Driven Goals
December 21, 2015

The regional shortlist for the Bank Of Ireland Start-Up Awards will be announced this month, and I must say that I am really looking forward to seeing what start-ups make it to the next stage. I love following new ventures along their journey and watching them grow – I find success stories really inspiring and they always provide a great sense of achievement and pride in fellow entrepreneurs.

The Bank Of Ireland Start-up Awards are in their 5th year, the competition fosters innovation and allows entrepreneurs to further develop their business. The categories range from digital start-ups, to creative retailers to techy innovators. The company must not have been in business for more than three years and must not employ more than thirty people.

These awards will result increased credibility, as in current clients will understand your passion and drive, great exposure for the product/brand through PR, and will also provide networking opportunities (peers/investors/mentors/fellow entrepreneurs). The initiative is to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, as start-ups have really boomed emerging from the recession. ‘It is open to all sectors including digital, food and drink, retail, social enterprise and export businesses‘.

The awards are run by Stephen Dillion, Founder of He initially launched these awards in an effort to encourage and reward young Irish entrepreneurs for their hard work, he also understood the determination and drive needed to start your own business – many entrepreneurs have left stable jobs to pursue their dreams/business ideas, and Stephen wanted to commend them for taking the leap. ‘This is an opportunity to acknowledge the risk they have taken and give them encouragement and exposure’.

Stephen understands how challenging and lonely it can be to start your own business, the start-up awards were established to support these innovators in building their business, with the objective being to create employment and grow the economy.

‘The awards are open to all sectors including digital, food and drink, retail, social enterprise and export businesses’. In 2015, there were almost 650 entries, and this figure is expected to rise considerably this year. With some ‘new’ categories being added in 2016, there will be a wide and diverse range of companies and sectors entering the acclamation. These newer categories are ‘Best Emerging Start-up’ (for the newest start-ups who have been operating for less than 18 months), the second category is ‘Best Sustainable Start-up’ (for the company with the most sustainable strategy).
You can read more about the new 2016 categories here.

Getting the seal of approval from the judging panel, headed by RTE’s Dragon’s Den star Gavin Duffy means you’re among the best at what you do in the country. These awards were created not only to create awareness and promote these new ventures, but to encourage and motivate other entrepreneurs to follow suit – reassuring them that there is funding and assistance available to grow their idea into a viable business.

Through the process, the judges will be watching out for raw talent and pure dedication, ensuring nominees have a clear vision and plan for business growth, with tangible/proven results. Nominees should ensure the judges fully understand and acknowledge their value proposition. The judges want to feel inspired by these new startups, and ensure a viable future for the economy. I believe these awards will be invaluable to any startup, increasing their exposure, gaining recognition from industry peers, and receiving expert advice. ‘Each year we receive feedback from entrants that the awards were instrumental in supporting their business by providing additional credibility, boosting morale and by opening new doors with the exposure received. With the Start-up Awards we are proud to play our part in supporting entrepreneurship in Ireland‘.

Bank Of Ireland’s Head of Enterprise Development David Merriman, spoke of his delight that they are sponsoring the awards again this year. Bank Of Ireland are also contributing to the support and growth of start-ups in Ireland. They currently provide free co-working spaces at their Grand Canal Square branch in Dublin, and their Mainguard Street branch in Galway.

These spaces enable creative minds to connect and engage with one another, in a previous time – they would never have even met. Bouncing ideas and sharing knowledge, and making contacts could inspire some great ideas and opportunities. As many start-ups cannot afford stunning offices and conference rooms, the Grafton Street BOI branch, have created an ‘enterprise lounge’. This is somewhere for start-ups to hold meetings with investors or prospect clients in a professional and visually pleasing setting. And it is absolutely free of charge.
‘Speaking of their commitment to enterprise and innovation, David says “As Ireland’s leading Bank for business, we have a range of supports and initiatives to help people start, grow and develop their business. Both financial and non-financial assistance is important when setting up a new business and at Bank of Ireland we offer a broad range of supports’.

Not only will entrants have the chance to win the award, but their mere participation will also benefit them. In that, it will raise their company profile, getting their name ‘out there’, participating in the awards will also demonstrate your passion and innovation to your existing clients.

The prizes for the winners of each category are actually quite impressive, and are a great head-start for any start-up.
They will be featured in the Irish Independent Start-up Awards Supplement, they will also receive accountancy software, financial guidance and an IP consultation from sponsor FRKelly.

For the Grand Prix (Start-up Of The Year) winner, they will receive all of the above, in addition to:
A creative advertising and design package from Bank of Ireland valued at €56,000*.
A package of advertising space with Independent Newspapers valued at €8,000*.
A free Irish provisional filing, be it patent/trade mark/copyright/design, from FRKelly.

Important Dates:
The regional finals will take place during April with the national gala final taking place in Dublin on Thursday, 26th May, 2016.  Further information on the awards will also be available via the Bank of Ireland Twitter account @BOIbusiness and a dedicated hashtag has been created for the event #boistartupawards.

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