Irish start-up FoodCloud scooped a £20,000 prize (€24,000), a Virgin Media Business broadband package, mentoring and brand support, in the finals of the Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 Competition. FoodCloud was runner-up in the Grow category of the competition and was one of just six businesses to reach the finale, from a total field of 20,000 registrations involving 750,000 votes, a 29 hour pitchathon and a two minute final pitch.

FoodCloud is a social enterprise that connects businesses with surplus food with charities in their local communities that need it through a technology platform. Co-Founders Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien launched FoodCloud in October 2013 with one Tesco store in Dublin and the business grew from that moment, redistributing 2.9 million meals equivalent to charities across Ireland and the UK to date.

MacRebur and bio-bean were named the overall winners of the Virgin Media Business ‘VOOM 2016’ entrepreneur competition. Each of the winners takes home a slice of the €1.2 million prize fund, which includes a cash prize, mentoring and marketing support to accelerate and grow their businesses. The finalists had just two minutes to pitch their business and the winners were selected after intense deliberations by the judging panel made up of Richard Branson, Tyra Banks, Sara Blakely Marcus Butler and Virgin Media Business Managing Director, Peter Kelly. The winning pitches stood out for their potential to disrupt the market, profitability and innovative spark.

Gavan Smyth, Vice President of Virgin Media Business, Ireland said: “Tuesday’s finale was a celebration of the all the incredible businesses we have met throughout the competition – the people, talent and ideas we met have been incredibly inspiring and this is what ‘VOOM’ is all about. It’s a great achievement by FoodCloud to reach the final six, and wonderful that an Irish business made it through to the finals of this major entrepreneurial competition. Congratulations to all our finalists and the winners, they have worked extremely hard to get here and I’m excited to see what they will do next.”

The start-up category was won by Scottish business MacRebur presented by Toby McCartney. MacRebur is an innovative new company that holds the United Kingdom and European patent on the method and recipe of mixing waste plastics with bitumen, and their ‘magic formula’, to produce a new asphalt road material.

London based business bio bean, presented by Arthur Kay took was selected the overall winner in the grow category for their innovative idea of industrialising the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels, displacing conventional fuels and chemicals in the process.

Richard Branson, Virgin Founder said: “I love seeing entrepreneurs pitch an idea to me which they are incredibly passionate about and it was both a difficult and inspiring task to choose just two winners. All the finalists of the Virgin Media Business VOOM competition showed they have the dedication and intense desire to take their business to incredible heights and I believe they will all do so.”

All six finalists now join a very special alumnus of past contestants who have gone on to achieve great success on a global stage since the competition. All entrants will receive continued support for their business through the Virgin Media Pioneers community which provides peer-to-peer advice, information and inspiration for thousands of entrepreneurs.

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