makers at the helm of the city's most successful start-ups and globally renowned brands and leading academics from Harvard and M.I.T.

Rob Heron, tax partner at EY, said “This year’s short-list is of a remarkable standard, and it is particularly encouraging to see a strong spread of finalists from Northern Ireland, representing a diverse range of sectors including digital technology, healthcare, distribution, utilities and farming.”

He added: “We're looking forward to helping this year’s finalists put the necessary building blocks of funding, talent and innovation into place as they create their business legacy and we are proud to remain at the forefront of supporting and championing entrepreneurship throughout the island.”

The finalists were selected by an independent judging panel of previous winners, chaired by Anne Heraty, chief executive of Cpl Resources plc, who was overall winner in 2006.

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