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Ministers launch North/South innovation awards

19 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA and her southern counterparts Minister Brendan Smith TD and Minister Eamon O'Cuiv TD launched the 2008 Innovation Awards for Rural Business at a meeting in Cavan.

The aim of the 2008 Innovation Awards for Rural Business is to motivate individuals to take an innovative approach to new business and help them turn their business idea into a reality. The overall prize fund for the competition is valued at £32,000. This includes cash prizes totalling £9,600 provided by JFC Manufacturing, advertising in the Irish Farmers' Journal for winners valued at £11,200, and mentoring and business support from DARD and Teagasc worth £11,200.

Speaking at the launch Minister Gildernew said:

"This competition is all about encouraging and providing practical support for innovation in the countryside. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet last year's finalists and I was enormously impressed by the range and ingenuity of the business opportunities represented.

"I would encourage anyone who is exploring a new business idea or has recently started trading to consider entering this competition. Each entrant will have the chance to discuss their idea with an experienced judging panel and get valuable feedback on their business plan. Finalists will benefit financially but also from the mentoring, promotion and networking opportunities that the competition offers."

Previous finalists from the North include Millwood Crafts, Benburb; Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Kircubbin; Mount Mills Flax Oil, Newry; Agri Images, Moy; and Cloughbane Farm Shop, Pomeroy which won the Value Added Food category in last year's competition. Blessingbourne Courtyard Apartments from Fivemiletown was Highly Commended.

The Minister concluded:

"Achieving this award has really helped many previous winners and finalists to give their business a national profile and attract new customers. I am delighted that my Department is once again involved in sponsoring this all Ireland competition and look forward to a good response from rural entrepreneurs across the North."

Entry packs can be obtained from DARD offices, online at or by phoning 028 90 524591.

Notes to Editors

To enter applicants have to fill in an entry form and send in a simple business plan. Entry is restricted to those with well thought out business ideas or new businesses that have commenced trading in the last 5 years.

Last year's competition attracted 62 entries - 18 from the North and 44 from the South.

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