A Clonlara-based knitwear design and manufacturing business has been named one of the finalists in the 18th National Enterprise Awards which take place at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Thursday,June 11th next.
Set up by Anne Behan in 2000 and supported by Local Enterprise Office Clare, Áine Knitwear produces unique knitwear designs though a combination of modern technologies and traditional Irish hand craft. Áine supplies over 100 shops in Ireland with exports accounting for 66% of her business.
The other 7 finalists in the competition, which is organised by Ireland’s network of Local Enterprise Offices, come from Donegal, Galway, Westmeath, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Louth and Dublin.
Representing the construction and property sectors, Vision Built Manufacturing (Galway), design, manufacture and install building structures, Elemex from Louth, design heating systems and heating technology, Gannon Eco from Westmeath, reprocess waste materials to recycle them into raw materials and the Property Channel/Property Button in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, manage utility switchovers for letting agents.
The Irish drinks industry is also well-represented this year, with Glendalough Distillery from Wicklow (póitín, botanical gins and whiskey) and Kinnegar Brewing from Donegal (craft beers), both making the final eight. MyBio from Kilkenny, a supplier of research products for the scientific research industry and Clonlara-based Áine Knitwear have also been shortlisted this year.
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr. John Crowe stated: “I wish to congratulate Anne Behan and staff of Áine Knitwear on reaching this stage of the national competition and I wish them well at the final stage of the competition on 11th June in Dublin. I also want to acknowledge the role of LEO Clare in supporting this company.”
Betty Devanny, Local Enterprise Office Clare commented: “The role of the small business sector is crucial in helping Ireland’s recovery and leading to creating and sustaining local employment. 202 jobs were created in 2014 in Clare by companies supported by LEO Clare. Áine Knitwear is one of those companies and has benefitted from ongoing financial and mentoring support from LEO Clare. The company will now represent Clare in the National Enterprise Awards in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin next week.”
Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, Kieran Comerford, said: “In 2014, the network of Local Enterprise Offices supported over 24,000 entrepreneurs and start-ups all over the country, including all our finalists. These awards showcase the innovation, creativity and the development potential within Irish SMEs, all across Ireland. By highlighting all those business success stories, the National Enterprise Awards give recognition to Ireland’s small business heroes.”
Previous winners of the competition have included Irish Yoghurts from West Cork, Hot Irish Whiskey (Walsh Whiskey) from Carlow and Innovate Telecoms and IT from Wexford. The most recent winners of the competition, Design Pro in Limerick, provide precision automation and machine build services. They went from employing 10 people in 2013, when they won the award, to employing 22 people today. Headed up by Paul Collins, the company is on track to double its workforce again over the next two years.
The overall winner of the €5,000 top prize is being announced by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on June 11th. Results and updates will be available through www.localenterprise.ie and by searching #NEAwards15 on social media.