Richard Kennedy, Chief Executive of Belfast-headquartered international agri technology company Devenish, has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 at an awards ceremony in Dublin.
One of 24 business people from across the island of Ireland to be shortlisted as finalists, Richard completed a rigorous judging process and was awarded the overall title in recognition of his innovation, business performance and contribution to society and industry.
The EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) awards programme promotes and builds a supportive community around Ireland’s high-growth entrepreneurs. Running for over two decades, Richard now joins its alumni of over 500 business people and will go on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020.
Devenish has experienced huge growth in the past 20 years, going from £5 million in turnover and 23 employees in 1997 to more than £225 million turnover in 2018 and more than 500 employees.
This growth has largely been driven by investment in innovative research, carried out in the group’s Performance Houses.
In 2018 Devenish received €118m in funding from the European Investment Bank to further build and develop the business. Alongside being named as the overall winner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, Richard was named EY International Entrepreneur Of The Year.
Mr Kennedy said: “I am incredibly humbled and proud to receive this award, which I gratefully accept from EY. Entrepreneurial spirit is about seizing opportunity, not being afraid to challenge and take risks in the pursuit of success – and I witness those values in my Devenish colleagues every day. It is an honour to lead a company of such passionate, skilled people, to whom I dedicate this award.
“I would like to congratulate every finalist within the EOY programme, whose world-class talent, ambition and sheer excellence in their industry are truly inspirational.”
Anne Heraty, Chairperson of the judging panel, said: “The standard of competition between this year’s finalists was incredibly high. It is brilliant to see so many home-grown entrepreneurs at the forefront of their industries.
“Richard Kennedy has been instrumental in leading the innovation that has driven Devenish’s success. He has developed a clear and ambitious vision for the business to support their growth in global markets.”
Chaired by the 2006 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Anne Heraty, the judging panel includes previous EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (overall and category) winners Michael Carey, Mark Roden, Evelyn O’Toole, Dr Edmond Harty, Joe Hogan, Jerry Kennelly, Brendan Mooney, Harry Hughes and Denis O’Brien, as well as Jennifer Melia from Enterprise Ireland and Jeremy Fitch from Invest Northern Ireland.