After a sweet year of success, the stars of the local enterprise sector were celebrated at the annual Enterprise Northern Ireland awards, held at the Hilton Hotel in Belfast on 26th November. Hosted by broadcaster Claire McCollum, the glittering evening showcased the work done by the Northern Ireland small business community and the efforts of the local enterprise agency network in supporting business development.
The event was opened with an address from Patsy McGlone MLA and the audience also enjoyed an engaging and inspiring presentation from Tom Griffiths, founder of gapyear.com, who is widely regarded as the creator of the modern gap year industry.
There were many worthy winners but the top award, for Business Start Up of the Year, was scooped by Holohan’s at the Barge, a family owned restaurant moored next to the Waterfront in Belfast. It was a keenly contested category, in which the judges were looking for a business owner who demonstrated passion and enthusiasm and who had set up a business that could demonstrate sustainability in the long term. The judges were particularly impressed by how Holohans had developed the restaurant concept into an overall consumer experience and at the same time providing training and employment for over 20 people in the Belfast area. Holohans is taking the catering sector to the next level.
Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland, Gordon Gough, said: 'Enterprise Northern Ireland is the voice of local entrepreneurship and we’re very pleased to celebrate great examples of local ingenuity and talent. Helping to develop strong companies that create employment and export across the world is an important part of what we do.
'These awards are an excellent chance to recognise the hard work and dedication of businesses and members of the Enterprise Northern Ireland network. Whether it is through offering business support or highlighting access to finance initiatives, our network of enterprise agencies is playing an important role in stimulating Northern Ireland’s economy.'
Keith Liggett from Legacy Wealth, the headline sponsor of the Awards said: 'We were proud to support the awards again this year to show our commitment in helping to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial tenacity and determination is alive and well and the 2015 Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards certainly showcased Northern Ireland’s brightest business talent.'
The full list of winners:
- Special Recognition Award; Indigenous Business - Suki Tea
- Business Support Initiative of the Year - The Larne Business Innovation and Incubation Programme
- Exploring Enterprise Programme Personal Development Award - Danielle Tagg, Articlave Day Care Nursery
- Growth Business of the Year - Blue Clarity Design Services
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Mark O’Connor, Saturn LED
- Social Enterprise of the Year - Acceptable Enterprises Ltd (AEL)
- Innovation Award (Local Enterprise Agency) - WorkWest
- Innovation Award (Small Business) – Shnuggle Ltd
- Business Adviser of the Year - Joanne Miller, Roe Valley Enterprises
- Business Start Up of the Year - Holohan’s at the Barge