24-year-old James Foody of Ayda has been named as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, winning a €50,000 investment fund for his business through Local Enterprise Office South Cork.
The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton T.D. made the announcement in front of 360 guests at the IBYE national final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin on Sunday, December 6th 2015.
Foody, whose business is based in Glanmire and San Francisco, co-founded Ayda, a Female Health Tech company in 2015 after finishing his Masters in Biomedical Engineering Research. The company’s mobile phone app is being designed to help women track fertility levels and a wearable fertility tracker solution is also being developed, for launch mid-2016.
The Health Tech entrepreneur, who is supported by Local Enterprise Office South Cork, also took the ‘Best Start Up’ award at the competition, which attracted 1,400 competitors when it was launched by An Taoiseach and Minister Bruton earlier this year.
Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland, the nationwide competition is organised through the Local Enterprise Offices and forms part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 with an overall investment fund of €2 million awarded to county winners and national winners.
Minister Bruton also announced two other category winners at this year’s awards: the ‘Best New Idea’ award and €20,000 investment prize went to Blaine Doyle (age 24) of GlowDX in Kilkenny and the ‘Best Established Business’ award and €30,000 investment prize went to James Keogh (age 29) from Rathwood in Wicklow.
GlowDx in the ‘Best Business Idea’ category is a diagnostics company which is setting out to diagnose neglected tropical diseases more cheaply in developing countries. Winning the ‘Best Established Business’ award, Rathwood is renowned for its year-round themed events and the retail entertainment company welcomes over 250,000 visitors every year and employs nearly 200 people.
The Google award for ‘Best Online Promotion of Business’ went to Isolde Johnson of The Cool Bean Company in Dublin City, which develops a range of healthy meals under the Cool Beans consumer brand. Each of the winners will now be offered a place at the Google ‘Adopt a Startup’ programme in 2016.
Speaking at the National Final, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D said: “On behalf of the Government, I’d like to congratulate James Foody from Ayda on being named as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2015. But more importantly, I’d like to congratulate the 1,400 young people who entered this competition through the Local Enterprise Offices and those that made it through to the local, regional or national finals. I’ve been personally inspired by the energy, commitment and ambition of these young business-people. By promoting entrepreneurship as a career choice, we can ensure that we start more businesses and ultimately create more jobs. Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-up businesses in their first five years. We are relying on these young entrepreneurs to start-up the businesses that will create the jobs of tomorrow, and the level of ambition and innovation on show in this competition provides great hope for the future. I am determined to ensure that Government supports these amazing young entrepreneurs in every way possible on their journey.”
Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices congratulated the winning young entrepreneurs, saying: “We are all extremely proud of what this year’s winners and finalists have achieved. By taking part in the IBYE initiative, 450 young entrepreneurs have benefitted from mentoring, training, networking or financial assistance, which will bring practical benefits for their businesses and will increase their chances of start-up success. For anyone else who’s thinking of starting a business or planning to expand in 2016, we’re encouraging them to access the same enterprise supports through the network of Local Enterprise Offices. ”
In all, 24 finalists from 17 counties competed for the overall title and 9 of them made a live pitch to the judging panel in the final round at the Foundry in Google. This year’s judging panel included Sarah Doyle of Kinesense, Brian Crowley of the TTM Group, Colin Goulding of Google, Christine Charlton of the Local Enterprise Offices and Tom Hayes of Enterprise Ireland.
Details for all the finalists are available at www.ibye.ie and by searching #ibye on social media and YouTube. The National Final for the IBYE competition was supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland and Google.
Notes to Editor:
Second Annual ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ Competition (www.ibye.ie)
IBYE is initiative of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation under the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 and is supported by the Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland and Google.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2015/ Best Start Up National Winner
Investment Prize: €50,000 (in addition to €20,000 for winning local LEO competition)
Winner: James Foody, co-founder of Ayda, supported by Local Enterprise Office South Cork
Ayda is a Female Health Tech company and is developing the Ayda app. The Ayda wearable, which can be used in conjunction with the app, is worn only during sleep and collects data which enables women to effortlessly identify their fertility patterns so they can maximize their chances of conceiving naturally.
James, a native of Sligo, has a first class honours degree in Electrical Engineering from UCC and graduated last year with a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering Research. The 24-year-old co-founded Ayda in 2015 and it has operations in Glanmire and San Francisco.
Best Business Idea National Winner
Investment Prize: €20,000 (in addition to €10,000 for winning local LEO competition)
Winner: Blaine Doyle of GlowDX, supported by Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny
Founded in 2015, GlowDx is a diagnostics company that employs novel molecular science to provide developing countries with high quality diagnostic tests, focusing on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In 2016, GloxDx will launch a Dengue Test in Honduras.
Blaine, who lives in Kilkenny and is 24, is the CEO and co-founder of GlowDx and he graduated witha B.Sc. in Biotechnology from DCU.
Best Established Business National Winner
Investment Prize: €30,000 (in addition to €20,000 for winning local LEO competition)
Winner: James Keogh, Managing Director of Rathwood, supported by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow
Since James bought over the family business, it has been transformed into Ireland’s leading entertainment destination, with over 250,000 visitors annually. Rathwood now offers customers over 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, falconry, Maze of Ireland, train rides, forest walks and a year-round events schedule. The company employs nearly 200 hundred people, including 70 full-time staff.
Before completing his degree in a BSc in Business and Management at Dublin Institute of Technology, James (age 29) worked in Ulster Bank Commercial lending.
For all media queries around #IBYE, please contact Engage Ireland
Sarah Bohan (087 65 39936) or Adrienne Ferguson (086 355 2974)/ office @ engageireland.com
Photography Note (reproduction free)
Reproduction free images of the IBYE winners are available from Photocall Ireland (Tel: 01 874 7124)
Videography Note (reproduction free)
Footage and clean feed files of the IBYE winners are available from Joe Keogh Photography (Tel: 087 934 7807)