Cancer drug innovator named Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur

Cancer drug innovator named Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur
Sharon Cunningham from Shorla Pharma. Picture: Julien Behal

A cancer drug innovator from Waterford has been named as Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) for 2019.

Sharon Cunningham - co-founder of Shorla Pharma - won the top award at a ceremony in Dublin, securing a total investment fund of €40,000.

Ms Cunningham, 34, also won the national category Best Start-Up Business.

A qualified chartered account, Ms Cunningham founded Shorla in 2018 after identifying a significant issue in the pharmaceutical industry.

The company focuses on improving existing treatments for children’s and women’s cancers making them more user-friendly.

Their first product is the redevelopment of a children’s cancer drug from a difficult to swallow capsule, into an oral solution.

Ms Cunnigham emerged as the winner after more than 1,600 entrants applied to be Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2019.

The other winners included Martin O’Reilly of Output Sports who won the Best Business Idea category and Sean McGarry of Showergem who claimed the Best Established Business category.

Output sports work with professional athletes in developing a sensor system that streamlines off-field performance optimisation, testing speed and strength offering unrivalled accuracy in exercise analysis.

Meanwhile, Showergem is a shower caddy that attaches to shower walls to hold bottles and razors, using a durable glue that ensures no suction or drilling issues.

A recent participant on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Mr McGarry received investment from three of the Dragons to help their continued growth.

Minster for Business, Heather Humphreys, hailed Irish entrepreneurs as being "among the very best in the world."

She stated: "This year’s winners and wider group of finalists are the cream of the crop.

"They are our future business leaders, and I am delighted that we are celebrating and supporting them through the competition.

"They are also central to the success of Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future.”

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur programme provides a €2m investment fund with targeted business development supports.

It is run by Local Enterprise Offices across the country and it is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.

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