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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Versatile Becogent Founder Is Prize Winner

Dermot Jenkinson was named Entrepreneur of the Year last night in front of more than 600 members of the business community.

The 54-year-old won the main title at the Entrepreneurial Exchange awards dinner in Glasgow.

It came just a day after the call centre business he founded, beCogent, announced four new contracts worth a total of £85million to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The deals with Sainsbury's, Virgin Media, National Australia Group and JD Williams will secure 1,500 jobs over a minimum of five years.

Jenkinson is a lifelong entrepreneur, whose first business was building skateparks before he moved on to found music company Tellydisc.

He spent several years working in an executive role at John Menzies helping acquire Early Learning Centre and negotiating deals with Nintendo. But in his early 40s he decided to start looking at another venture, which eventually evolved into beCogent. The business has more than doubled its revenues in the past five years to £40m and had pretax profits of £3.6m in its most recent financial results.

Judges described Jenkinson as someone who has "been involved in a number of successful businesses in different sectors". He won the title ahead of Apex Hotels founder Norman Springford and iomart chief executive Angus MacSween.

Owen Barrett, of Clyde Valley Drilling, was declared the winner in the Emerging Entrepreneur category ahead of Xodus Group's Colin Manson and James Watt from BrewDog.

The 45-year-old Barrett impressed the judges with the research and development he has pioneered at his core drilling operations. One said: "Owen is very determined and driven. He is someone you would trust investing your money with."

The former building site labourer got the start up capital for his specialist drilling and cutting company through a sale of property in the mid-90s.

Initially working out of a garage, the business now has its own purpose-built facility at Eurocentral and has diversified into software solutions and nuclear decommissioning. John Anderson, chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, said: "It is encouraging to see the top awards go to serial entrepreneurs in Dermot and Owen who have shown they are not afraid to spot opportunities and act on their instincts to build very successful Scottish businesses."

Jim Boyle, partner in charge of entrepreneurial business for Deloitte in Scotland, said: "We were hugely impressed by both the volume and quality of nominations this year and the wide diversity of entries made it a real challenge to select the finalists.

Lawyer Olivia Giles and mountaineer Jamie Andrew received the Philanthropy Award for their work as founders of charity 500 Miles.

Brothers Jim and Joseph Walker, grandsons of the founder of Walkers Shortbread, were inducted into the Entrepreneurial Exchange's Hall of Fame.

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