Nicola Mitchell of Life Scientific wins 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Photo: Nicola Mitchell, EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 (c) The Irish Times

    Nicola Mitchell, founder and Chief Executive of Life Scientific has been named the International and overall 2020 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

    The annual awards ceremony was held virtually for the first time in the history of the programme and attended by an audience of more than 2,000 people, including prominent business and political leaders. Collectively the 24 finalists of this year’s programme employ more than 5,000 people and have revenues in excess of €400m.

    Life Scientific specialises in the development and registration of generic (‘off-patent”) agrochemicals. Founded by world-class entrepreneur Nicola Mitchell in 1995 and headquartered in Dublin, Life Scientific today has a portfolio of more than 60 products available in the EU’s largest agrochemical markets.

    This is backed up by a strong development pipeline, and clear pathways to expansion outside of Europe, including the US and South America. Life Scientific has enjoyed tremendous growth, and now employs more than 70 employees generating over €60 million in revenue.

    John O’Connell, co-founder of West Cork Distillers received the award for EY Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year™. West Cork Distillers was founded in 2008 and is one of the largest, wholly Irish-owned distilleries in Ireland with a distillation capacity of 4 million litres of pure alcohol. With distributors across the globe, its award-winning West Cork Irish Whiskey and Garnish Island Gin are now sold in almost 70 countries.

    John O'Connell of Cork Distillers

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    Matt Cooper, co-founder of Inflazome received the award for EY Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year™. Inflazome was co-founded in 2016 by Matt Cooper and Prof Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin. Inflazome is dedicated to improving people’s lives by developing breakthrough medicines that stop harmful inflammation.

    Inflazome currently has two new drugs in clinical trials: Inzomelid for neurodegenerative diseases in the brain and Somalix for inflammatory diseases in the rest of the body.

    Roger Wallace, Partner Lead, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ said: “The recognition and celebration of world-class Irish entrepreneurs at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards is particularly important in 2020, an incredibly challenging year for businesses and the communities in which they operate.

    "This year’s programme had 24 phenomenal finalists, who have continued to thrive in spite of what the year has thrown at them. We hope that their stories and achievements are an inspiration to existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the Island of Ireland."

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    Chaired by the 2006 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Anne Heraty, the judging panel includes previous EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ (overall and category) winners Michael Carey, Mark Roden, Evelyn O’Toole, Dr. Edmond Harty, Joe Hogan, Jerry Kennelly, Brendan Mooney, Harry Hughes and Denis O’Brien, as well as Jennifer Melia from Enterprise Ireland and Jeremy Fitch from Invest Northern Ireland.

    When determining the winners, the judges evaluate a number of criteria, including innovation; value creation; strategic direction; financial performance; national and global impact; and the entrepreneur’s contribution to society and industry.

    Each year EY presents a Special 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 the Health Service Executive (HSE) and An Garda Síochána, representing all frontline workers whose selfless commitment and contribution helped protect vulnerable members of Irish society during the pandemic.

    The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Ireland programme is supported by Premium Corporate Sponsor: Julius Baer International; Government Agency Partners: Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI; and Media Supporters: Newstalk and The Irish Times. The Gala Awards ceremony is available on RTÉ Player.

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    The 2021 programme open for nominations from January 2021. For further information, please visit

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