NI tech entrepreneur Brendan Monaghan wins Innovation Founder Award

23 Sep 2021

Brendan Monaghan. Image: Catalyst

Monaghan co-founded tech company Neueda in his house in 2006 and grew the business to employ more than 300 people before its acquisition by Version 1 in June.

Belfast entrepreneur Brendan Monaghan is the latest recipient of Catalyst’s Innovation Founder Award for his contributions to Northern Ireland’s tech business sector.

Monaghan, who co-founded Belfast-based tech company Neueda, is the 12th founder to receive the award sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK. The annual award celebrates local individuals who have founded or led a successful business in Northern Ireland.

Unanimously chosen by a panel of past winners, Monaghan will be given the recognition at the annual Invent Awards on 30 September at the ICC Waterfront in Belfast. Winners of the Invent award for breakthrough inventions in Northern Ireland will also be announced then.

“I’m humbled and surprised to receive the Innovation Founder award. When I looked at the previous winners, the names and reputations of the people who had received this award, I was a bit blown away to be honest,” said Monaghan. “For that group of entrepreneurs to regard me as being on their level is a real honour.”

Monaghan co-founded Neueda with David Bole in 2006. The start-up that was initially based in Monaghan’s Belfast house. It eventually grew to employ more than 300 people – mostly based in Belfast – and bagged big partners such as JP Morgan, Citi, Liberty IT, Credit Suisse and Microsoft.

Last year, Neueda expanded its operations, announcing plans to invest £20m and create 230 new jobs in Belfast. In June this year, Neueda was acquired by Dublin-based tech company Version 1 for an undisclosed sum.

Northern Ireland’s tech reputation

Before founding Neueda, Monaghan worked in various roles at CEM Systems, BIC Systems and Belfast-based IT company Kainos.

“The experience I gained in all the companies I worked for influenced the structure, culture and values we instilled at Neueda,” he said.

“My approach has always been to give good, competent, ambitious people a chance and to let them collaborate and get at it. The company’s success and momentum we achieved was never just about me.”

Niall Devlin, head of NI business banking at Bank of Ireland UK, said that the talent and experience of Innovation Founder awardees such as Monaghan will inspire Northern Ireland’s next generation of innovators and the “lifeblood” of its economy.

“Brendan has been instrumental in the creation of hundreds of jobs in the local technology sector helping to establish Northern Ireland’s position in the global technology industry,” said Devlin.

Catalyst is an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in Northern Ireland that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in the country’s tech sector.

Catalyst CEO Steve Orr added that Northern Ireland’s tech sector has expanded “significantly” in recent years – with a growing reputation for talented software developers and engineers.

“People like Brendan saw the potential to take that expertise to customers around the world and he developed Neueda into a thriving international business with a firm focus on its people and its culture. I am delighted he has been named as 2021’s Innovation Founder.”

Previous winners of the award include Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton, First Derivatives founder Brian Conlon, Apion founder Denis Murphy, TG Eakin founder Tom Eakin and Andor Technology co-founder Dr Hugh Cormican.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic