Man behind globally acclaimed Antrim-based assistive technology firm takes top entrepreneur award

Martin McKay, Texthelp (centre) pictured with Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI, and Rob Heron, Managing Partner, EY Northern Ireland
Emma Deighan

THE man behind an Antrim-based assistive software company for people with dyslexia has been named International and overall 2022 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year.

Martin McKay, founder of TextHelp, was among seven NI business leaders in the final of the Ireland segment of the global recognition programme.

He launched TextHelp in 1996 when his father suffered a stroke leaving him unable to speak and communicate.

Over the years Mr McKay, a native of Upperlands, developed that tool to become more dyslexia-focused and today it is used by 50 million people across the world.

TextHelp's software helps people read, write, express their thoughts and share information more accurately and fluently – across all stages of life.

The company employs 350 staff globally with around 130 based in Antrim.

It also has offices in Boston, Sweden, Norway and Australia and it has doubled its turnover since 2020.

A series of acquisitions that bring together some of the world's best language technology has been behind its growth.

Most recently Mr McKay acquired Swedish firm Oribi, part of US-based Don Johnston Inc and Danish firm Wizkids.

The International and overall 2022 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is awarded to companies that operate in multiple markets across the globe and can be headquartered here in Ireland or overseas.

Rob Heron, Managing Partner for EY in Northern Ireland commended winners for their "cutting edge, innovative thinking and new ways of working, ultimately shaping how we live and work on the island of Ireland and globally".

He said: “It’s also noteworthy that seven of this year’s finalists, as well as our overall winner, are from Northern Ireland, a true testament to the diversity and continued strength of entrepreneurship in the region and something we are incredibly proud to support at EY.”

Among the other winners at the event are Tom O’Connor and Kieran Cusack of Conack Construction named 2022 EY Established Entrepreneur Of The Year™, Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersperger of OneProjects named 2022 EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year™

and Stephen Nolan of Nutritics wins inaugural EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Sustainability Award.

Anne Heraty, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2006 and Chair of the Judging Panel described winners as “visionaries, with a strong desire to create, innovate, grow, learn and contribute to our economies and communities".