Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE)


This competition seeks to the very low percentage of Irish startups by youth entrepreneurs.

County Finalists enter into a specialised Entrepreneur Bootcamp to help develop their business or business idea. The County Finalists also avail of a suite of targeted business supports and mentoring from your Local Enterprise Office. 

€2 Million Investment Fund: A prize fund of €2m is available each year, in addition to the costs of hosting the competition.

  • A €50,000 Investment Fund will be awarded to the Category Winners and Runners-Up from each of the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, aand
  • An Investment Fund of a further €100,000 is available for the winners of the IBYE National Final.

Local Enterprise Offices


The IBYE competition is open to people aged between 18-35 across 3 categories:

1. Best Idea (has an idea for a business but has not starting trading at time of application)
2. Best Start-Up Business (has started trading but in business 18 months or less)
3. Best Established Business (has been trading for more than 18 months)


This project was an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the Local Enterprise Offices. In November 2014, the ‘National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland’ was published and it included a commitment to “evaluate the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Fund with a view to building on the success of the 2014 scheme and increasing the number of youth entrepreneurs accessing support systems”.


The aim of the initiative is to encourage and support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice, and to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland’s young entrepreneurs.


A record number of entries in 2016 with 1,842 competitors, coming from every county in Ireland. There were over 450 young people attended the Entrepreneur Bootcamps. There were 186 local winners and runners-up, sharing investments of between €3,000 and €15,000 each.


The initiative has been hugely successful in terms of getting young people to enter the competition and in gaining media attention around this issue. What is not yet known is how many young people have started a business that would not have started if this competition did not take place and has the rate of youth entrepreneurship altered greatly over the past four years. The evaluation of these metrics are due in 2018 and will give a much stronger idea of the startup impact of this initiative.


Richard Bruton (Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation 2011-2016)


The self-employment rate for youth has been consistently low for the past decade (1.9% in 2016). In the data in Figure 1, Irish youth had a higher Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate than the EU average and a higher proportion expected to be significant job creators, believed they possessed the skills to start a business, were innovative and expected to export. They also had lower rates of fear of failure which is generally interpreted as encouraging. Yet, despite these positive signs, Irish youth had a lower rate of expectation for starting a business in the next three years in comparison to the EU average (17.4% v 21.3%) which is difficult to explain. One possible rationalisation for this figure is that there is currently approximately 56% participation rate in higher education and this reduces the opportunity for entrepreneurial activity. According to the Irish Times (2016), at the peak of the recession, 31.6% of young people under the age of 25 were unemployed. One of the public policy responses to youth unemployment was to reduce the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance for jobseekers under the age of 26. This policy decision effectively meant that many young unemployed people struggled for income and to compete for jobs in a highly competitive jobs market. The CSO statistics (2016) show that 31,000 young people aged between 15 - 24 years of age emigrated from Ireland in 2015. Many initiatives have been introduced to support youth entrepreneurship but self-employment figures for this target group has not risen above 1.9% over the past decade.  


Technological University Dublin
Technological University Dublin