Cancer drug innovator named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur

Sharon Cunningham, Shorla Pharma
Sharon Cunningham, Shorla Pharma. Image: Julien Behal

Sharon Cunningham of Shorla Pharma, wins overall prize

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16 September 2019 | 0

Sharon Cunningham, co-founder of Shorla Pharma, took home the top prize at Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) awards last night. Cunningham won best start-up business and secured €40,000 in investment.

In 2018, after identifying a significant issue in the pharmaceutical industry, Cunningham started Shorla Pharma with former colleague Orlaith Ryan. The company focused on improving children’s and women’s cancer treatments, making them more user friendly. For its first release, the team redeveloped a hard to swallow children’s capsule into an oral solution.

In 2019, the programmes €2 million investment fund attracted over 1,600 applicants. It is funded by the Irish government, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Through the programme, 186 entrants have secured investments of between €3,000 and €15,000 each. 

The other IBYE National Final category winners were Martin O’Reilly of Output Sports, who won best business idea and Sean McGarry of Showergem for best established business. Output Sports is developing a sensor system to streamline off-field performance optimisation and test speed and strength. Showergem is a shower caddy that attaches to shower walls to hold bottles and razors, using a durable glue that ensures no suction or drilling issues. Both are Enterprise Ireland clients.    

Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Heather Humphreys, announced Cunningham as the overall winner at the event at Googles’ Dublin office.

“Irish entrepreneurs are among the very best in the world,” said Humphreys. “That’s because we have huge talent in every region and community in Ireland. Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is about celebrating that talent.”

“This year’s winners and wider group of finalists are the cream of the crop. They are our future business leaders and I am delighted that we are celebrating and supporting them through the competition. They are also central to the success of Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future.”

Paddy Flynn, director of trust and safety, Google and Brian Crowley, founder, TTM Group co-chaired this year’s judging panel. Other members of the panel were Thomas Murray, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Eoghan Hanrahan, Enterprise Ireland, Louise Ward, LEO Roscommon and Sarah Doyle, CEO of Kinesense.

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