The Accenture Leaders of Tomorrow Award 2017 came to a close on Thursday March 30th, as we announced Izzy Wheels as this year’s winner. Izzy Wheels creates customised, waterproof spoke guards for wheelchairs and has already shipped to 10 countries. The final, fittingly, took place at The Dock which is a new multidisciplinary research and incubation hub where we co-create with clients, universities and startups to investigate, imagine and bring new ideas to life.
It is incredible to think back to the inaugural year of the Award, when our colleagues had the vision to create this programme. Ireland was a very different place back then; Silicon Docks didn’t exist and the iPhone was an infant! When the Award was established it sought to identify, develop and ultimately recruit the best and brightest minds from our 3rd level institutions. Startups wasn’t even in the lexicon!
Not surprisingly the Award has grown and developed in sync with Ireland’s trajectory as an innovation and Startup hub. Today our goal is to identify, develop and recognise leadership potential and innovative thinking amongst aspiring entrepreneurs from across Europe. To us it is not only about the winner, but about all the Finalists whom I am pleased to say year on year have joined the LOT Alumni Community – an energised group of young entrepreneurs who give back and support the next generation of leaders with great gusto.
This year was truly record breaking in terms of number of applications (67% increase in submissions), the quality of applications (resulting in us needing to increase the number of finalists from 6 to 8) and to our delight 48% of applicants had female founders in their teams, a statistic which is almost unheard of in the tech and startup community.
While we are proud of these statistics they are a reflection of both the maturity of the Startup ecosystem in Ireland today as well as the ambition among so many of Ireland’s young people who see the global stage as theirs to start a business. This ambition, talent and energy must be cultivated and nurtured so that we ensure Ireland has the best talent pipeline coming down stream to enter employment but also to start a business.
Our expert panel of judges were energised and inspired by the finalists. Huge thanks to: Pat O’Doherty (CEO of ESB), Deirdre Smith (Director of Green Point Consultancy and Redefine), Alan Coleman (CEO of Britebill), Gary Leyden (Commercial Director of the NDRC), Liam Kavanagh (Managing Director of The Irish Times); Hilary O’Meara (Managing Director in Accenture) and Alastair Blair (Country Manager of Accenture Ireland).
The final marked the end of 6 months of hard work by all 8 of our finalists which we hope is just the beginning of a successful entrepreneurial journey. Congratulations to all including Ekaterina Kislova (Appytoy) who was awarded 2nd second place and to Daniel Hobbs and James Eggers (Better Examinations) who took the 3rd place. The remaining finalists included Aaron Collins and Evan Collins (MySitter); Gordon Geraghty and Susie Cullen (Inceno); Milena Boni and Nicola Paoli (Playmoody); Cian Farrell, Michael Kelly and Neville Flynn (Recroot) and Des Dolan (Mistcalls). You heard it here first – these are the Leaders of Tomorrow.
I can’t wait to see how the next 10 years unfold for the Leaders of Tomorrow Award.