Finalists named for the next EY Entrepreneur of the Year

2 May 2017

From left: Joe Healy, Enterprise Ireland; Anne Heraty, CEO of Cpl Resources plc and chair of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year panel; Kevin McLoughlin, partner lead for the programme; and Jeremy Fitch, Invest Northern Ireland. Image: Maxwells

With health, food, whiskey and biopharma featured, the 24 finalists for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 programme have been revealed.

How does 10 months of business acceleration, an excursion to San Francisco and a global awards ceremony in Monte Carlo sound?

The former two perks are set to be enjoyed by 24 newly named EY finalists, with the full trio available to the winner, to be announced next year.

The nominated finalists, who have been selected in the three categories of emerging, industry and international, have a combined workforce of more than 5,000 people and turnover of more than €475m, according to the organisers.

Included in the 24 is Ciara Donlon, CEO of Theya Healthcare at NovaUCD, who is no stranger to international awards.

Earlier this year, she was named European laureate at the 2017 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

Kevin McLoughlin, partner lead for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year programme, said the past 12 months of international flux – with Brexit and Trump getting mentions – show that disruption is now mainstream.

“This year’s finalists were chosen because they have demonstrated the ability to navigate change as business leaders and, as such, they represent the very best talent within Ireland’s entrepreneurial community today,” he said.

“We look forward to witnessing their journey on the programme and to supporting their growth and success now and into the future.

“We are also pleased to see strong female representation within the finalists this year, however, we look forward to seeing this diversity grow further year-on-year as an increasing number of female-led entrepreneurial businesses make waves across Ireland,” he added.

As finalists, the chosen 24 will head to San Francisco this month for a meet-up with key decision-makers of successful start-ups in the region.

The programme is run in 145 cities around the world, with country winners eventually competing for the overall award in Monte Carlo in 2018. This summer, the 2016 winner of the Irish leg of the programme, Brendan Mooney (Kainos plc), will be competing.

The full list of finalists for EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 is:


  • Aoife Lawler and Niamh Sherwin-Barry, The Irish Fairy Door Company
  • Jack Teeling, Teeling Whiskey
  • Niall McGarry, Maximum Media/Joe Media
  • Ian McKenna, eLight
  • Jack and Declan O’Connor, BHSL
  • Daithi O’Connor, Revive Active
  • Ciara Donlon, Theya Healthcare
  • Samuel Dennigan, Strong Roots


  • Patrick McAliskey, Novosco
  • Gary and Andrew Irwin, Bedeck
  • Evelyn O’Toole, CLS
  • Ramona Nicholas, Cara Pharmacy
  • Patrick McCann, Simplyfruit (Ire) Ltd
  • Trevor Annon, Mount Charles Group
  • Louis Keating, L&M Keating Ltd
  • Jim Burke,


  • Harry Hughes, Portwest
  • Mark Barrett, APC
  • Darragh Cullen, Edge Innovate
  • Brendan Monaghan, Neueda
  • Fergus and Frances McArdle, Height for Hire
  • Jane Gallagher and Róisín Callaghan, Cogs & Marvel
  • Kevin O’Loughlin, Nostra
  • Alan Foy, Blueface

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic