“We need to build an economy where risk in business is encouraged, where the entrepreneur is celebrated and the option of entrepreneurship is seen as a viable, rewarding and honourable career path,” said Ian Pearson, MP, Northern Ireland Office Minister with responsibility for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The Minister was speaking at the Spirit of Enterprise 2002 award lunch at which Antrim company, textHELP, was named as the overall winner. textHELP was chosen from among 10 monthly winners of the award, which recognises the achievements of young, small and medium sized enterprises.

“In recent years entrepreneurial activity has become a policy priority for all modern economies, which recognise that new businesses are a source of innovation and new ideas, create wealth and employment, increase competition and allow people from all backgrounds to realise their potential.

“As a small open economy the future prosperity of Northern Ireland is very closely linked with the success and fortunes of our entrepreneurs, and we will continue to strengthen the support framework necessary to nurture that success,” added Ian Pearson.

The Spirit of Enterprise Awards are organised by the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants and Invest Northern Ireland in association with the magazine Business Eye.

Professor Terri Scott, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise in Invest NI said that entrepreneurship is at the heart of a competitive economy. “We have set out a very clear blueprint for increasing the level of entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland in our Accelerating Entrepreneurship strategy. These Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are role models for others to emulate and will inspire other young businesses to achieve the same level of excellence and innovation.”

Congratulating TextHELP on winning the award Feargal McCormack, Chairman of the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants, said: “textHELP has a unique range of technology and has invested in training its staff and in expanding its innovative product portfolio. It has demonstrated a commitment to excellence with a strong focus on customer service and is a worthy winner of the award.”

At the event the Minister also launched the Spirit of Enterprise Celebrating Success booklet featuring a profile of each of the 10 winners of 2002.