12 cool start-ups from Cork to watch

7 Feb 2019

Image: © M.V. Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Cork is something of a tech boomtown today but it can also claim its fair share of the industry’s digital heritage.

Cork city’s tech heritage extends back to the 19th century when University College Cork’s then-professor of mathematics, George Boole, laid the groundwork for modern-day computer science by inventing Boolean algebra, the foundation of the electronic structure of today’s computers and the world’s digital information.

In 1980, a young Californian start-up called Apple decided to start manufacturing computers in the city and today Apple in Cork employs about 6,000 people in a variety of roles, including masterminding the distribution of the iPhone globally.

Many companies have made a home in Cork, including Amazon, Trend Micro, IBM, Dell EMC, Unity, Seabrook and Park Place Technologies, to name a few.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, the city has been the foundation stone for a number of global success stories led by natives, including Liam Casey’s PCH. Another example of a successful Cork-bred entrepreneur is Pat Phelan who, after selling his e-security platform Trustev for $44m, is now back with a new venture called Sisu, headquartered in his home city. Also enjoying success is Poppulo (formerly known as Newsweaver), which just last month raised a cool $30m in funding from US venture capital outfit Susquehanna Growth Equity.

Locally based venture capital firms such as Kernel Capital and SOSV play a vital role in supporting the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ireland.

According to 2018 figures from local tech organisation IT@Cork, the city experienced a 63pc increase in employment in tech companies in the preceding five years, with about 13,000 workers employed in more than 60 IDA support companies in the region.

And, with office space coming on stream at half the price of Dublin, it could be home to a plethora of promising new players and employers.

The calibre and quality of young tech companies can be seen through the acquisitions of start-ups such as InfiniLED, which was acquired by Facebook-owned Oculus, as well as the recent acquisition of WhatSalon by Constellation Software and the acquisition of analytics start-up Barricade by security giant Sophos.

So, here are 12 cool start-ups from Cork to watch in the year ahead.


Smiling woman with blonde hair and black jacket beside a bee hive.

Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy. Image: Clare Keogh

Agritech firm ApisProtect helps commercial beekeepers to more effectively manage colonies and optimise pollination. The company’s in-hive sensor network uses long-range, cellular and satellite-powered communication to proactively monitor honeybee colonies. The brainchild of CEO Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, ApisProtect announced plans last November to create 25 new jobs after closing a seed round from Finistere Ventures, Atlantic Bridge Capital, Radicle Growth, The Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland.


AventaMed is a medical device maker that was formed as a spin-out company from Cork Institute of Technology. The company’s Solo Tympanostomy Tube Device enables the quick and simple insertion of ear grommets. Founded in 2013 by Olive O’Driscoll and John Vaughan, the company has raised €3.1m to date, including a €1.8m round in 2017 from the Halo Business Angel Network.


Man standing with arms folded against a stone wall.

Seán O’Tuama. Image: Firemole

Firemole has developed a futuristic safety gadget that could save people from fire incidents. Firemole is a standalone temperature-sensing alarm. It is powered by a replaceable button battery that lasts 18 months, and it does not need any apps or other downloads to work. The company was formed by former electrician Seán O’Tuama. In 2017 it successfully completed a €10,000 crowdfunding challenge on Indiegogo.

Khonsu Therapeutics

Khonsu Therapeutics is a biotech company from Cork that is developing therapeutic proteins for autoimmune and inflammatory indications in human and animal health. A previous participant in the SOSV 2017 RebelBio accelerator programme, Khonsu Therapeutics was founded by a group of scientists and the company is led by CEO Emer O’Shea.

KM Medical

Cork’s KM Medical speeds up sports medicine referral processes

Margaret English from the Sports Surgery Clinic with KM Medical CEO Andy O’Donoghue. Image: KM Medical

KM Medical is an electronic health records platform that develops software solutions to improve the efficiency of hospitals, clinics and doctors, and improve patient outcomes. Last year we reported on how the company’s software will be used by the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry and its sports medicine department. It was founded by Dr Karuppiah Mahalingam, an orthopaedic surgeon, and is led by CEO Andy O’Donoghue.


Over-C, which also has offices in London, enables end-to-end visibility for service-centric operations while optimising compliance, reducing risk, and delivering smart, paperless reporting. Founded in 2011 by Michael Elliott and Greg Gleinig, the company last year landed contracts worth more than €20m with KPN and Facilicom Group. It counts Thomond Park, Eli Lilly, GSK and Savills UK among its clients.

Republic of Work

Republic of Work is a business campus and innovation hub on Cork’s South Mall that provides flexible and co-working facilities for entrepreneurs and business owners. It was founded in 2017 by DC Cahalane and David Ronayne, and has attracted a range of creative businesses to its doors, including a partnership with Today FM and Newstalk to broadcast from its building.


Teamwork opens new campus, turns former office into start-up incubator

From left: Daniel Mackey and Peter Coppinger, founders of Teamwork.com. Image: Clare Keogh

SaaS player Teamwork.com’s technology helps to keep teams in businesses around the world efficient and organised. It is used by global companies such as Spotify, Disney and Netflix. Founded by Peter Coppinger and Daniel Mackey, it has grown to employ more than 200 people in 15 countries, and famously spent €500,000 to buy the Teamwork.com domain name. All the more remarkable, the company is entirely self-funded from revenues.


Two women and three men pose for a photo through a book case.

From left: Tatsiana Skrabatun, Translit; Martin Fitzgerald, Clashrock Capital; Alex Chernenko, Translit; Dave Ronayne, Mainport Group; and Laura Del Valle, Translit. Image: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Translit is a full-service translation, interpreting and localisation company. Headquartered in Cork, it also has offices in Limerick and Dublin. It employs more than 800 translators and interpreters in more than 70 languages all over the world. It is led by CEO Alex Chernenko and recently raised €500,000 in investment from private equity firm Clashrock Capital.


TradeWorkz brings tradespeople and the customers that need them together via an easy-to-use online platform. It was founded by brothers Shane and Cian Gould, former fireplace installers, after they spotted a pattern of complaints from people who said they couldn’t get tradespeople, and tradespeople who couldn’t get customers to agree a price. It was a finalist in the Cork Company of the Year 2019 awards.


Verifish provides SaaS and advisory services that promote safety and sustainability in the seafood sector. Founded in 2009 by former commercial fisherman Frank Fleming, Verifish recently won the Emerging Company category of the Cork Company of the Year Awards 2019.


Cloud player Zartis helps companies build high-performance software development, and support and sales teams. Founded by John Dennehy, it has worked with major clients, from Ryanair to Google and Facebook. The company raised €300,000 in funding from investors AIB, Enterprise Ireland, SOSV and Enterprise Equity.

Disclaimer: SOSV is an investor in Siliconrepublic.com

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