New accelerator aimed at over-50s entrepreneurs revealed

9 Feb 2017

From left: David Merriman, head of enterprise development at Bank of Ireland; Peter Dunne, co-founder of Carbon Conversion Technology Ltd; and Anne Connolly, CEO of ISAX. Image: Naoise Culhane

Entrepreneurs over 50 are being encouraged to join a new accelerator led by DCU Ryan Academy, Bank of Ireland and ISAX.

Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX) has launched Ingenuity, a new accelerator programme targeted at mature business owners over the age of 50.

The accelerator programme is tailored for people with ambition for fast growth, to scale up their business to an internationally trading company.

‘There is a perception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game but the reality couldn’t be further from it’

The programme is running in conjunction with DCU Ryan Academy and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

“There is a perception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game but the reality couldn’t be further from it,” said Niamh Collins, COO of DCU Ryan Academy.

“We support an increasing number of mature entrepreneurs who are key players in Ireland’s business world. We look forward to welcoming the selected Ingenuity accelerator participants to the DCU Ryan Academy and to work with them to grow their business.”

The organisations are calling on ambitious entrepreneurs with fewer than 10 employees to take part in Ingenuity.

The one-day-a-week programme spread over nine weeks from 24 March to 26 May is designed to specifically address the challenges facing business owners. It includes workshops, bespoke mentoring and networking opportunities.

Applications are open until 20 February, and you can apply for the programme here.

Nations will depend on businesses led by over-50s

The accelerator has practical merit. Around 25pc of those who are self-employed in SMEs – which account for 99.7pc of all active Irish business enterprises – are in the 50-64 age group.

The increase in life expectancy and the reduction in the size of the working population will create a headache for policymakers.

There will be considerable change over the next 25 years when the number of people over the age of 65 will be more than 1.3m, compared with 460,000 in 2006.

Mature entrepreneurs are battling perceptions that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game, as well as technological change such as the rise of social media.

However, they have advantages over their younger counterparts as they have built up a wealth of industry knowledge and experience, and have forged a lifetime of connections and relationships.

“It’s a myth that scaling your own business is only for young people,” said ISAX CEO Anne Connolly.

“Recent research undertaken by future-focused market research company Amárach revealed that more than one in five over-50s had some experience of setting up their own business, and 17pc of those with experience set up their business when aged over 50.”

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