Four from the north make EY entrepreneurs short-list

More than 200 nominations received – highest ever in programme’s history

Entrepreneur of the Year
Pictured at the announcement of the 2024 EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalists are (from left) Jonathan Dobbin, head of UK Regions at Julius Baer; Rob Heron, EY Northern Ireland managing partner; Denise Phillips of Voduz, one of this year's finalists; and Jeremy Fitch, executive director at Invest NI. Picture: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye

Four business people from Northern Ireland have emerged as finalists in this year’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Ireland programme.

Denise Phillips (Voduz), Connor McCandless (Energystore), Hugh Cormican (Cirdan Imaging) and Gilbert Yates (Healthcare Ireland) are among 24 short-listed entrepreneurs spanning a range of sectors including consumer, health tech, pharmaceutical, energy and engineering.

They will vie to follow in the footsteps of a number of Northern Ireland business giants who have taken the overall crown in past years, most recently Martin McKay, founder of Antrim-based assistive software company TextHelp.

Collectively the 24 world class business leaders in this year’s final are already generating annual revenues of more than £600 million and employ over 4,000 people.

The finalists will compete across three categories - Emerging, Established and International - with a special Sustainability Award presented to the finalist who is making the biggest contribution towards environmental sustainability through their business.

One overall winner will be selected as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year at a gala awards ceremony which will take place in November.

Rob Heron, managing partner of EY Northern Ireland (, said: “Each year we enter in to the nomination process hopeful and excited about the incredible people and businesses we are about to meet, and this year we were honoured to receive the most nominations ever in the history of the programme - more than 200.

“Our finalists, including four from Northern Ireland, hail from a diverse mix of backgrounds and are at the helm of some of the most inspiring and innovative businesses in their industries. They are all true trailblazers - leaders with the courage and capacity to plot and follow their own path, pushing conventional boundaries and limits.

“Each of the finalists is exploring new markets and technologies to solve challenges and find solutions that are revolutionising their own industries and creating opportunities for their local communities, the island of Ireland and beyond.”

Martin McKay, Texthelp (centre) pictured with Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI, and Rob Heron, Managing Partner, EY Northern Ireland.
Martin McKay (centre), the man behind TextHelp, the Antrim-based assistive software company for people with dyslexia, was overall winner of last year's EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme. He is pictured with Jeremy Fitch from Invest NI and Rob Heron, managing partner of EY Northern Ireland

Since its inception, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year community in Ireland has grown to a tight-knit network of more than 600 alumni who harness each other’s wealth of experience, with three quarters (75%) conducting business with one another.

Together, the EOY alumni community generates revenues of €23 billion and employs more than 250,000 people across the island.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Ireland programme is supported by premium corporate sponsor Julius Baer International and government sponsors Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI.