Western Region Entrepreneur Of The Year™ finalists revealed

Friday, 27 July 2018

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The top Western Australian entrepreneurs have taken home honours from the 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Western Region awards ceremony held last night in Perth.  Three finalists were chosen from an outstanding field of entrepreneurs to go through to the next round of the 2018 program. These are: 

  • Aidan Jenkins – Infinite Energy
  • Wayne Peel – Engenium Pty Ltd
  • Tony Routledge – AVI Pty Ltd

Also recognised in non-competitive award categories were:

  • Alicia Curtis – 100 Women – Social entrepreneur
  • Dr Jemma Green – Power Ledger – Fintech entrepreneur
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – Gina Rinehart – Hancock Prospecting Group

The finalists from Australia’s Western Region will join talented entrepreneurs from across the country nominated for this year’s awards.

Perth Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Australia, Fiona Drummond, said this year’s finalists are an outstanding group of pioneering entrepreneurs who are surviving and thriving in challenging economic conditions.

“Our finalists demonstrate the growth and diversification in the state. It’s particularly exciting to see that their success comes from within WA’s traditional expertise of mining services and also other industries such as solar power, communications and security.”

“It’s also great to be able to honour great business leaders outside of the competitive categories, this year they are: our Social entrepreneur - Alicia Curtis from 100 Women; our Fintech entrepreneur, Dr Jemma Green from Power Ledger; and our Champion of Entrepreneurship, Gina Rinehart.

“Nurturing the development of entrepreneurs through their journey as they grow, disrupt themselves or others is something we at EY are fortunate to be a part of.  The finalists this year, and in fact all the entrepreneurs in the program are crucial in supporting the growth and development of the WA economy,” Ms Drummond said.

Rob Dalton, EY Oceania Growth Markets Leader said, “EY is proud to support growing dynamic businesses through a number of platforms, including the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards.

“It’s not just a “branding” program, although this is important. It’s the culmination of a knowledge journey, from helping start-ups get started, through to celebrating the growth and success of their businesses all along the way. EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program plays a significant part in embedding entrepreneurship into society.”

“We collect and collate critical data on success factors globally, and then feed this back to the entrepreneurial community to help these dynamic business people achieve their growth aspirations.  This coupled with the wisdom they gain, the mentoring they receive and the connections they make is something that money just can’t buy. I encourage all growing businesses to look into how they can engage with EY’s entrepreneurship program.”

Gary McGrath, WA General Manager, Corporate Financial Services, Commonwealth Bank, said, “We congratulate our three Western Region finalists on taking home the honours for this year’s Entrepreneur Of The Year Western Region awards. Without their vision and drive, we wouldn’t have the innovation that is vital to business growth locally, nationally and globally.

“As principal partner, Commonwealth Bank looks forward to continuing to support our regional finalists and we wish them all the best as they proceed to the next stage.”

The finalists will go on to compete at a national level in Sydney in October. The overall Australian winner will then continue onto the global program, travelling to Monte Carlo in June 2019 to compete for title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered one of the world’s most prestigious business awards and is the only truly global program of its kind with participants in 145 cities in more than 60 countries.  More than 1,500 outstanding business leaders have been recognised through the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia since 2001.

2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National finalists, Western Region

Aidan Jenkins – Infinite Energy

Infinite Energy launched into the solar industry in 2010 aiming to bring down energy costs for customers, while also reducing carbon emissions. It now is the fourth largest retailer of solar power in Australia and was a pioneer of the third-party ownership model, offering purchasing agreements for homes, business and government. It installs, owns and maintains the solar infrastructure while customers buy power at a discount potentially saving them 40 per cent of the costs of daytime solar electricity. Managing Director of Infinite Energy, Aidan Jenkins, steered the company through a period of uninterrupted, profitable growth by building strong relationships with suppliers, sub-contractors and partners.

What the judges said about Infinite Energy:

Aidan’s innovative concept is at the forefront of the important changes in this industry, with the potential to impact significantly on householders. He saw a market opening as an early adopter and seized it. This is a 21st century business in a growth market.

Wayne Peel – Engenium Pty Ltd

When Wayne Peel and his partners undertook a management buyout of engineering services firm Engenium in 2015, the company had been through a couple of changes of ownership, a change in direction and a redundancy campaign. The morale and culture of the business were at an all-time low and the industry was in a downturn. By employing hard-working people, creating a fun working environment and committing to exceptional client service, Wayne believed the business could not only be restored, but could thrive. At the time of the buy-out, Engenium employed 12 people. The business has since grown in turnover from $8 million in the first year to the current figure of $20 million and employs more than 130 people in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

What the judges said about Engenium:

Wayne is articulate, passionate and engaging when describing Engenium’s business model and the reason for its success. It is clear that Wayne has encouraged a collegiate culture within the business which encourages innovation, flexibility and a focus on the clients’ needs. He has a good handle of market downturns and incorporating market cycles in his growth strategy.

