The Irish are renowned for their creativity and the next generation of Irish Australians demonstrating that flair in a new way - punching way above their weight in innovation and business.
In front of an audience that boasted three of Ireland’s top economic heavy weights, The Deputy Prime Minister and the heads of Ireland’s leading business government agencies, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland - Irish Australians shared their stories of global success.
360 people attended the 3rd annual Irish Australian Business Awards in Sydney on Friday night, an event run by The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking at the event, Irish Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald T.D., said, “Irish business people - whether they are based in Ireland, Australia or elsewhere - are rightly renowned for their innovation, ingenuity and intelligence. I have been extremely impressed by those members of the Irish-Australian business community whom I have met this week during my trade and investment mission to Australia. The commercial vibrancy and energy that I have witnessed bodes well for the future and I am excited about the prospects for Irish-Australian companies.”
Two companies with globally scalable tech innovations, CIM Enviro and Nuamedia kicked off the night.
CIM Enviro took home the prize for Startup, it created a technology that has the potential to change the way business operates globally, while at the same time lowering carbon emissions through energy savings. It has just lured one of Atlassian’s founding employees to the company and secured $3 million in Series A capital from government backed Capital Markets Co-Operative Research Centre (CMCRC) last year.
Another top tech company won the SME Award. NuaMedia has been steadily disrupting the Customer Experience Management (CEM) market. Its digital and voice software is making it easy, intuitive and efficient for people to interact with businesses such as Optus and CommBank, who use its software. “Our business is contributing to building the new digital economy that will generate broader benefits for consumers, employees and business partners and in doing so is helping put Ireland and Australia on the map in new ways for product development & technology innovation,” said Stephen Biesty, co- founder.
Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland presented the award for International Trader to Flexi Group Ireland, “There is a huge amount of entrepreneurship and innovation evident in the Irish Australian Business Community. This is not a surprise given the innate creativity of the Irish community. We look forward to building strong ties with the Irish Australian community from a business perspective,” he said.
“FlexiGroup’s culture is strong, although Australia is on the far side of the world, through building relationships, open communication and mateship, Ireland and Australia are really only inches apart,” said PJ Byrne, Head of Sales.
The Chamber’s CEO Barry Corr said that the event was set up to promote and highlight the achievements of Irish Australian’s in business. “As the preeminent Irish Australian business organisation, with activities locally, nationally and internationally, The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce acts as a bridge between the two nations, and allows them to foster the most meaningful business relationships. Our community is independent and apolitical, diverse yet likeminded, and most importantly we share values, character and heritage.”
Construction consultancy, Linesight won the Established Business category. It provides professional services and strategic support to the global construction industry. “Ultimately, we are proof of the huge potential that Australia holds for Irish businesses, not only as a viable market in its own right, but as a gateway into the larger Australasia market,” said John Carleton, Linesight’s Australian Director.
The next generation of Irish Australian Business leaders were among the most impressive in the room.
Joint winner of the Young Entrepreneur category Eoin Kelly recognised a need for modern veterinary services on Mornington Peninsula. “Our client base has grown to include several Group 1-winning racehorse trainers and successful Grand Prix dressage stables,’ said Eoin.
A notable aspect of the awards was the gender parity, with a fifty-fifty split of male and female finalists.
One of the outstanding young women finalists was Lotus People’s, Sinead Connolly, at just 28, she was the joint winner of the Young Entrepreneurs prize.
“I co-founded Lotus People in August 2015, and since then the business has grown exponentially. We have overachieved on every single growth target we have set, as well as building a strong and committed team who high perform on every level,” said Sinead. “One year after inception, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue syndrome, coming out the other side of my illness, I have a new appreciation for running Lotus and having the opportunity to represent young women in business. It is so important that we keep empowering young women, and focus on mental health, wellbeing and balance.”
The young professional category included finalists from Xero, Linkedin, Charter Hall and EISS Super, the award went to medical professional Sinead Keane. “It is not often that a nurse wins a business award,’ said Sinead “but I felt that it was necessary to show that we do so much more than just caring for patients.” Through an initiative led by Sinead, St Vincent’s private hospital in Sydney reduced blood wastage by 24% in 3 years. “If I am going to be so far away from my family, then I have to make it count,” said Sinead.