More than half of the companies short listed for this year's prestigious All-Island Innovation Awards are from Northern Ireland.
In all, thirteen companies, seven from Northern Ireland, were short listed in small, medium and large business categories and in the new technology category.
The companies will compete for the top prize of over £10,000 and four category prizes of £3,500, which will be awarded at a gala event in Belfast on 28th January 2004.
The awards are designed to highlight the importance of innovation and technology in business throughout the island of Ireland. Previous winners have all reported a positive impact on their business and a boost in morale among staff.
Two of the Northern Ireland finalists are Andor Technology in Belfast, which has produced an innovative camera for microscopy imaging, and Striptec from Londonderry for their revolutionary new environmentally friendly chemical formulation to strip all types of wallpaper.
The Innovation Awards are jointly organised by Invest Northern Ireland, Forfás and InterTradeIreland and are sponsored by The Irish Times and BT.
Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, comments: “The standard of entries in this year’s competition has been very high and we’re delighted to see such a strong representation from Northern Ireland in the shortlist. Businesses that focus on innovation and foster an ideas culture are key drivers in the development of a dynamic economy. These short listed companies are all demonstrating originality and a market-led approach to developing new products and services, and are showing how taking a creative approach can lead to commercial success.”
Among the short listed firms from the Republic of Ireland are Sigma Wireless from Dublin which has developed moving antenna for mobile phone coverage and Punch Industries from Cork, a cleaning product manufacturer, short listed for their novel new product lines ‘Keep it White’ and ‘Colour Catcher’.
Forfas Chief Executive Martin Cronin says: “These awards clearly demonstrate to us the crucial role that innovation plays in keeping Irish companies competitive and at the forefront of industrial development locally and internationally. We are delighted to pay tribute to those companies that have excelled through innovation and hope that it serves to encourage other companies to build on the wealth of talent and expertise that Ireland has to offer in this area.”
Previous winners have included Odlums, Enfer Scientific, Galen, Xsil and last year’s overall winner Ulster Carpets.
InterTradeIreland Chief Executive Liam Nellis says that InterTradeIreland is proud to be associated with the event which recognises the quality of innovation activity across the island. “We believe that innovation is the cornerstone of competitive advantage and increasingly important in the current evolving island of Ireland economy,” he says.
Alastair Hamilton, director of BT Business in Northern Ireland, says: "Innovation has been at the heart of BT Northern Ireland's success over the years and is undoubtedly the mainstay of future success for companies seeking to grow. The transformation of dreams and ideas into commercial reality is exciting and something we lose sight of at our peril. BT is delighted to be involved in these awards and wishes all those short listed a prosperous and innovative future."