02 Oct 2022

Local Enterprise Office launches ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition for innovative Tech start-ups

Local Enterprise Office launches ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition for innovative Tech start-ups

Local Enterprise Office launches ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition for innovative Tech start-ups

The inaugural ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition will open for entries from March 7th during this year’s Local Enterprise Week. The competition is open to people in Kilkenny with a Tech related business idea or in the early stages of trading (less than 18 months). 

If you have an original and innovative idea within the technology sector (e.g. Agri-Tech, AI, Ecommerce, FinTech, Gaming, Healthcare, ICT, IOT, Robotics, etc.) and intend setting up a business in Kilkenny, or are already in the early stages of development, check out this competition. 

The initiative will involve a series of business workshops and one-to-one mentoring culminating in a finale comprising of an investor-ready pitch for an investment fund worth €10,000 (€6,000 in the Start-up Category and €4,000 in the Ideas Category).  

At the launch of the ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition, Cathaoirleach Cllr. Fidelis Doherty said: “The Local Enterprise Office is the first stop for any entrepreneur who is looking to start or grow their business. This competition aims to encourage and support people starting out on their entrepreneurial journey.”

Also speaking at the launch, John Duggan, Founder and Director of Kilkenny based Fintech company Loanitt, now the largest financial intermediary in Ireland and started their journey with the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny just 3 years ago, said “from the outset, Loanitt was supported with a range of supports from LEO Kilkenny including the Business Start-Up Priming Grant, the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, mentoring supports and participation on the Management Development Programme”. 

“We also learnt a lot through participation in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition in terms of refining the business proposition and developing an investor ready pitch which helped to prepare for future funding applications. I would encourage anyone with a Tech related business idea or start-up to get involved in the ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition.”

At the first stage of the competition, applicants are invited to submit their entries via an online application form on

Closing date for entries is Wednesday, March 23. Participants will then by supported to refine and finalise their business proposal and the winners will be announced at the end of May 2022 following a competitive pitch process.

Businesses across Kilkenny are being encouraged to take advantage of the array of events at this year’s Local Enterprise Week.  The initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices takes place from the 7th to 11th March with over 220 events for businesses and entrepreneurs taking place in person and online across the country. 

Along with the specific local events such as ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition, the commencement of our ‘Starting a Business Programme’ and the first in our monthly series of ‘Green For Your Business’ seminars taking place on Thursday 10th, there are 12 national Spotlight events that are available online, taking place across the week and open to all small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.  These events are free to join online and cover everything from digitalisation and exporting to future proofing your business and boosting your business online.  

For more information about Local Enterprise Week schedule and the ‘IDEAS Kilkenny’ competition, visit


Rory Gannon of Cakeface Patisserie

Kilkenny couple Laura Meade and Rory Gannon met in Ballymaloe cookery school after they had both changed careers. Laura left a career in property and Rory finished up in his job as a chemical engineer.

They both had a clear vision of what they wanted to do with their newfound career path. So, they moved to France and London to work with some of the best pastry teams–namely The Savoy and Café Royal.

Upon returning to Ireland, Laura and Rory wanted to create their own special brand and Cakeface Patisserie became the brainchild of pastry chef duo.

“Cakeface was born out of the desire to create unique, quirky and unusual cakes, pastries and desserts,” says Rory.

The couple are masters of their special brand and are well known for specialising in the unexpected and delicious range of desserts. All of which are designed to wow and surprise. Laura and Rory are constantly experimenting with new and unusual flavours, ingredients, and modern techniques, to ensure that their creations astound and delight.

Since opening in the summer of 2016, they have expanded and now have a new Cookery School, The Lab, Cakeface Patisserie, Face2 as well as a Coffee & Roastery Barista. Located in Irishtown on the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny’s centre, their new cookery school is a state of the art contemporary spaced design.

“It’s to inspire the ‘Wille Wonka’ in us all,” says Laura. “Classes are hands-on and relaxed but expect to be challenged whatever your level.”

Rory recalls: “We started out on market stalls selling out deserts. 

Since then, we have expanded and all the way along we have been lucky to get support from the Local Enterprise Office here in Kilkenny.”

“In our early days when we started manufacturing, we got a Start Up with a Priming Grant which was massive to get us off the ground. 

Over the years we have availed of all sorts of mentoring from accounting to marketing to strategy. Every step along the way LEO has helped us expand and clarify where we are going.”

Over the past year, Rory and Laura said they really benefited from the Green for Micro mentoring.

“It looked into our business from every angle and stripped it right back down to the basics. It helped us improve and come up with strategies from an environmental and wastage point of view. 

It’s been great to put it into practice into our business over the last six months,” he says.

Richie Kenneally and Mark Boyne Greensbridge Engineering

Greensbridge Engineering is a high-quality Precision Engineering Company based in Mullinavat, Kilkenny. It was founded by business partners Richie Kenneally and Mark Boyne in 2011.

Greensbridge Engineering makes stainless steel parts from the size of a pen to the size of a shoebox. They specialise in the machining of high precision stainless steel, super alloy, aluminium, bronze, brass and plastic components for the oil and gas, semi-conductor, medical device, pharmaceutical, bio-agri and electrical engineering industries.

With their dedicated and experienced team, they can bring a product from inception to market with our design and manufacturing expertise. They have a suite of modern and sophisticated CNC machines that can cater for the most difficult and complex components.

The company has grown from two small second-hand machines to thirteen state of the art machining centres. It’s thanks to LEO and their support in Business Expansion Grant and Lean for Micro for helping them on their way.

Greensbridge Engineering has received from LEO both the Priming Grant and Business Expansion Grant to help buy capital equipment and support salary costs of full-time employees. They now employ ten full time and four part-time highly experienced staff.

