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Belfast Lord Mayor meets young entrepreneurs as they embark on US trade mission

Date: 19 Mar 2024

Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy meets with YENI entrepreneurs ahead of US trade mission

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Ryan Murphy has met with six early-stage entrepreneurs from the Good Friday generation taking part in a Young Enterprise NI (YENI) USA Connect mission to Boston and New York this week, funded by United States of America Embassy in the UK.

The Lord Mayor said: “It was a pleasure to meet these Young Enterprise Fellows before they embark on their trade mission to our Sister City Boston, and New York. They represent a brand-new generation of entrepreneurs here, who grew up in a more peaceful society, and are committed to building an inclusive, entrepreneurial economy here.

“Not only will they showcase their generation’s ambition and how the local entrepreneurial ecosystem supports these emerging entrepreneurs, but they will also shine a positive spotlight on Belfast and the north and share the message that we’re open for business, we’re a city of innovation, and we’re ready to grow.”

The delegation comprises:

Leon Gibson, board member, Friends of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, a 501(c) that supports Young Enterprise’s work through US links. From 18-21 years of age, Leon built several nightlife businesses, which continue to run and host over 50,000 attendees annually. Leon has since completed a business degree at Queen’s University Belfast and has been investing in deep-tech start-ups through the Creator Fund.

Dr Pragya Sharma, Founder of GranLab, began her journey in Delhi, India, specialising in Biochemistry and Medicine. With a Doctorate focused on novel drug targets, she now leads Gran Lab in developing steroid-free dermatological solutions for adult psoriasis and paediatric eczema. Pragya is now in the process of bringing this to market and building a biotech export and has been supported through Belfast City Council’s business programmes.

Jordan Graham, Founder of Sugar Snap, is a YENI Board member and Ambit programme participant. Name-checked during the Presidential speech in Belfast to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement, Jordan’s business is a food sector-specific marketing agency which provides strategy, design and content creation for successful local food eateries and larger clients.

Eva-Jayne Doherty, AwakenHub, is a community builder in the Irish startup ecosystem. A committed supporter of entrepreneurs across the island, she has headed up national tech accelerators, pioneered programmes to inspire the emerging generation of entrepreneurs with Young Enterprise NI, and nurtured a community of founders to create scalable, investable businesses. Amongst her fractional support for startups, Eva-Jayne is currently working with the AwakenHub, a community of women founders in Ireland, and Regionally Ventures, a national investment service providing capital for regional growth.

Peter Gileece, Founder, Vikela Armour has developed a novel method of layering composite materials using a unique 3D printing process to produce lighter, stronger and more personalised body armour/protective solutions and has already started taking orders from customers.

Maebh Reynolds, Founder, GoPluggable, allows owners of home electric vehicle chargers to rent out their chargers to improve accessibility, affordability, and convenience for customers.

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