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Northern Ireland’s Martin McKay of Texthelp named 2022 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™

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1st Dec 2022

  • Tom O’Connor and Kieran Cusack of Conack Construction named 2022 EY Established Entrepreneur Of The Year™
  • Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersperger of OneProjects named 2022 EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year™
  • Stephen Nolan of Nutritics wins inaugural EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Sustainability Award

Belfast, 01 December 2022: Martin McKay, Founder and CEO at Antrim-based Texthelp has been named the International and overall 2022 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™. This year the programme received a record number of entrants and this year’s finalists collectively have revenues in excess of €1 billion. Seven finalists were from Northern Ireland and these businesses employ more than 1,100 people and generate revenues of more than £300 million.

Martin McKay founded Texthelp in 1996 to help people with communication difficulties. What started as a company focused on people with profound Speech and Dexterity Disabilities has become a world leading Assistive Technology company creating smart, inclusive software that helps people read, write, express their thoughts and share information more accurately & fluently – across all stages of life. Martin has led significant growth of company and overseen a series of acquisitions that bring together the best language technologies from around the world. This included the acquisition of Sweden based assistive technology firm, Oribi in October of this year, the acquisition of the Education Technology Division of Don Johnston Inc, a US-based assistive technology company in January, and in July 2021 it acquired Danish firm Wizkids. The company now employs 350 people and has doubled its turnover since 2020. Its goal is to advance the literacy and understanding of one billion people by 2030.

Tom O’Connor and Kieran Cusack co-founders of Conack Construction have been named the named 2022 EY Established Entrepreneur Of The Year™. The Limerick-based company was founded during 2008 in the middle of a recession, and despite this the business grew rapidly, with an expected turnover of €150 million this year, up from €73 million in 2020. Diversification of projects has been an area of sharp focus and one that’s central to Conack’s growth strategy. The co-Managing Directors ensure that that their portfolio of work at any given time is spread across a range of construction projects from universities, hospitals, and hotels to apartments and social housing. The company employs over 200 people, and works with over 2,000 subcontractors across Ireland and aims to achieve a turnover of €250 million by 2025.

Fionn Lahart (Co-Founder and CEO) and Christoph Hennersperger (Co-Founder and CTO) of OneProjects have been named the 2022 EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year™.  OneProjects is a privately held, venture-backed medical device company based in Dublin and Munich. The company has developed a cutting-edge cardiac imaging and analysis platform to improve the lives of millions of patients suffering from cardiac diseases globally. It operates at the intersection of medtech and data science and gives real time information to doctors performing surgery to improve the outcome of each individual treatment. The company was founded in 2020, has 50 full time employees and has raised over €26 million in capital since launch.

This year, for the first time, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Sustainability Award was presented, recognising the critical importance of innovation leadership in meeting our collective sustainability challenges. Stephen Nolan, Managing Director of Nutritics was named as winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Sustainability Award for the company’s Foodprint service; an easy-to-use carbon footprint scoring, display and reporting system that helps food businesses and their customers manage and measure their carbon impact. Nutritics estimates that in 2023 Foodprint will remove approximately 27 million kilograms of CO2 from being omitted, the equivalent to the emissions of around 21,000 cars or the intake of 1.6million trees. Nutritics was established in 2003 and serves customers across over 100 countries. In 2022 its turnover more than doubled.

Commenting at the event, Rob Heron, Managing Partner for EY in Northern Ireland said, “It’s been an absolute honour to get to know our 2022 finalists and on behalf of EY I am delighted to extend our warmest congratulations to this year’s winners, each of whom have demonstrated cutting-edge, innovative thinking and new ways of working in their respective industries, ultimately shaping how we live and work on the island of Ireland and globally.

It’s also noteworthy that seven of this year’s finalists, as well as our overall winner, are from Northern Ireland, a true testament to the diversity and continued strength of entrepreneurship in the region and something we are incredibly proud to support at EY. As we mark the 25th anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme I am delighted to renew our commitment to empowering entrepreneurs to grow their businesses at home and around the world.”

Anne Heraty, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2006 and Chair of the Judging Panel said, “This year, once again, our EOY finalists proved themselves to be incredibly ambitious leaders who are building and sustaining successful and dynamic businesses across the island of Ireland and globally.  Each of our winners have proved themselves as visionaries, with a strong desire to create, innovate, grow, learn and contribute to our economies and communities.  I am delighted to congratulate the winners on behalf of the judging panel and we look forward to following their continued success. We also warmly welcome the full cohort of finalists into the EOY Alumni community.”

Each year EY also presents a Special Recognition Award to individuals who have made a significant contribution to life on the island of Ireland through their vision, innovation and commitment to excellence. This year, the prestigious honour was awarded to Mary Davis, CEO Special Olympics International in recognition of her work in addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance, and social isolation for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the world.


Photo Caption:  Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI; Martin McKay, Texthelp, Winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022; Rob Heron, Managing Partner, EY Northern Ireland