Devenish CEO Richard Kennedy named EY Entrepreneur of the Year

22 Nov 2019

Richard Kennedy, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019. Image: Maxwell Photography

While Richard Kennedy took home the top prize, Triona Mullane, Joe Schmidt and Supermac’s CEO Pat McDonagh were also winners at this year’s award show.

Last night (21 November), Richard Kennedy of Belfast-based agritech business Devenish was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Now operating in more than 40 countries, Devenish supplies high-quality nutritional products for the agriculture and aquaculture industries. The company has experienced huge growth in the past 20 years, going from £5m in turnover and 23 employees in 1997, to more than £250m in turnover in 2018 and more than 500 employees.

Last year, Devenish announced that it had raised investment of €118m, including €40m from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The company has been using the funding to build and grow its R&D and manufacturing capabilities, as well as facilitating mergers and acquisitions.

According to EY, Devenish plans to grow its turnover to £350m within the next three years. As well as receiving the award for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Kennedy was also named as International Entrepreneur of the Year.

Kevin McLoughlin, partner lead at EY Entrepreneur of the Year, said: “It is fantastic to be celebrating the 22nd EY Entrepreneur of the Year. This year’s programme had 24 phenomenal finalists.

“Devenish is a company operating in a traditional industry but with a huge emphasis on leveraging technology and scientific research to create innovations which have been driving the group’s growth over the last 20 years. Richard Kennedy has been central to the success of Devenish and his entrepreneurial vision has helped give the company ambitious targets to strive for.”

Emerging and industry entrepreneurs

While Kennedy bagged the main prize, Triona Mullane received the award for EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Her customer experience platform, Madme Technologies, is used by some of the world’s largest mobile operators to better engage with their customers and is active on more than 200m mobile phones globally.

Meanwhile, Pat McDonagh, founder of Supermac’s, was named EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year.

Anne Heraty, chair of the judging panel, said: “The standard of competition between this year’s finalists was incredibly high. It is brilliant to see so many homegrown entrepreneurs at the forefront of their industries.

“Richard Kennedy has been instrumental in leading the innovation that has been driving Devenish’s success. He has developed a clear and ambitious vision for the business to support their growth in global markets.”

EY also presented a special award to former Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt for his “significant contribution to life on the island of Ireland”.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic