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A Co. Galway health food business has won the top prize of €10,000 cash in the SCCUL Enterprise Awards. The winner was announced at the annual SCCUL Enterprise Awards prize giving ceremony and business expo which was hosted by NUI Galway in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG on Thursday 29th January. Inspired by the rapidly growing global trends of health and wellness, NUA Naturals supplies and distributes high quality health food in Ireland and the UK while also sourcing raw ingredients internationally which are then packaged and distributed under the NUA brand name. Established in 2011, NUA Naturals currently employs 11 people at their base in Westside, Galway. The company entered the UK market last year and has plans to increase their reach internationally over the next 18 months. NUA Naturals’ Niall Fennell and Hilary Foley were presented with their prize by Padraig O’ Callaghan, Chairman of St. Columba’s Credit Union Galway, and John Lenihan, Chairman of SCCUL Enterprises who jointly sponsored the winner’s prize. Speaking at the event, Mr. Fennell said that he was honored and delighted to receive this award, “Entering the SCCUL Awards has been an incredible experience for us. It has allowed us to take a step back and really look at our business. We will invest our award back into our business to help us take our business to the next level,” said Mr. Fennell.

NUA Naturals also receives a €2500 advertising package from local media sponsor Galway Independent and a specially commissioned sculpture by Galway based sculptor, Liam Butler. In addition to claiming the overall prize NUA Naturals won the SCCUL Enterprise Agriculture & Food Award. NUA Naturals was selected as the overall winner in the SCCUL Enterprise Awards by a judging panel which included Norah Casey, former RTE Dragon & publishing entrepreneur; Barry Egan Director, West Region Enterprise Ireland; Hannah Kiely CEO, HC Financial Advisors Ltd; Harry Hughes, Managing Director, Port West and Dr. Emer Mulligan, Head of J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway. The judging panel was chaired by Declan Dooley, Managing Director Galway Independent.

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Julie Sinnamon the CEO of Enterprise Ireland addressed the SCCUL Mentors Group in the Clayton Hotel Galway. There were a number of issues addressed and also many ‘good news’ stories around different industries throughout Ireland.

Julie is extremely optimistic about the prospects for the food sector and anticipates a 50% growth in that sector over the next 5 years. She sees much of the growth in this sector being located in the regions. This ties in with a broader objective to ensure a balanced distribution of EI support across all parts of the country.

She is very optimistic about the future of EI companies generally and this optimism is positively influenced by the recent PMI data (Purchasing Manager’s Index) which is at its most positive in the past 6 years.

One thing Julie would like to see is more female entrepreneurs and she made the point that of the 250 senior management personnel in 100 companies that EI have recently supported only 8 of the executives were women. Julie puts this down to a lack of female role models, an unjustified lack of confidence and the fact that the average age of the entrepreneurs EI supported is 32 which is an important age in a woman’s biological cycle.Julie also said that 50% of inward entrepreneurs are now people with no Irish connections at all but who want to locate here because of Ireland’s strong entrepreneurial culture.

Julie described the challenge of scale facing Irish companies which is seen in the fact that Ireland has a small number of very big companies and a very large number of small companies. She says we need more very large companies but also that many of the small companies need to be helped scale up if they are to make an impact internationally and realise their full potential. She said that many of the executives of small companies have very little practice of pitching their businesses for big overseas orders and suggested that this was an area where executives in big companies could help them as they are invariably strong at this from years of experience in making high level presentations.

Julie said that of late there has been much more collaboration between the IDA and EI and she sees this increasing over the coming years. She is clearly in favour of this and the audience also expressed a desire for more of this.

One final area where Julie would like to see progress is more link up between industry and schools. In particular entrepreneurs could be invited into schools to talk about what it’s like to an entrepreneur and encourage more young people down this route rather than take the standard career options choices.

All in all an excellent and thought provoking presentation which was well received by a large and appreciative audience made up mostly of entrepreneurs who are also business mentors.

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Bizmentors, Declan Droney’s interview at the SCCUL Awards



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