EY finalists and alumni on retreat to Texas

EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) Ireland finalists and alumni - including Irish News managing director Dominic Fitzpatrick - pictured on the CEO retreat at the University of Texas American Football stadium

MORE than 100 of Ireland's best and brightest entrepreneurs have travelled to Austin and New York City for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year retreat, the island's largest unofficial trade mission specifically focused on fostering entrepreneurship.

The retreat aims to support, inform, and challenge the entrepreneurs – a cohort that includes a mix of this year's 25 EoY finalists and alumni – through inspirational talks from international, political, and thought leaders.

During their time in the States, the entrepreneurs participated in an agenda of executive coaching and education, as well as sessions with the leaders of some of America's most successful businesses.

The retreat featured on-site visits to Dell, one of Ireland's most significant employers, as well as visits to entrepreneurship incubator Capitol Factory, the University of Texas and the New York Stock Exchange.

Notable speakers included Steve Adler, mayor of Austin; Texas Secretary of State John B. Scott; Dell vice chairman and co-chief operating officer Jeff Clarke, andNew York Stock Exchange president Lynn Martin.

Rob Heron, partner lead for EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern Ireland (, said: “This year we celebrate 25 years of the programme.

“Our theme ‘The Changemakers' was top of mind when we selected the location for our annual CEO retreat, as we knew we wanted to host this key event somewhere that would truly inspire and invigorate our entrepreneurs.

“Austin is recognised as a nexus for technology, start-ups and innovation, so we knew there was no better place to begin the week, and you can't beat New York City for its energy and enthusiasm, as well as its incredibly diverse and vibrant business-friendly environment.

“The CEO retreat is an opportunity for our entrepreneurs to learn from the best in business, entrepreneurship and academia.

“Each year it helps generate hugely valuable relationships for Northern Ireland's most prestigious entrepreneurs, and helps to create opportunities that fosters new relationships and helps to unlock the immense opportunities for businesses right across the island of Ireland, and overseas.”

The seven finalists from the north in this year's awards are Paul Stewart (MyBaggage), Martin McKay (TextHelp), Jacqueline O'Reilly (KonFloor), John Harkin (Alchemy Technology Services), Gregory Bradley (Blk Box), Alan Carson (Cloudsmith) and Andrew Lynas (Lynas Foodservice).