Over 600 potential entrepreneurs, existing businesses, and industry experts attended the unique one day Start and Grow Enterprise Expo in Tullamore last Friday November 18. The expo took place at the Tullamore Court Hotel where a host of seminars, talks, business support exhibitors, mentoring opportunities, and a unique ideas zone gave visitors all the information they needed, under one roof, to start, develop, and grow their business.
Speaking about the expo, Barry Egan, director Midlands Region at Enterprise Ireland, said: “The Enterprise Expo has created lots of excitement and interest from the people of Offaly, the wider Midlands and further afield in developing new ideas, developing new companies and expanding existing companies. Given the current climate, this is a very encouraging sign”.
The Start and Grow Enterprise Expo is an initiative by Enterprise Ireland, Offaly County Enterprise Board, Offaly Local Development Company, Offaly County Council, and Tullamore Chamber. It is all about helping potential entrepreneurs and existing businesses examine all aspects of what is involved in setting up and developing their business.
On the day, successful entrepreneurs and business experts shared their considerable experience and knowledge of starting up and running successful enterprises, experienced business mentors were on hand to give individual tailored advice, and the agencies and business groups were there to outline the full range of supports available.
Highlights of the day included:
• Keynote address by Denis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel who encouraged potential entrepreneurs and those already in business not only to avail of the supports available but also to be ambitious in their plans. In his address, he also remarked that the enthusiasm at the event was palpable.
• Themed seminars - Start a Business, Grow a Business, and Market Opportunities. Speakers included well-known entrepreneurs and industry leaders such as Terry Clune of the Taxback Group; Declan Lenahan of Europharma Concepts in Clara; Senator Mary Ann O’Brien, founder of Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates; and John Concannon, founder of JFC Manufacturing - who recently appeared on RTÉ’s Secret Millionaire TV programme.
• In the Market Opportunities Seminar; Sharon Buckley, group commercial and supply chain director with the Musgrave Group outlined the supply opportunities with the Musgrave Group. Speakers from Enterprise Ireland and the National Procurement Office highlighted opportunities for local companies in export markets and public procurement opportunities across Ireland.
• The expo hosted an ideas zone where visitors could come to find an idea to start a venture or alternatively get assistance to take their own idea to the next stage of development. A specially developed process to help people find ideas and turn them into a commercial success was launched at the ideas zone. Copy available for download at www.startandgrow.ie The ideas zone, hosted by Michael Lonergan, manager of the Midlands Innovation and Research Centre at AIT, had specialists from four ideas development organisations on hand in addition to over 200 ideas for starting a venture. One hundred of these ideas, based on technologies developed at Irish third level colleges, and never seen in public before, were on show. Contact [email protected] to get a list of these ideas.
• Almost 80 people who had pre-booked benefited from private one-to-one mentoring at the expo. Additional people were facilitated on the day with on-the-spot mentoring by Enterprise Board and Enterprise Ireland advisors.
Speaking about the supports and advice available for entrepreneurs and businesses, Sean Ryan, CEO Offaly County Enterprise Board, said: “The day was a great success. We would encourage those who attended and those interested in developing their business idea further to get in contact with the relevant agencies to progress their plans. There is an excellent range of supports now available to potential entrepreneurs in Ireland that helps reduce the risk of starting a new venture.”
Many of the speakers’ presentations are now available on the website www.startandgrow.ie