Skip to content
News / May 24, 2010

Dental entrepreneur makes Ernst & Young shortlist

by Guy Hiscott

Emmet O’Neill of Smiles Dental has been shortlisted for the coveted 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Over 120 entries were received, a reflection of the strength of the enterprise culture that remains in Ireland today.

Following the announcement, Emmet told Irish Dentist: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. It is a great honour, and I accept it on behalf of the team here at Smiles. Their constant search for excellence is what has driven this business on over the last five years and the passion and energetic approach to innovation is what keeps us moving forward, in spite of and because of the economic challenges we are all facing.

‘The biggest challenge is making sure that we don’t lose the spirit and culture of the company. We are Smiles, not IBM, and have got to think fast and stay passionate about the business. The Government cutbacks in spending don’t worry me, but ensuring that our patients are treated honestly, at a time that suits and receive value is the key.’

Asked that advice he would give to budding entrepreneurs, Emmet said: ‘You spend a huge amount of your life at work – make sure you enjoy it, as otherwise it’s a waste of time. The knock backs are part of the game. Take them on the chin and move on – there is always a way to move forward.’

Chaired by previous award winner, Padraig O’Ceidigh, chairman of Aer Arann, the 11-strong panel of judges for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Programme, has chosen eight companies in each of three categories – international, industry and emerging.

The 24 finalists will be profiled in the Irish Times over a six-week period, beginning with the ‘Emerging’ category, in which Emmet O’Neill has been shortlisted, on Monday, 24 May. Each finalist will also feature in a three-part series to appear on RTE in October, and the overall winner will be announced at a televised awards ceremony on 21 October.

‘Entrepreneurial activity has contributed to the record levels of prosperity Ireland has enjoyed – and it will help us, as a country, to remain competitive in more difficult economic times,’ said Frank O’Keeffe, the partner in charge of Ireland’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. ‘The award’s programme continues to help acclaim entrepreneurs and provide valuable role models for existing and future business innovators.’

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year is part of a global recognition programme, to identify, acclaim and support entrepreneurs. The programme is currently run in over 40 countries, across six continents, and in 2010 more than 10,000 entrepreneurs worldwide will be nominated. The Irish programme, now in its 13th year, has been identified as one of the strongest worldwide.

Smiles Dental is the largest privately owned provider of dental care in Ireland. Established in 2005, the company has grown from a stand-alone tooth whitening clinic to a full service dental care provider with 13 locations nationwide and over 140 employees.