Enterprise Ireland launches new ‘Access Silicon Valley’ initiative for start-ups

5 Jul 2013

Responding to the growing number of Irish start-ups targeting Silicon Valley and San Francisco, California, to accelerate their growth, Enterprise Ireland has launched its new Access Silicon Valley initiative to fast-track companies targeting the region.

The final phase of a pilot programme for Access Silicon Valley is under way in San Francisco, where seven companies are undertaking an intensive two-week itinerary which includes meetings with companies like Sony, Facebook, Apple and One King’s Lane.

One of the companies, Pubble, has already secured a partnership deal with Cogswell College.

Some 26 Enterprise Ireland clients participated in phase one of the pilot programme, with seven companies successfully making it through bootcamp (phase two) to travel to San Francisco on a competitive call to participate in the third and final phase of the programme.

 The next Access Silicon Valley programme gets under way in September and will be delivered in the US by USMAC, the US Market Access Centre, which is part of the San Jose State University Research Foundation.

The first phase of the programme will see companies complete online assessments and video calls with USMAC to evaluate their market offering and see if there is a product market fit.

The second phase consists of a two-day bootcamp that will be held in Dublin to help firms understand the corporate culture of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, as well as hone their pitching skills and validate their business models.

The third phase will see bootcamp graduates benefit from one-to-one mentoring from industry experts, followed by a tailored two-week itinerary to Silicon Valley and San Francisco where they will meet with relevant industry contacts.

Walking through the valley of tech

45sound team

The 45 Sound team. (From left) John McAuley (seated); Cathal Furey, CEO; Dan Barry; and Mikel Gainza

One of the firms taking part in the current pilot is 45sound.com. Director Cathal Furey explained: “Access Silicon Valley has been an intense and challenging 10 days, but very productive for 45sound. Our US mentors took the time to understand our business and opportunity, and set up some great meetings for us using their networks.

“The Irish pitch event in RocketSpace Labs gave us valuable feedback and advice from experienced technology investors, and we also gained some useful connections to potential customers from members of the audience. Overall we are really happy with the progress we have made through the programme and would definitely recommend it,” Furey said.

Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the programme is particularly relevant in terms of job creation. The latest GEM report out today revealed that entrepreneurs starting new businesses contribute to two-thirds of job creation in the Irish market.

“Access Silicon Valley is a key part of our plans to accelerate our jobs growth among Irish ICT companies. This is a practical, hands-on programme designed to fast-track innovative and ambitious Irish companies into a highly competitive marketplace – ultimately resulting in the creation of more jobs in Ireland,” Bruton said.

Silicon Valley image via Shutterstock

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