A digital and chemical mix triumph at Hothouse Showcase

4 Nov 2009

Two graduates of the DIT Hothouse Venture Porogramme, Microbide and Travelaffiliate.ie last night were recognised with Lead Entrepreneur Awards at the Hothouse’s annual showcase.

Mary Skelly, CEO of Microbide, which commercialises unique proprietary compositions for use as high-level disinfectants and sterilants across a variety of market sectors, and Michelle O’Keeffe, managing director of Travelaffiliate.ie, which provides digital software solutions for the travel industry, were presented with the awards by Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan TD.

Award winner

Hothouse is the award-winning Innovation and Technology Transfer office at Dublin Institute of Technology.

Each year, graduating entrepreneurs showcase their technology businesses through one-minute elevator pitches to a selection of entrepreneurs, industry experts and representatives from the investment community and State support agencies.

Oliver Coughlan, VP European Operations, Big Fish Games, chaired the event, and Dr Chris Coughlan, Strategy and E-Commerce manager with Hewlett Packard, delivered a keynote address.

Since 2001, DIT Hothouse, through its Hothouse Venture Programme, has supported more than 250 entrepreneurs at the early stages of their business development, including companies now successfully established, such as TNS MediaMarket, IQ Content, Movidia, Cicero Networks and Allergy Standards Consulting.

Survey says

A recent survey of previous participant companies indicated that 145 companies had created in excess of 1,000 jobs and have attracted more than €50 million in external investment and funding since the programme began in 2001.

“This event demonstrates the quality and calibre of entrepreneurs that participate in the DIT Hothouse Venture Programme,” Lenihan said.

“Today’s award recipients for entrepreneurship and commercialisation will lead the next generation of high-value Irish companies providing cutting-edge products and services in the marketplace.

“There are currently 1,000 people employed by incubator companies nationwide and I look forward to the creation of more new companies and jobs as a result of DIT’s innovative Hothouse programme,” Lenihan added.

In the works

In 2010, DIT Hothouse is scheduled to launch two additional venture programmes for emerging knowledge-intensive and IT companies. The programme is designed to provide entrepreneurs that have knowledge-intensive business ideas with the expertise, networks and tools they need to develop highly successful global businesses.

It offers a number of supports to budding entrepreneurs to help them build and develop their high-end technology-based products or services, including management training and business counselling, access to funding, investment and networking opportunities as well as a range of office facilities.

There are two programmes per year, one starting in March and one in September, with 16 places available on each. Participants must have left full-time employment and be working full-time on developing their new business.

By John Kennedy

Photo: 2009 DIT Hothouse Venture Programme Lead Entrepreneur Award Winners (from left) Mary Skelly, CEO, Microbide; Sara Hogan, programme manager, DIT Hothouse; and Michelle O’Keeffe, managing director, Travel Affiliate.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years