Founder of cancer treatment firm named Best Young Entrepreneur

Sharon Cunningham secures prize of €40,000 investment fund

Sharon Cunningham of Shorla Pharma, winner of the  Young Entrepreneur 2019. Photograph: Twitter

Sharon Cunningham of Shorla Pharma, winner of the Young Entrepreneur 2019. Photograph: Twitter

 

The founder of a healthcare company that develops pharmaceutical cancer treatments for children and women has been named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2019.

Sharon Cunningham, co-founder of Shorla Pharma, was awarded the top prize of an investment fund worth €40,000 for best start-up business at Sunday’s awards ceremony at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin.

Ms Cunningham, a qualified chartered accountant from Waterford, founded Shorla Pharma in 2018 with Orlaith Ryan to help improve existing treatments for children’s and women’s cancers by making them more user-friendly. This included the redevelopment of a children’s cancer drug from a difficult-to-swallow capsule into an oral solution.

The programme, which is run by the network of local enterprise offices in local authorities nationwide and supported by the Department of Business, and Enterprise Ireland, attracted more than 1,600 applicants in 2019, with an investment fund of €2 million. Some 186 entrants secured investments of €3,000-€15,000 each.

Other young entrepreneur finalists included Martin O’Reilly of Output Sports, who won best business idea for developing a sensor to improve athletes’ off-field performance by testing speed and strength through exercise analysis. Seán McGarry won in the best established business category for his shower caddy, which attaches to shower walls to hold bottles and razors using a durable glue.