Entrepreneurs must challenge business models to beat downturn

Search underway for 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year

Pictured launching the 2009 programme are (LtoR) Kevin Dawson, RTÉ, Denis O'Brien, Digicel Group and Chairman of the Judging Panel, Enda Kelly, Partner-in-charge, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® programme and Liam Kavanagh, The Irish Times.

Pictured launching the 2009 programme are (LtoR) Kevin Dawson, RTÉ, Denis O'Brien, Digicel Group and Chairman of the Judging Panel, Enda Kelly, Partner-in-charge, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® programme and Liam Kavanagh, The Irish Times.

IRISH entrepreneurs will have to be more innovative in their thinking than ever before and challenge existing business models by differentiation and lower cost if they are to build successful businesses in the face of the global economic downturn.

That’s according to Enda Kelly, partner-in-charge, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year programme, who issued the warning as he launched the 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® awards - seeking nominations from Ireland North and South.

“To succeed, this new breed of entrepreneur will have to identify fresh opportunities and markets, and forge fresh partnerships and alliances, stepping outside traditional comfort zones,” said Mr Kelly.

“It’s the very imagination, energy and individuality it will take to make that type of breakthrough which will ultimately ensure their success and position them on the crest of a new wave of sustainable business excellence.”

“The Entrepreneur Of The Year programme, now in its 12th year, is about fostering and facilitating entrepreneurial spirit here in Ireland and around the world - and in the current economic climate, we need that pioneering entrepreneurial spirit more than ever.”

Appropriately, the theme of the 2009 Entrepreneur Of The Year programme is “Navigators of Success” - challenging this year’s finalists to “act as beacons of successful business for others to follow.”

Every year, the finalists and past-finalists are invited to take part in the CEO Retreat, an opportunity to meet their peers, hone their skills and share strategic expertise.

This year, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest NI, the CEO Retreat will facilitate a trade mission to vibrant Brazil, where the finalists will face the daunting challenge of replicating their business models in an emerging market. Brazil is not only the fifth-largest country in the world but also the 10th largest economy, with an annual GDP of more than a trillion dollars. Here the group will participate in strategy sessions and business meetings with Brazilian entrepreneurs, key business leaders and government and public authorities. It is hoped that the insights and learnings garnered from their experiences will create new opportunities and unleash existing ones.

Entries for the 2009 Entrepreneur Of The Year can be made in any one of three categories: Emerging, Industry and International Services. An award will be presented for each category, and an overall winner will be announced at an awards ceremony this October.

A nominee must be an owner-manager who is primarily responsible for the recent performance of a company that is at least two years old. Founders of public companies are eligible provided the founder is still active in top management. And anyone can nominate an entrepreneur, including the entrepreneur himself or herself, employees, or company advisors.

A panel of judges, chaired by telecoms entrepreneur and first recipient of the award, Denis O’Brien, will select the shortlist, to be announced in May.

Previous winners include John Flaherty, C&F Tooling, Aidan Heavy, CEO, Tullow Oil, Liam Shanahan, managing director, Shannon Engineering, Ann Heraty, managing director, CPL, Liam Casey, CEO, PCH International and Eddie Jordan, founder, Jordan Grand Prix.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® programme is supported by the Irish Times, RTE, Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland, Invest Northern Ireland and Newstalk. Official entry forms are available on www.eoy.ie or by contacting Ernst & Young on 01 221 2538

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