12 daring Dublin start-ups to watch

10 Jan 2019

Image: © DZiegler/Stock.adobe.com

In Dublin’s fair city, the tech ecosystem is hopping with start-ups in a plethora of areas, from AI to blockchain and the internet of things.

Over the past year and a half, we have trawled through Europe’s top cities for start-ups to watch but, for some reason, our own home city of Dublin, where Siliconrepublic.com was founded and is based, always gave us pause for thought.

This is mostly because we write about these start-ups all the time, they have appeared on other lists and in stories we have recently compiled, and we see them nearly every day – but still, it is important that the city’s entrepreneurs are also put on a world stage.

Part of our hesitation was also down to how many start-ups we would have to leave out for space reasons. If you aren’t listed below, get in touch anyway, because we are always happy to feature more start-ups in future stories as part of the ongoing narrative of entrepreneurship in Europe.

For example, local start-ups such as Nuritas, UrbanVolt and Flipdish – which have appeared in our 30 Irish start-ups to watch in 2019 list – and others such as Aylien, WarDucks and Blocknubie – which have appeared in other lists and stories – could easily have been added here – so, consider the start-ups below as an indicator or a taster of what’s happening in Dublin and not an absolute list.

It is worth noting that the Dublin start-up scene is flying. The city’s ecosystem, according to recent TechIreland data, boasts more than 1,000 start-ups, with one in five securing more than €1m in funding.

Dublin city is home to a range of co-working spaces and hubs such as The Digital Hub, Dogpatch Labs, the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Talent Garden at Dublin City University and Bank of Ireland’s Startlab, as well as new WeWork spaces, to name a few. It boasts internationally renowned accelerators such as the NDRC, NovaUCD, DIT Hothouse and Trinity College Dublin’s LaunchBox.

The city also has a thriving venture capital scene, with Enterprise Ireland, Draper Esprit, Atlantic Bridge, Delta Partners, Frontline Ventures, Seroba Life Sciences, ACT Venture Capital, 4th Level Ventures and Summit Bridge Capital among the major players.

And so, here are some of the start-ups we selected to watch in 2019 to give you a flavour of the digital entrepreneur activity in Ireland’s capital.


Dan Kiely invests €200,000 in flexible working start-up Abodoo

Abodoo co-founder Vanessa Tierney. Image: Marc O’Sullivan

Smart careers software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform Abodoo is dedicated to promoting remote and flexible career opportunities. Founded originally in Gorey in 2017 by Vanessa Tierney and Ben Wainright, it has raised €750,000 in seed funding, including a €200,000 investment by Voxpro co-founder Dan Kiely.


Aid:Tech’s platform enables aid, welfare, remittances, donations and healthcare to be digitised and delivered through blockchain technology in a completely transparent manner. Founded in 2014 by Joseph Thompson and Niall Dennehy, the company has raised €1m in funding, with investors including SGInnovate and BlockAsset Ventures.


Three men in suits standing against a wall.

From left: Joe Blake, CEO, Artomatix; Eric Risser, CTO, Artomatix; and Barry Downes, Suir Valley Ventures. Image: Artomatix

AI software player Artomatix has developed ArtEngine, which automates the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the 3D artistic workflow. Led by CEO Joe Blake, the company raised €2.7m in October 2018 in a round led by Suir Valley Ventures. It also recently raised a further €3.2m in Government grants from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Fast Track to Innovation Fund.


Boxever uses big data and predictive analytics to gather and analyse customer data in real time, creating a single customer view that powers one-to-one marketing and personalisation. Founded in 2011 by Dave O’Flanagan, Dermot O’Connor and Alan Giles, Boxever has raised $19m in funding so far from investors that include Polaris Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and Frontline Ventures.


30 Irish tech start-ups to watch in 2017

Cortechs founder Dr Aine Behan. Image: NDRC

Cortechs creates data-driven, therapeutic games that use cognitive training to improve treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Brainwaves can be remotely assessed by specialist clinicians to prescribe game tasks via secure web dashboards to parents and children. Founded by Dr Áine Behan, Cortechs raised €1.3m in EU Horizon 2020 funding in October 2018 to help commercialise its innovative ADHD treatment solution, CereBrill.


Smart kitchen player Drop has created an internet of things (IoT) smart scale that makes cooking and baking more precise. Nabbing partnerships with Bosch, GE Appliances and Kenwood, the company plans to make the kitchen of things a reality. Last year it raised $8m in a series A round led by Alsop Louie Partners along with Irish firm Frontline; Ross Lewis, owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Chapter One; and Domini Kemp of Itsa. Drop was founded in 2012 and is led by CEO Ben Harris.

Xpanse AI

Two men standing on a street with sun shining between them.

From left: Maciek Wasiak, CEO of Xpanse AI, with Ben Hurley, CEO of NDRC. Image: Shane O’Neill/SON Photographic

The winner of the latest NDRC Investor Showcase, Xpanse AI gives direct marketers the ability to quickly and easily self-serve predictive models, transforming how they manage customer retention and maximise the value of their customer base.


Firmwave specialises in designing ultra-low-power hardware and firmware for IoT and wearable devices. Founded by Fintan McGovern, Adrian Burns and Ciaran Burns, Firmwave’s Edge platform provides everything to securely connect and manage sensors and machines remotely. The company has partnered with Intel, HealthBeacon, Vodafone and Glen Dimplex on a number of industrial IoT projects. At CES this week, Firmwave announced a new IoT validation service to help make sensors and gateways more secure.


Two men in dark jackets sit before a green wall holding a white medical device.

From left: Co-founders Kieran Daly and Jim Joyce. Image: HealthBeacon

Dublin-based HealthBeacon’s Smart Sharps system helps patients adhere to their medication schedule. The company was founded by Jim Joyce and Kieran Daly in 2013, and opened offices in Boston in 2017. The digital platform last year received vital FDA clearance for the US market and this week (8 January) it announced that it raised $12m in a Series A investment round, bringing total investment in the company to almost $15m.

Soapbox Labs

Patricia Scanlon

Patricia Scanlon on stage at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

AI player Soapbox Labs is building speech technology specifically for young children to help with learning, literacy and much more. This groundbreaking work has led to founder Patricia Scanlon being recognised by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s top 50 women in tech. The company has raised $5.2m in funding to date from investors that include Astia Angels and EASME, the EU Executive Agency for SMEs.


Four men in t-shirts stand on a cobbled street in Dublin.

From left: Paul Sweeney, Graham Brierton, Mark Oppermann and Cormac O’Neill. Image: Webio

Webio is empowering companies to reach across messaging apps and voice interfaces such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Alexa and Google Home. Led by the executive team of Paul Sweeney, Graham Brierton, Mark Oppermann and Cormac O’Neill, Webio is using the power of AI to automate conversations via autonomous smart chatbots or blended live-agent engagement, while applying machine learning, natural language programming and its Propensity-X Indicator to deliver optimal customer conversation outcomes.


Wia’s software development kit provides an interface between a hardware device and its real-time service. With just a few lines of code, a developer can create a production-ready product as well as a complementary mobile app. Founded by Conall Laverty, Wia raised €750,00 in an investment round involving Suir Valley Ventures and Enterprise Ireland in 2017.

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