EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards

The founder of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Hartley Atkinson, has been chosen as one of 18 finalists in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Dr Atkinson, who started the Takapuna-based AFT from scratch 15 years ago and has seen it grow to an international company with predicted sales this year of $80 million, will meet the judging panel later this month.

Five category winners will be chosen to face the judges again in October, with the winner – who will represent New Zealand in the EY (formerly Ernst & Young) World Entrepreneur of The Year contest in Monaco – being named at a gala dinner in Auckland on October 17.

Dr Atkinson is pleased to make the finals list “to make sure someone from the biotechnology sector showed up on it”.

He is unfazed by the lengthy judging process.

“For me, I am hoping it will provide some useful learning and perspectives being quizzed by the judges and also it will be great to exchange thoughts and stories with similar people, albeit from different industries.”

Asked what attracted the judges to AFT, he says it is probably the company’s “story” of being built from the ground up.

“Although we have a low public profile, through choice really, I still believe our story is a good one where we have built a significant business from literally nothing and are expanding out across the globe.”

Awards director Jon Hooper says this year’s finalists represent a diverse selection of New Zealand industries, from the primary sector, pharmaceuticals and service industries through to some well- known high-tech success stories.

“Despite the diverse industries they operate in, nearly all have achieved double-digit growth during the past four years, proving that entrepreneurs have a natural ability to identify and monetise opportunities in the market,” Mr Hooper says in a press release.

“Equally important, in the current market, is the growth of employee numbers that each of this year’s finalists has achieved. This makes it vital that the contribution entrepreneurs make to our nation’s economic and financial viability is acknowledged by giving them a seat at the table with policy makers.”

Source: Pharmacy Today