Dragons' Den

The Dragons are waiting!

Come into the Dragons’ Den – where you could win a £15,000 prize pot, including £3,000 from the Engineers in Business Fund, a years office space in ‘The Hatch’ and £1,000 worth of free legal support from Tughans... all ready and waiting to be pried from the Dragons’ talons - everything you need to breathe fire into your new business...

Shortlisted applicants will:

  • Be in with a chance to walk away with everything you need to launch your business
  • Master the boardroom pitch through training and first-hand experience
  • Ramp up your business skills through pitching, networking and mentoring on; Pitching Skills, Marketing, Finance and Legal Issues
  • Meet ambitious and successful entrepreneurs

Applications now closed and will re-open in 2020. 


Wed 20 Feb - ‘Pitching Skills’ workshop to get you ready

Wed 27 Feb - Deliver a 2 minute 'Quick Pitch' to a panel of judges:

  • Ciaran Higgins - Director, Queen’s Students’ Union
  • Andrew Kirke - Director, Tughans
  • David Bradshaw - Regional Manager, Invest NI
  • Ryan Murphy - Relationship Director, Santander
  • Louise Smyth - Managing Director, MCS Group

10 shortlisted for Round 2…

Wed 20 Mar - Pitch to the real Dragons:

  • John Mckee - Linkubator
  • Catherine Martin - CavanaghKelly
  • Andrew Kirke - Tughans
  • Louise Smyth - MCS Group
  • David Moore - QUBIS

Thur 21 Mar - Winners announced at The SU Awards


 John McKee

John McKee - Chief Executive, Linkubator

John McKee is Chief Executive of business consultancy firm Linkubator, which focuses on supporting small businesses in Northern Ireland to establish, develop, grow, and make a mark internationally. He began his career as a sales executive in the medical device industry, a sector where he progressed through sales management, new product development, and export sales development. John is also an acclaimed author, having written 'STAR Leadership Behaviours for Stellar SME Growth'.

Catherine Martin

Catherine Martin - Partner, CavanaghKelly

Catherine Martin joined the practice in 2005, promoted to Director of Corporate Finance in 2007 and joined the Partnership in 2016. She has taken a strong lead in developing our Accounts and Audit as well as our Advisory function and has a key role in leading teams on the provision of audit and accounting services to clients ranging from SME’s to large corporations, charities, not-for-profit, professional services firms and high net worth individuals. Within Advisory, she has successfully led teams in providing a range of services including management consultancy, business plans, financing applications and business structure.

Andrew Kirke

Andrew Kirke - Associate Director, Tughans

Andrew is an associate director in the Contracts and Technology team at Tughans, and works with clients across a full range of commercial contract matters, with a particular focus on working with early stage start-ups. Andrew is qualified as a solicitor in NI, England and Wales and the ROI. Andrew joined Tughans in July 2013, having completed his training contract with another leading Belfast firm. After qualifying Andrew worked offshore as a corporate finance lawyer, before returning to Northern Ireland. 

Andrew has been involved in Queen’s Dragons Den for the past 3 years, and also works with local start-up companies providing free mentoring support and legal advice through programmes such as Invest NI’s Propel and Accelerator programmes, Belfast Enterprise Academy and Catalyst Inc’s enterprise programmes.

Tughans is one of Northern Ireland's largest commercial law firms, and provides legal advice to businesses throughout the UK and Ireland, advising on nearly a quarter of deals here last year, and working on 34% of all investments into local companies.

Eleanor McEvoy – Entrepreneurship Ambassador for Northern Ireland

Eleanor McEvoy was appointed as Northern Ireland’s Entrepreneurship Ambassador in October 2018. A role which will help to inspire, profile and promote the benefits of being an Entrepreneur.

Eleanor has herself had a very successful entrepreneurial journey having been involved in starting, developing, growing and successfully exiting a number of companies in sectors such as food, telecoms and energy.  

She is a former winner of the UTV Business Personality of the Year and has been a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. She now sits on the Board of Ernst & Young’s EOY Alumni.

Eleanor spent a number of years as a dragon on RTE’s Dragons’ Den and is currently a recipient of the accolade of Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship by the University of Ulster.

As the public face of entrepreneurship Eleanor encourages support for start-ups particularly those with high potential, both inside and outside Northern Ireland.

She is a successful business role model and is keen to share her knowledge and experience with potential and fledgling entrepreneurs and to emphasise the importance of entrepreneurial networks both locally and overseas.



David Moore - Head of Spin Outs & Investments, QUBIS Ltd. 

David is an Investment Manager with QUBIS Ltd, the early stage investment fund responsible for the commercialisation of technology from The Queen’s University of Belfast. 

He has been involved with high-growth venture capital backed businesses for over 20 years.  His experience covers a wide range of technology sectors and various stage of company growth from incorporation through to exit.  He currently holds Non-Executive Board positions with a number of the QUBIS Ltd spin-out ventures. 

Prior to joining QUBIS Ltd, David worked with a regional development agency specialising in high growth export orientated technology businesses and was a Systems Engineer within the defence industry. 

David has a primary degree in Engineering, a Masters degree in Business Strategy and a professional finance qualification. 


Kirtsy Dillon MCS Group

Kirsty Dillon - Principal Recruiter, MCS Group 

As an experienced recruiter with a background in engineering, Kirsty works with the best and biggest manufacturing and engineering organisations in Northern Ireland

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