The award, which is designed to acknowledge regions with outstanding entrepreneurial vision and encourage local and regional authorities to do more to promote small business, was announced at a ceremony hosted by the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels this week.
Kerry was one of just three regions in all 27 EU states to receive the accolade, along with Brandenburg, Germany and Murcia in Spain.
The judges were impressed by Kerry’s submission, which was made jointly by the Institute of Technology, Tralee and Shannon Development, who share a joint campus at Kerry Technology Park.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the award acknowledged Kerry’s proven track record of companies with global success.
“I visited Kerry Technology Park myself and saw at first hand the supportive environment it offers to companies throughout all stages of their business lifecycle, from initial business start-up through growth and onto stand-alone businesses.
“In addition, the co-operation and collaboration offered to companies by existing businesses on the ground also helps to ensure their mutual success in their respective businesses for the county,” Mr Cowen said.
Dr Vincent Cunnane, chief executive of Shannon Development, said his company aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship at the technology park, which has a 90% success rate in business start-ups.
“That’s a full 10% higher than the national average. Having had three winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, we are proud of our outstanding entrepreneurs at the park,” he said.
Institute of Technology president Michael Carmody added: “One in five students now studies entrepreneurship in Kerry – more than any other county in Ireland.”