Bank of Ireland kick starts new Cork-based accelerator for start-ups

28 May 2014

Bank of Ireland has launched a new accelerator programme aimed at start-up SMEs and talented entrepreneurs across all business sectors.

The Bank of Ireland Accelerator Programme will offer up to 10 start-ups an opportunity to take part in the three-month programme that begins in September.

Participants will receive the input and guidance of some of Ireland and Europe’s leading mentors and coaches, from a network including Bill Liao and Sean O’Sullivan of SOSventures, as well as Gavin Duffy of Dragons’ Den.

The sole objective is to help develop and support viable, revenue-positive, self-sustaining, high-potential start-ups, while also creating opportunities for jobs, investment and expansion.

The Bank of Ireland Accelerator Programme will be based at Penrose Wharf in the heart of Cork City.

Enterprise bank

“As we strive to become Ireland’s ‘Enterprise Bank’, we continue to expand on the different ways we can support SMEs and start-up companies,” said Gerry Prizeman, head of Enterprise Development at Bank of Ireland.

“This Accelerator Programme is a fantastic platform for young companies to participate in to help grow and develop their business. It seeks to attract those entrepreneurs with the passion, energy and commitment to succeed and the entrepreneurial talent to make it happen.”

Prizeman said companies taking part in the programme will also receive €10,000 in seed funding and will have the full use of the Bank of Ireland Accelerator Programme office and all its resources.

“The company running the programme on our behalf, StartPlanet Ltd, is a not-for-profit organisation and their focus and objective is solely on helping to develop entrepreneurs and early stage ventures.”

The collaboration involves well-known international entrepreneur and programme founder Liao, with the support and expertise of Cork Business Innovation Centre’s Michael O’Connor and Gerry Donovan, along with programme manager Wayne Murphy.

Founder’s co-op

“We are unique in our approach in that we intend to adopt a ‘Founders’ Co-op’ model, which again reinforces the total commitment and focus on the participants and support of the start-up ecosystem,” said Liao.

“This innovative model involves those accepted onto the programme investing 3pc of their equity in return for shares in a fund formed for the benefit of and to be shared by the start-ups themselves. Should any of the start-ups enjoy a future successful exit, all company founders will share in that success.

“The Bank of Ireland Accelerator Programme is an incredible opportunity for all young companies in Ireland and abroad to participate in a highly focused initiative designed to fast track young companies to success.

“I have been involved in supporting entrepreneurs for many years and know how important it is to get the right support when you are starting out. I am genuinely excited about this enterprise initiative with Bank of Ireland and what we will create. The possibilities are truly endless,” Liao said.

To take part

Bank of Ireland said that while the programme is based in Cork City, it is not geography-specific.

The bank said eligible businesses should be in operation for less than 36 months and have a minimum of two employees to a maximum of eight.

Businesses who wish to take part should ideally have identified customers or customer reference groups.

Participating businesses will need to attend mentoring sessions and will be set weekly objectives to fulfil.

Disclaimer: SOSventures is an investor in Silicon Republic

Cork image, via Shutterstock

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