Ernst & Young announces the 2007 Entrepreneur Of The Year Southern Region Winner

Entrepreneurs crowned – My Small Business – 31 August 2007

A Melbourne firm that sells video technology to large Hollywood film studios, a salmon farmer, a muesli maker and a hotel toiletries distributor have been chosen to compete for the mantle of Entrepreneur of the Year later this year.

The Ernest & Young 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year awards for the Southern Region, including Melbourne and Tasmania, were announced in Melbourne last night. The winners, chosen from 16 finalists will compete in the national finals in November. Australia’s champion goes on to compete against finalists from 43 other countries for the World Entrepreneur of the Year award in Monte Carlo.

Cutting edge video technology used in films like Superman Returns and The Aviator brought Grant Petty of Blackmagic Design the award in the technology, communications, E-commerce and life sciences category.

”The thing I most proud of is that all of the people at Blackmagic get to say we’ve done something really neat,” said Mr Petty. ”(What) we do is an idea business and we harvest the ideas from everyone.”

In the retail, consumer and industrial products category, Peter Bender took top honours for Huon Aquaculture Groups innovations in the salmon farming and processing industry.

The services sector award went to Val Harding of International Interior Images, whose premium toiletry product line is now found in luxury hotels and resorts around the country and internationally.

Carolyn Creswell of Carmans Fine Foods, which she started at 18 with $1000 and grew into a major wholesaler of muesli products, attracted the award for Young Entrepreneur.

Other awards included Social Entrepreneur, given to Jane Tewson of Pilotlight Australia in recognition of her non-profit community service.

Influential media buyer Harold Mitchell, executive chairman of Mitchell Communication Group received the Champion of Entrepreneurship award for long-term business achievement.

According to Ernst & Young, the southern region finalists generate $430 million in turnover and employ more than 1100 people.

At the national level, EOY finalists account for $3 billion in revenue and employ 10,000 people, the consultancy firm claims.

”Entrepreneurship has an incredible power to transform communities, businesses, industry sectors and the national economy and we’re seeing now through this program around the world the effect they are having on the global economy,” said Ernest & Young Australia chief executive James Millar.

”In Australia, entrepreneurship is alive and well and we are being well served by the entrepreneurs in this country,” Mr Millar said.

Melbourne’s event was more low-key than the eastern region finals in Sydney last week, which attracted controversy when finalist Paul Mathieson of Amazing Loans was accused by the Consumer Action Law Centre of taking advantage of high-risk, low income lenders.

– Chris Vedelago