The best and brightest sought for National Startup Awards

2 Mar 2018

From left: Minister Heather Humphreys, TD; David Tighe, Bank of Ireland; Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland; and Stephen Dillon, Image: Chris Bellew/Fennel Photography

Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are on the search for the best start-ups in the country, with up to €15,000 in prize money.

With an overall prize fund of €15,000, the winner of the National Startup Awards could walk away with €10,000 to grow their business.

That’s according to the organisers of the National Startup Awards 2018, with prizes across 15 categories.

‘Entrepreneurship is fundamental to the national and regional economy and job creation’

Future Human

The overall winner gets €10,000 and best early stage start-up gets €5,000.

The competition, now in its seventh year, has become a pivotal date in the Irish start-up calendar.

“The start-up ecosystem is the backbone of the regional economy in this country and I am delighted to launch these awards that recognise the success of Ireland’s entrepreneurs,” said the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“The Action Plan for Jobs is clear in its focus on regional development and growth and, in 2017, my department, through Enterprise Ireland, supported 181 innovative start-ups from right across the country from a range of sectors. It is encouraging to see the diversity within the Irish start-up community, and I wish every entrant the best of luck.”

How to enter the National Startup Awards

The competition is open to companies and organisations across all sectors that have been operational for up to five years.

Categories include: emerging tech start-ups, fintech, agritech, travel and tourism, food and drink, social/sustainable, product and manufacturing, e-commerce, retail and fashion, tech, research spin-out, start-up ecosystem, and early-stage start-ups (less than two years old).

There are three key stages to the competition, with qualifying entries first shortlisted by region and then nationally. To enter or nominate someone for a National Startup Award, visit the website and submit your application by Thursday 22 March.

“Providing support, encouragement and an environment that allows start-ups and entrepreneurs with global ambition to prosper is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland,” said the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon.

“Enterprise Ireland is partnering with the National Startup Awards to give businesses with the potential to scale internationally the opportunity to be catapulted onto a national stage at a crucial time in their progression and development. Entrepreneurship is fundamental to the national and regional economy and job creation, and I encourage ambitious start-ups to submit their applications in the coming weeks.”

Bank of Ireland’s head of open enterprise and innovation, David Tighe, said that start-ups are making a vital difference in the Irish economy.

“Bank of Ireland is strongly committed to developing a supportive environment in which entrepreneurs can survive, thrive and prosper. As Ireland’s leading bank for business, we have worked with start-ups at all stages of growth, and we continue to be inspired by the women and men who are building, creating and innovating for the future. We look forward to supporting this year’s entries from young companies that are making a difference to how we all live, work and play.”

Stephen Dillon, founder of, said that entry is free and open to sole traders, partnerships and companies that have been set up and in business for five years or fewer, with up to 30 employees.

“The National Startup Awards represents a fantastic opportunity for companies to showcase their businesses and gain valuable national and international exposure. Last year, we received a high volume of entries and met some truly inspirational entrepreneurs; we very much look forward to meeting this year’s entrants.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years