JFC Innovation Awards set to reward rural businesses for their innovation

Pictured on the Teagasc stand at the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois, to launch the JFC Innovation Awards are John Concannon, JFC, Cathal O hOisin, assembly private secretary to Minister Michelle O'Neill, DARD, Dr Tom Kelly, director of knowledge transfer, Teagasc, Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Peter Young, Irish Farmers Journal, and David Small, deputy secretary DARD.

Pictured on the Teagasc stand at the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois, to launch the JFC Innovation Awards are John Concannon, JFC, Cathal O hOisin, assembly private secretary to Minister Michelle O'Neill, DARD, Dr Tom Kelly, director of knowledge transfer, Teagasc, Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Peter Young, Irish Farmers Journal, and David Small, deputy secretary DARD.

Rural businesses are in line to win a share of €40,000 on offer from the 2014 JFC innovation awards for businesses in rural Ireland

The competition, a great way of getting publicity for your existing business or developing an idea is now in its seventh year and has given hundreds of businesses a chance to win prizes but more importantly to improve their business.

The winners will take away €40,000 in prizes but everyone who enters will get an opportunity to receive free mentoring for their business. The new start-up category remains a key focus. We want people with just an idea to submit it. The aim is to help people turn their business idea into a reality. As many previous entrants have found the JFC Innovation awards is the perfect place to start.

“The JFC Innovation Awards are really about the sponsors trying to help you and your company to prosper and create extra jobs and employment,” John Concannon, MD JFC at the launch. “Every business that enters will gain from this experience.

“Pitching your idea to the judges will give you confidence and the feedback you receive will help you bring your business to the next phase. Indeed one of last year’s entrants with the idea of developing a product to keep bale wrap clean and tidy came through this competition,” he added.

“We are determined this year to have at least three businesses from every county to make the competition a truly All-Ireland affair. Many farmers that entered in the last three years found that the competition was a real incentive to actually take their idea and business to another level.

“Each farmer that entered had the chance to get valuable feedback on their business plan. The initial mentoring aspect will be a key focus for all applicants again this year. You will benefit from it in more ways than you think. Achieving an award has really helped many previous winners and finalists even in areas such as securing finance, support, grant aid and opening new markets.

The total prize fund for the JFC innovation awards is €40,000. This comes in the form of cash, mentoring and advertising from the Farmers Journal. The overall winner will walk away with a top prize valued at €15,000. Category winners will receive a prize fund worth €3,000 while category finalists will win a prize fund of €1,500 each

All you need to enter is a good idea or business that is already set up to enter. The next step is to get an entry form. Entries forms are available from your local Teagasc/DARDNI office or directly from Teagasc and DARDNI websites. Finally you have to fill out an entry form and send in a simple business plan that shows you have put a bit of thought into the idea. The competition is split into four categories:

Energy / Manufacturing

Value Added / Speciality Food

Services / Rural Tourism

Start up

Any idea will fit into at least one of these categories. You can have started your business but you must still be in the first five years of trading. The organisers want innovation and people who are thinking differently. They know there are plenty of good ideas and businesses out there - so get moving.

The deadline for entries is Friday December 20, 2013. The judging will take place in mid-January/mid-February 2014 and the overall winner of the first All-Ireland final will be announced at a special awards ceremony in May 2014. JFC is the commercial sponsor of the competition, which is run by Teagasc, Department of Agriculture & Rural Development NI, and the Irish Farmers Journal.

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