Opsona CEO is Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year finalist

ENTREPRENEURS ACCLAIMED THROUGH COVETED BUSINESS AWARD

ERNST & YOUNG ANNOUNCES 2008 ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR® SHORTLIST

Ernest & Young Entrepremeur of the Year logo

Twenty-four companies have been shortlisted across three categories for the coveted 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® award. Over 115 entries were received and nominees were subsequently interviewed by Ernst & Young, followed by rigorous assessment by a 12-strong panel of judges, chaired by telecoms entrepreneur, and previous recipient of the award, Mr. Denis O’Brien. 

Eight companies have been chosen in each of the three categories – international, industry and emerging, and cover a cross section of business interests with healthcare and business IT solutions among the top industries represented. An immediate benefit to each of the finalists is an instant access channel to over 200 of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs through strong networking opportunities the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Programme provides. 

Announcing the shortlist, Enda Kelly, Ernst & Young Partner-in-Charge of the Programme said “Entrepreneurs play a vital role in economic development and act as invaluable role models for a new generation of entrepreneurs. Our finalists confirm the pattern of previous years of vibrant entrepreneurship present right across the country. All display exceptional entrepreneurial vision, and it is important that we celebrate and recognise their achievement. Their creativity and risk-taking ability acts as the very foundation of our economic prosperity”. 

The 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® programme continues to educate around the strategic value of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and this year’s emphasis will be on creating a sustainable environment. The CEO retreat returns to Haiti in June, where finalists, along with previous year’s finalists will work with some of the world’s poorest communities. Here they will impart their knowledge and expertise, to develop the sustainable businesses, set up by last year’s finalists, and, in addition, help create practical solutions to Haiti’s environmental disadvantages – deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. 

“Successful entrepreneurs constantly adapt to changes in the business climate, and now that the age of physical climate change is upon us, these are the visionaries who will make global sustainability a reality, added Kelly. In our part, we will complement the hands-on initiatives in Haiti through the provision of a series of ground-breaking presentations on Environmental Corporate Social Responsibility, led by one of the most prominent figures in the field. These sessions will highlight the enormous strategic value of ‘Green Business’, and hopefully encourage participants to place eco-friendly practice at the core of business operation”. 

The 24 finalists in the 2008 programme will be profiled in further detail in the Irish Times over the next six weeks, beginning with the International Category on Monday 26th May. Each finalist will also feature in a three-part series to appear on RTE in October. The winner will be announced at a televised Awards Ceremony on 23rd October, held at City West Hotel, Dublin. 

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Award is part of a global recognition programme, to identify, acclaim and support entrepreneurs. The programme is currently run in over 40 countries, across six continents and in 2008 more than 10,000 entrepreneurs worldwide will be nominated. The Irish programme, now in its 11th year, has been identified as one of the strongest worldwide.

Liam Casey, founder and chief executive of PCH International was named as the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year®. Liam will represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Year® Awards in Monte Carlo next month, where award winners representing over 40 countries will compete for the worldwide title. 

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® is run in association with The Irish Times, RTE, Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland, Invest Northern Ireland, Trinity Business School and Digicel.
The 2008 Shortlist Finalists – see attached table

The 12 members of the Judging Panel are:

  • Denis O’Brien, Digicel Group (Chair), (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 1998)
  • Aidan Heavey, Tullow Oil PLC (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2005)
  • Brian Long, Atlantic Bridge Partners (Ernst & Young Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2000)
  • Pat Maher, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland
  • Liam Nellis, Chief Executive, InterTradeIreland
  • Jerry Kennelly, CEO, Kilmackillogue Capital (Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2005)
  • Padraig O’Ceidigh, Chairman, Aer Arann Express (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2002)
  • Liam Shanahan, Shanahan Engineering (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2003)
  • Donal Durkin, Director of Creative and Design-based Industries, Invest Northern Ireland
  • Ann Heraty, CPL Resources Plc. (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2006)
  • Pat McDonagh, Third Force (Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2000)
  • Michael Carey, Executive Chairman, Jacob Fruitfield Food Group.(Ernst & Young Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2005)

Further information on the finalists and the features of the 2008 programme can be viewed online at www.eoy.ie.

For further information, or interview requests, please contact:
Brona Cusack
Cusack PR
Mobile: 087 230 5692
Email: brona@cusackpr.ie

Ellen Moran
Ernst & Young
Phone: +353(0)1 221 2658
Email: Ellen.Moran@ie.ey.com

International

Entrepreneur Company Business Activity  Founded Location
John Flaherty C&F Group Global Sheet Metal Specialist 1989 Galway 
Donal O'Riain Ecocem Materials Ltd Carbon Neutral Concrete 2000  Dublin
David Bobbett H&K International
Restaurant Equipment Systems - Worldwide 2002  Dublin
Sean Keenan Multis Group Remanufacturing & Remarketing 1994 Galway
 Xavier McAuliff Spectra Group Photographic/Hotel & Property Development 1970 Kilkenny
Danny Moore Wombat Financial Software Financial Trading Solutions 1997 Antrim
Conor Foley Worldspreads Group Financial Spread Trading 2000 Dublin
Brendan O'Regan Zenith Technologies Ltd Process Automation & Control 1998 Cork

Industry

Entrepreneur Company
Business Activity Founded Location
Lord Kilclooney Alpha Newspaper Group Newspaper Publishing, Printing, Radio Media 1983 Tyrone
Pat O'Flynn AVR Safeway Ltd Sustainable Solutions for Hazardous Waste 1998 Cork
Michael Cullen Beacon Medical Group Healthcare 2002 Dublin
Stephen Grant Grant Engineering (Ireland) Ltd Engineering
1978 Offaly
Howard Beggs Helix Health Ltd Healthcare Information and Communications Technology 1996 Dublin
Neil O'Leary Ion Equity Private Equity Investors  2000 Dublin
Orla Corr McAvoy Off-Site Building Solutions Off-Site Building Construction 1973 Tyrone
Terence Brannigan Resource Group Support Services 2006 Antrim

Emerging

Entrepreneur  Company Business Activity Founded Location
Tom Marren CES Energy CHP/Tri-Generation. District Heating/Cooling & Photovoltaic 2002 Dublin
Eugene Greene
Cooneen Watts & Stone Ltd Military Clothing 2004
Tyrone
Patricia O'Hagan Core Systems (NI) Ltd Core Systems (NI) Ltd 2003 Antrim
Tom Brennan & Patsy Carney EirGen Pharma Pharmaceutical 2005 Waterford 
Eric Mosley Globoforce Ltd
Incentive Management Solutions 1999 Boston/Dublin
Sean Rowland Hibernia College Education 2000    Dublin      
Mark Heffernan   Opsona Therapeutics Ltd Biotechnology 2004 Dublin
Cathal Power Zumo Smoothie Bars International Juices Bars 2001   Dublin