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Pictured at the presentation of the award to Damien Mason were, from left, Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen, Councillor Bill Chambers (Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council), Damien Mason (FlexiBod), Padraic McElwee (Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Clare) and Gerard Dollard (Director of Services, Clare County Council) pictured at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin.

Scariff entrepreneur one of Ireland’s best

A 35-year old businessman from Scariff who developed a smart connected office chair (Agilis) for athletes that helps to reduce muscle tightness and back pain has been named as a Runner-Up in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE).

Damien Mason of FlexiBod, representing Local Enterprise Office Clare, was runner-up in the Best Business Idea Category (pre-trading) having already won the coveted title at the IBYE Regional Final during February.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., made the announcemen at the IBYE national final held at Google’s European Headquarters at the weekend. The overall competition was won by Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical, a company which has developed an app that is transforming the lives of thousands of people with Parkinson’s disease.

The competition, which is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland and run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, attracted entries from over 1,800 18-to-35-year-olds, showcasing some of the country’s best and brightest business talent.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor T.D., said: “All of our finalists here are winners, having taken their ideas and concepts through a tough and rigorous process to make them market ready. Seeing their projects come to fruition is enormously gratifying and is testament to the huge effort they have invested. Today’s young entrepreneurs are tomorrow’s employers and IBYE, which was set up under the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, has proven to be a very effective way of fostering entrepreneurship in our young people. I want to pay tribute to my own Department, Enterprise Ireland and to the LEOs who have done a great job again this year in supporting this initiative.”

Minister for Employment and Small Business, Clare TD, Pat Breen said the success of the young entrepreneurs was critical to the future of the economy and job creation prospects.

“I believe that all finalists and indeed, every one of the IBYE participants throughout all the stages of the competition will have taken something very positive away from your experiences over the last few months. IBYE is not just a competition, it is a training ground to guide and mentor young entrepreneurs through all the stages of developing and sustaining a business,” he added.

Padraic McElwee, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Clare, congratulated Damien Mason, saying, “We started the search to find and support Ireland’s best young entrepreneurs in September last year, and after a very successful boot camp, county final and now regional final, the county has achieved success in the ultimate stage of the competition.”

The judging panel was chaired by Paddy Flynn, Director of Trust and Safety with Google. The other members of the judging panel were Eugene Forde, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise, LEO Offaly; Niall O’ Donnellan, Enterprise Ireland, Brian Crowley, CEO, TTM Healthcare and Sarah Doyle, CEO, Kinesense. Broadcaster Claire Byrne acted as MC.

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