Tony Routledge – AVI Pty Ltd

Tony Routledge and his brother Stewart started their business 29 years ago, and they design, manufacture and support communication and security systems for the most rugged environments – including battle zones. AVI’s technology is also used in audio visual systems in courts and parliaments, and its industrial modems and routers are used in the oil and gas industries. In the mining sector, AVI’s technology is involved in driverless vehicles. The company employs more than 60 people, recruiting veterans where possible. As CEO, Tony has continually reinvested into the business, steering it into new global markets, and growing AVI into a leader in the field of highly trusted, secure and rugged communication systems.

What the judges said about AVI Pty Ltd:

Tony and his team have built a niche electronics business which is differentiated by the quality and size of its clients. It is very difficult for a small company to become a trusted supplier to the US military and AVI is supplying to a very sensitive sector, the Special Forces, where reliability is paramount. It is impressive how AVI are making such unique products in the world. Also the growth of AVI has been entirely funded by Tony’s capital and retained earnings.

Social entrepreneur – Alicia Curtis – 100 Women

100 Women is a not-for-profit founded by Alicia Curtis in 2014 to operate as a giving circle, which uses collective giving to take donations and offer grants to causes that support women and girls’ access to health, education, safety and economic empowerment. Over five years, more than 400 women and men across Australia have donated between $200 and $1200 annually, allowing 100 Women to grant a total $400,000 to 13 local, national and international causes. Alicia volunteers as Board chair, while running her business, Alyceum, a leadership education platform. 100 per cent of member donations are allocated to the grants.

Fintech entrepreneur – Dr Jemma Green – Power Ledger

Dr Jemma Green was on a 12-month hiking sabbatical when she formulated an idea of developing an eco-village. Returning to Perth, she commenced a Doctoral research project to realise this vision. Her research led her to tackle challenges associated with dense housing access to renewable energy and ultimately she realised that blockchain was the key to scalable, affordable peer-to-peer electricity trading. Jemma was introduced to two blockchain developers, and alongside her co-founders Power Ledger was born. Today, Power Ledger is a blockchain-powered software platform which facilitates peer-to-peer renewable energy trading in both regulated and unregulated global energy markets – putting the power of electricity into the hands of consumers.

Champion of Entrepreneurship – Gina Rinehart – Hancock Prospecting Group

Gina Rinehart is a leading figure in the mining and agricultural industries. She spent her childhood in the Pilbara, where she lived with her parents on large sheep and cattle properties in what was then a remote and rugged iron ore region.

Becoming Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting Group in 1992, Mrs Rinehart has transformed the Group into a successful, industry-leading innovator. Under her leadership, the Group has transformed from one in great difficulty, with its few remaining assets either heavily mortgaged or under legal threat, to a successful, diversified business that includes investments in primary industries to become the most successful private company in Australia.

Mrs Rinehart has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Bond University; an Honorary Life Membership of the Institute of Public Affairs; named Telstra Australian Businesswoman of the Year; named CEO Magazine’s Chairman of the Year in 2014 and 2017; and awarded Diggers & Dealers ‘Deal of the Year’ in 2006 and 2012 for Hope Downs and Roy Hill; along with numerous other awards.

Mrs Rinehart is Patron of Australia’s internationally renowned Olympic swimming, rowing, volleyball and synchronised swimming teams and has received an Order of Merit from the Australian Olympic Committee, as well as being a significant contributor to other charities.

Mrs Rinehart regularly writes for a resources and investment publication, speaks at engagements nationwide and has written two books. She has also established and now Chairs ANDEV (Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision). Mrs Rinehart has initiated three national days – one to promote breast cancer awareness, one to highlight the value of the mining industry and another to highlight the agricultural industry.

For more information on EY Entrepreneur Of The Year go to www.ey.com/au/eoy

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About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognises the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program, launched in 2001, is conducted in five regions culminating in the national awards. The program honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures. Entrepreneur Of The Year’s primary objective is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contribution entrepreneurs make to the Australian business community and economy.

EY encourages women to apply to enter the Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. The program supports women entrepreneurs to think bigger, gain access to capital, enhance their business profile, network, learn from their peers and find seasoned advisors.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program now has alumni of over 1,400 entrepreneurs who have participated in the program. Since the program’s inception more than 15,000 people have attended Entrepreneur Of The Year events and award ceremonies in Australia.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Australia, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

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