Building Your Business
2012 Seedcorn Winners Announced

28 November 2012

Belfast-based Catagen and Wattics from Dublin were named the Best High Growth Company and Best Emerging Company respectively at InterTradeIreland’s 2012 all-island Seedcorn Business Competition. The event, which took place at the Titanic Belfast last night (28 November), is the largest business competition on the island. As the Best High Growth Company on the island, Catagen won the overall cash prize of €100,000 while Wattics took home a cash prize of €50,000 for its success as the Best Emerging Company.

NI company, Catagen, manufactures a range of rapid age testing equipment for the Catalytic Converter Testing market, a critical part of the global automobile industry. Catalytic converter testing is required to prove to government legislators that emissions from vehicles be as clean as possible. This market is driven by stringent Environmental Protection legislation worldwide, aimed at reducing harmful exhaust emissions.


Dr Andrew Woods, CEO of Catagen said: “We are absolutely delighted to win the High Growth Category in the All Island Seedcorn competition. It is an important milestone for Catagen, and yet another independent validation of our world beating carbon reducing technology, business model, and growth trajectory.  Having already generated significant sales and profits from our catalyst testing technology, the prize money provides a welcome additional boost to our capital resources. It will be used to assist the closing of our sales pipeline opportunities with international vehicle manufacturers, and enable us to invest in the development of our Northern Ireland manufacturing operations. The IntertradeIreland Seedcorn competition has been a very enjoyable and thorough learning experience for the Catagen management team.”


Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment, said:


 “Over the last ten years the Seedcorn Competition has provided a much needed boost to many start-up companies.  As the preparation involved for the competition so closely mirrors the requirements of the fund-raising process, many of the successful companies have been able to use this as a platform to look for further backing. This risk capital provided to private companies by equity investors is an essential element in the funding eco-system to foster entrepreneurship, innovation and growth in our economies.


“I have been impressed by the resilience shown by many local companies during the present difficult trading conditions.  Through entrepreneurship and innovation, I am confident that indigenous local companies will continue to play a vital role in our economy.” 

Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO for InterTradeIreland added:  “We are in the tenth year of what is now the biggest and one of the most prestigious business competitions on the island for early stage/high growth companies in any sector.  Once again, we have been excited by the outstanding calibre of the business plans and the final ‘investment pitches’, all of which are a testament to the level of innovation and entrepreneurial excellence on the island. 


“To date €159m in new equity funding has been leveraged by those companies which have reached the regional finals of the competition. We are looking forward to following and encouraging this year’s winners in their future business development in the hope that they will replicate the success of those who have won in previous years.”


Dublin-based Wattics has commercialised a unique patented plug-and-play software solution to manage and benchmark electrical machines and appliances operations in industrial / commercial sites delivering savings and unprecedented insights to their clients.


Dr Antonio Ruzelli, CEO of Wattics added: “Wattics revolutionary software solution provides a total understanding of all electrical equipment businesses needs to have to maximise your energy savings.  The Seedcorn award recognises the tremendous sales achievements, team effort and intellectual property that was created uniquely by the Wattics team. We are absolutely thrilled by the potential of Wattics and we will focus on distributing our solution worldwide in the coming years through direct sales and indirect partnerships with key players in the energy market. Wattics will never stop innovating and delivering energy-efficiency to our customers while ensuring the best product, quality of service and an extraordinarily quick return on investment.”


InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition aims to recognise and promote the best early stage companies across the island and to help them become more ‘investor ready’ with the ability to raise further equity investment. Companies are ed following an intense competition designed to emulate a real life investment process.


In addition, companies can also look forward to the benefits of being part of the Seedcorn network – an extensive business and investment community that will help to boost their profile, contacts and create future potential investment opportunities.  


The competition, aimed at companies who have a new equity funding requirement, has a record prize fund of €280,000.  A total of 4,248 registrations have been received for the competition since its launch in 2003 with 1,645 companies going on to complete the application and judging process.  Over the ten year period there have been 903 registrations from Northern Ireland which has translated into 306 entries.


Business plans are initially assessed by a panel of independent entrepreneurs, investors and experts and companies are subjected to a rigorous interview before judges in competing for the Best Emerging and Best High Growth Company titles on a regional basis in Connaght & Leinster, Munster, Dublin and Northern Ireland with the winners in each region in each of the two categories securing an initial €20,000 share of the prize fund for their company.


Further details are available on

  • Cavan
  • Louth
  • Meath
  • Monaghon