A Clare business, Áine Knitwear, supported by Local Enterprise Office Clare, has won the Design Award at the 18th Annual National Enterprise Awards.
The internationally-successful Clonlara-based fashion brand was founded by Anne Behan in 2000, and she was presented with the Design Award at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin yesterday evening (June 11th 2015), marking Irish Design 2015 (ID2015).
Five other awards were presented on the night, including: MyBio in Kilkenny, which won the overall title. It was a good year for Ireland’s construction and property sectors, with Vision Built in Galway winning the export award (light steel gauge manufacturing), the Property Button in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown clinching the start-up category (utility transfer management) and Gannon Eco in Westmeath taking the innovation prize (reprocessing waste into raw materials).
Áine Knitwear was among the 24,000 small businesses supported by the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices last year. The National Enterprise Awards were set-up to celebrate the achievements of Ireland’s micro-enterprise sector and previous winners have included Irish Yogurts from West Cork, Hot Irishman Irish Coffee (Walsh Whiskey Distillery) from Carlow and DesignPro from Limerick.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, said: “Small business, like the winners and finalists here at the National Enterprise Awards, are the driving force behind Ireland’s economic growth, and we must recognise and celebrate their achievements. Crucially, if we are to keep creating the jobs we need, then we must support more entrepreneurs to start and grow local businesses. That is why we have placed small businesses right at the centre of our Action Plan for Jobs, and put in place new measures like establishing a new system of easily-accessible supports through the Local Enterprise Offices. ”
Cllr. John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council congratulated the Clonlara company, adding that the award win is “significant when one considers the high standard of entries to the competition.”
“The commitment, drive and no shortage of entrepreneurial thinking of Anne Behan reflects the breadth and scale of activity ongoing in Clare’s vibrant SME sector. This award win also further illustrates that LEO Clare is in the front line in delivering business growth and jobs, providing direct support and pulling together all the players – agencies, the local authority and the private sector – to support everyone with a good business idea and strengthen the enterprise sector in Clare,” stated the Cathaoirleach.
Betty Devanny, Local Enterprise Office Clare commented: “We are delighted to have played some role in the success story that is Áine Knitwear, a home grown enterprise. 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.”
Prizes include a cash prize of €5,000 for the Overall Winner, €1,000 for the four Category Winners in addition to specially-commissioned trophies.
Three other finalists made it through to this year’s National Enterprise Awards Final: Glendalough Distillery (supported by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow), Elemex (supported by Local Enterprise Office Louth) and Kinnegar Brewing (supported by Local Enterprise Office Donegal).