Ireland’s top food and drink entrepreneurs announced to support leading accelerator programme

 High potential food and drink start-ups and serial entrepreneurs sought for sixth Food Works programme

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@FoodWorksIRL #FoodWorks   

10th September 2018: Kick-starting the recruitment campaign for Food Works 2019, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc have announced the coming together of some of Ireland’s best business minds to help develop the next batch of serial food and drink entrepreneurs and high potential start-ups. David McKernan, Java Republic; Ann Murray, Lír Chocolates; Paddy Callaghan, Natures Best; Pat Rigney, The Shed Distillery, Stephen Twadell, Food Investor & Business Coach; Larry Murrin, Dawn Farm Foods and John O’Brien, O’Brien Fine Foods were announced as ambassadors for the next phase of the programme which commences recruitment today.

As Ireland’s leading accelerator programme for food and drink start-ups, Food Works, run by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc is this year targeting food and drink business propositions, including those from serial entrepreneurs, with significant potential to scale. Applications are being sought from individuals and companies at various stages of development, from start-ups through to existing businesses with a strong entrepreneurial ethos.

 From the worlds of coffee, chocolate, fresh produce, meat, alcohol and FMCG’s, the ambassadors are serial entrepreneurs, marketing and business transformation experts who will offer broad industry expertise and mentoring capabilities to the programme.

Food Works is an intensive programme which guides successful participants from the initial concept phase through to the development of a winning food product with international appeal and global export potential. This includes the provision of a full range of practical business supports designed to provide participants with an investor-ready business plan. Among the supports are consumer market research, one-to-one mentoring, technical advice, commercial viability testing in addition to access to fast track access to research and development (R&D) facilities, possible investors and state funding.

Karen Tyner, Senior Manager, Food & Beverage Division, Bord Bia said, “We are looking for companies with innovative products, export potential, financial viability and a strong team to join the sixth phase of our programme. This year we are also keen to attract individuals who have the ambition to become serial entrepreneurs who we will tailor a bespoke package of supports for. The key for us is identifying propositions which meet a genuine market need and can demonstrate an opportunity to scale for the export market.”

Nicola Nic Phaidin, Manager of Food High Potential Start Ups, Enterprise Ireland said, “Food Works is a hothouse for supporting high potential food start-ups. Enterprise Ireland have invested almost €2m in Food Works companies to date and we are proud to be able to say that five years after launching Food Works almost half of the companies we have worked with are already exporting around the world, while many more are well on the way to achieving their export potential.”

Ed O’Neill, Artisan Food Specialist, Teagasc said, “Research and innovation are key components in making sure that Irish food and drink continues to make an impact on the international market. Food Works assists companies in further developing and refining their product and assessing what is technically possible from a manufacturing perspective in order to allow that product to compete on a global stage.”

Over the last five years, Food Works has worked with 76 food and drink companies to develop scalable and export focussed business ideas.

Paul Simpson, Sales and Marketing Director, Dairy Concepts said “Since we’ve graduated from Food Works, we have already created 7 jobs. We expect to more than double that next year and then quadruple it by the end of 2020 and those are all full-time jobs. They’re from many different disciplines – from manufacturing, and technical to marketing and finance

Alison Cummins, Managing Director, The Hog House said,Food Works was hugely valuable to the Hog House. It allowed us to get access to business and industry leaders especially experts in foodservice which is very difficult to come across. It allowed us to decide which part of the market that we were going to target and create an investor pitch which subsequently led to our HPSU (High-potential start-up) funding”.


Individuals or companies who would like to learn more about the Food Works programme are asked to register for an introductory meeting on in advance of completing a formal application. 

A series of regional meetings with the Food Works team are scheduled in the following locations over the next two months:

·      25th September, 2018:  Dublin: Enterprise Ireland

·      2nd October, 2018:       Cork: Teagasc, Moore Park

·      9th October, 2018:        Galway: Teagasc, Athenry, Galway

·      16th October, 2018:      Monaghan: LEO Office, Monaghan

·      23rd October, 2018:      Limerick:  Enterprise Ireland, Shannon

·      6th November, 2018:     Dublin: Bord Bia, Lower Mount Street

Following the formal application process, finalists will be shortlisted to take part in an industry-led bootcamp in January, following which the successful final programme participants will be selected.

For further information on Food Works visit



Food, Drinks, Start-upsGemma Smyth