Kate Dempsey of Aqualicense Wins the National Enterprise Awards

6th June 2022

Posted In: Be In The Frame

A company that has positioned itself at the forefront of offshore renewable energy in Ireland has been named the overall winner at this year’s National Enterprise Awards.

Aqualicense from Wicklow took the top prize at Local Enterprise Office run awards held on June 3rd at the Mansion House in Dublin in what was their 23rd year.

The announcement was made by Damien English T.D., Minister for Business, Employment and Retail at the event with company founder, and Chief Executive, Kate Dempsey accepting the award.

Aqualicense were founded in 2019 with the help of Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, and engage in consultation, planning, legal compliance and project delivery on behalf of companies in the aquaculture and offshore renewable energy industries.

The company expanded their operations into the highly regulated offshore renewable energy sector in 2021 which has helped the company grow considerably and they are now looking to expand their expertise into new markets internationally.

Kate Dempsey, a serial entrepreneur, was a national finalist in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2019 with her business the Irish Mussel Seed Company, which she continues to run from her Wicklow base.

Announcing the award winners at the Mansion House, Minister English said; “The National Enterprise Awards are the highlight of the small business and enterprise calendar. Year on year the diversity of businesses and the standard of companies that are coming through the process is getting stronger.  We should not be surprised given the innovation and endurance that businesses have shown in the past couple of years.  We have some outstanding winners but the finalists on the whole have been excellent, and this is very much the start of their journey.

“We will ensure they continue to get the support they need to grow their businesses as small businesses in Ireland are at the core of every town, village and community and are vital to our economy.  This will help to build a balanced regional recovery that is focused on future enterprise development and sustainable job creation for the longer term.”

Padraic McElwee, Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “This has been an extremely challenging year for small businesses and tonight we get to see all that is good about entrepreneurship in Ireland.  We have some excellent winners and the calibre of finalists this year is as high as ever.  These companies have been through rigorous vetting by judges and hopefully, it will have helped them make adjustments and enhance their businesses.  Congratulations to all the winning companies. The future is bright for all our finalists who are the perfect reflection of the quality and variety of Irish business we are creating.”

Several other companies won across a range of categories at the Awards, which were established by the Local Enterprise Offices to celebrate the impact and quality of small businesses across the country.

The Best Start-Up category was won by Acoustic Interiors supported by Local Enterprise Office Offaly.  The business improves the health, wellbeing and productivity of people through intelligent acoustic design and fit-out of homes, offices and buildings.

The Green/Sustainability Award went to Cirtex, supported by Local Enterprise Office Longford.  The company have created a closed-loop manufacturing business that upcycles the materials from duvets and mattresses, most of which are imported, to be reused in new products.

The Best Export category was won by Professional Hair Labs supported by Local Enterprise Office Wexford.  The family run business is a manufacturer and distributor of cosmetic products including GHOSTBOND, the world’s leading product for hair adhesive solutions.

The Innovation Award went to Cubbie who are supported by Local Enterprise Office Mayo.  The installation, which is in over 200 schools across Ireland, enables students with neurodiversity or sensory challenges to regulate their senses with a bespoke programme to ensure their learning and academic experience is not adversely affected.

Finally, the One to Watch Award was taken by Streat School supported by Local Enterprise Office Monaghan.  The business provides an end-to-end solution for those looking to enter the street food business, providing equipment, workshops and branding materials.

This year’s winners share a €50,000 investment fund and eight regional winners were also announced on the night.  Those winners are –

•Farmony in the Dublin Region (backed by LEO Fingal)

•Torpey in the South West Region (backed by LEO Clare)

•Salutem Insights in the Mid East Region (backed by LEO Laois)

•SmartRoutes in the South Region (backed by LEO Cork City)

•FeedAlpha in the South East Region (backed by LEO Carlow)

•Tantek 4D in the North West Region (backed by LEO Sligo)

•Aine’s Chocolate in the North East Region (backed by LEO Cavan)

•Studio Meala in the West Region (backed by LEO Roscommon)

There was also an Outstanding Achievement Award presented on the night to an individual or company who has excelled in recent years.  This award went to ABC Nutritionals from Clare.  The Shannon based business, established in 2007 are a private label manufacturer of sports, weight management and lifestyle nutrition products.  They have double their workforce and turnover since 2018 with 68 now employed and hope to reach 100 by 2025 with a new facility in development.