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Thank you very much for your kind welcome and good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be with you all this evening for the Dublin Regional Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, here in No. 6 Kildare Street, the beautiful home of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland since 1864.
The excitement is building now as we get a stage closer to naming Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. The wealth of talent in this room tonight from Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin tells me that there is much to be optimistic about for Ireland’s economic future.
I am delighted that through IBYE we have been able to support our young entrepreneurs in the region with up to €200,000 in investment funding. This IBYE Fund provides a great opportunity for aspiring and already established young entrepreneurs to compete for investment funding, avail of expert business advice and most of all learn from each other.
Remember that you young entrepreneurs are the employers of the future and we want to see your businesses grow and flourish so that you can in turn create and support more local jobs in Dublin.
As you know, this is the fourth time we have run Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur and the initiative has gone from strength to strength since 2014. This year we have had an amazing response nationally with almost 1,500 entries from young people up and down the country. I am delighted to hear that more than 300 of these young entrepreneurs came from this region. This is testament to the fact that entrepreneurship is truly alive and well and thriving in Dublin.
The expertise and capability that are on show tonight from you young entrepreneurs is exceptional. I note that you are utilising technology, design, innovation and this is what the IBYE Fund is all about. This is what will make Irish businesses stand out and succeed in a highly competitive environment.
I know you have worked hard over these past few months, developing your ideas and your business plans. I hope that regardless of the outcome tonight, you will keep going and inspire others to choose entrepreneurship as a career.
And you will continue to have the support of your Local Enterprise Office all year round. This is a good opportunity for me to thank the LEOs here in Dublin for running another successful IBYE competition.
The LEOs are a key part of the Government’s job creation and regional enterprise strategy. Over the last couple of years, I have visited a number of LEOs and I have seen first-hand the commitment and the expertise of the people who are working there.
Lots of businesses start with small beginnings, and we have many examples here in Dublin of how we can successfully grow international businesses with the right help and support. I hope that IBYE will unearth many more high flying start ups in the years ahead.
We all realise that the months ahead may pose challenges as the realities of Brexit become clearer. This Government is clear about Ireland’s Brexit priorities. We are committed to:
Minimising the impact on trade and the economy
Protecting the Northern Ireland Peace Process
Maintaining the Common Travel Area
Influencing the future of the European Union.
We are acutely aware of the need to sharpen our focus and continue the work of creating a sustainable and resilient economy with a particular focus on competitiveness and sustaining jobs. As Minister for Small Business, I am fully committed to the creation of new jobs in every region across the country.
I know you are waiting patiently to hear who will be representing Dublin at the National IBYE Final on 4th March. Do we have Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the room? What I do know is that we have young people with great ideas and ambition in this room and that is a wonderful combination.
I sincerely hope that your participation in IBYE has set you on a path to continued success. Because your success is critical for our economy’s future. Thank you and good luck to all of our young entrepreneurs here this evening.