PunditArena.com named IGNITE Business of the Year Award 2014 at annual Awards and Showcase

PunditArena.com named IGNITE Business of the Year Award 2014 at annual Awards and Showcase

Cork based, sports media website, PunditArena.com has been received the accolade of Bank of Ireland/ IGNITE Business of the Year Award 2014. Pundit Arena, along with nine other enterprising young businesses, was recognised at the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Awards and Showcase held at the Aula Maxima in UCC on Wednesday 25th June.

This year’s IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Awards and Showcase celebrated the progress and achievements to date of the ten graduate led start-ups who participated in the 2013/14, 9 month business incubation programme, marking an important milestone with the completion of the fourth phase of the successful entrepreneurial programme.

The Awards, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, EY and JW O’Donovan Solicitors, were presented in front of an invited audience including representatives of Cork City Council, Cork County Council, local business leaders, UCC staff, friends and family; who were introduced to the new companies operating across a range of sectors including food/ nutrition, fashion, agriculture, online platforms and software solutions.

Four of the awards were made based on presentations participants gave to the judging panel of respected business people the previous evening at Bank of Ireland’s Regional Headquarters on the South Mall, while a fifth was peer nominated. The judging panel was made up of Diarmuid Lynch, Area Manager, Bank of Ireland; Gillian Keating, Partner, JW O’Donovan; Seamus Downey, Taxation Director, EY; and Declan O’Mahoney, CEO, HeartSine Technologies Ltd.

The top award, the Bank of Ireland/ IGNITE Business of the Year Award 2014, was presented to PunditArena.com founders, UCC graduates Richard Barrett and Ross O’Dwyer. Following deliberation, the judges agreed that Richard and Ross best demonstrated the potential to build a business that can achieve growth and create sustainable employment.

Pundit Arena, powered by articulate fans and established journalists, provides writers with a high level of autonomy and the freedom to passionately write about the sports of interest to them.  It is essentially an online sports broadsheet powered by the sporting public.  The company launched last November after Richard and Ross decided to collaborate, having initially started out on the IGNITE Programme working on two separate sports based websites. Today Pundit Arena has over 200 contributors, a sub-editorial team of six, and a further trio involved in digital marketing. 

Two further awards were made in recognition of business planning and innovation. The EY/ IGNITE Business Plan Award was presented to UCC Engineering graduate, Walter O’Grady, founder of Froblem for his written business plan. Walter develops software solutions to help service providers in the infrastructure and facilities management sector address and remedy structural and maintenance issues promptly when they arise. Walter’s reporting app, Froblem allows users to alert organisations of problems encountered instantaneously, thereby improving customer relations, and ultimately reducing the organisation’s cost.

The JW O’Donovan Solicitors/ IGNITE Innovation Award went to UL Bachelor of Business Studies graduate, John O’Donoghue founder of AgTeCH4, who demonstrated the most innovative use of technology to deliver his service. AgTeCH4, which launches this summer, delivers slurry gas detection solutions to the agricultural sector in Ireland, the UK and rest of Europe.

Speaking about the calibre of start-ups on the programme, Diarmuid Lynch, Area Manager, Bank of Ireland, who chaired the judging panel, said “We had a tough job, as each participant demonstrated true entrepreneurial spirit and steadfast determination. Each start-up demonstrated to us that they have the ability to develop successful businesses and I’m sure we’ll hear lots more from them in the near future.” The IGNITE Peer Award 2014, the only award voted on by the IGNITE 2014 participants, recognises the spirit of cooperation, leadership and entrepreneurial ability demonstrated throughout the IGNITE programme. This award went to Richard Barrett from Pundit Arena. While, Evelyn Flynn, founder of Trifolium, received the IGNITE 2014 Showcase Award for presenting the most effective showcase display.

Past winners of the IGNITE Business of the Year Award include Dr Sinead Doherty of AnaBio Technologies Ltd., who later went on to be crowned Cork Chamber’s ‘Emerging Business of the Year 2014’; Eoin O’Carroll and Kevin Bambury of Portable Medical Technology Ltd.; and Mike McGrath of supply.ie. Other recent award winners included Brendan Finucane of Vconnecta Ltd.; and Declan Gordon of Mohago Ltd.

Eamon Curtin, IGNITE Programme Director said “I would like to wish each one of this year’s participants every success as they continue to move their businesses to the next level. As we come to the end of the fourth phase of the IGNITE Programme, it’s clear to me that entrepreneurship is thriving amongst recent graduates, and the calibre out there is getting stronger and stronger as more supports become available to young entrepreneurs. Expressions of interest for the next IGNITE phase were the highest yet, with an extremely high calibre of applicants.”

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is nine month business incubation programme at UCC aimed at nurturing, developing and strengthening entrepreneurial potential. The Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices of Cork City and County, and Bank of Ireland. More information is available at http://ignite.ucc.ie.

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