Entrepreneur of the Year named

Thursday 15 October 2015

The EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015 has been announced, as well as those who came close to the prize. The list should provide plenty of inspiration for anyone thinking of starting their own business or dreaming of working for themselves, as well as those who are already doing so and need a little boost.

The overall winner was Richard Steeves of Synergy Healthcare, who will now go on to represent the UK in the international version of the competition in Monte Carlo next year.

Mr Steeves, who has a background in biochemistry, set up his company in 1991, when he spotted a gap in the market for products that prevent HIV transmission in operating theatres. Synergy Healthcare was sold last year for £1 billion, and now processes around 150 million pieces of reusable surgical equipment every year.

EY’s UK and Ireland chairman Steve Varley said: “EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year programme is not only a celebration of entrepreneurship, but also builds networks which span the world. It’s not only about winning an award; it’s about growing networks, making contacts and leveraging knowledge. I look forward every year to playing my part in this fantastic EY programme.”

The competition was judged by John Spence, chairman of Karma Royal Group, who picked 12 regional winners from 35 nominees, of whom Mr Steeves was selected as the overall champion. The decision was announced at a glamorous London ceremony hosted by BBC presenter Jeremy Vine. The event is now in its 17th year.

Attendees were able to enjoy a guest speech from Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group. On the subject of entrepreneurs, he said: “They are creating all the new wealth we need to finance so much of what we also want, which is a good education system, public transportation and good healthcare. This is the future of Europe.”

His words emphasised the importance of people who start their own businesses to local and national economies, in addition to the benefits they can reap for themselves.

Other winners included Jim McCarthy, the chief executive of Poundland, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, founders of Shoreditch-based money transfer service Transferwise, and Peter Roberts, executive chairman of PureGym.

Stuart Watson, who leads the UK Entrepreneur Of The Year programme, said: “They are a significant economic force in their own right... They come from a diverse range of backgrounds, proving there is no single or normal path to becoming an entrepreneur.”

These words should be encouraging to anyone who is uncertain about starting a business because they are unsure whether they have the right skills or background. Some of the most important things in business are hard work, enthusiasm and a talent for proactive problem-solving, so if you have these traits, you already have a good chance of of success.

By Victoria McDonnell

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