In fact, they were one of the businesses that did very well out of the pandemic with bio pharmaceutical companies requiring their services in building components needed for new drugs hoping to cure covid. However, it was not all rosy for Richie and Mark as they have seen tough times too in the past.

“Mark and I were working in an engineering company in Waterford,” Richie recalls.

“It was taken over by a new Managing Director and he decided to do things differently. He didn’t want any accounts that were lower than one million euro. So, that sparked an idea in mine and Mark’s head; we saw a niche for businesses below that line.”

The company started with a small second-hand machine that Richie bought at an auction in Newcastle. Richie and his father Dixie Kenneally drove through England to collect, bringing it home, where Richie worked every spare hour to get it up and running. He eventually left his job in Waterford and set up his own business, with co-director Mark soon to follow him.

“After a few months, we knew we needed help, so we approached the Local Enterprise Office, and they came on board to help us fund our first new machine and take on two employees. From there on LEO has been there to help every second year to buy more machines and hire more people.”

Richie looks back at the tough times, where there was barely anything in the bank account and both him and Mark had to go without paying themselves, because the costs of raw materials were so expensive. However, LEO was there to help them at the times when they needed help and all along the way with their support.

Mark says for anyone that hopes to follow in their footsteps that there is one essential thing to do: ‘Get in touch with your Local Enterprise Office’.

Khan Kiely, Khans Books

Khan Kiely owns and runs Khans Book Shop in James’s Street in Kilkenny, where they sell full price books, discounted books and some second-hand books.

Khan has been in business for over 25 years and admits she has struggled to keep the doors open during the pandemic. Without the help of the Local Enterprise Office in Kilkenny, She believes her family businesses wouldn’t be still here today and it was their mentoring that got her through the past two tough years.

“After being in business for so long and paddling my own canoe, I realised during the pandemic that I had to reach out to others for help. So, I would like to take an opportunity to thank the Local Enterprise Office, who last year gave me a grant to start my very first website, which as you know is essential these days for online trading. They also gave me a wealth of support in monitoring which is something money can’t buy,” she says.

Khan says setting up a business website is like setting up a brand-new business.

“We wouldn’t be here in business today only for the Trading Online Scheme to set up my website. They monitored us in setting up the website and it’s an ongoing process. 

We must keep at it and refresh it, it’s simple we must keep moving with the times. This is how business has changed and what it means today to survive in business.”

Mentoring support

“They also gave me a mentor who was extremely helpful with both the website and in dealing with Brexit, which was a time I found very difficult to deal with.”

After being in business for so long, she has learnt one very valuable lesson that she would like to share with everyone, “I was out of the system for so long, thinking I could do it on my own. I never reached out for local networks or support. Don’t make the same mistake I made. When you have a business problem, share it because there is always somebody that can help you, especially in LEO”.

Khan admits she struggled and considered closing the doors for good, that was until she met her mentor, “she explained to me, I couldn’t give up, because I’ve been so long in business, and had so much still to give. She gave me excellent encouragement and showed me how to go on.”

“I was absolutely amazed at the quality and calibre of the mentors that LEO have on their team. You couldn’t pay for what they offer you in both knowledge and business. They all had or have their own businesses and are very experienced people. They are very professional and have also got very good contacts. They can open up doors for you.”

Louise Kennedy, Red Robin Events

Louise Kennedy, originally from Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, has been working in the events industry for 13 years, in Dublin, and Dubai.

Like many people, Louise was working from her apartment in Dublin during the pandemic but decided working remotely from her home in Kilkenny was a better option. It was also during this time that Louise took the leap of faith and started her own business, Red Robin Events.

Red Robin Events is an international corporate events delivery agency, focused on enhancing the attendee journey and specialising in delegate services. They build websites and manage the invite manager process on behalf of clients who are based across Europe and America. They also look after event logistics, such as sourcing venues, on site logistics and travel.

Red Robin Events was born out of a need during Covid, when Louise saw an opening in the market as everything went virtual.

“The events industry obviously went upside down during the pandemic and clients were no longer able to host their guests, their teammates or their colleagues in person. So, everything went virtual. What always must start with a virtual event is a website and an e-invite. With GDPR we also manage our client’s data and ensure that it is stored securely.”

“The devil is in the detail and it’s my area of expertise, so we zoned in on these requirements. The good thing is that it’s something that can be translated out of Covid, even when there’s physical events, because we still need to start with the e-invite.”

Now with offices in Ireland, Spain and New York, Louise Kennedy and her team have grown in leaps and bounds in the past year and she puts it down to the help and support of the Local Enterprise Office here in Kilkenny, who were also her first client.

“We have been steeped in luck and I really believe coming back to Kilkenny and finding the support of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) was the lever that tipped us over the edge. LEO in Kilkenny helped us gather momentum quicker with the supports they made available to us.”

“If I was still up in Dublin, I would have been lost in a sea of people and wouldn’t have known where to start. Being home in Kilkenny meant that Fiona Deegan, Catherine Hennessy and their team were able to hold my hand and help me through the process of starting my own business. Essentially they took a lot of the risk away for me and it wasn’t so scary to look at hiring a team quicker than I imagined I was able to do.”

At Red Robin Events Louise has gathered a team that she is proud of. Since setting up in early 2021, they now are at 23 employees, with employees in New York, San Francisco, Madrid, Malaga, Singapore, and of course Kilkenny, Dublin and across Ireland.

Red Robin Events availed of the Local Enterprise Office’s Priming Grant, which is for business start-up grant and provides grant aid support towards the salary costs of new employees.

Red Robin Events are currently recruiting for Operations and Registration roles, check out their website:

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