100Y searches for the top UK and Irish innovators under 30

13 Jul 2018

Uprise Festival Europe in Dublin last year. Image: Marcel/Fresh Interactive

Search for UK and Irish innovation talent continues as Uprise Festival Europe returns with 100Y.

Limerick native and Amsterdam-based entrepreneur Paul O’Connell’s Uprise Festival Europe is returning to Dublin in October with a new component called 100Y, which aims to showcase the top innovation talent under 30.

The technology and talent festival, which is now in its seventh edition, will take place at the former Richmond Hospital on North Brunswick Street over two days on 17 and 18 October.

‘We are looking to help those that really help themselves’

“This is deliberately not just for the high-profile CEOs that populate the Forbes Top 30 Under 30 but for those individual designers, developers, business and communication professionals building their own small slice of the tech sphere,” O’Connell said.

“We want to nurture young talent and give them the opportunity to progress and grow their innovative ideas.”

Breaking the mould

100Y is an application-based programme to shine a light on young innovators aged 30 years old and under making a change in their community or ecosystem.

The closing date for applications is 21 August. Interested entrepreneurs or innovators can apply here.

“Our focus area is Ireland and the UK but we do allow for some special cases from outside the target geography also,” O’Connell explained.

“We work to find those young innovative talent that are working towards a goal with vision and an energy to deliver on their goals. We are looking to help those that really help themselves.”

O’Connell said that so far, the initiative has received great applications, just not enough from Ireland yet.

“We have been getting some great submissions from Northern Ireland, Manchester and Scotland, with the Dublin and London entries few and far between. Maybe this is a case of too many opportunities for talent in the capitals or maybe a lack of hunger in those that this kind of programme serves, who knows?

“We have seen that the community organisations in Belfast, Manchester and Scotland have grabbed on with both hands on to a programme like this since they recognise the opportunity and are driven to make the most out of these offers of recognition.

“We don’t really care where the talent is, we want to foster and offer network enty points and possibilities to those that become members, year after year. Build a beacon of talent in Ireland and the UK, and more business and money will be drawn to it.”

A UN of tech

O’Connell said that the Irish start-up ecosystem is running out of cash.

“It strikes me as an Irish person looking from the outside in that Ireland has a money problem. There’s not enough of it.

“I applaud Ireland as having a very active local and national support network for growing companies from local city councils like Dublin City Council that have long been advocates for local start-ups, to national programmes. A significant amount of other countries should be quite envious of this.

“But Ireland’s start-up environment is obviously cash-starved. Start-ups are screaming out for more seed capital and a further growth in the fund sizes and a move away from the traditional risk-averse focuses. This is a European issue as well but seems more apparent in a small ecosystem like Ireland.

“The tech doughnut effect has come into play in Ireland. You have a lot of really early-stage cash-strapped start-ups and then, contrastingly, a good amount of companies working their way to unicorn status but the mid-stage start-ups growing fast are not as plentiful as you might expect from the size of Ireland.”

O’Connell believes what is needed is a platform that brings together start-ups and multinationals – a kind of UN of tech.

“With the plethora of tech multinationals in Dublin and expanding to the rest of Ireland – Limerick is making some great strides to become a force for tech – why isn’t there a UN for tech in Ireland?

“The majority of the tech mammoths are safely working independently of one another, and their contribution to Dublin and Ireland could be ramped up significantly.

“In my opinion, organising a pool of resources from these companies could give Ireland a platform it’s never had access to, and could start to give the country a national tech identity it’s long looked to sculpt.”

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